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"Landrace" chickens  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I've been working towards a "landrace" chicken that thrives here in WI.  It needs to be cold-hardy, have a small comb to prevent frostbite, be able to handle our hot, humid summers, and preferably have a darker, mottled pattern to help protect against predators.  I'm 4 generations in to my project, and this year I have a chicken that fills all those needs really well.  It has the dark pattern that I want, no comb to speak of, and comes from very winter-happy parents.  I've found it hard to get a good picture of a chicken, so I apologize for the quality.  I'll try to take some pictures that better show her off if people are interested.

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pollinator
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Am I accurate in seeing the base of your landrace chicken being some form of Ameraucana? I'd love to know more about your techniques.

By techniques I mean, do you restrict breeding at all in your flock to allow only those with the desired traits to breed? Or, do you allow your flock to breed freely and you simply observe those birds which best meet your local conditions? How did you select which roo would be best compared to hens? I assume different roos bring you different traits or are you relying on the hens as your primary mechanism to manipulate the genetics?

I ask these questions because I have three breeds of birds on my place and am wondering how I might go about developing a landrace chicken for our local conditions. I'm a firm believer in landrace animals for the home-scale operation because they simply are, by definition, better adapted to local conditions ... hyper local ... meaning the animals are different from the animals even a mile away. I don't have a roo presently, but I'd like to know which breed to consider based on the three breeds of hens I have. So, I'd love your thoughts, Todd ... or anyone's, for that matter.  Here's my current status so I can eliminate some of the "it depends" answers:

10 barred Plymouth Rocks
10 buff Opringtons
12 "Eastereggers" which I assume is the term the hatchery used for their form of Ameraucana
I don't induce winter laying
They free range three acres of homestead in a rural area with all the primary predators
I supplement their foraging with just less than a gallon of beyond organic feed in their run
Covered "run" (gate remains open during the day) and a totally enclosed coop in which are the nesting boxes and roosts
Northwest Missouri in hardiness zone 6


The Orpingtons - 18 months old:
Got really big quickly and held lots of body weight as adults. They have been laying pretty well. Very docile and curious. Comparatively slow and no flight abilities. Beautiful plumage with color that rages from a pale tan to polished brass to a rich deep gold. Medium to large combs and wattles. They are very friendly to the point of being social with humans. Not skittish at all and easy to catch, especially when they squat to present for breeding (they think I'm a roo). I have lost a couple to predation. I've only noticed one, maybe two, who went broody. But I collect eggs daily and that seemed to end the broodiness pretty quickly.

The Plymouth Rocks - 18 months old:
Grew well but not quiet the weight of the Orpingtons, but very nearly. They also have been laying pretty well. They are pretty docile and curious, but not overly skittish. They are just slightly more wary than the Orpingtons. Standard barred plumage that doesn't vary much from bird to bird. I'd say medium combs and wattles. They are a bit faster on foot and can fly for short distances and can even get up into the rafters of the barn if I let them in the barn. I have lost a couple to predation. Only one went broody. But I collect eggs daily and that seemed to end the broodiness pretty quickly. These are the dominant birds of the flock and most of them are higher in the pecking order. They also range farther than the other two breeds.

"Eastereggers" - 6 months old:
Grew just a tiny bit slower than the other two. They are a lighter-weight bird with a more sleek shape. A visitor to the homestead said they reminded him of a kind of hawk. A few of them are just starting to lay pastel-green eggs. I'll have to reserve judgement on the size of the eggs until next spring when more of them are laying and the eggs reach their regular full size. But, since the birds are smaller than the other two breeds, I assume so will be the eggs. They have a shorter, stouter bill. No comb or wattles to speak of. Personally, the plumage on these birds are quite stunning, but varies. I assume the hatchery has a very mixed genetic line for their "Eastereggers." Plumage runs from bright white to shiny Midnight black and every form of mottled browns in between with the typical Ameraucana feather markings. I think they are quite beautiful.  They are very flock oriented and do not like to be solo and do everything they can to stay in numbers. They are skittish and only allow me to get close to them when I'm putting feed in the feeder. I've never caught one except when it had its head in the feeder. They are easily twice as fast as the Orpingtons with even better flight capabilities than the Plymouth Rocks. Since they are only 6 months old and just starting to lay, I can't speak to their broodiness. I have lost one to predation by a very, very large owl. They don't range very far from the run/coop and run/fly quickly back in the run at the first sign of danger.

Desires:
Laying ability (number and size of eggs) of the Orpingtons
Forage/feed conversion to weight and eggs of the Orpingtons
Temperament of the Plymouth Rocks
Weather tolerance for extremes of all four seasons
Predation evasion
Less dependence on feed

What breed of roo should I introduce to this situation? Since most of us are not practicing STUN with our chicken operations, it's not a true experiment to "just let nature take its course" because we are interjecting human influence in the setting.  Love to know your thoughts.






 
Todd Parr
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Dan, you've got a good eye considering how bad those pictures are.  I started out with Naked Necks.  They are very cold-hardy and I really like their personalities a lot.  Later I added in Gold Lace Wyandottes, Silver Laces, Australorps, Easter Eggers, Dominques, and Buff Rocks.  Initially, I just let them breed haphazardly.  I kept them all at first.  I had a couple roosters that I culled because they were mean.  I had some I gave away to people that wanted to introduce some other genetics to their flocks.  After the first couple generation I started keeping chickens that had the traits I was looking for.  Those traits I mentioned in my initial post, but truthfully, I like the Easter Eggers best of all my chickens for several reasons.  The colors are very good, I love the look of them, I like their personalities very much, and they lay large attractive eggs that people really like.  I have also had good luck with them as mothers, and they seem to have good foraging skills.  I'm keeping enough Easter Egger stock to keep the facial feathers, and luckily it seems to be a pretty strong trait that comes thru in many of the chicks.  I believe the hen posted in the pictures is from my half Dominque/half Easter Egger rooster coupled with a Gold Lace/Dominique/Easter Egger hen.  I can't be sure of that.

The path forward is what you would expect.  This coming year I will move the chickens I want to breed to their own area.  The other chickens will be left to produce eggs and live out their lives, but without hatching eggs.  I will probably bring in a couple new roosters so that my chickens don't become genetically compromised.  I will probably use another Naked Neck and an Easter Egger for breeding roosters.  The Naked Necks are really nice birds that I really enjoy having.  They have a large comb, which is a drawback here, but that seems to breed out quickly.  I'm also getting a few Easter Eggers and some Maran hens from my cousin this weekend for a little more diversity.

As far as your flock, I haven't had the Orpingtons or Plymouth Rocks, but probably will in the future.  I have heard great things about both.  As far as Easter Eggers, I think you can tell, I love them.  As you said, they are just beautiful birds.  I even kept some white ones in with my breeders.  I didn't want to breed white birds because I think predators have an easier time spotting them, but most of them became somewhat camo within a generation.  Your weather is warmer than mine, so combs may not be a problem on your birds, although I would think you may have some of the same issues with frostbite.  I'm not familiar enough with your area to say.  One issue I think you may have is that it's pretty hard to tell who is laying best.  I don't really have a way to tell with my ladies.  They share the nest boxes and the only eggs that are really easy to tell are the Easter Eggers.  I'm very happy with the size and color of those eggs, but I honestly can't tell you how many they lay in comparison to my other.  I don't sell eggs so that isn't something I worry about.  I'm not qualified to give any advice about that.  I really like the traits that my Easter Egger/Dominique rooster has.  He is larger than I would have expected for his breed and he is friendly.  He watches out well for the ladies and he is a gentle enough breeder that he hasn't ever hurt a hen.  I don't know if the breed matters as much in the rooster as the individual traits he has.  As I said, I like Naked Necks a lot.  The roosters are large heavy boned chickens and the hens make great mothers.  Frankly, for the first couple generations, I think I would use any rooster that you have available that has traits you like and just let them breed and see what you get.  Roosters can almost always be had for free from people right in your area.  After a couple generations you can start picking out traits you want to continue by keeping them separated from the others.  A lot depends on how many chickens you want to have and if you are willing to cull them.  I don't cull any except roosters that are mean.  The rest live out their days being chickens, but I'm not trying to make money at this.  If I were, I would have to handle it differently.  My plan is to get to the point I am growing all their food so it doesn't cost me money to keep unproductive chickens, but I'm not there yet.

Sorry if that was rambling and didn't answer your questions well.  I'm just a hobbyist at this, so take all my advice with a large grain of salt  

 
pollinator
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Hi Todd,

I like your idea, I've been doing something similar with my flock.  The gold laced wyandotte's are good for reducing comb size and when paired with solid colored birds, they really seem to bring out a lot what I would call "camouflage" plumage.  I've also found that speckled Sussex will bring good color patterns.   I've stayed away from Americana's just because I'm not big fan of their laying ability, and although they have the small comb, the south american background makes me wonder about cold hardiness. 

(As an aside, I've always wondered why so many breeds have large combs-Plymouth Rock, Orps, etc. when you have many of them originating in places that get so cold)

My personal goal is a chicken that is cold hardy/camouflaged/forages well, and lays well.   I'll download some pics as soon as I figure out how.

Keep us updated on this!
 
garden master
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Todd Parr wrote:    One issue I think you may have is that it's pretty hard to tell who is laying best.  I don't really have a way to tell with my ladies.  They share the nest boxes and the only eggs that are really easy to tell are the Easter Eggers.



In the thread: In Defense of a Rooster, someone said to watch what hen is the rooster's favorite. That is your best layer.
https://permies.com/t/67285/critters/defense-Rooster
 
pollinator
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Has anyone kept Chanteclers in their flock, or used them as breeding stock, for their cold-hardiness? They are, from what I can tell, a cold-hardy breed that suffered a population bottleneck last century. Several attempts have been made to bring them back, with varying results. I know of one out in Alberta decades ago that I know people still have stock from, and others out in Quebec and eastern Ontario.

One major drawback as they stand is the fact that I have only seen white Chanteclers. Other than that, and its' potential to increase predation, they are larger birds with extremely minimal combs and extensively feathered legs. A breed developed to survive Canadian winters seems like an obvious candidate for breeding stock in a cold-hardiness husbandry project. I wonder if the Americauna colouring would stay dominant, both in plumage and eggs?

-CK
 
gardener
Posts: 4890
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Nice project Todd.  If you get serious about breeding for specific traits you will want to be able to segregate the roosters and hens you are going to make your crosses with.
You will also want to keep very good records of who mates with whom and all the other necessary breeder notes.
All that is necessary to come up with a bird that you can produce reliably (it is science after all, this breeding of animals for specific traits).
Fortunately you are not at the point where you need to be doing that, unless you already have a rooster with those traits and some hens that are showing most of those traits.

I have some friends that are breeding chickens both have heritage breeds they are trying to keep pure bred and one has several "new breeds" he is working on.

I raise Black Copper Marans and Blue Copper Marans, the blue trait is recessive but I am starting a breeding program to see if I might be able to get a reliable blue strain going.

Good luck to you with your breeding program and If you want or need any help with any record keeping methods, let me know.

Redhawk

 
Todd Parr
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Redhawk, thank you for that.  I may very well need help with my record keeping.  My lady and I are bidding on some land and if that goes thru, I will have much more room to separate out the hens that I want to continue breeding from the chickens that I don't.
 
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I'm new to this site, but this topic was really interesting to me. I have been doing this on the side at our farm for about 5 years now and I literally have a large flock of WILD Chickens.

Started out with three game hens and a buff orpington rogue rooster that just roamed the farm.

We have a laying flock that is composed of Barred Rocks, RIR, Buffs, and Golden Comets, but these stay in our mobile egg mobile. Even if they do get out and mingle with the WILD crew they just don't have the same instincts as these WILD chickens do.

Maybe I should describe more of how these chickens are WILD. They free range the entire farm, but just saying free range doesn't give the full picture. There are covies of these birds out in the woods that live in their own little areas. Sometimes I see groups (not just individuals, but groups) of birds that I have never seen before. They breed, lay, incubate, and hatch their own young because they have the game hen blood in them. Why is that important, because only the strong gene/instinct chickens are reproducing. Occasionally I'll find a nest in a not so well hidden place where the weather or some critter has gotten to them. I don't do anything about this, because that ensures that the dumb hen that thought she would lay and hatch young there isn't passing on her genes. This circle has been going on now for years and I am now to the point that I would love to have an organized flock of these birds to produce eggs for our farm and our customers, but catching them and taming them has proved to be too much. I have caught some hens and tried to keep them in an enclosed coop, but they don't do well and just fuss and yell all day.

These hens are very prolific and sometimes have clutches of 12 - 15 chicks at a time. They also hatch chicks out almost year round except maybe in December and January. That must mean they are still laying quite a few eggs all the way into the colder weather. My plans for these chickens are to start next spring catching as many day old (usually 3 - 4 by the time I see them) as I can and raise those in my brooder to start up my domesticated flock of this line. I'm not sure however that I will ever be able to have them be in a free range set up like I do my current laying hens because they will have a tendency to go rogue again and join back up with the WILD flocks.

This is something that I figured I was the only crazo that was doing something like this, but your post has encouraged me to continue in seeing what I can do with this strain of egg layers that are totally localized to my farm and I look forward to what that will do for our farm in the future.

I will try to snap a couple of pictures of these guys and gals for you to see. They all pretty much look homo genius now, with just some minor variations. They do still lay a brown egg although it is much lighter in color than the buff. They have a bigger body frame than the game chicken, but still not quite as large as the buff. They roosters do make pretty good size stew chickens though. LOL Because you know if you have this many chickens running around there are always more than a fair share of roosters. These we eat ourselves, but they are totally free to me. The only grain they ever get is stuff that has fallen on the ground or left over by other animals on the farm.

Anyways I hope that this is interesting to someone out there. Just thought I would share my experience as well.
 
Todd Parr
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Brandon, what area are you in?
 
Brandon Bowers
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Todd Parr wrote:Brandon, what area are you in?




I'm in the Midlands of South Carolina.
 
gardener
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Brandon, Good job!

One thing I think about a lot with chickens, is how much of the chicken's behavior is genetic, and how much of it is socialization... I say that, because we have a pheasant farm here, and the birds released from the farm for hunters are the stupidest birds I ever saw in my life. I attribute that to being raised in an incubator, and being raised devoid of traditional pheasant society. I suspect that if you catch some of the chickens as day-old birds, and separate them from chicken society at birth, that you may lose many of the traits that make them particularly well suited to your farm. I think that they  are not just genetics, they are a combination of genetics and society.

 
Brandon Bowers
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Brandon, Good job!

One thing I think about a lot with chickens, is how much of the chicken's behavior is genetic, and how much of it is socialization... I say that, because we have a pheasant farm here, and the birds released from the farm for hunters are the stupidest birds I ever saw in my life. I attribute that to being raised in an incubator, and being raised devoid of traditional pheasant society. I suspect that if you catch some of the chickens as day-old birds, and separate them from chicken society at birth, that you may lose many of the traits that make them particularly well suited to your farm. I think that they  are not just genetics, they are a combination of genetics and society.



Joseph

I somewhat agree with that. I think you have a valid position here. However, I know the ones that I catch won't be AS GOOD as the WILD ones, but they will be better than anything I'll buy in from a hatchery. I would rather have the full grown hens anyways so that they can be raised without any inputs, but as I said when they are raised WILD like this they are very hard to catch, lock down, and perform. Therefore, the young ones will probably the best that I can get.

Thanks for your feedback though!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The easiest way to capture wild chooks (both on you and the chook) is to use a long handled fish landing net, get one with a soft net.
 
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I am loving this idea., and just starting down this road with some vague idea of a dual purpose breed with fibro (black skinned) characteristics. I am starting with three breeds that are originally landraces, Ameraucanas, Svarthonas, and Langshans.
 
pollinator
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I question the actual usefulness of a 'camouflage' feather pattern.  The idea makes sense, and I used to think it was important too, but now I wonder.

I think we can cross the danger of nocturnal predators off the list, as the birds should be put up safely, and even if the fox gets in the henhouse I doubt the white birds would necessarily be the first to go.

When it comes to diurnal predators, as a rule they have good eyesight, and in particular they have eyesight that allows them to pick up on movement.  A perched hawk, for example, is going to be able to readily see a moving chicken, regardless of its feather coloration.  I've had too many brown-feathered birds killed to think that color is necessarily a safeguard.

It seems that far more important than feather pattern/color is behavior and awareness.  A chicken that's aware of her surroundings and that has the sense to flee for cover when necessary--or even when unnecessary; I've yet to have one of those airplanes swoop down to feast on a bird--stands the best chance of survival, regardless of her coloration.

In a tiebreaker, it seems reasonable to opt for a camouflaged chicken.  Even if a hawk identifies a target, I can picture a scenario in which it temporarily loses the bird just prior to attack because the feathers blended in with the surroundings well enough.  I can also picture a scenario in which a four-legged critter loses sight of a chicken that hunkers down in some tall grass or brush, where a white bird might stand out more readily.  But on the whole, I do wonder if the 'importance' of certain feather patterns isn't all that important after all.  Though I'm happy to be wrong.

At any rate, this is a fascinating topic.  I've thought for a few years now on what an "Ozarks" breed of chicken might look like (broadly speaking--not just physical appearance), though I've yet to actually take any intentional steps in that direction.  One of the characteristics I've considered is the ability and inclination to eat acorns.  Perhaps they'd be too big to serve as a regular food source, though I did butcher a Muscovy hen a couple days ago that had a whole acorn in her gullet, so perhaps it's possible with a big enough chicken.  (I also butchered a Muscovy drake with a small nail in his gizzard.  I like to think I did him a favor.)
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Good Points Wes,  Where we live (in the Boston Mountains) we have plenty of hawks, Coopers, Red Tails and in the past two years Harris hawks, we also have Barn Owls, Great Horned Owls and Screech Owls (owls will begin their hunt about 2 hours before dusk).
For us the best defense is the rooster, he is ever watchful and quick to sound the alarm and the girls listen to him, running for cover.
We have made sure there are enough trees with low branches that all the chooks can find shelter quickly, this seems to be the best method for keeping the daytime predators from achieving their goal.

We don't have camo hens, we raise black copper Marans and Blue copper Marans. These are large birds and they are probably very easy for the hawks and owls to see since we get stoops at least once a week.

Our chooks range about through the hog pen most of the day, I think this is because they can and do use the hogs for cover when the need arises, plus they get to eat lots of tasty bugs as well as keeping the hogs horse fly free.

I do believe in doing all you can do to insure the safety of your animals, but I can't see a real advantage color wise with chickens.
The breeder we tend to buy new stock from has his sale egg hens all together in one huge enclosure and in there are every color from white to black and he has no problems with predators apparently.

 
Marcus Billings
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Wes Hunter wrote:I question the actual usefulness of a 'camouflage' feather pattern.  The idea makes sense, and I used to think it was important too, but now I wonder.
.)



Hi Wes,

Based on what I've read and seen first hand, I don't think being the same color as the background is as important as having a broken outline.  Being brown and looking like a quail doesn't help if the chicken is in the middle of green pasture.  What can help is large patches of broken color.  I had a brood of five chicks that were various colors, (the mother hen had raised them and they were on their own now) two black, one red, one barred rock, and one that as far as I could tell, was barred rock/speckled sussex that had a black mottled head, whitish mid-section and black tail feathers.  About the same time these chicks stopped following their mother, a Cooper's Hawk started making the rounds at the coop.  He managed to get the three solid colored chicks and injured the barred rock, but he never touch the black/white/black bird.  The other thing I noticed was that in the area near the coop where I had let the vegetation grow up, these birds would hide and I could almost never see the black/white/black until it was right out in the open.  Five feet or more back into the tall golden rod, and it was almost invisible.   I have two others with that pattern now and they are the same way.

This makes sense though, because there has been a lot of research about camouflage and some the best are big, bold patterns.  Most hunting camo is made for hunters and looks good up close in the store, but at 30 yards it becomes a single dark blob.  The best camo I've seen is one called "Predator" and it has large patches with small accents. 

I agree none of this would help with night time attacks, but most of my chicken losses have been in the day and to hawks, so all things being the same, I would prefer that the rest of my flock look like the black/white/black chicken.

Just my thoughts.
 
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I have a mixed bag of birds, two marans one copper one splash, three mutts that are all splash so 99% white, a blue arucana and a Danish landhøns who is speckled brown, and pure white muscovy ducks. I've not lost any birds during the day although they freerange totaly unprotected, I have lost birds when I have not gotten round to shutting the coop quick enough at night. We have many birds of prey, mink and fox here.  What we do have is a lot of cover, while the birds do go out on the lawns and the road they are never more than 2-3 meters from a thick hedge, the biggest problem they face is my cats wanting to play with them! None of mine have clipped wings as I think that helps with predator evasion. on one occasion the landhøns (who is the leader) and two of the white mutts she raised were shut out of the coop overnight, we could not find them despite searching with a torch that should have shown up their whiteness very easily, so I think that birds that know what to do, either from experiance or from genetics will survive most of the time.

A big problem with trying to find good landrace material is the breeding clubs. For example the Dansk landhøns club page has all sorts of info on how they should LOOK but not how they should behave or how well they lay. So many chicken breeds have been bred out of decent laying and meat production because all the breeding emphasis has been on apearance. Looking at their page mine is a bit light in colour, her tail isn't long enough, but she lays, forages and broods well. Whereas my arucana is club perfect, double tufted, rumpless perfection. she's also several eggs short of a box, scared of her own shadow and a terrible layer.
 
Todd Parr
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I look at the idea of patterned bird as a "can't hurt".  I don't honestly know if it makes any difference as far as predator protection, but mixing breeds tends toward patterned birds anyway in my experience.  I do have birds that are primarily white, but still patterned.  One of my birds from this year's hatch is a beautiful white and gray speckled pattern, but is mainly white.  I wouldn't select against white if the bird had the other traits I am looking for. 
 
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I've been wanting to do a local 'landrace' chicken for some time.  We are moving in March, and once we get settled in, I'm going to get some new chicks (we aren't taking the current flock with us) and get started.  My criteria are 1.  mostly feed themselves (good foragers), 2.  decent sized for meat (doesn't have to be huge, but bigger than a white leghorn would be nice!), 3.  decent layers, and 4.  good broodies and mothers.  Right now I'm considering Dominiques, Buff Minorcas, and OEG, standard sized.  Those would all be from Sand Hill, if I go that route.  Alternatively I might get a batch of Icelandic chicks from a breeder -- they don't show up in the hatcheries yet -- Sand Hill does have them, but has a limit of ten per order.  I have a livestock guardian dog who is pretty good at limiting predator losses, although we do once in a while lose one at night to an owl (these chickens are almost completely free-range, though I do feed them).
 
pollinator
Posts: 429
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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bee chicken homestead
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Fascinating & timely information!!! I've been a casual bystander of a few backyard chickens for several years. Recently inherited those chickens full time. Moving them to a small ranch with a big chicken coop. Plenty of room for them to roam & forage outside. Much native food growing there now, planting more for animals as quick as possible. So ... getting more chickens of course. Also trying my beginner luck with some baby chicks soon as I'm confident my set up will keep them warm enough. Tomorrow most likely. Selected the new babies today. Each is a different breed. Ultimately will get a rooster or two for breeding purposes. It's survival of the fittest.

I'm currently living in a house on a peninsula formed by a river. Rather isolated from town but within walking distance. Back in the '60's there was a university animal research guy who lived down the street. He raised wounded wild turkeys & ducks for a few years then starting releasing them. They are still a very common sight. That's fifty something years of quality food with no additional input. What's not to like?


 
Posts: 435
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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last year i went deer hunting at my cousins property in MO. she had chickens she got from a local farmer that were from a wild flock that had lived wild for many generations. they looked identical to the ones in the 1st post here. were on the small size and were similarly colored. wish i could get some of those chicks.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
Posts: 1109
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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We've been at our new place in KY for almost a month and a half; picked up eight Icelandic hens and five roosters plus a bunch of hatching eggs from a breeder in TN shortly after we got here.  They don't quite meet all of my criteria (a bit small to be good meat birds), but they do meet most of what I wanted, and are pretty cute besides!  The eight hens are giving us from six to eight eggs a day (usually seven eggs/day, but of course it's spring, the peak laying season).  I've hatched out the eggs from the breeder, traded some of the chicks to a friend here, and have the incubator full of eggs from the hens I brought home (and they are still giving us plenty to eat).  They are doing really well here; the roosters are all running with the hens (I will eventually separate breeding pens, but have too much to do right now to build those) and are all getting along and watching over the hens with only minor squabbles.  I think that as long as big meat birds aren't your priority, these guys are great homestead chickens.

Kathleen
 
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Awesome chickens! Hey, have you ever heard of hedemora chickens. They are a swedish landrace and super super cold hardy. They even have down like ducks to keep them warm. Plus they can have small combs and black features including combs and eyes even. Good foragers. I have some experience with them. They used to be sold from greenfire farms in florida. I don't think they carry them anymore. Maybe because they were trying to keep them cold hardy in montana and it became too much work....not sure. Also, anyone have any experience with the all black breeds....including black insides. I think they are super expensive. Wonder if the black gives them certain abilities/functions? hmmm. Crazy stuff, chickens are very diverse!
 
J W Richardson
Posts: 106
Location: Council, ID
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So far the BBS Paul Smith Ameraucana pullets have crossed with the Swedish Black cockerel, and they are carrying the black skinned gene. I have one Swedish Black pullet, she laid well, and then proceeded to set and mother like a champ. High fertility. The Ameraucanas are not broody but lay well, consistently the darkest yolks of all. Egg size varies, but in general a medium egg. The SB eggs are medium too. I am rethinking the Langshans as the father son duo I have now are mostly shooting blanks, not sure if it is due to genetics or a respiratory illness the father had...(not MG, Lecleria as far as they could tell) I want something with more size, but want the black skinned genes to be able to show too, not sure about that part, and also I am getting more fond of these smaller, more agile breeds. The pea comb of the Ameraucanas is dominant with this initial cross. Not thrilled with their looks at this point, but this is the awkward stage too.
  The Swedish Black roo I have is selectively aggressive, fine with me alone, but if I bring anyone in, he is aggressive. He is great with the chicks. The hen is a sweetie.
 
A "dutch baby" is not a baby. But this tiny ad is baby sized:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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