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Favorite chicken breed?

 
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Organick, you can certainly make 'sex-link' chickens from many different breeds, as long as you are aware of the genetics and choose the proper male and female colors to start with.  Sex-link specifically means the ability to determine the sex of the chicks at hatching by their color.  The sex-links that are sold as egg-layers, however, come from stock specially selected for egg-laying ability.  Whether or not home-grown sex-links would equal the egg-laying performance of commercial sex-links would depend on what you had for parent stock. 

I imagine ducks would do just fine on rotated pasture, especially if you have a livestock guardian dog to protect them from predators (esp. aerial predators), since they probably wouldn't have much cover in the paddocks.  It would be simpler, IMO, to keep ducks that way than chickens, since (most) ducks don't tend to want to fly (Muscovies and some smaller breeds are exceptions) and are pretty easy to fence in. 

Kathleen




oh I know but the quality of any bird is gonna depend on parent stock.......

So about the aerial predators...I have read that breeds like muscovy and anconas are big enough when full grown that aerial predation is not of huge concern??  I am really curious because if I decide to get some egg ducks that could be the deal breaker betwen khaki campbells and anconas.
I do have a hawk population but they have not bothered any of my birds......I also have a very very healthy crow population as well though so that may help but I heard hawks wont mess with scovies..
 
pollinator
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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A few years ago when I had some young ducks in the yard, I noticed hawks circling our yard a couple of times, and ran out and frightened them off.  They didn't come back, but they have plenty of other things to eat around here.

My daughter, in NH, has put bird netting over her chicken run, partly to keep the chickens in, but also to prevent hawks and owls from getting at the poultry (she also has ducks in there).  When I still lived there, we had an owl get into the chicken pen a couple of times (same owl, subsequent nights).  This was a section of the garage that we'd fenced off for the chickens -- that owl had to work at it to get in there. 

As far as the size of the ducks, I don't know how much difference it would really make.  Some hawks are pretty big, too.  You might try keeping a pair of geese in with the ducks.  But if you are trying to decide between Khaki Campbells and Anconas, if it was me, I'd go with the Anconas.  I'm not a big fan of 'pinto' colored animals, but I've had Khakis and they are nervous things; I've heard the Anconas are a lot calmer.  Also they get bigger and would have more meat on them, if you plan to butcher.

Kathleen
 
Tim Canton
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Yeah the hawks are well fed here too.        I just checked out storey's guide to raising ducks from the library today..  Dave Holderread wrote it.  He says the larger breeds are "less likely" to suffer from aerial predation.    I dont really like the white coloring either but the anconas seem like the egg breed without staying smaller size wise which worries me more with the hawks.  Plus they are great foragers from what I hear
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Dave Holderread's book is the one I've got (packed away in a box in the garage somewhere right now).  It's excellent -- he's been raising waterfowl for many, many years, and operates one of the top waterfowl hatcheries.  Unfortunately, they don't sell Anconas anymore, as they needed to cut back, so they are specializing in the rarer breeds, and sold their line of Anconas to someone else, who charges a bit more for them than the Holderreads did. 

Kathleen
 
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Location: OR - Willamette Valley
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Unfortunately, they don't sell Anconas anymore, as they needed to cut back, so they are specializing in the rarer breeds, and sold their line of Anconas to someone else, who charges a bit more for them than the Holderreads did.

FWIW, they do still sell Magpies which are similar to Ancona's (slightly smaller) and I can vouch for their foraging capabilities.  Also, they apparently dodge well, the neighbors haven't lost any to hawks yet.  I'm planning on switching from chickens to Magpie ducks next year.
 
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Location: Wanaka, New Zealand
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Tim Canton wrote:

John Polk wrote:

The sex-links are also excellent layers, but since they are hybrids, they will not breed true.  They are some of the most docile/people friendly hens around (and often, the first in the flock to begin laying).  Since they will not breed true, I know of nobody that keeps the roos beyond freezer camp, but I would imagine that they would continue to breed good, docile egg layers...worth a try for a generation or two.



how do the boys add up as meat birds??    I could see keeping a flock of BR and throwing a RIR roo in there with them and end up with some sex links.  The egg layers would out produce but what about meat?



I have butchered quite a few black sexlink cockerals, rhode island red over barred rock hen, which I'll call blackrocks. They definately grow faster than purebreeds of either breed. My barred rock roo was from a laying strain, ie he was only medium sized for the breed I think, but my barred rock pullet is pretty big. I have Hyline commercial layers (pullets also) and I would say that the barred rock has almost kept up with them for egg production, (aside from when she did go broody and raise chicks.) It's now 5 weeks away from the shortest day here, we've got about 10.5 hours of daylight and she just laid 6 eggs in a row. Our laying hens are on organic layer pellets, a fair bit of sprouted wheat and freerange.

We killed most of the blackrock cockerals around 18 weeks old and they dressed out at 1.4 to 1.5 kg on a mostly sprouted wheat, scraps and freerange diet from 6 weeks old. They were delicious roasted and would feed about 6 people. Ive kept one of the blackrock roos as our stud cock, as his RIR father got a foot problem and had to be culled. We named him Thor and he has been incredibly active with his ladies since he was 6 months old. At that age he was as big as his old man.

I think with a bigger RIR cock and a hen rather than a pullet the cockerals would be quite a bit bigger at 18 weeks, and you could definately feed them more than I did. Next season Im going to use a Black Langshan over my barred rock hen, and the other option I would like to try is Astralorp over barred rock. Both of these are black sexlinks. I have 3 cockerals from RIR over langshan and they are very fast feathering, you can tell their sex at about 2 weeks as their combs grow very fast, and one in particular is very wide and looks a bit like a cornish cross that he's hanging out with in body formation.

Langshans are hardy, good forragers, great winter layers and carry a fair bit of breast meat. Apparently they don't vary too much between strains as they have a fairly tight genetic background which was locked in hundreds of years ago, or something to that effect. Their only downside is they are slow developers, although the fastest of the asiatic breeds. Hence the benefit of crossing them with something faster developing.
Here's Thor at about 23 weeks, with one of his half sisters, who is 2 weeks younger
thor-017.JPG
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Tim Canton wrote:Just wondering what everyone likes to raise?  I like "pure breeds"  because it give me the ability to not have to rely on outside inputs for my birds.  I have some black australorps right now and they are ok.  I am thinking about getting a different breed this fall though.  Just looking for opinions of any sort.

Genral desires are good foragers, broody, good dual purpose breed, cold hardy, not people agressive since i have 2 kids.

I have always liked barred rocks, RIR except i hear the boys are mean sometimes.  A few others have recommended buckeyes, dominiques, delewares.

Just curious what you all like and keep.



You really can't beat the Black Austrolorp for sheer longevity on egg production, hardiness and personality. They have a meaty build, make great mothers, go broody enough to reproduce but not so often that it ruins egg production. I have a couple of BAs in their 7 year of lay and are laying every day or every other day in peak season and they are some of the few that lay all winter as well. And they are sweet as sugar!

I like a flock that will not only lay very well but also lay for many years and will reproduce their own good qualities. There are a few breeds that I always recommend for just such a flock. I free range all year and usually keep a flock of 30 or more, do not coddle my flock by providing heat, light or other cushy living conditions and they only get fed once a day. I only use all natural husbandry, cull for laying and for health and require that my birds be good foragers, thrifty on feed and be flighty enough to avoid predators.

These are my tried and true, all time favorite breeds for just such a flock....most of which are currently in my layer flock at this moment and laying their fool heads off at the ripe age of 2 yrs, 6 yrs and 7 yrs. Black Aussies, RIR, White Rock, New Hamps, Barred Rocks, Leghorns. I've tried many other breeds but these are the ones that keep standing out from the crowd over the years and after the culling is done and the dust settles, these breeds are still standing.

I can't say enough good things about the White Rocks...great layers, thrifty on feed but huge, heavy bodies, great mothers, great free ranging breed. Whenever I need a foster mama, I use my WRs. Whenever I need replacement hens, I choose one of the WRs that go broody at least once a year to do it. BAs are the same but not as fierce in their mothering as the WRs.

RIRs get a bad rap from everyone as do the Leghorns....but I never had any bad traits from either each time I've had them in my flocks. Always nice, always good producers, no picking or aggression noted at all and lay good and long. Not as meaty or broody as the fat girls but make up for it in laying prowess. Can't go wrong with either breed.

I've had RIR roos and they make great flockmasters. My current roo~a Partridge Rock~ has been my all time favorite because he rarely crows...just once or twice in the morning and then I guess he just doesn't have to say much after that...his confidence is THAT high! LOL He is gorgeous and huge, has 3 in. spurs and manages to never hurt a hen, is very vigilant in his guard duties, and knows his place around humans...all these traits I value in a good roo.
 
Posts: 19
Location: Missouri
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Tim, did you make a decision on what to get? I've long been a big fan of the red sexlinks but this will be my last year with them. I wanted to simplify things around here and go with one breed that will breed true that I can use for eggs and meat. We ended up ordering Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks to replace our current flock of misc breeds. We will stick with one breed this time around so we KNOW we can pick up any fresh eggs and know what will hatch from that egg and can rest assured the Wyandotte will breed true.

I am of the belief that chickens are similar to dogs in that they have established pecking orders. Others don't always agree, but I feel a rooster attacks because it sees its self and not the humans as "top dog". My 5 and 7 year old girls have been taught to stand up to aggressive roosters and to give them a "soft boot" in the rear if they get aggressive. Our roosters know their place in the pecking order.

I''ll try and include the picture of my daughter who brought Big Ben in for a visit if I can figure out how to attach a photo.


roosters.JPG
[Thumbnail for roosters.JPG]
Big Ben
 
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Heath, love the pic of your daughter with the bird. Brought back memories of my own children with our hens and goats. My daughter had a chick in her room for a while. We thought it was dead at the feed store where i was working but then its cold little body started making noises so I stuck it in my pocket and took it home. My daughter kept it in her room and it eventually became one of our best egg layers. A Rhode Island Red.
 
Heath Gilbert
Posts: 19
Location: Missouri
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Cool story! I'm glad you enjoyed the picture. But if the Mrs learns I posted a picture of one of her babies with bed head I'll be sleeping with those chickens, so don't tell!
 
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
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When I decided to get chickens, the cold was my biggest concern. I figure the first step in responsible chicken raising is to choose a breed that has the genetics to stare the cold in the eye and make it blink. I looked among the cold hearty birds and settled on Jersey Black Giants. I let my first batch of chickens overwinter before I culled the roosters. I saved the biggest healthiest ones. Their backs almost come up to my knee. I figure if I keep the biggest roosters and choose hen that survive the winter well, I will gradually breed chickens that are extra cold hearty.

They are gentle. When I enter the chicken koop, they sometimes stare at me meaningfully, but never anything worse. If they did attack they would lose their head pretty much instantly. There are too many non injurious animals out there that are tasty to be putting myself at risk from a farm animal. The injurious ones will never taste good enough to tolerate the personal risk.

They are adequate egg layers. We get about .8 eggs a day from them. I not a big fan of eggs though. I prefer the meat. They are somewhat slow to mature, but my plan involves pasturing them for 6 or 7 months and canning them, so that really won't matter.
 
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Some of the ones we like are:
Americaunas
RI Reds
NH Reds
Speckled Sussex
Various Orpingtons
 
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Location: Central Valley California
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We have two RIR that we adore. We are new to chickens, and we just recently purchased two Golden Lace Wyandottes. They are a little skiddish compared to our RIR. I don't know if that was a result of the crowded conditions they came from or the breed.
 
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hello, first off I would like to say don't listen to back yard chicken fourms, they are very biasised. I got banned for giving there number one chicken a bad revew. Thay only want to here the good but not the bad lol As far as your question I have had 24 differant chicken breeds.Ii tend tojudge chickens in a differant light than most people.I look for taste and quality of meat most of all then eggs then broodyness as i like for the hens to raise there own chicks. I culled out my bard rocks and many others and setteled for buckeyse, dorkings, cornish, new hampshires, donineques rhoad island reds, and javas. These are the only chicken breeds i will keep now because of the tast and quality of meat size if eggs and being able to forage up there own food and they sit there won eggs. These chicken breeds rock!!!
 
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