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Trying to build a backyard flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RBOutdoors, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. RBOutdoors

    RBOutdoors Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    I am not new to chickens but haven't been around long. I am wanting to build a small flack of less than 20 adult birds. All of my birds will free range except for meaties. I want a flock that will brood their own, lay a fair amount of eggs, and produce fair amount of meat for the table. I fully realize I can't have the most meat, most eggs, and best mothers. I am okay with that. I would like them to be great foragers, if that isn't too much trouble. I am also a big fan of heritage breeds. I really like the look of the Black Copper Marans and Welsummers.

    Here is my question, should I keep 5 or so of different kinds that excel in the different areas with a rooster and matching hens for replacement hens. Meaning should I get a couple silkies for brooding, buff opringtons for meat and eggs, well you get the point. Or should I just try and find one breed that does well at what I am looking for and try and better the breed. I like the idea of different color eggs so i can tell them apart.

    If you did keep different breeds what rooster would you keep to cross with all of them?

    I live in the country on 15 acres surrounded by larger ranches, so roaming space is not much of an issue.

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You have a lot going on there. I think there are many good heritage birds that do eggs and meat well but in your case free ranging is a big consideration. That's because you want them to supplement their feed AND be relatively safe from predation.
    There are a few breeds I could recommend but it would help to know where you live(climate)
    Many of the broody breeds aren't as good in free range conditions. Not because they don't forage well but are a little big to avoid predators.
    Ameraucana, Brahma, Chantecler, Orpington are among the better broodys.

    Flightier breeds are much better at avoiding predators. Ancona, Leghorn, Jaerhon, Penedesenca etc.
    My favorite of all is the Black Penedesenca. They are DP, forage well and are great with predators.
    In the last couple years, I've had 3 fox attacks, 2 dog pack attacks (malamutes 2 years ago and huskies yesterday) and multiple hawks.
    I saw a fox grab a Orpington and a Rock that were free ranging and the birds didn't know the fox was there. A fox went after the Penedesenca flock and came away empty handed.
    Hawks have taken wyandottes and buttercups here, They've tried for the penedesencas but only to get their butt kicked in the process.
    Malamutes got into a pen and killed 9 birds, JGs, polish, rocks, etc. before I ran them off.
    Yesterday huskies attacked my penedesencas and only managed to get a couple feathers.
  3. RBOutdoors

    RBOutdoors Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    I fully realize I am asking a lot out of a single breed. We are in Texas so cold winters are not a problem at all.

    I agree that being well adapted to free range is a very important aspect. that is why I was thinking of a couple of broody hens to do the raising.

    Keep the breed suggestions coming.

  4. Crazyhenlady

    Crazyhenlady Songster

    Feb 8, 2012
    Everett, Wa
    I like the idea of all different breeds then get a rooster that is of that of your favorite(and you can tell by egg color what hen lays what) breed and if a Silkie goes broody replace the eggs with the ones that are of pure breed.[​IMG]..that's what I would do. I know a lot of work but chicken work is fun anyway!

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