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What chicken breed is best for my situation?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Duckstruck, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. Rhode Island Red

    1 vote(s)
  2. Red Star

    3 vote(s)
  3. Black Sex Link

    0 vote(s)
  4. Black Australorp

    1 vote(s)
  5. Buff Orpington

    3 vote(s)
  6. Other (please post breed name)

    3 vote(s)
  1. Duckstruck

    Duckstruck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2016
    East Tennessee
    Next spring, my family will most likely be purchasing chicks. In the meantime, I need to pinpoint the breeds I will get. Since I am unexperienced when it comes to chickens, I need advice from chicken owners.

    I have done much research on them and have found a few breeds I favor:
    Red Star
    Rhode Island Red
    Black Sex Link
    Black Australorp
    Buff Orpington

    I'm open for suggestions of other breeds!

    Since we live in East Tennessee, our climate is 50/50; hot in the summers and cold in the winters. We experience all seasons, so the breed will have to be hardy in terms of temperature. The birds would live in a large run and coop, so they will be somewhat exposed to the elements (we will have heat lamps in winter and fans in the summer). The chickens will be housed next to my 6 pet ducks (who are egg-eaters), but not mixed together. The chicken breeds would have to mingle together peacefully, so no unreasonably aggressive birds or roosters. We live in an area with birds of prey, opossums, coyotes, groundhogs, rats, and weasels, but none have killed any of my outdoor animals (rabbits and ducks). We make sure the wiring goes extra deep in the ground incase of any digging predator.
    The breeds, not only would have to coexist in harmony, but would have to be tame enough to be nice to me (eat out of my hand, come towards me, exc.), so a nice breed would be a BIG plus. They are not only going to provide eggs for us, but are going to be somewhat "pets".
    The chicken breed would have to be excellent egg layers, since that is the point of getting them anyway. It doesn't really matter how broody they are, but we strive for many eggs a day. We are expecting 6 starting hens for our flock, possibly adding on in the future.
    So, what do you guys think? We want to pick 3 breeds of birds (2 of each). Please tell me your opinion!
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

    Jan 10, 2013
    [​IMG] glad to have you join us. You should consider posting an intro under the New Members forum for a proper welcoming.

    I'm reluctant to vote - since I have experience only with BO's and BR's.


    I have had 3 Buff Orpingtons raised with 3 Plymouth Barred Rocks - they fared well together and I have loved all of them.

    But 2 of the BO's were often broody - so no eggs for the duration and weeks after. Not to mention the attitude and disruption in harmony of the flock when those hormones are flying.

    Of the 3 BR's only one ever showed any broody tendencies (going on right now at 3 yo) - but she continues to lay eggs nearly daily, but spends a little more time going back to sit on her egg [​IMG]

    Both of the breeds have tolerated our hot summers in Georgia. Cold is not likely a real issue - most breeds are very cold tolerant.

    From past discussions - all the breeds you list would be acceptable for your needs. Personally I was afraid of breed descriptions about the RIR having some aggressive personalities - but most reports are that most are not aggressive.


    Even the breeds we expect to be at the bottom of the order may be at the top. If you were to select only one breed - they will each have a unique personality and not always fit the breed's description. But for sure there will be pecking order issues - usually only at treat time in my case.


    Check on your sources to see what will be available. Worry more about getting females - sex-linked or professionally sexed chicks is the best bet- rehoming roos is a common problem. Pick the ones that "suit your eye" - and "look good together". If you want to mix more dominant breeds with non-dominant personalities - make sure the lower ones will have some "buddies".

    Good luck with your choices, plans and enjoy the adventure [​IMG]
  3. KYTinpusher

    KYTinpusher Master Enabler

    Sep 3, 2011
    Northern KY
    I would suggest you look into Silverudd's Blue (formerly known as Isbars). They are a rare Swedish production breed that are known for laying lots of large (to extra-large in their second year) green eggs. Despite laying large eggs, they are rather small compared to the more common breeds like Orpingtons and Australorps. That small size translates to better feed efficiency (read "less expensive to keep" [​IMG]). They are wonderful free-rangers, but take well to a captive run environment. They get along well with other breeds and I find them the easiest of all breeds I have owned to integrate into a new flock, or integrate others into their flock. They are friendly birds and not flighty. They easily handle the hot summers and the cold winters, laying through it all and rarely going broody. And they are beautiful to look at to boot!

    You can find more information about them here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1090421/silverudds-blue/0_20


    I would also like to advise you against using a heat lamp during the winter. For your winters down there, your chickens wouldn't need it unless it was an unusually extreme cold snap, and even then probably would survive without added heat. If you heat the coop during even moderate cold, and then get a really cold snap where you lose power (like in the middle of a winter storm), your birds will not be adapted to the cold and will be more harshly affected than if they had never had any added heat to begin with. Most breeds of chicken are well adapted to handle winters much colder than you experience in TN without any added heat in the coop. If you have excellent ventilation and protection from drafts in your coop, your birds can survive just about any weather.
  4. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    From a production standpoint the sex-links are going to be the standouts.

    Attitude of the birds has more to do with you imprinting them than anything.

    Second the comment about heating your coop. It's not necessary. Birds are bothered by heat more than cold.

    Ventilate your coop.

    Ventilate your coop.

    Ventilate your coop.
    1 person likes this.
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Breeds: Depends on your flock goals. You stated you want eggs and pets. I do not make pets of my chickens, but I have had Buff Orpingtons and they are a pretty docile breed. The Black Australorps I've had have also been pretty tame. I do not have any experience with the other breeds you've mentioned. I also like my Brahmas. As I said, I don't make pets of my chickens but every now and then one will make itself a pet. I had a Blue Laced Red Wyandotte a few years ago that did that. She'd come running up to me, squat and wait for me to pet her. She was the tamest thing.

    I'm not sure how cold it gets where you live, but I am sure you will not need a heat lamp. I am in Minnesota, and I don't even put the windows in my coop until it gets into the teens. I close the pop door when it gets into the teens below zero. As tmarsh83 stated, ventilation is more important. Cold and dry vs. warm and humid, cold and dry is best. When they breathe and poop, they put moisture into the air, and good ventilation is key to removing that moisture. Too much moisture in the air is not your friend in the winter. That's when frostbite happens.

    Most breeds - in general - can "live together in harmony". Of course, there are individuals in every breed who just can't seem to get along with anybody else.
  6. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    I don't make pets either. Have australorps and they're not docile or friendly at all.

    Meanwhile my Delaware, supposed to be grumpier follows me everywhere.

    Broad brushes don't work.
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Truthfully I would get some of each of those breeds. I prefer a mixed flock and you might too. It makes them easier to tell apart at first. But while one thinks they can pick their favorite bird by reading about it, often times I have been sure I would love this breed only to find out, that those birds really did not do it for me.

    I recommend a mixed flock of pullets only the first year. Measure your coop, do the calculations and fill to 2/3's capacity. Next spring pray for a broody hen (Buff Orpingtons are good) and get some fertilized eggs. Do some hatching (way fun)... go into fall, pretty full up in the coop.

    Next year, repeat, culling some old birds.

    These of course are just pie in the sky plans, coons have been known to adjust such plans, don't ask how I know!

    Mrs K
  8. Duckstruck

    Duckstruck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2016
    East Tennessee
    Thanks so much for the feedback! [​IMG]
    I will look into the breeds suggested, but in the meantime, is there any advice for unexperienced people like me?
    I have 6 ducks (half Pekin, half Buff) that live in a coop together and coexist wonderfully! The only sort of "pecking order" is when one duck sneaks up behind another duck and touches them on their rump and scares them away... Will hens be more aggressive when asserting themselves?
    Since our friend keeps chickens, we've heard of a LOT of crazy stories of sick chickens, predators, deformations, exc... In the end, are chickens THAT hardy? Should I expect some sickness to kill some of my future hens? I've kept ducks for a year with only one incident of respiratory infection (thank the Lord she recovered) with the help from veterinarians. But, my parents don't completely result to the vets; we try to cure it with Co-op or Tractor Supply poultry meds before we commit to the veterinary bill. I'm afraid that, if chickens are truly sickly, that we may need to put them down... Vets are a LAST RESORT for us...
    ANY advise helps!
    Once again, thanks for replying! [​IMG]
  9. henny1129

    henny1129 Crazy Livestock Gal

    Mar 21, 2016
    Hello! :frow Hopefully y'all don't mind if I join the conversation. :)

    First, for breeds, I would totally recommend Buff Orpingtons! They are such sweethearts and do produce a good amount of eggs. Our one Buff has been consistently laying a big egg, once a day for a few weeks now. Our other Buff is molting, but she's a very consistent egg layer too. I admit, we make pets out of birds, and pets Buff Orpingtons will be! :D They're really quite friendly! We have had Sex Links before too, and while they are EXCEPTIONAL egg layers, when they get around two years old, they become grumpy hens that lay occasionally when they feel like it.

    I think your expierience with ducks has made you very prepared for chickens after reading your posts! Socialization from a young age is really important in chickens, especially if you want a pet. :) Chickens will be more assertive when figuring out their pecking order, but the most you'll here is a little squabbling.

    Don't scare yourself with other people's stories. :) Yes, these things have happened, but it doesn't mean it will happen to you and your flock. And yes, chickens actually are very hardy and just like ducks, the most important thing is to observe your chickens, and you will know when something is wrong and then you can fix it. :)

    Hopefully I've helped and don't feel bad to ask questions! :frow
  10. Coykoi

    Coykoi Just Hatched

    Sep 6, 2016
    I'm new to keeping chickens too and I did a lot of research on the best breeds for me. I decided that calm, quiet, tame, and fair to good egg production were my top traits - in that order. I settled on Buff Orps and Black Austalorps for those traits and for their looks (I wanted a little feather color variety or else I would have gone with all of either). I made Barred Rocks my third choice in case one of the others wasn't available. Turns out when I picked out my Australorps, that one was actually a Black Sex link instead. At two weeks of age she's the smallest and the most talkative, but seems really inquisitive and friendly. She does spook a little more than the others, so I think she got a little of daddy's temperament :) They get handled a lot, so that'll help them know that I'm a friend and food bringer. The dogs have barked their lungs out when I've given the chicks some time in the coop/run, and they mostly ignore the dogs.

    Silkies also ranked very high on the friendly factor, but I think they may have a harder time in the winter, plus I wanted larger eggs.

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