What's the best foraging breed that is also predator savvy?

ritansean

Hatching
Mar 16, 2020
3
1
9
I am looking for a breed that can forage well that relies less on feed. Ravens and eagles are a problem in my area, so I would like a breed that is alert or have some size advantage to minimize predator loss. I am not looking for any specific use such as egg, meat, pest control, or brooding, but if the breed is good for any of these use I would be very happy. Any suggestions?
 

Mtnboomer

Crowing
Mar 17, 2019
1,304
2,525
262
Southwest Virginia (mountains)
I free range Brahmas. They are very easy to keep. Large breed, eat every bug in sight, kill and eat mice, small snakes, frogs, few disease issues, produce large eggs every other day, and delicious meat. Thry are docile, tolerate each other well, and cold hardy.

Feed requirements in winter are about 100lbs/8 birds/month for me in the mountains of va. Other variables can help or hurt that number. Severity of the winter, environment, winter forage opportunities, etc.

Summer feed requirements are roughly 60lbs/8 birds/month.
 
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cmom

Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
30,100
32,477
971
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
There are so many breeds to choose from. Maybe these sites will help you in your choice. Most any birds can be prey for predators so a safe environment for you birds is the best bet. It appears you are considering free ranging your birds. You will loose some eventually when free ranging after the predators have discovered them. You will probably not see the predator when it strikes. Many lurk looking for an opportunity when you least expect it. Good luck and have fun...
http://www.poultrydvm.com/breed-selector.php
https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/chick_selector.html
https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/chick_selector.html
https://www.poultryclub.org/breeds/
http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html
 

Perris

Still learning
Jan 28, 2018
4,774
21,989
837
Gower, Wales
Naked Neck Turkens are the only breed anyone needs, best layers and best heritage meat birds and they are super cool 😎 and I'm not biased ;) :D
In all seriousness though....one of the best articles I've read on BYC on the subject, very good read;
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/bees-key-points-to-successful-and-safe-free-ranging.65895/

thanks for that link - great article!
Hello @ritansean - welcome to BYC :frow
I recommend Swedish Flower hens; this breed was created by natural selection in the south of Sweden, not by breeders' designs. So it passed the survival test already!
 
May 9, 2020
184
386
136
Clark County, KY
Our chickens are not free range (too many varmits of all kinds). Of the breeds I have had I would say that any Leghorn variety is alert and fast. They aren’t big but they could probably get away better than some of the larger breeds. They lay good too. I would say that the brown Leghorns would be my pick if I were attempting to free range chickens.
 

Beer can

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Aug 12, 2014
10,126
20,131
881
Upstate NY
I free range Brahmas. They are very easy to keep. Large breed, eat every bug in sight, kill and eat mice, small snakes, frogs, few disease issues, produce large eggs every other day, and delicious meat. Thry are docile, tolerate each other well, and cold hardy.

Feed requirements in winter are about 200lbs/8 birds/month for me in the mountains of va. Other variables can help or hurt that number. Severity of the winter, environment, winter forage opportunities, etc.

Summer feed requirements are roughly 60lbs/8 birds/month.
I had Sandhill white Giants for years (I've crossed my white naked necks with them now, really love the naked necks, great layers, best meat bird for heritage IMHO, small at when I process when the roosters start crowing I process the cockerels and pullets that don't fit into my breeding program, they are about 3lbs dressed but very nice. Should be bigger now though with the giant cross(haven't processed any yet) Half the feathers easy to pluck, and NO hair to singe off the skin not even on crosses) one thing I always heared when I had the Giants, same thing with Brahmas I'm sure, that they are hogs, too much to feed them. Not in my experience, had a very mixed flock of many breeds when I had them, and had kept them separate during breeding hatching purposes. I found them to eat way less than everyone else. I think it's because they are so docile laid back, not on the go go go like some other breeds. And they, and I'd say Brahmas also, say takes too long to get to processing size. BS I say, yeah they take nine months to a year to get to their potential of 9-13lbs, but younger just as much meat or more than all other heritage breeds. Bigger bones but weighed more, more meat at when I usually cull about crowing age. The giant birds make great dual purpose, my giants laid as good as everyone else also, and where more apt to lay into winter without extra light.
And I had my Giant rooster chase off a fox one time, according to DW and my oldest DD's boyfriend who were home at the time, watched him beat the crap out of it pecking and spurring as it was running away. I did lose when of my best GJ hens but at least the fox had no chance to eat it.
 

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