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Shopping. Mixed flock??  RSS feed

 
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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.
 
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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
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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
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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.
 
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