What would be your choice for best overall layer breed...longevity, hardiness, egg size, winter layi

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lady of McCamley, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Okay...not to start "breed wars" here as everyone has their favorites...But I am curious.

    I'm thinking about adding more heritage breeds to my flock. Why?

    Because I would like to get my flock to where I've got the best all around consistent layers of large eggs that lay productively for the longest and have general hardiness.

    I know the commercial market has been chasing that rainbow and has come up with the commercial breeds :EDITED: yes I know I should have said hybrids: (Gold Stars, Black Stars, White Leghorns, Production Reds, etc.)....but those tend to lay really, really well for 2 years and then abruptly curtail...and they aren't really breeding for strength and health...just productivity for 2 years as the commercial growers cull them at that point.

    I'd like to look more long term. Less turn over, better birds.

    What breed would be not so crazy prolific perhaps, but overall lay well and longer and be hardy?

    Your thoughts?

    Lady of McCamley
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  2. bops

    bops In the Brooder

    Aug 3, 2013
    Barneldvers are very hardy, and they lay dark brown eggs. Black Rocks look very similar, they are not extremely hardy, but they will continue to lay for a good few years. So do Daisy Bells.
    This is just from my flock:× other people will probably be able to say much more
    1 person likes this.
  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Songster

    Jan 16, 2012
    Black Stars, Gold Stars, etc. are not breeds but crosses. I guess production reds are some sort of Rhode Island Red, maybe mixed with other things.

    The White Leghorn is a great breed. Maybe you should look for a non-commercial strain that won't lay as many eggs per year but will lay for more years.

    My favorite Leghorn is the Light Brown Leghorn, which lays almost as well as the White Leghorn but has better coloring for hiding from predators. Leghorns are the best for feed to egg conversion, meaning they do not eat as much as other breeds for the amount of eggs you receive. Leghorns are also good for free ranging because they can fly into a tree to get away from dogs and other predators.

    And it should not be too cold for Leghorns in Northwest Oregon. The only thing that can be a problem is frostbite on the comb, but it has to get down in the teens at least for that to be a problem.

    You should get three good years out of a Leghorn. Are you searching for more than that?

    If you want brown eggs, I would get Rhode Island Reds. You seem to be looking for a heritage strain rather than a production strain.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  4. Fancychooklady

    Fancychooklady Crowing

    Jun 14, 2012
    Tasmania. Australia
    Sussex, light, buff , speckled, coronation, silver or brown. Many colours to choose from. Lovely temperament , long lived and lovely big eggs. Mine have layed right through winter.
  5. slfg

    slfg In the Brooder

    Apr 14, 2013
    I've heard good things about Buckeyes. I almost got some when I started my new flock, and I wish I had now. supposedly cold hardy and good layers.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    IMO RIR are a bit on the aggressive side. There's a rose combed leg horn that might be fun to have, less frost bite prone. I've never met one, though. Check out Henderson's chicken breed chart. It'll give you a lot of info in a well laid out format to help you with your search.
  7. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Yep...been through Henderson's chart, which is helpful, but thought I'd see what people here had to say.

    Yes, I guess I am more interested in heritage but only because I'm thinking those 'older type" genes may give better longevity and hardiness rather than the commercialized breeds who've been genetically selected for productivity at the loss of hardiness and longevity.

    I have had RIR's and Leghorns but unfortunately they were too flighty and noisy and aggressive so I've eliminated them from my flock (gleefully giving them to my daughter who moved to a farm...my old RIR hen is known as the noisiest in the county there).

    Right now I've focused more on heritage or specialized breeds with Wyandottes (yet to tell how good they'll be as they've just started to lay), Delawares (ditto). I started with Black Stars (have been good), Gold Stars (good but aging is already setting in I fear at 2 1/2 years), and have one remaining Barred Rock, who seems pretty dependable. Without intending it I'm now adding a bunch of mutts...yard chickens hatched from friend's eggs....so we'll see how they do. The first batch has just begun to lay at 4 months, and thus far so good...we'll see how they do for longevity.

    I like the idea of adding color to my basket (although I know I'll give up some productivity for that)...and the idea of dark color and hardiness in the Barnveldvers is attractive. So are those pretty colors of Sussex. I'll have to look up Buckeye. I've seen them listed at swaps but I've not seen them anywhere for sale yet.

    Thanks for the suggestions thus far.
    Lady of McCamley
  8. I've been raising various Heritage Breed chickens for nearly 5 years and have had experience with many breeds.

    Hands down, my 'all around' favorite breed are my Black Australorps. They lay almost daily, large to extra large light brown eggs, lay throughout the winter months even w/o added light in their coop, are gorgeous birds that have beautiful faces, good even non-excitable temperament, don't pick on other birds but not pushovers in the pecking order and mine are gentle enough to be around older children.
  9. Blue CopperHen

    Blue CopperHen Songster

    Jun 22, 2013
    Hiwasse, Arkansas
    My choices would be #1..Barred Rock #2 Silver Laced Wyandottes. I also like RIR and Orpingtons.. Edited to add Australorps!
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  10. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    I looked up Buckeyes and now I WANT some of those. They are supposed to be excellent mousers, no joke. I wonder how they do with rats. We tend to get overrun with them here...having a natural defense line along with the traps we have to constantly set would be awesome.

    Anyone any idea?

    Love the suggestions...fun to check out different breeds.
    Lady of McCamley

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