Chicken flock

gardengalrn(5KS)October 17, 2006

LOL, it's time to rehash the chicken flock. I have done my research, I believe (and correct me if I'm wrong, please). I am hoping to be able to order my first chicks in late spring. My goal was to have a varied flock, of various egg colors as well. I wanted a few ringers in the egg-laying department but really, even if they were merely average layers, I would have enough of them to more than supply my family. I bought the Storey book and one called "Living with Chickens." The latter was a bit more interesting so I've read that cover to cover but only broused the Storey. I think that is more of a reference to have.

I chose my roosters on personality (from opinions read here) and what I envisioned a rooster to look like, LOL. I thought perhaps a Black Australorp or Silver Laced Wyandotte would make beautiful roosters. I only want one and understand they can be noisy, etc. I want a crowing rooster:)

My list for girls include: Black Australorp, Delaware, Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Silver Laced Wyandotte, a couple various Brahmas, and some Ameraucanas.

Is it strange to want such a variety? Is it a novice trait? I wanted to see all the colors. I think 16 or so hens and a rooster would be the size I wanted (not NEEDED) but eggs can be given away. As for meat, I was thinking the White Plymouth Rocks. A little more time than the Cornish X but I will just feel better about it after reading a few reports that were rather disgusting. Also thinking about a few guineas, knowing their down-points, to range after being oriented to a coop. What do y'all think? Lori

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well I'm new at chickens too. I ordered my first flock this past spring. I have 8 hens(no roos because i'm in a suburban setting). I too wanted a pretty flock. I chose six breeds based on being pretty, good or great layers, cold hardy, not flighty, friendly & standard size.
I have 2 buff orpingtons that are beautiful & docile, 2 Easter eggers aka Ameraucanas that are delightful & they lay lots of blue & green eggs, one black australorp that is a fair layer but gorgeous & loaded with personality, a barred rock that is shy & is becoming a better layer, 1 silver laced wyandotte that has specatcular feathers-she lays smallish pink eggs & she's friendly, I also have one red star aka red sex link-she is a prolific layer she has laid a large egg everyday since august 24th-its my understanding sexlinks are less flighty & skittish than leghorns but still great layers.
I don't have any meat birds so I can't help there.
I read a bunch of books in the beginning too, many of them said the same things. Chicken books that were fun reading from the chicken keeping point of view were-"hen and the art of chicken maintainance", "still life with chickens" & "my fine feathered friend".
All of them are avaiable on amazon, but I got them from my library.
The breeds you listed sound lovely, you will love keeping chickens. It has become my favorite thing!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 8:50AM
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Nothing wrong with variety! Most breeds you have mentioned are considered dual purpose, they arent great eggers but do provide a fair table bird and will keep your egg supply more than adequate while they are in production. Most hatchery stock birds have emphasis on egg production rather than breed type and work well for those interested in back yard chickens.
Guineas, I would like to like them, I just cant!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 8:51AM
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HerringboneD28(z7 Central AR)

I think 16 is a great size for a backyard flock and your breed choices will give a great variation in color and personality. If it were me though, I'd use Light Brahmas instead of the Leghorns to supply the whites in your flock.

If your coop and yard will all be ready to go, I would also recommend having the chicks arrive as early in the spring as possible - weather wise. You'll be anxious for those eggs and it's gonna seem like forever before you get the first one :-)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 10:18AM
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Just to correct a common misconception: Ameraucanas are NOT also known as easter eggers. Ameraucana is a standard breed of chicken bred to a standard weight and standard color varieties and make a blue shelled egg; easter eggers are crossbreeds with no breed characteristics, they can look like anything and be of any weight and make any color shell, usually some shade of green.
Red sex links are a hybrid bred for high egg production; they usually burn out after the 2nd round of production and have a propensity for problems; the production reds are usually New Hampshire chickens selected for better egg production qualities and would be better suited to the average backyard flock.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 11:35AM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

I have all colors, and totally enjoy the variety! Auracanas, cockoo marans, 1 brahma, 1 black cochin, 2 red star, I really don't know what all, but I love the variety. My son's art teacher found out we have them and begged for feathers for art class. We loaded her up a boxfull, she was thrilled with the different colors and patterns, and he got extra credit in art, AND thanked by the whole class. He's 10 and loves to be the hero. We also have guineas, all colors, and peafowl. I love the colors.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 12:32PM
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I have been researching chickens for some time now, have my coop setup, and my chickens will arrive as coop ready hens in mid-november. I found a small farm operation not far from my home, spoke with the owner who was writing out an order for chicks as we spoke and she added my nine birds to her order with the option of having her brood them for me if I so desired; I did since I was not yet ready to receive them.

I ordered (3) Dominiques, (3) Americaunas, (3) Welsummers, and a Cookoo Marans Roo (Marans Hens were not available for some reason). In the spring I will add some Marans hens and perhaps some others. My primary consideration was egg color, followed by cold hardiness, and then other factors.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 1:27PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

When we started out with our layers, I also wanted a variety. We started with New Hampshire Reds. They are beautiful, docile and great layers of large brown eggs. We also have Black Astrolorps, Barred Rocks and Americanas (but maybe not since they are all different colors --- they haven't started laying yet.) We also wanted only one rooster. HA! Good luck with that one. We specifically bought only pullets and with each batch got several roosters.

We have at least 5 roosters in a flock of 70 and so far that hasn't been a problem. With the Americanas, we aren't sure yet how many are roos. In the mornings, there is lots of crowing and some little screechy sounds that are probably Americanas that are just finding their voices. So far, only one of the roos seems aggressive --- the New Hampshire ("Foreman"). He doesn't try to attack my husband but I carry a fishing net with me and when he comes at me, I catch the dude! I shake the net while he is pinned to the ground and keep him there for several minutes. Second Roo in line is "George" and he is a real sweetie.

It seems to be necessary less and less, so maybe Foreman is learning to leave me alone. I hope so because the "girls" really like him. He and George are real pals and fun to watch taking care of their hens. Two of the Barred Rocks are now trying to get up in the pecking order and trying to "service" some of Forman's hens. It is very interesting to watch the interaction with them all.

Chickens are very addicting and even therapeutic.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 1:54PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

It seems to me that most people on this forum prefer a variety... nothing wrong with that. It's good that you've done your homework, because a mixed flock is slightly more challenging, in my opinion, than a flock of just one breed. There is a modicum of truth in the old adage: "Birds of a feather stick together."

Personally, I have been happy with a small flock of 10 - 12, all one breed, but that's just me. I'm really more of a goose-addict anyway.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 2:48PM
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I sit with an elderly lady who lived on a big farm as a girl and she told me her father gave her A chicken she named nancy because it was yellow and you shouldn't put yellow chickens in with white LOL.

I have a multicolored flock that I just love. I think they really are theraputic. they look just lovely in the morning when the sun shines down and the grass is so green and they are all pecking together.


Here is a link that might be useful: GardenWeb

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 3:05PM
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Fancifowl-thanks for the clarification. If the original poster is ordering from McMurray(as I did) or another big hatchery she will be getting easter eggers that are sold as Ameraucanas as you probably know. I wasn't sure she had heard of EEs because most newbies including myself thought true Ameraucanas were sold through big hatcheries. It wasn't until someone on a large chicken message board informed me that I had EE's did I know the difference.
I'm not saying EEs are CORRECTLY known as Ameraucanas, however they are referenced as such by hatcheries as well as some websites.
Thank you again for the correction.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 4:04PM
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Thanks for all the input. I'm curious if the Leghorns are considered flighty? I wanted one or two good white egg layers. I also thought the Araucanas and the Ameraucanas were both referred to as "Easter Eggers." On the McMurray site, Ameraucanas were synonomous (sp?) and on the Belt site Araucanas were. So thanks for pointing that out. Now I'm going to ask some more opinions, so just bear with me ;)

I love the idea of having birds free range but I don't think it is safe or plausible in our situation. I work full time and our area is rural enough to have tons of coyotes. So, for the layers, I'm thinking the coop and run will be home unless I'm right there outside to supervise. I had thought to tractor the meat birds (maybe not in a fancy get-up but made with materials on hand in the barn currently) in good weather and house them in the barn at night or during bad weather. The guineas will free range at their own risk, because that will be in tune with what their purpose for us will be. We'll see how they work out, I know they have pros and cons but I can't imagine being any more put out with the sounds of guineas versus the neighbor's rap music that I hear now in this neighborhood ;) Lori

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 10:28PM
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Man, I'd take guineas, or most anything else, over rap crap any day! .
Leghorns can be a more flighty type chicken, generally speaking. Mine were quite calm, but then so are my Hamburgs.
Free range while at home to keep a lookout and keep penned otherwise.
The large commercial hatcheriues really do a dis service to the industry by mis representing their animals. many breeders have tried to lobby them to "adjust" their advertising to no avail. Another ploy which galls me is the pictures which are in the catalogs, so misleading. I have raised many hundreds of the hatchery chicks over the years, and also bred several breeds bred to standard of perfection, No comparison.
But, they do provide good birds for the average hobbyist who is just interested in keeping a few chickens. They aren't for me but they are good for a lot of others.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 10:56PM
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Fancifowl, this seems to be a problem with far reach. I'm a bit of a tomato freak and have found inaccurate blips in the advertising of some of the less reputable companies. What surprises me is that (I thought) McMurrays and Belt are very reputable. I don't see how it does them any good or bad either way to distribute misinformation. So why? As a novice, I went to both of those sites and they were part of my education. I would think they would want to preserve the breed, first and foremost, and not encourage further labeling of misrepresentations. Re: I raise some birds thinking they are pure of a certain breed. I take the eggs or babies from them and label them as such and give them to friends who understand them to be of that breed. Gosh, what a can of worms;) I'm just learning about poultry at this point and have no right to be indignant about it. I would think, though, that the major hatcheries have a responsibility to provide clear information about their breeds. They don't know that I'm chicken-stupid, LOL. Lori

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 11:31PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)


You don't have to rely on the hatchery magazine pictures anymore, there's loads of pictures of individual breeds as FeatherSite as well as descriptions of the breeds.

You can also research various breeders of the different chickens and buy hatching eggs, chicks or chickens directly from the folks who are breeding that specific breed if you want a better quality chicken. It would also help widen the gene pool if chickens were supplied by more than one or two places as well.

A hui hou,

Here is a link that might be useful: Feathersite

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 9:00PM
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Mcmurrays is mostly a broker, buying hatching eggs from other hatcheries and some large private breeders. Their poultry is ok for a backyard flock, I have had hundreds from them over the years.
I think I stated that several breeders have written to the hatcheries which mis represent their birds and there is no response. Those hatcheries are not breeders, they are chick sellers, and they sell alot.
It is ultimatly the responsibility of the buyer to do his/her homework.
I have bred many different types of animals, all purebreds, from Horses, and beef to rabbits, poultry and dogs. I also work with plant stocks, I have seen just about everything mis represented, mostly thru ignorance but sometimes with malice. Those hatcheries know they arent being straight up, why they continue is beyond me??!!
Some of those photos at Feathersite arent too hot either. Some are ok and some are very good representatives.
The hatcheries provide a service and a product which are useful to many, but, for those who desire to breed quality and enter the breeding and or showing world, they are best steered clear of.
I sell hatching eggs for way less than McMurray(my price is $25 per doz postpaud) and I send eggs from birds which have won top awards at national shows, check the price of their eggs, from birds which in most cases are not good representatives of the breed.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 10:33PM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

When I decided to get a quieter, less agressive type of chicken, I just knew that I wanted something less . . . agressive? invasive? than the RIR's that I'd gotten from the feed store. Then I looked for a breeder, not a hatchery. I may have paid higher prices than the feed store, but I'm much happier with my Dominques (known as Dominackers around here). I still have two RIReds, but they are going to a new home soon. The new flock stays close to the barn, the rooster is well mannered and hardly crows.

I am pleasantly surprised that my choice was a good one. Maybe some day I will experiment with other breeds. For now I'd rather not have a mixed flock. Though I have to admit that there are some really gorgous chickens out there. I missed a lot as a city child!


    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 6:56PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

I am new to raising chickens too. I have a nice flock of 14 consisting of Domoniques, Speckled Sussex, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Orpington and Buttercups. I love each and every breed. I have handled them all almost daily since they arrive in May and I just love having such variety. If pressed to pick a favorite it would be difficult but I have to say the Buttercups and Sussex are way up there.

Have fun. I would never have believed that I would enjoy my flock so much. They are fun.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 3:16PM
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I had looked at the Dominiques as well as the Speckled Sussex, such pretty girls. Why do you say they are your favorites? I know I will be addicted once I have some chickens, I'm still trying to compile info and advice. I can't wait to get started! Lori

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 7:05PM
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great thread and info.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:20PM
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