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Favorite chicken breed?

 
Tim Canton
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Just wondering what everyone likes to raise?  I like "pure breeds"  because it give me the ability to not have to rely on outside inputs for my birds.  I have some black australorps right now and they are ok.  I am thinking about getting a different breed this fall though.  Just looking for opinions of any sort.

Genral desires are good foragers, broody, good dual purpose breed, cold hardy, not people agressive since i have 2 kids.

I have always liked barred rocks, RIR except i hear the boys are mean sometimes.  A few others have recommended buckeyes, dominiques, delewares.

Just curious what you all like and keep.
 
Leila Rich
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Barred rock's are good chooks: lay well, grow fast, too fat/lazy/thick to bother going over or under things.
Orpingtons share many rock traits, although they're often friendlier and not such good layers.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Rhode Island Reds are my tops for egg layers and a fair sized bird on the table - not big but O.K..  I have found that the girls can get mean amongst themselves (normal for us women) and I always have to cull at least one weakling who is getting picked on, or the aggressor if there is only one.  But by and large they are my most reliable all around bird that is easy to manage (calm to handle etc.).

I can always count on my araucanas for eggs.  They are kind of stupid and don't provide much when it is time to butcher.  Also a friend who has LOTS of chickens tells me the boys are mean - I don't keep boys.  But my green egg layers are dependable.

I am looking forward to more replies because I may want to start breeding my own flock in a move to create more of a 'closed loop' here on my farmlet.  That means that I will have to have a boy.    I have had enough run ins with boys in the past and still have a bad left knee to show for it (rooster stuck his spurs in it).  But if I'm going to become more self sufficient then a boy is required. 

I'd like to hear thoughts on breeds of rooster that are/are not easy to manage.
 
Ken Peavey
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Barred Rocks and RIR for general purpose/egg/meat.  Good layers, good personalities, not overly nervous.

Salmon Favorelles for a pet.  Their eggs, when hard boiled, are the easiest to peel.  Good company, beards, feathered feet, extra toe, handsome, docile, friendly, sometimes talkative but mostly quiet and don't get into long drawn out monologues about their Ex's emotional flaws.
 
Tim Canton
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Funny post ken.


I like the RIR alot too.  Just the roosters have an aggressive reputation.  I dont need a 3 year old getting spurred by an aggressive boy.  I do really like them other than that.  Are the Barred Rock roosters more friendly?
 
Leila Rich
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The barred rock roosters I've met have been non-aggressive and friendly.
Not like Orpingtons, which make me think uncharacteristic thoughts along the lines of 'man up, you soft cock'.
Sorry, Ken started it!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Leila,
So I'm giving one point to a barred rock rooster as a likely candidate....

I'm not sure about the Orpington rooster    I liked your comment but wasn't sure which way it was going.  Is the Orpington a bit on the wimpy side?  Wimpy rooster is what I'm looking for.
 
Ken Peavey
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This is Mr Handsome, my barred rock rooster.  He's the alpha male.  Not aggressive in the least, tolerates me well, tends to the ladies in a manner becoming of a flock leader.  He's about a year old, full grown, tipping the scales at around 9-10 pounds. 
mr handsome.jpg
[Thumbnail for mr handsome.jpg]
 
Leila Rich
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Hmmm, whatever was I thinking? Yes, wimpy would be the term. Nice natured, but I wouldn't rely on them to be particularly 'roosterly' so far as leading, protecting and bossing the flock.
 
John Polk
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The RIRs are at the top of the class of brown egg layers, but the roos do indeed have a reputation of not being very people friendly.

The sex-links are also excellent layers, but since they are hybrids, they will not breed true.  They are some of the most docile/people friendly hens around (and often, the first in the flock to begin laying).  Since they will not breed true, I know of nobody that keeps the roos beyond freezer camp, but I would imagine that they would continue to breed good, docile egg layers...worth a try for a generation or two.

As far as production is concerned, nothing has ever beat a white leghorn.  typically, they are very flighty.  They will produce more (white) eggs per pound of food than any other breed.  They have, unfortunately, had foraging, & broodiness bred out of them.  Their production years are also short...first molted feather is a capital offense, punishable by death!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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You are right about the leghorns!  My Great grandmother had them and I HATED them.  But she always had a ton of eggs and never ran out of meat on the table.  For that reason they were the first breed I tried on my own.  Still hated them.

I am learning to be a bit more practical now so a few wouldn't be out of the question since quality and quantity of food on my own property is moving higher up on my list.
 
John Polk
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Yeah.  The rule of thumb is that most hens need 4 pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs, but a leghorn will do it with 3 ½ pounds.  Doesn't sound like much, but a large egg farm with a million hens saves a million pounds of feed per month.  No wonder they are the hen of choice in the industry.

An interesting side note:  I read an old (20's-30's) university paper that claimed leghorns were a better choice than RIRs because..."since they are quicker, and more alert, they are less likely to be hit by the occasional motor car that passes the farm..."  LOL
 
Tim Canton
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John Polk wrote:
The RIRs are at the top of the class of brown egg layers, but the roos do indeed have a reputation of not being very people friendly.

The sex-links are also excellent layers, but since they are hybrids, they will not breed true.  They are some of the most docile/people friendly hens around (and often, the first in the flock to begin laying).  Since they will not breed true, I know of nobody that keeps the roos beyond freezer camp, but I would imagine that they would continue to breed good, docile egg layers...worth a try for a generation or two.

As far as production is concerned, nothing has ever beat a white leghorn.  typically, they are very flighty.  They will produce more (white) eggs per pound of food than any other breed.  They have, unfortunately, had foraging, & broodiness bred out of them.  Their production years are also short...first molted feather is a capital offense, punishable by death!



John  I spoke with a breeder today and he told me that a a good breeder quality RIR  should not have aggression issues with the rooster  and that is all the hatchery lines that give people the concept of them being aggressive.  Just a interesting thought.  and yes he breeds many different breeds not just reds....
 
John Polk
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By all means, if you have a local breeder, you can check out the demeaner of his flocks.  Many of the large commercial hatcheries work on an assembly line.  Buying from them is like buying a "Quick Pick" in the lottery:  you never know what you will get until it is too late.  Local breeders also have birds acclimated to your climate...a huge factor in long term success.
 
Marla Kacey
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I started with 10 buff orpingtons hens and one rooster as day old chicks.  Raised them all in the bathtub, with constant attention aka handling.  The hens are all the sweetest things; they sit on my lap and ride on my shoulders.  But the rooster?  He got kicked away several times, and still tried to attack me every time I went out into the yard.  He would even ambush me!
A couple of years ago, I bought 4 barred rock hens and 4 black astrolop hens, and for some strange reason, another buff orpinton rooster (must have been all that was left at the feed store).
Finally got a broody hen (buff orpington), and she hatched four mixed breed chicks.  One didn't make it, but now I have two orpington/astrolop hens and one orpington/barred rock rooster.  He is not quite lovable, but he does tolerate my presence in the yard.  He keeps his protective eyes on me, and flaps is wings when I touch any of his hens, but he has never attacked me.
 
John Polk
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You said the magical word when you stated that he got kicked away several times.  Roosters are chickens and we are humans.  When you or I kick, chase, or whack a rooster, we are reverting to his level...it is all he knows (and we are supposed to be smarter than they are).  Once we start the "game" of fighting a rooster on his grounds, we are forever doomed to fight that battle.  You are a human, he is a chicken.  You are his benefactor, not his competition.  He may think that you are his competition, until you prove otherwise...being a human...not fighting him for dominion of his flock.  Once you fight a rooster at his level (kicking, chasing, hitting, etc) you will have created a creature that is doomed for the crock pot.  Respect him for what he is, and he in turn will respect you for what you are.  Fighting him will only lead to chicken soup.  At that point he cannot submit!

A pocket full of treats will do a thousand times more good than a boot.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Not so sure about that, John.  The only time I've ever had to kick or beat up a rooster, he started it.  I don't go around hitting my birds for no reason!  I've had roosters that were aggressive and they ended up in the stew pot.  The last three roosters I've had were not aggressive (and one of them was a real rooster with the hens, something I'd never had before -- he'd show them where was a good spot to lay, and sing the egg song to them, and show them bits of food, and generally acted like a rooster ought to act.  He was a Mille Fleur Leghorn from Sand Hill Preservation Center, and I plan to get some more of them once we are settled in our own place again.).  Never so much as looked cross-eyed at any human, even small children who came to visit.  I found good homes for them -- that kind of rooster, we keep around.  (I've sold all my birds in preparation for -- hopefully -- moving across the country.)

Kathleen
 
Marla Kacey
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I'll see what I can do to retrain my human instincts.  Next time a rooster latches onto my calf and tries to peck off my kneecap from the backside, Ill offer him a treat.  I am smarter than him after all.   
Sarcasm aside:  this particular rooster actually sat on my lap as well, and that first attack came only a few minutes after such a session.  The other buff orpington rooster I had was also quite loveable right up until he decided that I was a rival.
Long story short:  I'll never buy another orpington rooster, but I love the hens.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
  He was a Mille Fleur Leghorn from Sand Hill Preservation Center,


Now I am wondering if a bird such as this would be good to keep for cross breeding.  My only remaining obstacle is the crowing;  Hubby does not tolerate that well.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Jeanine, I really liked those Mille Fleurs and want to get some more when I get settled again, as I said.  You could cross-breed them, but they are extremely rare (Sand Hill is one of only a handful of people breeding them) and it would be a shame to not keep them purebred.  Also, they are gorgeous birds with their Mille Fleur coloring, and closer to dual-purpose than any of the other Leghorns that I know of (actually, the Mille Fleurs don't come very close to meeting any Leghorn standard that I know of -- they have white skin, small combs, are relatively calm, and are larger than any other Leghorns I've had).  Sand Hill only sells straight run, so if you ordered chicks from them, you'd probably get some of both genders (my order was heavy on cockerels, but that's the chance you take buying straight run). 

Kathleen
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Kathleen, I just googled the breed - what a beautiful bird!  I now realize that a friend has one and I don't think he realizes what it is.  I know I had never seen one before.

This will definitely be in a batch of birds for next year!  I will contact the company and find out about thier delivery schedules.  I like to book way in advance and have delivery in June or July - it is so hot here that the babies are happy in our 90+ temps with heat lamps only at night.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It's a good idea to book your chicks way in advance, especially with Sand Hill.  They aren't a big company, and only raise limited numbers of chicks, so some breeds get sold out really early. 

I don't know how well the Mille Fleur Leghorns lay, though -- have yet to get a pullet to laying age!

Kathleen
 
Tim Canton
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John Polk wrote:

The sex-links are also excellent layers, but since they are hybrids, they will not breed true.  They are some of the most docile/people friendly hens around (and often, the first in the flock to begin laying).  Since they will not breed true, I know of nobody that keeps the roos beyond freezer camp, but I would imagine that they would continue to breed good, docile egg layers...worth a try for a generation or two.



how do the boys add up as meat birds??    I could see keeping a flock of BR and throwing a RIR roo in there with them and end up with some sex links.  The egg layers would out produce but what about meat?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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For meat, they wouldn't compare with Cornish X, but if you can be patient and let them get to about four months old before butchering, they'd be worth the work of butchering. 

Kathleen
 
Tim Canton
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oh I know they wont be the cornish cross...But will they be like a RIR or BR  then?    Being able to sex the chicks could be quite helpful as well.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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They should be very similar to the BR and RIR, might grow faster due to hybrid vigor. 

Kathleen
 
Jack Shawburn
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Anyone had Sussex chickens before?
How are their roosters?
 
Emil Spoerri
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Aw boring, I was hoping for more out of you guys. Heavy breeds are not my cup of tea.

I had buckeyes, 4 strait runners, only one was a hen. Kinda ticked that three got offed by something. The rooster was great, he was kind of mean but harmless, I think he got that way cause he was all alone, he was fine before then. after they were a couple of pounds, I raised them on nothing but 1 feeding of soaked oats a day. I would say he got to about 9 pounds from mostly free ranging. They run around a lot, look kind of funny when they are doing it, great foragers. Beautiful.

A little big, I would honestly rather have much smaller chickens. It seems though that most breeds are no where near as cool as buckeyes, I am considering buckeye bantams.

Or even buckeyes again... they do rule.

Bantams are what I plan on keeping in the future... according to several sources I have read, they make 2/3 the eggs of a normal chicken, on only 1/4 the feed.
 
A Philipsen
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Anyone had Sussex chickens before?
How are their roosters?
I've had a few speckled sussex, they're about my favorite as chickens go.  The one roo we had got a little touchy around kids (esp. strange ones) but he wasn't really ambitious about it.  If my kids and their friends were a little bigger, I might have kept him, I like a roo that can identify strangers.
 
Tim Canton
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EmileSpecies wrote:

Bantams are what I plan on keeping in the future... according to several sources I have read, they make 2/3 the eggs of a normal chicken, on only 1/4 the feed.



but if you have a hawk population??    plus the eggs are smaller too so I wonder if it works out?
 
                      
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I guess what is good depends on your reasons for keeping the chickens in the first place...

If you are interested primarily in egg (or meat) production, it almost certainly makes sense to go with pure breeds bought from a breeder. Better suggestions above than I can provide...

We like to keep a variety of birds, especially if they have interesting coloration or features or unusual color eggs.

We get a lot of drop in visitors too, people we don't know but they've heard we have a variety of interesting animals (not just the hens). Maybe we should start charging admission

To each his own...

As to aggressive roosters, I believe many get that way as they are older no matter how you've treated them. IMHO, the first time they do this, you have to show them who is boss!

This does NOT mean kicking the crap out of them and leaving them for half dead!!!

Someone talked about "kicking" them... well, yes, but this is not kick like a soccer ball! There is a difference between striking someone with a closed fist, your full body weight behind it and slapping someone, or even slapping without raising a welt.

I would suggest kicking in response to a charge by the rooster with intensity somewhere between a "weltless" slap and one that would leave a welt. It needs to understand you are stronger, but not be injured. If you can move towards it with each defensive kick, forcing it to back away, half the battle is won!

The roster will continue to attack, but you will see a break in his intensity, when it is clear he is thinking, "Oh, oh, what have I started... I wonder if I can sneak of somehow?" That is the time to give him a little more space and he will typically back off.

In my experience, one or two treatments is usually enough, although that may just be because any rooster who doesn't take the hint becomes food for the rest of the flock.

NOt saying this is the only way and/or that there isn't a way to do this without getting physical, just sayin', this works for me...
 
Jack Shawburn
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I'd like to have some hens soon - the paddocks are being prepared, but the paddocks are far from the area we want for their coop.- about 60yards
I know from experience that they dont like being "herded" but I'm sure most would return to their coop for feed when let back and called in the late afternoon.
..with this in mind what would a good breed to keep thats not too flighty ?
I'm leaning to Sussex, CornishX and Bhramas
 
Burra Maluca
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If you're considering CornishX, check out this thread first - you may wish to reconsider...
 
John Polk
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@ Organic,
If you cross a RIR rooster with a Barred Rock, you will end up with a black sex-link as per this example hen:



Should be a good layer, and the roos would be comparable to any 'dual purpose' breed.  I have heard reports of +/- 300 eggs/year from that crossing, and reports of them starting to lay at +/- 16 weeks!  Sounds like a breeding program to seriously look at.

 
Jack Shawburn
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Burra - Thanks
I have since read and remembered about leg problems etc.
so, not my first choice.
An Uncle of mine had some chickens I think were CornishX's
the big rooster grew to 14lbs! and when they stampeded to the feed
it really sounded like a Stampede!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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The sex-links that you can buy from hatcheries and feed stores are bred from special lines of the parent breeds.  In other words, the Barred Rocks and RIR's that you can buy from the same hatcheries may not produce the really high-laying birds that you expect from a sex-link.  Ditto for Cornish X -- their parent breeds are special lines that most of us don't have access to.  We could cross the White Cornish (if you can find some -- most hatcheries don't even carry these) with White Rocks, which is the parent cross for Cornish X, but we wouldn't get the big, fast-growing, meaty birds that we can buy.  However, we might get something like the Slow White broilers that a couple of hatcheries sell, which, for homesteaders, would actually be preferable to the commercial Cornish X.

All that said, I like my ducks of unknown breed!  Good layers and good temperament, and duck eggs are a lot more nutritious than chicken eggs!  Plus they lay all their eggs early in the morning....They don't fly over fences, they eat slugs, and they can be herded (once they are used to it).  Just try herding chickens, LOL!

Kathleen
 
                        
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have a question or two about ducks after reading Kathleen's post  so have started a new thread...

As far as chicken breeds go there is a chart here
http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html ; that gives you a pretty comprehensive overview of the various possibilities..
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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The Henderson Chicken Breeds Chart is fairly accurate, too.

Kathleen
 
Tim Canton
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
The sex-links that you can buy from hatcheries and feed stores are bred from special lines of the parent breeds.  In other words, the Barred Rocks and RIR's that you can buy from the same hatcheries may not produce the really high-laying birds that you expect from a sex-link.  Ditto for Cornish X -- their parent breeds are special lines that most of us don't have access to.  We could cross the White Cornish (if you can find some -- most hatcheries don't even carry these) with White Rocks, which is the parent cross for Cornish X, but we wouldn't get the big, fast-growing, meaty birds that we can buy.  However, we might get something like the Slow White broilers that a couple of hatcheries sell, which, for homesteaders, would actually be preferable to the commercial Cornish X.

All that said, I like my ducks of unknown breed!  Good layers and good temperament, and duck eggs are a lot more nutritious than chicken eggs!  Plus they lay all their eggs early in the morning....They don't fly over fences, they eat slugs, and they can be herded (once they are used to it).  Just try herding chickens, LOL!

Kathleen


Kathleen,

I have been doing a lot of research on chicken breeds.  I am sure the hatcheries are using certain characteristics in their program  but from my reading a sex link can be somewhat easily produced if you have good chickens to begin with....Just like a breeder RIR is much different from a production or hatchery RIR.....The sex links are just a cross of 2 different standard breeds and there are many possible combinations depending of what sex link you are breeding...Black , Red etc.  So sex links are considered F1 hybrids

The cornish cross on the other hand not just a simple cross its an F2 hybrid.  Meaning its the result of the crossing of 2 F1 hybrids.  Its grandparents are standard breeds that create 2 hybrids which are then bread back to each other somehow.  The genetics took some 50 years to develop and are held quite close by the genetics companies.  Even if a person had the genetic info I imagine it would take years and years to come close to a Cornish cross.

That being said I love my ducks too and I sometime wonder about transitioning to just ducks except for some meat chickens each year.......I wonder how ducks would do in a rotated paddock with electric fence?  My muscovies roam free.......but I would be worried about the lack of breaks for the pasture if I had egg ducks too and they all roamed free?  hmmm
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Organick, you can certainly make 'sex-link' chickens from many different breeds, as long as you are aware of the genetics and choose the proper male and female colors to start with.  Sex-link specifically means the ability to determine the sex of the chicks at hatching by their color.  The sex-links that are sold as egg-layers, however, come from stock specially selected for egg-laying ability.  Whether or not home-grown sex-links would equal the egg-laying performance of commercial sex-links would depend on what you had for parent stock. 

I imagine ducks would do just fine on rotated pasture, especially if you have a livestock guardian dog to protect them from predators (esp. aerial predators), since they probably wouldn't have much cover in the paddocks.  It would be simpler, IMO, to keep ducks that way than chickens, since (most) ducks don't tend to want to fly (Muscovies and some smaller breeds are exceptions) and are pretty easy to fence in. 

Kathleen
 
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