What Breeds do you believe to be the BEST Foragers?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by GingerB, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. GingerB

    GingerB New Egg

    Feb 10, 2012
    I am Looking for Opinions on the BEST Breed for Foraging, Broodiness, & Prolific Lg Brown Eggs, Dual purpose.
    In that order of importance.
    In other words a really good Breed of Chicken.
    Just what our Grandparents & great Grandparents would have wanted in a chicken.
  2. cluckcluckgirl

    cluckcluckgirl Queen of the Coop Premium Member

    Jun 16, 2012
    Tending to my chickens
    Foraging- Australorp ( I have a hen that is always foraging)
    Broodiness- mainly bantams like Belgian d' Anver and large fowl and bantam Cochins
    Large brown eggs- Rhode Island Red
    Dual purpose- Jersey Giant, Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Australorp

    For more details, please visit this article- https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/a-basic-summary-of-some-main-chicken-breeds

    I recently found out that I have an Australorp, not a Jersey Giant, so I edited this post.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  3. Spaceglider8

    Spaceglider8 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 29, 2012
    I think the mixed breeds are the best if you can find an old farmer that has some kind of a mix of an egg breed coupled with a larger bantam, or even colored egg layer mix. We had chickens from this ole boy near Weldon Valley, Colorado years ago and you never could get rid of the chickens, they had nests everywhere and were out in the fields before you could ever catch up with them if you left the coop door open. The mistake we made was letting them get too big when it came to breeding in some larger breeds like comets and such, they got to the point they would not/could not fly much and then we had..of all things....two BALD EAGLES coming to breakfast once per day until they were all gone. I'll never forget waking up one morning and walking out to the field to watch the chickens, only to see the body of one of my roosters and the big bald eagle bloody beak and all having a feast. Nothing like chicken in the morning...
  4. RonnieAtkeson

    RonnieAtkeson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2008
    Tahlequah Oklahoma
    Game hens anyday. Great active foragers,excellent broodies. But they lay white to off white eggs. I've got a few in the yard been free range for a couple years now.
  5. maryhysong

    maryhysong Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2012
    Claypool, Arizona
    My Wesummers are very active foragers, even as small chicks in the brooder always scratching around. I have not had them a full year yet so not too sure about broodiness yet. They do lay large brown sometimes speckled eggs.
  6. NanaKat

    NanaKat True BYC Addict Premium Member

    My Minorca hens go the furthest from the others in the freerange flock and call the others over to share tidbits they find in the gardne or around the barn.
    Next would be the Australorps and then the Wyandottes.

    Minorcas lay white eggs that are large.
    Australorps and Wyandottes lay brown eggs.
    All three make nice table birds.
    Aussies and Wyandottes make nice broody and are good mothers.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  7. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    For discussion: I'm sort of thinking that the features of broodiness and prolific large brown eggs work against each other. That's why it's difficult for me to come up with any breed that can perform foraging, broodiness, prolific eggs, and dual purpose.

    My broody chickens lay few eggs per year because they are laying around 10 eggs and then going broody for 21 days and then raising the chicks for 8-12 weeks. Grand total of 11-15 weeks for 3-3.5 months. Then they do another batch as quick as they can. So for six months out of the year I get no eggs from broody hens. They molt for 2 months in Oct/Nov (some lay during this time) and then take a break until sometime in January or February. That's sort of the gist of it; those aren't hard and fast regulations because feed intake, day length, warmth, peace affect things. But the broody hens do sort of follow that pattern.

    For me it's easier to keep a small broody sub-flock and then keep a flock of layers. The eggs of the layers get placed under the broody hens to hatch more layers. I keep the broodies separate from the layers during the weeks that I collect eggs for hatching/incubating so that I don't collect any broody hen's eggs for hatching.

    Additionally, most "dual purpose" breeds were developed for eggs and meat. Generally speaking, if a breed is developed for eggs, then broodiness is bred out of them because broodiness means fewer eggs will be laid. It's not always easy to find a "dual purpose" breed that will go broody.

    Of dual purpose chickens I've had, both my Black Copper Marans and my Buff Wyandottes are broody, but the one Buff Wyandotte that I let try to be a mommy failed at motherhood. One Speckled Sussex tried and failed. My bantam Cochin went broody once summer, but I kept collecting eggs out from under her.
  8. bob869007

    bob869007 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2012
    Southern Oregon
    If you really want to max out ALL of those priorities you will have to run two separate flocks. The best foragers will be the games or fowl. No contest. They are closely related to wild birds and can literally live off of the land. They will also quick revert to wild, over a few generations, if you do not spend time with them. I use Old English Standard Games to hatch eggs and I use RIRs for my layers and meat birds. The OEGs are excellent mothers and 100% of the hens will go broody at some point in their lives. After that they will continue to go broody. They will teach their clutch to live off of the land as well. I get the free range ability, Large Brown eggs and dual purpose from the RIRs. The OEGs are free rangers, white egg layers that go to the dogs and are used for brooding. The eggs are good but a little small. The OEG meat is akin to a pheasant. They make for excellent soup and stew like cacciatore. The meat holds together well and won't fall a part. My grandmother only made her soups with fowl. My mother goes to a Hispanic grocery store because that is the only place she can find the birds her mother made soup with. I raise them in my backyard on the opposite side of the country. Pros and cons are everywhere with each breed. You will be able to hit 3 out of 4 of your priorities with one bird type but not all 4. So run a small flock of OEG's to hatch your eggs and you will have everything you need/want. The only set back is another coop and you will have to segregate the different flocks with a fence. Or keep your breeders separate and turn them all loose together. The OEGs can fly and will go where they want. Let them establish there own territory before turning loose the egg layers so you can keep them separate. These hens are excellent mothers, very protective. I have one OEG hen who will not let you touch her eggs. She will straight up attack you if you do not heed her warnings. The OEGs will also fight against predators to protect the flock especially if they have chicks. These roosters are the "fighting cocks" and they will definitely die before they let a hen get killed. I am going to try out the Buckeye breed because all of the info I can find says they are the best free ranging prolific egg layer there is. And from what I understand are the "Best" true dual purpose birds that have excellent meat quality and size by 16 weeks. They are in my future. We feed our dogs on the "Prey Model" diet so they eat the same meat we do. Lot's of rabbit and chicken
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017

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