Hello all. I am starting to look into getting chickens for our budding urban/small plot farm. What I am looking for in a chicken is a good egg layer and one that will not keep the neighbors up. (Having issues with the neighbors right now but that is another story) I would greatly appreciated any help people can send my way!
Thanks in advance!
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!"
"You've Got to Give Them Hope!"
I have never encountered a quiet breed of chicken. Muscovy ducks, however, are supposed to be quiet, so you might want to contemplate them if you're already having trouble with the neighbors. Or maybe quail?
I think the chickens might kill the quail, so I wouldn't try keeping them in the same pen. Same with ducks and quail, although a lot of people keep ducks and chickens together. Basically you want all the birds to be roughly the same size. Justin Rhodes has a device for protecting smaller birds from larger ones, a special cage the smaller birds can go into to eat or hide out. It's a box with slots on one side which are just big enough for the smaller birds to squeeze through but too small for the big ones. Some of his videos show this cage. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOSGEokQQcdAVFuL_Aq8dlg[/youtube]
We kept our quail in cages. They really need very little room and were fun to have but for us not nearly as sustainable. They were productive and great egg layers but it would take 8 quail eggs for an omelet! Lol! Our ladies (hens) are actually very quite and very productive. Some of the breeds are better foragers some tend to be more broody and more gentle than others. So, it just depends on what you're looking for really. You can keep hens and not have a rooster and keep things pretty quite and unnoticeable. Just to share our experience (I'm sure everyone has their own experiences and opinions) but my favorite breed is the barred rock. I just see the best qualities in them. They are fantastic layers, really good foragers, good meat, docile and very pretty. I'm sure that different strains within the same breeds will have both good ones andmediocre ones but we have loved ours. Others breeds you can't go wrong with include Rhode Island Reds (great egg layers), Buff Orpingtons (maybe the most docile and broodiest, also good egg layer), Black Australorpe (Great dual purpose bird and good forager). We also love our Brown Leghorns (while not a meaty dual purpose bird a fantastic white egg layer and excellent forager. Ours eats very little feed but will be out foraging all day! Lots of other choices out there. We started with RIRs but really like a diverse flock. With the exception of our bantam breed (Nankin Bantams - worth checking out by the way! Awesome birds!! Our girls show them and they've done excellent!) the only rooster we currently have is a very docile Buff Orpington. We'll probably get another Barred Rock Rooster next year. They are usually pretty docile as well but as they age 2-3 yrs they can develop an attitude. Roosters with attitudes find their way into the freezer pretty quick around here! I'll mention the cross breeds also quickly as they deserve some consideration. We've have comets that were phenomenal layers of big brown eggs for 2-3 years but then drop off quicker than the others but most people rotate out their layers every 2-3 yrs anyway. (We are looking for a more sustainable system and are looking to create a landrace type breed (you should check this out also if you're not familiar with it). We've also raised black sex link and really liked them as well so there are a lot of great choices out there. Any of the ones I mentioned and several I didn't would be good choices for a backyard flock. Best of luck!!
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 4 years ago
You haven't put your location in your profile, so we are left guessing which answers might be most useful to you.
If you live in USDA zone 5 or colder, then Buckeyes might be your best choice of breeds.
For quantity of eggs, you can't beat a White Leghorn...there is a reason almost every egg farm uses that breed. They will produce the most eggs per pound of feed. They aren't always the best foragers, but if you start them as chicks, you can train them by putting (bug laden) clumps of sod into their pen. They produce a white egg. It seems that most permies & backyard raisers want brown eggs, but nutritionally & flavor wise, there is no difference between brown and white shells. The difference comes with their diet.
We have Rhode Island Reds (RIR) and they do very well in our cold wet winters. RIR's are good layers of extra large eggs and they forage well.
We have found they are good at hiding in along the house, under shrubs, cars, and the coop when there are predator's about. They are not very flighty and calm down faster than Araucanas or Leghorns. I have friends that love Buff Orpingtons for similar reasons.
Don't get a rooster. They are loud and they need to be. They protect the hens and will crow to warn them of danger. We have one rooster that is some cross mix that is very good to the hens and not aggressive to us but he does start crowing just before dawn when the wild birds start up.
If you get a bunch of hens and find you have a loud drama queen get rid of her. That is the easiest way to get a quiet flock.
check out metzger farms 300 hybrid ducks. they lay more and bigger eggs than chickens. they forage mostly grass. don't scratch up your plants and don't crow a 330 in the morning. much more tolerant to cold and disease. don't peck each other. seems ducks are the way to go! I'm ordering 10 next spring from themas well as a chinese goose to protect them which are the best goose layers also!
Don't expect the duck to be quite. My buff ducks make about a thousand times more noise than my chickens. I don't have a rooster but the hens do a bit of cackling and I have a couple that make a real racket when laying. My buff ducks on the other hand have a really loud quack and they 'talk' a lot. They start calling and quacking in the morning (not dawn thankfully) but around the normal time I go out to feed and water. If I'm running late I hear about it. They also call to me loudly any time I or anyone else is in the yard or near their pen. They also seem to call randomly throughout the day. I was a bit surprised by how often and how loud their calls are.
I had my chickens for years and a few of my neighbors didn't even know I had them. Everyone knows I have ducks and frequently comments on them. Thankfully the neighbors are all fine with the noise...some even claim to enjoy hearing the animals and the neighbor kids like visiting and feeding them so it hasn't been a problem for me.
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association