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selecting an egg layer breed for Zone 9B

 
Martin Bernal
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Hello

This chicken  house on a trailer is almost done, just have to get the rood on it now. I am looking to get some baby chicks here soon. I am not sure what breed to select. I am also considering doing a mixture of chicken and ducks and I would like some feedback on that. maybe throw in a couple of geese.

thanks

https://permies.com/t/55603/critters/chicken-coop-trailer
 
Maureen Atsali
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Location: Western Kenya
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Hi!  I keep Muscovy ducks with my chickens.  I like kuroiler chickens as a dual purpose tropical breed, but I am not sure if they are available in the USA.  Muscovies, in my experience, are super easy ducks, prolific breeders, mellow enough to cohabitate with the chickens.  They get quite big, especially the drakes, and are very tasty.
 
Su Ba
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Some factors to consider in your breed choice...
...are you looking for primarily eggs, primarily meat, or a bit of both?
...are you expecting them to forage primarily, or do you plan on the forage to be a supplement to regular feed?

For my own chickens, I provide homemade feed to them (in pans) with free foraging 2 to 3 hours every afternoon (I use very little store bought feed, and eventually will phase it out altogether.) Based upon this feeding method, for egg production I like the red sex links that McMurray offers. They are rather mellow hens and lay large eggs. I also like the Americana and Araucana. The White Leghorn is probably the best white egg layer, but I'm not fond of their personality, so I no longer keep them.

I haven't raised strictly meat birds, but the Cornish cross is what people around here use.

Dual purpose breeds do an ok job at eggs & meat, but are not outstanding in either field. At least that has been my experience. I've had many different breeds just for the fun of it or just because I liked their looks. Some were better than others at foraging, but since I provide the majority of their feed for them, I didn't notice a big difference. Of the dual purpose breeds, I prefer the Rhode Island Reds.

Since some breeds can forage better than others, it depends upon how you expect them to do with your chicken tractor set up.
 
Su Ba
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Forgot to talk about ducks.....

I have some female Muscovy ducks in with my hens. They get along fine. But ducks like to have a water source, which can make a pen sloppy in a hurry. So I had to make a special set up for a mini-micro pond so that the ducks could eat food then clean their bills without mucking up the whole pen. While the chickens do fine with the water nipples, the ducks need a bowl or pan of water for bill cleaning.

I can't let my ducks free range because they fly instantly to the veggie gardens. Once there, they won't return to the chicken enclosure, preferring to roost in trees instead. From experience I can tell you that it doesn't take long for a small band of ducks to destroy an entire garden! Years ago when I had a Border Collie, she kept them out of the main garden and brought the ducks into the pen every evening. But sadly the collie passed away, of advanced age, and I haven't gotten a good replacement yet. Thus the ducks must stay in their 10' x 100' pen where I bring fresh greenery to them every morning.

I don't have much experience with other types of ducks, but I do like the Muscovy.
 
Maureen Atsali
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Location: Western Kenya
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Su Ba good point... How you plan to feed them should be a primary factor in choosing a breed.  Also if you want your hens to hatch out their eggs. Many layer breeds won't brood.  My chickens do not get any commercial feeds. They free range and get some table scraps and garden refuse.  I keep the kuroilers for egg production, which is fair to average.  I keep kienyeji chickens for brooding.  Both are good at feeding themselves. Many specialized breeds aren't good foragers, and won't be productive without supplemental feed. 

I clip the flight feathers from my muscovies, and they free range as well.  I find that they don't wander very far. They can be destructive in the garden, especially with tender new sprouts.  Mine don't have a pond, they just get a basin of water so they can splash and bath. 
 
Su Ba
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Chickens for brooding.....glad you brought that up, Maureen. So many breeds are poor brooders. And even some of the good brooder breeds are only fair mothers.

This past year I began raising my own replacement chickens. I have a nice Barnvelder rooster, a real gentleman. Thus all my chicks are mixbreeds, but that is fine with me. The number one reason for keeping my chickens is for their manure (I create my own garden fertilizer), with the eggs being a nice bonus. I use the local feral hens as my brooders. They are topnotch brooders and superior mothers compared to my commercial hens. These hens free range on my back 14 acres, raising the chicks in the pastures and woods. The cockerels go into the pot as soon as they start to crow. I round up the pullets at 5 months of age and they get integrated into the main flock.
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