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Shopping. Mixed flock??  RSS feed

 
Posts: 80
Location: Northern Puget Sound
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So, we're looking for additional hens to add to our existing very small flock of 3 Black Austrolorpes.  The hens we've already got at probably approaching 3 years old.  We were given them when about 9 months ago by my FIL when he decided he didn't want to mess with keeping chickens anymore.  Originally there were 5, but the then 5 year old killed one (without realizing that was what he was doing), and we lost one to a presumed coyote predation.  

Anyway, I have 4 kids, and our intent was to allow each to pick out a breed to be "their" chickens.  Plus the wife and I will pick out a breed (maybe just 1, maybe 1 each).  So, since most places we've found online have a 3 per breed minimum, we'd wind up with 15-18 additional hens.  Our existing coop is plenty large enough for 18-21 birds.  Breeds the kids and us are interested in include: Black Jersey Giants, Welsummer, Golden Laced/Silver Laced/Black Laced Red Wyandottes, and Barnevelder.  

Are there any issues with mixing those breeds with each other, or with my existing Austrolorpes?  I would assume all of the Wyandottes would be just fine with each other, and the Jersey Giants are reputed to be pretty easy going and working well in mixed flocks in spite of their size differences.  But I figure you all here have a ton of collective experience I should take advantage of.  

What we're looking for are good egg layers, compatible personalities, works well in a free range environment, tolerates the Puget Sound climate (not a big issue for most), pretty plumage, and not too expensive.  The Barnevelders are at the upper end of price we're willing to pay, and only because most of the other breeds are much lower cost.  We do NOT plan on breeding or even having any roosters (maybe if I retire we'd consider that).  Any accidental roosters will probably wind up becoming soup, or traded for a hen if we can make that work.

After this set of hens has aged out (or been picked off by predators) we'll use the experience with the breeds to inform our choice of more going forwards.
 
pollinator
Posts: 514
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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We've always had a number of varieties running around together without issue.  Any squabbles seem to be of a personal nature and are as likely to be between two birds of the same breed as between two breeds.  Do what you can to minimize trouble generally (plenty of feed trough space, plenty of elbow room, sufficient nest boxes, etc.) and you should be fine.

If you're concerned with total numbers, you might consider purchasing chicks strait run and eating the cockerels.  The downside here is the potential of getting three cockerels of one breed, for example, leaving one kiddo with no chickens.

Alternatively, you could purchase all the same breed and put colored leg bands on them, assigning a color to each kid.  Though that's a nonstarter if your purpose is to try different breeds to see what works.

Keep in mind, for your long-term planning, that three hens of a certain breed that don't do as well as three hens of another breed might not be due to the breed but to those particular hens.  Three is a small sample size, though of course you've got to start somewhere.
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 80
Location: Northern Puget Sound
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Might be a little hard to butcher cockerels.  If it's one or two accidental roosters I might get away with it, but culling half of them would be unpopular.

Part of it is to try different breeds.  But part of it too is to have the diversity of plumage to look at.  

Coop right now has 4 nest boxes, and space to add 2 more.  Run is going to be built out this spring, and we'll make the feeders plenty large enough to accommodate all the ladies.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1362
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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The best chicken we had now taken by the fox were mixed. And if you keep chicken you will have to kill or to invite someone to do it. Kids get used to it.
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 80
Location: Northern Puget Sound
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Well, we placed our order today for the chicks.  Shipping date isn't determined yet, but probably sometime in March or April.  We got 3 each of the breeds listed in the OP.  However, the two younger kids were "helping" when my wife was getting the order together, and so we somehow wound up accidentally ordering 3 Black Copper Marans too.

Depending on how many extras the hatchery puts in the box, how many roosters we wind up with and depending on mortality we will probably have to cull and/or sell some once they approach maturity.  The decision of cull vs sell will be based on behavior, health, and ability to find buyers at a price that makes selling preferable to culling.  However I won't sell a chicken (hen or rooster) that isn't healthy, or that has serious behavior problems if that would be a problem for the buyer.

Kind of hoping that we get extras of the Jersey Giants, and those wind up being roosters so I can cull them and compare them to Freedom Rangers for meat.
 
master steward
Posts: 6323
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:However, the two younger kids were "helping" when my wife was getting the order together, and so we somehow wound up accidentally ordering 3 Black Copper Marans too.



I've totally had this happen when ordering with my kids around...and also just because my kids drained my brain power so much I wasn't able to notice errors. But, I hear those Black Copper Marans have lovely DARK brown eggs, so at least you got some variety in egg color out of the accident!

I look forward to updates on your mixed flock!
 
gardener
Posts: 1273
Location: Middle Tennessee
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Hi Andrew-

If you didn't have the option to order sexed chicks, there's really no telling how many roos you'll end up with. You'll know when they start getting 5-6 months old. In my experience and talking with my friends who raise chickens, the extras hatcheries tend to give away are males, as most everyone ordering chicks is in it for the eggs and wants females so hatcheries tend to have a surplus of males.

My wife and I ended up with 6 or 7 roosters out of 15 birds total, and we culled all the roosters, processed them, and make a jumbo batch of chicken stock.
 
Posts: 1451
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I had a mixed flock for years. I'm not doing it now because I want uniformity when we cull.

Buy that many birds and you'll get half in roosters. It's the law of chickens. Hope you're ready to slaughter.
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 80
Location: Northern Puget Sound
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James Freyr wrote:Hi Andrew-

If you didn't have the option to order sexed chicks, there's really no telling how many roos you'll end up with. You'll know when they start getting 5-6 months old. In my experience and talking with my friends who raise chickens, the extras hatcheries tend to give away are males, as most everyone ordering chicks is in it for the eggs and wants females so hatcheries tend to have a surplus of males.

My wife and I ended up with 6 or 7 roosters out of 15 birds total, and we culled all the roosters, processed them, and make a jumbo batch of chicken stock.



We ordered from Cackle Hatchery, and they allow for sexed orders (and we asked for all females)  They claim a 90% accuracy on sexing.  So, I would expect 1-3 roosters out of the 21 ordered.  Any more than 2 roosters and we should be able to get a refund for the additional roosters.  Unless the extras survive and are hens.
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 80
Location: Northern Puget Sound
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elle sagenev wrote:I had a mixed flock for years. I'm not doing it now because I want uniformity when we cull.

Buy that many birds and you'll get half in roosters. It's the law of chickens. Hope you're ready to slaughter.



I'm going to try a batch of meat chickens too, so slaughter is being prepared for anyway.

As noted above though we ordered sexed female chicks.  By July-September we should know how many are roosters.
 
gardener
Posts: 5096
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I raise Black Copper Marans, my wife wants to start a mixed breed flock for her so we now have two very separated chicken areas and will keep it that way.

We have thought about buying from Cackle since we have heard nothing but good things about them, however we have a local breeder we use and she will probably just go to him for her new birds.

We do have several friends with mixed breed flocks, including Marans along with a good sprinkling of others and we are talking 100 bird flocks or larger here, they all seem to get along quite well once the pecking order is settled.

As for cocks, We shoot for 1 rooster per 8 hens.

Redhawk
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 80
Location: Northern Puget Sound
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Looks like March 5 will be the shipping date for the chicks.
 
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