What is the best breed for my situation?

SD in WV

In the Brooder
Sep 9, 2019
15
42
49
West "By God" Virginia
As I said in the newbie thread I am new and researching beforehand. I will describe my situation and then what I would like. Any and all advice is appreciated.

*Family of 6 plus 2 dogs and 2 cats
*Chain link back yard about 1/2 acre
*Live outside of city limits but in a neighborhood
*Will build my own coop and run or might buy one at Rural King and add a run
*Will let free range during the day of around and can keep the dogs and cats from bothering them
*Have a shaded area under a tree but the rest is sunlight all day long
*Live in WV so it can get down to 0 or below and up to 99 with the "feels like" temperatures being well below 0 or over 110

I am wanting excellent egg producers that are very weather hardy and are as docile as possible since I have 2 small boys who will want to be around them a lot. Those are my 3 main wants in finding the right chickens for my family and our area

As for other stuff, egg color doesn't really matter but I do like the brown and blue and green colors.

And should I buy pullets from somewhere online or go to Rural King for the chicks (which I think the boys will LOVE to raise) or buy chicks online. We always have to go back and see if they have any as soon as we wall in. Also when is the best time of year to get chicks?

Finally I was going to get 6 (one fore each person) and maybe get a mix of 3+3 or 2+2+2. So please don't be afraid to mention multiple types.

As always, thank you for any advice
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,685
21,338
907
Southeast Louisiana
Welcome to the forum, glad you joined.

*Live outside of city limits but in a neighborhood

Does your neighborhood have any rules about keeping chickens? Many do, even outside the city limits.

*Will build my own coop and run or might buy one at Rural King and add a run

Before you buy one ask on here about it with photos or a link. The majority of prefab coops don't hold nearly as many as they way they will and are often poorly designed. If you build one ask for opinions on it before you buy materials.

*Will let free range during the day of around and can keep the dogs and cats from bothering them

You can probably train your dogs to leave them alone. Once they are of decent size cats seldom bother them. Still, it is a concern.

I am wanting excellent egg producers that are very weather hardy and are as docile as possible since I have 2 small boys who will want to be around them a lot. Those are my 3 main wants in finding the right chickens for my family and our area

We all have our favorites but that's just our personal preferences. I'll link a couple of breed selectors that might help you. It may cause you to think of something you have not considered, such as whether you want a chicken that might go broody.

http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/which-breed-is-right-for-me.aspx

http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/chick_selector.html

Another way is to go through Henderson's Breed Chart to look for characteristics you think you might want and then go to Feathersite to see what they look like.

Henderson’s Breed Chart

http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html

Feathersite

http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/BRKPoultryPage.html#Chickens

One of the weaknesses of Henderson's is that it does not have the not-pure-breed chickens. Easter Eggers or the hybrid sex links might suit you quite well.

And should I buy pullets from somewhere online or go to Rural King for the chicks (which I think the boys will LOVE to raise) or buy chicks online.

I think you only want females. You can buy sexed chicks online at a hatchery but unless you get the sex-linked hybrids there is about a 10% chance one will be a male. I don't know how many different bins of chicks your Rural King has or what is in them. Sometimes they have bins labeled pullets but how well that is maintained depends on the people that work there. Some are knowledgeable, some are not, just like all feed stores. Many hatcheries will not let you ship only six chicks, though some will at certain times of the year. Most want to ship a minimum number of chicks so they can keep each other warm during shipping. While I love the idea of raising them from chicks you might be better off getting Point of Lay (POL) pullets.

How do you find POL pullets? You can probably find a chicken swap or auction near you but I try to avoid those. When you get a bunch of chickens together from different sources they can share diseases and parasites. Many people do get their chickens from auctions and swaps and don't have issues, it is a way you can go. It's the unknown risk that stops me.

You can chat with your county extension office. They might know a local source. You can search online for people near you, maybe Craigslist. Or you can find your State thread in the "Where am I? Where are you!" section of this forum and chat with your neighbors. You may have to take what you can get more than what you think you want. This part, sourcing the chickens, can be challenging.

Also when is the best time of year to get chicks?

For POL pullets it doesn't matter. For chicks everyone has their own opinion. People can give you reasons to get them in the spring or early summer. Others like to get them in the fall or even winter. For your first time late spring or early summer is probably the best time because the weather is not so much a factor in managing them. My first annual hatch in my incubator is generally in February so you can manage in winter.

Take your time and decide which way you want to go. Get your facilities ready before you get any chicks. And don't be afraid to start your own threads asking things, even if it has been asked before. You will get a lot of different opinions on practically everything. That's because there are so many different things that work and because we all have different goals, climates, and set-ups.

Good luck!
 
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cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,218
20,310
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
:welcome :frow @Ridgerunner has given you good advice. I really can't add much except to say that most breeds can be pretty docile but there are always exceptions such as Leghorns tend to be flighty. It might be fun for you and the kids to go to Rural King and pick out some chicks. Hatcheries and places like Rural King that get their chicks from hatcheries have a 90% guarantee that the chicks will be females but there is always a chance you could get a male. You may want to get an extra chick or two in case you loose any. You will probably get a lot of suggestions. Everyone is different as well as their flocks and setups. Careful handling of the chicks will also help to make them more docile and less afraid. The chicks will get used to it. Planning is key to providing the best situation for your birds from how large of a coop and possibly a run/pen for the birds. Free ranging is ok but sooner or later predators could discover your flock. I don't free range my birds anymore due to losses from predators. I went for a long time before my first bird was killed but when you loose a bird to a predator the predators usually have your address then. As you do more research you will find the best ways to protect your birds which includes securing the coop. I'm not trying to scare you but most chicken owners will experience predation at some point. If a predator can find away to a free chicken meal, they will. I have game cameras up and was surprised of the predators here especially at night. Good luck and have fun...
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,218
20,310
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I forgot to add, the time of year you get your chicks can a factor because they will need a brooding space and possible heat for awhile especially at night if it's cold enough. Chicks initially need warmth so a heat source may be necessary at first, primarily during the nighttime when the temperatures go down.
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Apr 9, 2013
23,489
123,799
1,632
My Coop
My Coop
Hi there :)

Heat is harder on chicks than cold in my experience. You can put a heat plate directly in the coop if you have electricity out there and brood chicks in there rather than the house. It works wonderfully and they'll get used to their new home right away.

I'm partial to Turkens, they handle heat very well and can deal with cold too. Not cute to some, but I think so. Good luck with your new adventure!
 

Canuck88

Songster
Jul 17, 2019
172
543
176
BC
Lots of good advice here! I just wanted to chime in and say that I feel Light Sussex, Light Brahma and Black Australorps would probably be good choices for your needs. In my experience they tend to be docile, friendly, cold hardy and good layers even in the cold.

I am addicted to chickens and love almost all of them though, so you can probably make just about any breed that interests you work for your situation!
 

slejdad

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
106
547
146
Whaleyville (Suffolk) Va
You are getting great advice. The only thing I would add is that you should build your coop first. It can take longer than planned and you will know exactly how many chickens it wil fit before you buy. Build the biggest coop you can to plan for chicken math to strike. Building first allows for you to plan carefully for your needs.
+1 on everything CatWhiperer said. I did not follow the "build your coop first" bit of advice and it almost put me in a pinch. The poor girls were in the cramped brooder longer than they should have been.
 

slejdad

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
106
547
146
Whaleyville (Suffolk) Va
You've already received solid advice from people more knowledgeable than I, but I will through in my .02 on breeds. Keep in mind I am by no means an expert. If I was only going to get 6 birds and personality was a concern, I would go with Orpingtons. They are just the sweetest! if you want more variety you could always get 2 buff, 2 blue, and 2 lavender! Jusy my .02 and YMMV ;)
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,218
20,310
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I have a chick/grow-out coop that I have brooded in.
IMG_0886.JPG
 

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