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Chickens that naturally reproduce

 
Dee Ann Reed
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What breeds have you had that did this well? Thanks for input.

Little Bit Farm
 
Jay Green
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White Rock, Black Austrolorp, New Hampshire, Barred Rock and EE.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The best setters I have ever had are my Cochin Bantams. This was the chickiest year ever, thanks to them. In fact one just hatched a clutch a couple days ago. But they are also among the very smallest breeds of chicken, really extremely tiny. They successfully hatch the eggs of larger breeds, however. I also had two Barred Rocks set this year, but only one did a good job hatching. In the past, I have had good results from Dark Cornish and Australorp.
 
Dee Ann Reed
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I haven't owned very many White Rocks. I have seen a few Australorps set, though they are specifically stated on most hatchery sites, not to be setters. I have a friend who has own New Hampshires for years, and never had one set a clutch of eggs. I haven't had luck with very many Barred Rocks. Buff Orpingtons, have been better, but even they, have not been especially reliable. I HAVE seen a few Easter Eggers set. right now I am working on crossing some bantams to some larger chickens. We'll see how it goes. Has anyone found a reliable mixed chicken. I guess I should say, I have been doing this a long time. I am looking for an all round bird, one that sets, lays, and puts on a decent amount of meat.

Little Bit Farm
 
Dennis Mitchell
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My two year old Australops and my Sumatras have yet to go broody. I was expecting baby chicks by now. I wonder if them being raised by a machine has messed up their mothering skills.
 
John Polk
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I wonder if them being raised by a machine has messed up their mothering skills.


That has a lot to do with it. Chicks that have never known a mother don't make the best mothers.

After decades of hatchery raised birds, 'real birds' are a vanishing species. We need more homesteaders out there raising them the old fashioned way if we want to re-evolve them to a self sustaining barnyard animal.

Chicks raised by their mothers are usually better at foraging, and more alert to the presence of predators.

In my opinion, I also believe that home raised chicks tend to be healthier. They are not exposed to the conditions of commercial growers, and I am certain that those 3 days they spend in the postal system is not helping them either.

 
Cj Sloane
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I have Chanteclers (the chicken of Canada) and they are constantly hiding eggs on me. The first year they hatched some but the other chickens killed most of the chicks. They're better about protecting their chicks now.

Just in the last week I found a bunch of new chantecler chicks - that a turkey hatched! So far there a 5 live chicks (a few dead ones). Kind of late in the season in Vermont for baby chicks but we'll see how they do. The chickens are still laying right next to where the turkey was brooding so at least I'm getting more eggs.

Including this new batch I have 15 chicks of varying ages. I've also got too many roosters now from last years chicks but I'll cull them as I harvest my meat birds starting this weekend.
 
Cj Sloane
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Dee Ann Reed wrote:I am looking for an all round bird, one that sets, lays, and puts on a decent amount of meat.


The Chantecler does this for me but at a price. They probably lay half the number of eggs as dedicated layer. The eggs are on the small side. They hide eggs though mine are super free range. If I get a chicken tractor set up that wont be such an issue. The birds themselves are on the small side but can be eaten a any age, supposedly, but they grow much slower than a meat bird.

They are very good at foraging and I barely feed them during the summer.

They are specifically bred for cold weather but I'm sure there are breeds like that for warm weather.
 
Jay Green
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I am looking for an all round bird, one that sets, lays, and puts on a decent amount of meat.


White Rock is what you need. Heaviest layer I've ever owned~my hens will go 8-10 lbs live weight with heavy muscling at breast and thigh, thrifty on feed, good forager, good broody and mothering, excellent hardiness and hardy for cold or hot climates, excellent laying and longevity of lay~my WRs are in their 6th year and still going strong....chickens in my flock must lay every day or every other day(if they are older than 3 yrs) in peak season to make the culling cut. Best all around breed I'd recommend for a self-sustaining flock.
 
Tyler Ludens
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John Polk wrote:

Chicks raised by their mothers are usually better at foraging, and more alert to the presence of predators.



As far as foraging goes, with my last batch of hatchery chicks I tried to encourage good foraging behavior by not giving any commercial feed, only home-ground feed from whole grains (no corn because all corn sold here is probably GMO) and when they were only a few days old giving them buckets of garden soil containing lots of bugs. Now they are the most foraging bunch of chickens I've ever had and their babies are great foragers also. They usually aren't interested in any grain I put out for them but immediately run off into the woods to forage. They seem reasonably alert to predators as we've only lost one so far to what was probably a hawk. These are Cochin Bantams and Cochin Bantam/Barred Rock/Partridge Rock/Mystery Bantam crosses. I'm going to try to raise up my own regionally appropriate breed of chicken using these genetics.
 
John Polk
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when they were only a few days old giving them buckets of garden soil containing lots of bugs


I think that is the best method for dealing with hatchery chix.
Most people just keep dumping cereals at their feet, and they grow up being dependent on cereal.
Teach them young, and they will know where/how to find their own food.
It will $ave you a lot in the long run, and they will be healthier for it.

Chix that forage for their own food build immunity to the local 'baddies'.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Super tiny but super good mom Cochin Bantam and her chicks (total of 5 chicks)

 
gani et se
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Kind of funny -- the perspective in the picture makes the black chicken (rooster?) in the background look way smaller then your super tiny mom
 
R Scott
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John Polk wrote:
I wonder if them being raised by a machine has messed up their mothering skills.


That has a lot to do with it. Chicks that have never known a mother don't make the best mothers.

After decades of hatchery raised birds, 'real birds' are a vanishing species. We need more homesteaders out there raising them the old fashioned way if we want to re-evolve them to a self sustaining barnyard animal.

Chicks raised by their mothers are usually better at foraging, and more alert to the presence of predators.

In my opinion, I also believe that home raised chicks tend to be healthier. They are not exposed to the conditions of commercial growers, and I am certain that those 3 days they spend in the postal system is not helping them either.



kind of like people...

We have had broodie birds from just about every breed. Once one takes to setting, we pull her nest off separate and load it up with a good mix of eggs.
 
John Polk
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The egg farm I worked on in South America raised all of their replacement hens themselves. They tried a home made incubator that would produce a couple dozen chix per day, but gave up on it after about a year. They claimed that their hen raised chix outperformed what they called 'mechanical chickens'.

Every time a hen was found to be a good broody, she got moved permanently to one of the brood houses. They had one (they called "La NiƱera"..."the Nanny") who, as the story goes: "She laid ONE egg and went broody!" She spent 12 years in the brood house (and they claim, hatched over 1,000 chicks in her 'career').

Their fancy machine could not duplicate nature.

 
Paula Edwards
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We have aracaunas, light sussex Isa Brown and some mixed birds. We breed always with aracaunas they do the best job. You don't have to have more than two of them and the rest of the flock can be something else, but I always want to have more than one chicken from each breed, that they are not lonely (unless the Isa Browns they are so bossy. We prefer to have dual purpose breeds, and aracaunas are very light and not so great eating.
 
Jason Lindsay
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We have a mix that we got this spring. They were all picked for various reasons but hardiness being very important. Our main rooster is a light sussex and is LARGE. Also have a welsummer cock that rarely gets any and gets chased a lot but works well in the group. He's smaller and more wild built than the sussex so he stays unharmed, oh and smart. He's also our best look out for predators. The third is a slow shall we say light sussex that is basically treated like a hen.

Point of this is the main rooster is 3 times the size of the welsummer hens and randy all day but very good at it. He balances perfectly and in 2-3 seconds is done. Some get it 4 times a day but still show no signs of wear at all. I think this is rare but points out you never know how its going to turn out. Like the others said. Keep good ones and lose bad ones.

We have one bantam old english game hen specifically because they are tauted to be "fierce mothers". She is now raising 2 six day old reg size mutt chicks and doing admirably. Today they were out sunning and dustbathing and under the neighbors tree with the rest of the flock when we called the flock hauled ass into our yard with the banty and chicks all going full speed.

Also when sleeping at night the banty sleeps under the slow roosters wing with the chicks under her. Guess now I'm glad I didn't force earlier culling.

Mother nature will work it out. I recomend getting a mix of hardy birds for your temperature ranges and let it happen
 
Chris Applegate
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I have good luck w/Astralorps. The first generation (from an incubator)had a number of broody girls and one of them hatched out 7 eggs when she was less than a year old. Mamma did a great job rearing them for about a month and then let it be known she wanted no part of them. Three of that hatching were hens and all were broody this summer. In fact, all tried to sit on the same eggs in a small next box for several weeks! I chose a mamma, separated her/eggs from the rest in a protected area, and she hatched out and raised the babies much better than her mamma had. Showed them how to do everything and is still protecting them (month 3) now that they're all back w/the flock. I think each generation will be better. Crossing my fingers...
 
John Polk
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You're on the right track. Each generation should get better. The instincts will increase as the family lines continue, as long as they are raised as natural chickens, rather than merely mechanized egg robots.

Breed the best...eat the rest.

 
chris leiser
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My silkies have always been good sitters. I have one that sat for 4 weeks on a rock. After a month I checked her and found the rock. She also went broody on plain dirt. I have a small black cochin who is on her second batch of 11 this year! How she covers 11 eggs is beyond me. I have 30 plus cats and she protects all those chicks.
 
Lynn Jacobs
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I'm not sure what breeds we have here; we weren't the ones to buy them. There was talk of getting an incubator so we can hatch out all these eggs from the chickens, turkeys, and ducks, but hubby and I will be doing all the work since we live here as on-site farm managers and I am NOT interested in raising chicks of any kind myself! Let the mothers do it themselves, and I'll gladly collect and eat the other eggs.

At a previous farm where we worked there were so many chickens everywhere, truly free-range, and the Banty's were some of the best broody hens, but there were also a couple black hens that were awesome mamas, too. So many different breeds there I have no idea if they were a mixed breed or not
 
Wyatt Smith
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I recently got to meet Jim Adkins of the Sustainable Poultry Network at the 2012 Acres conference. His talk blew me away. Good breeding of poultry is an urgent need (it is degenerating much like the bee buisiness). I would highly recommend hiring Jim as a consultant or going to one of his workshops.
http://www.sustainablepoultrynetwork.com/

I strongly agree that chicks raised by their mothers will outperform motherless chicks every time.
 
Dee Ann Reed
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Thanks to all who posted on this thread! It is my belief that we need to get back to chickens that can reproduce themselves. There is little to know networking for this. Chickens should be just as "perma"culture as the rest of permaculture. Once again, Thank you!

Little Bit Farm
 
Leila Rich
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In my experience, 'mutts' make good mums, but banties are by far the best.
I've seen them try to raise geese (hilarious) guinea fowl (even a bantam couldn't control their suicidal tendencies...), quail (hilarious again)
I'm not familiar with hybrids.
 
James Graham
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The best reproducers I have found are Dorkings. All in my flock, except one, have gone broody. Also, as someone mentioned, the Cochins are pretty good.
 
Iain Adams
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We've had good results with Silkies and Wyandotte's. Both have hatched eggs very reliably, and the Wyandotte's in particular have been fiercely protective mothers and great foraging teachers.
 
Kitty Hudson
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Interesting about the white rocks--I bought some columbian rocks (a white rock cross) a year ago and one surprised me just before Christmas by going broody. I expected my Easter Eggers to start brooding this coming March or April, but not the columbian. She successfully hatched out 5, some EE/CRs and some pure EE (my roo is an EE) and they are thriving in her care. Thrashed several of the other hens that got too close to the babies. She had been nurtured by an old New Hampshire who was herself a hatchery chick...that old hen is the only bird in the flock that can approach the chicks in fact. At the time I purchased chicks last year I was down to the then 11 year old NH (still gave an occasional egg) and a 5 year old EE. The NH eyed the 50 peeping chicks curiously when I added them to the coop, but didn't bother them. When I went to check on the birds that night I couldn't find 8 of the babies and started to panic...til I realized that Big Red was sitting on the floor nearby. Yup--lifted her off the floor and found a pile of sleeping chicks under her. She nested on the floor wiht them for over a month, tucking as many as she could underneath her and the rest huddling around her. Scared me when I heard distressed cheeping coming from the henhoouse after that first month--when I entered the coop I found that Red had decided it was time for the kids to sleep in the 'big bird' fashion. She was on the top roost, a chck under each wing, and the rest peeping their poor little heads off because the all coulnd't sleep next to Mom.
 
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