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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by TOP KNOT, Sep 10, 2013.
Tell about your best forager in your flock. Which breed utilizes pasture the best.
I let out my flock to forage as often as possible (have almost 3 acres of nothing but pasture with patches of bushes) and they all seem to forage well. I've got Dominique, Welsummer, Russian Orloff, Lakenvelder, Dark Cornish and Egyptian Fayoumi.
The Fayoumi, Lakenvelder and Welsummers can subsidize their entire diet (i.e. they're not a financial burden) on foraging though, unlike the rest - who I do need to throw a bit of food to every evening. The Dark Cornish are fairly good foragers too but they just love to eat so much that they will still beg for hand outs on a regular basis.
I have Barred Rocks, Easter Eggers, Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds. They're all actually pretty good foragers, but the Rocks are the best. So much so that sometimes I have to go bring them back from the woods or the neighbor's pasture.
Judging by how far they wander I would say my Speckled Sussex. The Plymouth Rocks aren't far behind them. The hatchery Rhode Island Reds used to go out once and a while with their age mates the Barred Plymouths, but now at two and a half years they don't go farther then fifty feet from the run when the coop opens.
Swedish Flower Hens are amazing foragers. My mutt birds don't do too badly either, crosses of Australorpe, Wynadotte and some other breeds. They take an EE pair along for the ride. But the Swedes....they are everywhere on my place and I could get away with not feeding them anything if I had to.
Out of all of my breeds, my speckled sussex do the best job. My astralorps and black jersey giants don't forage that well. They like the feeder! My buff orpingtons do a pretty good job looking for insects. My americaunas also go for the ride. They don't really forage the best, but they love to be out, they are so curious about everything. The 2 partridge rocks that I have do pretty good too. In the cool morning I let them out of their run, and they spread out all over the pasture. When the heat of the day sets in they hang out under a group of 12 large trees. What a life! If they only knew how lucky they were! When the sun goes down they spread back out over the pasture then get closer to the coop as the day winds down. At this point their crops are HUGE!!! I keep a feeder out all of the time for the ones that can't catch the crickets. They seem pretty happy!! I have considered some of the breeds like silver spangled hamburgs, I am afraid they may leave town! The chickens have about 2 acres to roam, but with the trees on the property line, the hamburgs may roost in them.
What size are the flower hens? Do they lay well? Is there a hatchery that has them?
Swedish Flower Hens are top on my want list right now! I really think they're gorgeous and have heard that their personalities are great too.
They do lay well for a heritage bird -- they aren't like an Australorpe or Leghorn, cranking one out no matter what. Most folks find about 170 eggs a year. Nice sized eggs after the hens reach full potential, with the eggs generally being a lovely cream color.
NO hatchery has them. I will be devastated if a hatchery ever gets their hands on them and ruins them. They are quite rare, with only a few thousand in the entire world. You can order them only from small breeders here in the US or the importers (Greenfire Farms), and you can find several breeders via Google (Jordan Farms comes to mind, but there is another one too). There are a good number of us here with them, with an entire thread dedicated to them in the breeds section, so it would not be hard to get eggs or chicks, depending on where you are.
They do get big enough they can be eaten for meat too. I have processed a couple mean roosters and have a kind of aggressive roo I'm butchering when I process my meaties soon. They aren't super meaty, but it's enough to be worthwhile.
Both true Eye candy for sure, with every bird being different, and they are fun. I have had a couple nasty roosters -- pretty bad -- but the two adult roosters I plan to keep for now are awesome. The hens just make themselves at home anywhere, even strolling in and eating off the floor if someone leaves the door open and I haven't swept yet.
Neat! Maybe this Spring I will try to locate some (Swedish Flower) to be delivered, unless there are some in Northern Illinois that I could pick up as chicks. I keep a closed flock, chicken disease scares me. It would have to be someone who practices biosecurity that I buy from.