paul wheaton wrote:Continuing discussion from another thread:
What do I think is the best egg laying breed?
Well, I have this idea to get a bunch of "best" layer breeds, have them mix it up for a couple of years, and then try to come up with my own optimal breed for feed-to-egg ratio given a forage situation.
So I would start with:
pearl leghorns: they lay white eggs, but they are just egg laying machines!
red star and black star: the standard layer for brown eggs
australorp: the record holder for most eggs in one year
Braggs mountain buff: this guy raised his own breed where he did a simple and amazing thing. As he collected eggs, he would put the largest eggs in the incubator. He did this for years and years. And now he has a breed that lays lots of freaky big eggs!
Rhode island red: a heavier breed well known to be moderately productive.
So I liked what Paul had to say about the Braggs Mountain Buff. I did some research for myself... and last year bought 50 unsexed birds. We ended up with a perfect split 50/50 boys/girls. All but one roo went to freezer camp and have been excellent for both stock and enchiladas, in retrospect I think we could have gotten more weight gain out of the roos before freezer camp, they averaged around 4 pounds processed weight with some real heavyweights at the end.
The predators around are a rough bunch and we are down to 16 girls, most did not start laying until around 26 weeks or later. Only the first one or two eggs could ever really be called pullet eggs based on size alone. The majority of these girls forage well beyond the 100 foot rule. Currently we are up to 9 -12 egg a day and have not yet had our first molt. Even when presented with cracked corn they will eat for a minute and go back to foraging.
The two biggest reasons I went with the Braggs was the foraging ability and egg size. As a previous consumer of farm fresh/free range eggs I was pretty disappointed with the two cute pretty eggs that barely made one regular egg in use and still cost me the same or more. I decided long before switching to farming that I could not in good conscience do that to my customers. It costs no more to feed these girls in fact even less. After having been introduced to forage and real seeds these birds will not eat anything in pellet or crumble form. They get up earlier and go to bed later than any bird I have ever had experience with.
The kicker from a business perspective for me is I am asking and selling at the same price everyone else is getting if they are local but I have less in feed costs right off the top. I think I could seriously ask for more as everyone is amazed at the size of the eggs and the color of the yolks. I keep telling people when they express amazement at the size that these girls haven't even molted yet, after they do the eggs will get bigger. People didn't believe me at first I think they thought I was selling them...but the eggs keep getting bigger and they still haven't molted for the first time yet. I already have an order in this year as we are planning on hugely expand our flock as demand is just increasing.