What should I get? Plus wet clay soil and feathered feet

Iluveggers

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Jun 27, 2021
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I am getting a few chickens for my own yard next year (my flock lives at the family farm at the end of our road & I share them & chicken keeping duties with my aunt.) Our family will be selling eggs this spring, however I would also like to have a few just for me & my son. He is my right hand helper & is begging for a few to be “his”.

I am in the town so I am limiting him to 3-4. Right now my list of possibilities consists of:
Lavender or Buff Orpington
Speckled Sussex
True Ameraucana
Olive Egger
Salmon Faverolle
Brahma
Marans
Australorp
Bielefelder
Chantecler
Lemon Cuckoo Niedderheiner
Welsummer

My top priorities are friendly lap chickens, decent amount of eggs, and cold hardy (it can stay below 0 for days on occasion). These birds will be pets, but I would like a dozen or so eggs each week as we hope to sell the farm eggs and already have a list for the spring, so I don’t want to take from the family farm profits once we have ours at the house.

I have heard such good things about Faverolles and Brahmas being friendly, but yesterday I happened upon an article talking about wet clay soil and feathered feet. The author stated that the clay soil tends to stick to the feathers and cause problems. The soil in my yard does not drain well (this year with the amount of rain we had it was exceptionally bad). Luckily the farm does not have the same soil so our feather-footed Brahma-mixes are fine there.

I am planning 2 orders for the spring, and will take 4 chicks to separate for our house out of that order, so regardless I will get all of the birds on my list above, just hoping for some advice on what to get for ourselves! All of the breeds above we do not have in our current flock except Australorps and Olive Eggers.

I would like to have 1 colorful egg layer out of the 4, so if anyone has other suggestions please let me know. I hope to hear lots of comments from everyone’s experiences! Thanks so much!
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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Jul 23, 2018
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I also live in NY.
My senior rooster is a SF and he throws the feathered legs, beard/muffs and (mostly) the 5 toes on his kids. The feathered legs are much lighter on his daughters than what he sports.
I will no longer hatch out of my own flock as long as he is the biological father. The leg feathers are prone to breaking during molt.
I have the same crappy hardpan clay soil. I have not noticed at issue with it clinging to their foot feathers.
My concern in the ability to keep the legs healthy in the event of SLM. I use Lice Freee! spray on the rooster preventively. I don't like having to do that. I will work towards clean legged breeds/mixes from here forward.

While SF hens are very docile and friendly, they are often abused because they tend to be so meek.

I highly recommend the Australorp. I have one and she's a beauty, very sweet tempered but also very high ranking, is an excellent mother without being nutso about wanting to be a mother constantly (once a year is good for her) and she lays very large pink eggs well into winter. She is one of the few still laying now and she is 3.5 years old.

I have always wanted Chantecler so I would recommend you give them a try. They are a very cold hardy breed.

I have a pair of Wellies and they are not particularly social or friendly.
The Ameraucana with the pea comb would also be a good choice.

From where are you getting your chicks?
 

Iluveggers

Crowing
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I also live in NY.
My senior rooster is a SF and he throws the feathered legs, beard/muffs and (mostly) the 5 toes on his kids. The feathered legs are much lighter on his daughters than what he sports.
I will no longer hatch out of my own flock as long as he is the biological father. The leg feathers are prone to breaking during molt.
I have the same crappy hardpan clay soil. I have not noticed at issue with it clinging to their foot feathers.
My concern in the ability to keep the legs healthy in the event of SLM. I use Lice Freee! spray on the rooster preventively. I don't like having to do that. I will work towards clean legged breeds/mixes from here forward.

While SF hens are very docile and friendly, they are often abused because they tend to be so meek.

I highly recommend the Australorp. I have one and she's a beauty, very sweet tempered but also very high ranking, is an excellent mother without being nutso about wanting to be a mother constantly (once a year is good for her) and she lays very large pink eggs well into winter. She is one of the few still laying now and she is 3.5 years old.

I have always wanted Chantecler so I would recommend you give them a try. They are a very cold hardy breed.

I have a pair of Wellies and they are not particularly social or friendly.
The Ameraucana with the pea comb would also be a good choice.

From where are you getting your chicks?
Thank you for all that info! I Looooooove so many feather footed breeds, but I want to have our home experience be as stress-free as possible so it’s probably better that we don’t get them here.
I am planning on ordering from McMurray and Ideal (Ideal has Blue Australorps!) and found a local farmer who used to enter his birds at the state fair and has Ameraucana eggs that I could hatch w my son (keep 1 girl and either sell the rest if possible or give to the farm flock...a roo would give us the chance to sell fertilized Easter Egger & True Ameraucana eggs as his blue would mix with all the hens! Would just have to make sure we grabbed Ameraucana eggs if someone wanted specific breed.)
 

JacinLarkwell

Crossing the Road
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I actually have never had any of those besides one odd SF pulley that got I'll after bringing her home, so I can't recommend anything. Have you looked into bresse? I don't know if your hatchery will have them or both thoigh. I love my pair. Super calm with people
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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Jul 23, 2018
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Thank you for all that info! I Looooooove so many feather footed breeds, but I want to have our home experience be as stress-free as possible so it’s probably better that we don’t get them here.
I am planning on ordering from McMurray and Ideal (Ideal has Blue Australorps!) and found a local farmer who used to enter his birds at the state fair and has Ameraucana eggs that I could hatch w my son (keep 1 girl and either sell the rest if possible or give to the farm flock...a roo would give us the chance to sell fertilized Easter Egger & True Ameraucana eggs as his blue would mix with all the hens! Would just have to make sure we grabbed Ameraucana eggs if someone wanted specific breed.)
Have you ever raised a cockerel before?
How old is your son?
I assume you are rural and can have a rooster where you are.
If you have never raised or owned a cockerel, I would instead try to get a rooster from the local farmer that showed his Ameracauna stock. He will have been raised with senior roosters and hens and will be a much better choice to introduce into your flock. But he'd still need to be quarantined.
I also have a little d'Uccle. Talk about feathered feet! She's a cutie patootie but way too broody... oops! What a dorky rhyme. But it's true nonetheless.
 

Iluveggers

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Have you ever raised a cockerel before?
How old is your son?
I assume you are rural and can have a rooster where you are.
If you have never raised or owned a cockerel, I would instead try to get a rooster from the local farmer that showed his Ameracauna stock. He will have been raised with senior roosters and hens and will be a much better choice to introduce into your flock. But he'd still need to be quarantined.
I also have a little d'Uccle. Talk about feathered feet! She's a cutie patootie but way too broody... oops! What a dorky rhyme. But it's true nonetheless.
I have not raised a cockerel but the aunt who I share farm duties grew up with them. The quarantining is the thing that makes me nervous as we have only ever had chicks we raised and never introduced a bird from anywhere else. I cannot have a rooster in my yard but we are in the town and the farm is at the end of the road outside the line and zoned agricultural so that a roo is fine there. My son is in middle school so I am not super worried about him with the chicken, he is taller than me! ❤️ Our farm hasn’t had livestock since before he was born, so it was mostly veggies and herbs. He has an amazing gift with animals, and he helped me deal with pasty butt and Coccidosis with this batch when they were chicks. He shovels poop out of the coop, and carries the tub to the field to dump, refills food & water trays. We are actually getting a few goats next year as my aunt is getting older so she needs help, and she told me she is only getting them b/c of my son as he is a mini-farm hand and loves every minute of being with the animals.

I love D’uccles too! But again the feather issue! 🙄
 

JacinLarkwell

Crossing the Road
Mar 19, 2020
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Personally from IDEAL, my favorite I got this year was a buff laced* sebright. Got 3, and all three are super friendly. Amd cienish bamtams. Those are always dear to me

Murray McMurray has good RC brown leghorns, but stay away from the red and silvers. I also like the buff laced polish, but they have very large beards and crests so they're even more helpless than normal. I think they have bresse too.
 

U_Stormcrow

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Jun 7, 2020
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I'm in FL, also have hardpan clay (up in the Panhandle, on a "hill"), it looks like GA red clay, and we get over an 1" of rain each week, on average. Have Brahmas. I'm using them in my culling project, but "selecting out" the foot feathering. Brahma are smart, predator aware, beautiful pattern. Those are the pros. They are very slow to put on weight, they lay only infrecquently (3 days in 5, roughly), the eggs are medium to medium large and sort of cream/tan. In short, nothing to write home about.

My bird's feet are rarely dirt - they can free range acres, which helps - but when they are dirty, its usually the Brahma. I use deep litter, which helps to control the sticky clay issues - my shoes look much worse than their foot feathers, most of the year.

Even so, I'd be cautious of selecting them - particularly if you are known for wet winters near freezing temps, when they are most vulnerable to frostbite from sticky clay accumulations.

Don't have personal experience with any of the other listed breeds. I'd get (and have) Wyandotte instead of Brahma for very similar traits overall (particularly late development, size and rate of lay, slightly more "pink" egg shell, but wanted to avoid the potential foot feather issues). Slioghtly smaller bird as well, but also more active.
 

Iluveggers

Crowing
Jun 27, 2021
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I'm in FL, also have hardpan clay (up in the Panhandle, on a "hill"), it looks like GA red clay, and we get over an 1" of rain each week, on average. Have Brahmas. I'm using them in my culling project, but "selecting out" the foot feathering. Brahma are smart, predator aware, beautiful pattern. Those are the pros. They are very slow to put on weight, they lay only infrecquently (3 days in 5, roughly), the eggs are medium to medium large and sort of cream/tan. In short, nothing to write home about.

My bird's feet are rarely dirt - they can free range acres, which helps - but when they are dirty, its usually the Brahma. I use deep litter, which helps to control the sticky clay issues - my shoes look much worse than their foot feathers, most of the year.

Even so, I'd be cautious of selecting them - particularly if you are known for wet winters near freezing temps, when they are most vulnerable to frostbite from sticky clay accumulations.

Don't have personal experience with any of the other listed breeds. I'd get (and have) Wyandotte instead of Brahma for very similar traits overall (particularly late development, size and rate of lay, slightly more "pink" egg shell, but wanted to avoid the potential foot feather issues). Slioghtly smaller bird as well, but also more active.
Thank you! Yes with the cold, muddy wet feathers freezing would be a disaster! I have a few GLW at the farm, maybe I’ll get a different color next year!
 

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