What breed should I get?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by mich9510, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. mich9510

    mich9510 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 21, 2016
    Southwest PA
    Hi everyone! I'm doing some research on raising chickens and had a question about what breed would be appropriate for us. There are so many breeds to choose from. I hope this is the right place to post...
    My goal is meat but would like to have some eggs as well. We don't eat many eggs so that's not the primary focus. We live on 1.2 acres on top od a "mountain" (more like a large hill - elevation around 1000 ft.) in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Predators are a concern, we have coyotes and bobcats (although I've never seen them or signs of them). I think the bigger concern is foxes and hawks, the darn birds got one of my koi recently. Anyway, I plan to let them free range when I'm home and they will have a coop with a small run at night and when I'm at work. While the chickens are free-ranging I'd like them to forage a fair amount but of course I'll still give them feed. Our summers can get in the low 90's but humidity isn't real terrible at our elevation. It gets cold in the winter and we usually get 2-3 snaps of near zero temperatures. Its also very windy here. I know that raising chickens takes careful research and lots of work. Since I'm new at this a lower maintenance breed would be great to start.

    thank you

    Michelle
     
  2. GertrudeLover01

    GertrudeLover01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By no means am I an expert, but I have a couple of breeds to recommend for you.
    If you want meat and eggs, you're looking for a dual-purpose breed. These are heavier birds that will yield good meat but also lay a fair to excellent amount. They won't be quite as meaty or as fast-growing as a meat bird, but will still serve your purposes.
    Some Dual-Purpose Breeds to Consider:
    Barnevelders- These birds are fair layers (averaging 180 eggs per year) and heavy enough for meat. That being said, they are relatively slow-growing. They come in an assortment of colors including the ever popular double-laced. They are calm, docile birds. (I own a double-laced barnevelder. She is big, fluffy, and very calm.)
    Brahmas- Brahmas are also large birds. They have feathered feet and are pretty calm and easy to handle. They also grow slowly, and are frequently broody. They are good meat birds and lay brown eggs. They withstand cold well.
    Orpingtons- Opringtons are very popular, and rightfully so. They are large birds with lots of meat, and they're fair layers like the barnevelder. They are great foragers, but they are also happy with confinement. They come in an assortment of colors, including buff, blue, black, and white. They are calm and gentle. (I have a buff orpington. She is also big, and the most sociable chicken I have at the moment. She is a bit of a bully for treats.)
    Plymouth Rocks- These are calm, good layers which are also excellent meat birds. They come in many colors, with the most popular being barred. They're usually calm and gentle. They're especially good free-rangers. (I had one, and she was one of my favorite chickens I've ever owned. She was sociable and great at eating grubs out of the garden.)
    Wyandottes- These are large, friendly birds. They mature more quickly than the other dual-purpose breeds listed here, but still are slower than many other breeds. They're good layers and make excellent meat birds. They come in patterns such as Columbian, Silver Laced, and Golden Laced, and more! (I had one who was skittish but a faithful layer.)

    If you are reading this and realize you want some for just meat, there are a couple breeds I can also recommend.
    Some Meat Breeds to Consider:
    Cornish X Rock hybrids- These birds are extremely fast growing, and can be ready to butcher as soon as 10 weeks old. They have lots of breast meat. Their meat is relatively bland, though. The problem with these birds are that you have to be very careful what you feed them, so I wouldn't recommend this breed to a beginner or someone who wants them to free-range.
    Cornish- This is an old breed with lots of breast meat. They are poor layers and sometimes broody. The problem with this breed is that they are not very good foragers.
    Jersey Giants- This is the world's largest chicken breed. They are very slow-growing, meaty birds who require a lot of food. They're fairly good layers. They are calm, good foragers, and good brooders.

    There are many, many breeds out there, but these were the ones that most closely fit the traits you requested. If I were you, I would go with one of the Dual-Purpose breeds listed above. They are all pretty low-maintenance and can suit your purposes. With the temperatures you said your area gets, I wouldn't worry too much about cold-hardiness. I've had over 10 very different breeds and they all were just fine with the temperatures I get, which are similar to yours. With the predator issue, your best bet would be to get a rooster, donkey, or trained dog to protect your flock. If not, you will have to reconcile with the fact that some may be killed by predators if they free-range without your supervision. Have fun raising your chickens, let me know if you ever need help, and of course, welcome to BYC!!

    [I got a great deal of information from my go-to chicken guide, Raising Chickens for Dummies. I'd recommend it to anyone who has chickens!]
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
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  3. mich9510

    mich9510 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 21, 2016
    Southwest PA
    Thanks for the great information! From what I've read, the Jersey Giants have great predator awareness and are great flock protectors. I even read somewhere on this site that someone saw a Jersey giant attack a hawk that was after one of the hens in his harem. I only plan on letting them free range with supervision, but the hawks are so quick. If I go in for a drink or something they may take the opportunity to strike. That's what happened to the koi... I was cleaning out the pond so they didn't have cover. I went in for a drink, literally 2 minutes, came out with one less fish.
    I also saw that the jerseys are good foragers. Can anyone attest to that?When I say we want some eggs we only eat about a dozen every few months. I actually have to coat eggs in oil to help keep them from going bad, even in the fridge. We would likely use/eat more if we knew how they were raised though. Can I get dual purpose hens with a Jersey rooster? I know that would result in crossbreed chicks but has anyone ever done that?
    I was also wondering if anyone could recommend a good show bird. My son's are dying to get into 4h and want unique looking chickens. They won't be for anything other than showing a will be kept separate from the meat birds. I understand these birds will be high maintenance so I'm not even sure we want to go there yet..lol.

    Thanks for your patience with all my questions.
    Michelle
     
  4. GertrudeLover01

    GertrudeLover01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 20, 2012
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I don't have any experience with Jersey Giants, but I have heard they are wonderful pets! As far as eggs go, you can always sell or give away the ones you don't eat. I find fresh eggs sell well or make great gifts.
    Some Show Breeds You May Want to Consider
    Cochin- Cochins are fluffy birds with feathered legs and feet. They come in many colors including buss, black, and partridge.They're great brooders and lay small tan eggs. They are friendly and calm but can be picked on by more aggressive breeds.
    Polish- Polish chickens can look silly at first. They're small with a big crest of feathers that covers their eyes. Their crests can limit their vision, making them seem shy or stupid, which can result in bullying. (If you're showing, you can't trim this crest.) They also can be bearded. They come in many colors, but the most popular variety is a black-bodied bird with a white crest. They lay small white eggs and do not generally go broody.
    Old English Game/Modern Game- Both of these breeds were originally fighting birds. They have a very unique look that people tend to either love or hate. They stand very upright, with loooooooong necks and legs. They come in many colors. They are active and tend to be very aggressive. Modern Games are larger and poor brooders, while Old English Games are good brooders. Both breeds lay small, white eggs.

    These are just some of the most popular show breeds. They are great breeds and I know you'll have fun with whatever you choose! If you have any more questions, ask.
     

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