which are the best egg layers and foragers?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kennay, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. kennay

    kennay Hatching

    Jun 27, 2011
    I have been looking for some egg laying chickens that can go mostly, or all, on forage. Couldn't care less if they were meaty or meatless birds. Don't even mention Buff Orpingtons. Some of the birds that I considered were Speckled Sussex, Welsummer, Ancona, Americauna (which i doubt is much of a forager but I sure like the egg colors), Blue Andalusian, Dominique or Barred Rocks, Exchequer Leghorn, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte (which I've heard you have to clean them often) and Silver Spangled Hamburg. Have any of these been good foragers for you? Please let me known.

  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Unless you live in some lovely tropical paradise where the lush grass grows year round and there are endless bigs, you will not have chickens that live just on forage.

    During the few months of the year when the foraging is excellent, your hens will live mostly on forage. The rest of the year, you will have to supplement their feed.
  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Birds that have to forage for all or nearly all of their food are not going to lay much no matter how well they are bred. You can't get something for nothing. If you have very good range you'll still need to at least throw out some corn for them every day. Which as the poster above notes will work OK in the fat part of the year on good range, but for the late fall through early spring so long as you keep throwing the corn out for them they'll be able to keep themselves alive, but won't do much more than that.

    As for the specific breeds of birds a well bred Leghorn will outlay pretty much anything going and they are excellent foragers.

    But you're still going to have to feed them.
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I agree, also a chick that is raised by a broody hen that forages, will have better foraging skills than a chick raised too long in a brooder. I think mine are darn good foragers and will cut back on purchased feed only for about 6 weeks, in mid summer. I line in the upper mid-west.

  5. rarely bored

    rarely bored Songster

    Jan 22, 2011
    Central California
    not a chicken, but would guinea hens work? Suppose it would depend on if the eggs could be found. [​IMG]

  6. Endur50

    Endur50 In the Brooder

    Mar 27, 2011
    North Carolina
    Hey, you said not to even mention Buffs but.....my two hens are Buff Orp/Rhode Island Red crosses. They each lay 7 out of every 8 days. They free range all day and I haven't had to refill their feeder in weeks as they haven't touched it. Down here we have lots of bugs and right now the June bugs are in full force. These are birds that had never seen the outside of a coop until we brought them home at 10 weeks. Their foraging skills weren't so great at first but they have learned well. They do have a large area that they forage over-3 acres for only 2 birds.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    I was reading the other day about chickens in the 18th century and one source mentioned that hens only laid 30-40 eggs a year. We've come a long way breeding, developing and studying these domesticated birds. My neighbor remarked, that as a young man, their farm chickens were never intentionally fed, as the chickens were expected to peck through cow pies, bits of chaff in the barn, seeds, or whatever they could find. When I asked how large the eggs were and how many they laid, he remembered them as very small and quite low in number, maybe 2 or 3 eggs per day, considering they had 20 or more hens roaming around.

    In east Africa, a huge poultry minded region, they often keep two flocks; a cared for flock and a free roaming ferrel type flock. The kept flock is for profit and consists of quality, top bred chickens. Occasionally, certain chickens of the ferrel flock are caught and eaten, but even at "full grown" consist of nothing but skin and bones with little to no meat. Good to remember that east Africans eat the entire chicken, yes, bones and all.

    I guess there's a moral in those stories somewhere. [​IMG][​IMG]
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    I agree--you have to feed them no matter what!

    That said, my Clarice, who is a Barred Rock, was a stray chicken who was abandoned by former idiot neighbors when they moved. She lived in my horse pasture for several months before we caught her and gave her a palatial coop and run, thereby ending her days of freedom (and danger). During that time she laid a LOT of eggs. I found 5 different clutches w/ 10+ in each around the farm. I was tossing her horse feed occasionally, but that's about it. I doubt she would have been able to keep that up forever, esp. come wintertime, but she was really kind of amazing.

    She's now 8 and still lays 4-5 eggs a week!

    Don't know if this is how Barred Rocks are generally, but she is sure one Tough Chick!
    1 person likes this.

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