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ladybugred
Dec. 30, 2010, 11:32 AM
I'm thinking about getting chickens when I move in the spring, I have been going through hatchery catalogs the way some people go through clothes catalogs, so sad I know! I think I know what kind of chicken I want, but I want suggestions on breeds. I am in the northern central MD/PA area, hot summers, cold snowy icey winters, so the chix would have to be hot/cold tolerant. Also I would like a breed that will lay during the winter, don't know if this is possible.

I also want to know which books I should read between now a chicken time.

TIA

LBR

maunder
Dec. 30, 2010, 01:31 PM
:)Hop on over to www.backyardchickens.com and take a look at their information and forum!

Chickens are addictive so plan on a larger coop or area of housing than what you have in mind now.... you will get more! ;)

Some of the traditional breeds like the Wyandots have what are called rose combs and therefore may not experience the frost-bitten comb during a long, cold winter. They are also beautiful!

I have Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, Speckled Sussex, Golden and Silver Laced Wyandots and a couple of banties!

ladybugred
Dec. 30, 2010, 01:38 PM
Thanks! I'm thinking GL Wyandotes, and a couple banties, more because they're cute then for eggs.

I really like the Sicilian Buttercups, but the combs wouldn't fair so well in the winter.

I'll go check out the site you posted!

LBR

RiverBendPol
Dec. 30, 2010, 02:06 PM
I have Buff Orpingtons and truth be told, they have not been good layers. They will be 3 in May and I fear may meet their maker this winter while I'm in Aiken and my husband is here alone getting no eggs! :( These chickens are beautiful, fat and healthy, very cheerful and very friendly but I'm afraid Mrs. Tweedy would have already made them into pies!
With any luck, they'll start laying again when it gets warm. They are also very temperature tolerant. They don't seem to care what the temp is as long as they have plenty of food and water. They have a heat lamp for really cold nights, an electric water heater, lots of well-banked shavings in their house.

JSwan
Dec. 30, 2010, 02:22 PM
My Buffs are rather broody. And one has a beak as sharp as a knife, I swear. Ouch. :mad:

But those Black Australorps are egg laying machines. Good meat birds, too. Good foragers, pleasant temperament. Dark color helps protect them from predators.

Auventera Two
Dec. 30, 2010, 02:26 PM
I have had great luck with Rhode Island Reds, New Jersey Black Giants, Astrolorps, and Aracaunas (spelling?). I am in a similar climate as you. Mine sometimes lay in the winter, and sometimes not. They go in spurts. What seems to help most is really good feed. I usually give them a mix of cracked corn, whole oats, black oil sunflower, flax, millet, etc. Any combination of those grains. Oh, also I give them the unmedicated laying crumble feed all year. They also get Ultium or Strategy as a treat. LOL They like to eat apple halves, bread, watermellon, etc.....It seems that the better you feed them, the better they lay.

2DogsFarm
Dec. 30, 2010, 03:32 PM
Backyard Chickens is a great site!

I started my flock last June with 2 Black Stars (sexlinks),2 Delawares and one Houdan. They were 9wk pullets when I got them - from a gal on BYC who lived about 2h from me.

They started laying last August, were 1yo this March and laid straight through last Winter except for the Houdan who considers eggs more of a gift than an obligation :rolleyes:

This Fall they observed the Great Moult and only 1 BS did not lose her feathers or stop laying.
She has faithfully laid for me every day and just yesterday she was joined by 2 more of her sisters :D

They are amazingly more interesting than I'd have ever thought.
Each has her own personality, they all make me laugh.
I love my girls and added 2 day-old chicks this August when Ms Houdan went on a 3-month broody binge. they were crossbreeds from a friend with a flock of Isa Browns & Wyandottes so we called them Isa-dottes.
Of course, the day I brought home "her" babies she went back to non-broody like turning off a switch.

One of those chicks has turned out to be a I-TOLD-You-Not-To-Be-A-Rooster, but so far he is a nice boy.

So I can recommend Delawares and Black Stars for egg production and all my breeds for friendliness.
Remember:
The way to a chicken's heart is through the stomach
Once you are established as the Bringer of Treats you will have many feathered friends :yes:

VWBug
Dec. 30, 2010, 03:41 PM
My barred rocks were laying machines and friendly too.

Now I have 4 orpingtons (2 buff, one flash and one blue) and they're all good layers, friendly and cold-hardy. But boy did they take forever to start laying. I have two aracauna's and one is a good layer and the other has given herself the winter off. Both are friendly and quite nosy.

Their names are Katherine, Ribbon, Pertelote, Trumpet, Buffy and Not-Buffy.

They don't have supplemental light or heat in their coop. They have a large area to roam but I do have some neighbors so they are fenced in. In this regard I took a page out of rotational grazing for horses and applied it to the chickens. I have two fenced in areas and one rests and re-grows grass while the other area is getting grazed and scratched up. Then the chickens get 'turned out' on the reestablished plot with the new grass and a new insect population. There are trees and shrubs to hide under, but hawks are always a worry.

Megaladon
Dec. 30, 2010, 03:41 PM
Yeah I plan on getting some chicks this spring too! :)

You could try the Chantecler. It was developed in Canada to withstand extreme cold but not decrease egg production in winter. They are active and prefer to have no confinement. You can find them at Meyer Hatchery in Polk, OH.

Good luck!!

wsmoak
Dec. 30, 2010, 03:46 PM
One of the first things we did when we moved to the country! The previous residents left a chain link enclosure with concrete around the edges, so we added a coop and I got eight chicks from a small local hatchery.

I ended up with three roosters, so I gave two away and kept the buff orpington who had claimed all the hens. It was much quieter after that! I figured I would lose some to predators since they free range during the day, but everybody made it until just this past week when I lost one, probably to the hawk that hangs around the area. So the remaining five are in jail until spring when things leaf out again and provide some cover. (They are not happy about this.)

Daydream Believer
Dec. 30, 2010, 04:15 PM
I have three breeds right now that are laying...Buff Orpingtons...and yes they are broody. I did not find out until recently that they are only considered "good" layers at 3 eggs/week. Mine are laying this winter though well enough.

I have White Rocks who seem pretty reliable. They have larger combs that might frostbite though in a colder climate. All Plymouth Rocks regardless of color are strong layers at 4 eggs/week.

Last I have Silver Laced Wyandottes....and they are lovely. Rose combs so they are very cold hardy and they lay well...4 eggs a week also.

I have some Welsummer pullets that are coming up on 3 months old...too young to lay. They are supposed to be more heat tolerant but are doing fine in the cold. They lay a dark brown eggs and are quite pretty. The Kelloggs Cornflake Rooster is a Welsummer. They are considered a rare breed though and are more expensive as chicks. They are very friendly though and I like them a lot. I found out that they are only 3 egg a week on average so that's a bit low...but the brown eggs are usually quite large...so that makes up for it a bit.

The next batch I get will probably be Wyandottes. They were good eating too! I put a few roosters in the freezer and I liked them better than the Rocks and Orps.

maunder
Dec. 30, 2010, 04:37 PM
I'd love some Welsummers and Chanteclers...beautiful chickens!

Banties may need some heat in the coop if you are thinking about getting them, ladybugred.

The two Dutch banties that I have now do well out in the coop but I did have one little special rooster that did not tolerate cold and he had to come into the house for the winters.

I don't think it has to be much heat for banties, but they appreciate a little help in the extreme cold.

Anguissette
Dec. 30, 2010, 04:54 PM
Our Buff Orps started laying later than most, 2-3 eggs per day from 7 hens during the winter....so not too bad. The crazy heat we had here in NC over the summer didn't seem to bother them and they seem cold hardy as well.

I am dying for some English Orps and Wyandottes come spring!

SmartAlex
Dec. 30, 2010, 05:24 PM
For large brown eggs, you can't beat the Golden Comets, those are the kind my mother has. We've also had a variety of Plymouth Rock colors: white, barred, partridge, buff. My favorites are the New Hampshire Reds. Astralorps are nice, as are Ameracaunas.
My next flock is going to be Dark Brahmas, because I really want rose combs from now on, even though we heat our coop.
Then some day I'm going to indulge myself with Porcelain Mille Fleur Bantams.

Carolinadreamin'
Dec. 30, 2010, 08:11 PM
I am greatly offended that there are no pictures on this thread!

Behind the 8 Ball
Dec. 30, 2010, 08:19 PM
We have had chooks for 11 years and some that were the originalk are still laying. They are Partridge Rocks. The others that have done well with egg production and hardiness are the Red Stars ( sex links) New Hampshire reds and we did have Buff Orpingtons but i thought they didn't lay as well. As a rooster we had a Rhode Island Red given to us and he was nice, in love with the goose and lived until about 8 then fell prey to a wandering beagle.

I am in PA so we have similar summers and the smaller size of the Rocks do ok in the heat. Winters are really no problem. I have a flock of about 30 - 40 hens and 2 roosters and a Toulouse goose for protection ( of the hens, not people ;) )

UrbanHennery
Dec. 30, 2010, 08:27 PM
I've got 21 hens, representing 10 breeds, right now. My favorites (and best layers) are the Welsummers and the Cuckoo Marans. I also really like my speckled sussex. My buff orpington is my friendliest girl, but not a great layer and my Ameracaunas are not only unfriendly, but also poor layers. I think we'll be culling most of the older girls (about 8 of the 21) this spring and picking up some more Welsummers.

Plan space for more hens than you plan to get - I started off with 4...

Hampton Bay
Dec. 30, 2010, 10:47 PM
Not sure about cold hardiness, but Leghorns are fantastic layers.

Daydream Believer
Dec. 30, 2010, 11:22 PM
I'm not sure if this link to my farm's Facebook page will work or not but there are some pics of my current hens this Fall...probably around 4 months old or thereabouts:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rainbows-End-Farm/172483179436861?v=photos#!/album.php?aid=36572&id=172483179436861

TheBandit
Dec. 31, 2010, 09:43 AM
I really like Barred Rocks. Good egg layers, friendly and pretty to look at as well. Currently, I have Barred Rock/Polish crosses. They are smaller than a standard Barred Rock with a little tuft of feathers on the tops of their heads. They are really funky birds. I also have a few Ameracaunas.

Carolinadreamin'
Dec. 31, 2010, 01:59 PM
Daydream Believer, thank you for answering my shameless beg for pictures. Your chickens are just beautiful! Just lovely!!

Daydream Believer
Dec. 31, 2010, 05:04 PM
You are welcome! I'm very fond of my "girls."

back in the saddle
Dec. 31, 2010, 08:21 PM
My Silver Pencil Plymouth Rocks just started laying. Pretty birds and rare. I think there's only 10 people breeding them in the US.

Here are the boys: http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/659b9a74.jpg

Here's what the girls look like: http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/3a531ddb.jpg

Carolinadreamin'
Jan. 1, 2011, 02:36 PM
back in the saddle, beautiful, beautiful birds!!!

ReSomething
Jan. 2, 2011, 10:02 PM
Word of advice here, if you buy mail order they ship through the USPS via commercial carrier, ie truck. Try to pick a hatchery that is close to you, or temperate weather, because they can die of heat exhaustion or freeze to death quite easily on a two day truck ride.

We have barred rocks and I am quite pleased. One egg each per day (if you can find them sometimes though) and ours moulted, quit laying and probably won't start up again till March. They are not heated or lit.

DH bought two batches, one for laying hens and one for the freezer which was all roosters, their feet were not good (not bumblefoot just bent toes) and the hardest part was doing in so many and plucking them all. The roos were very cheap.

back in the saddle
Jan. 2, 2011, 10:14 PM
In regards to bent toes, I've found chicks especially rooster chicks need vitamins when growing. I hatched 12 ameraucanas and sold them as day old chicks. The man who bought them had 4 cockerals and all 4 ended up with crooked toes. My cockerals from the same hatch have perfect toes and I always put vitamins in my water with each water change. I learned the hard way and ended up with crooked toes on my first hatch chicks and I did not feed vitamins. You can use infamil baby vitamins withOUT iron or buy the chicken kind.

Megaladon
Jan. 2, 2011, 10:20 PM
Word of advice here, if you buy mail order they ship through the USPS via commercial carrier, ie truck. Try to pick a hatchery that is close to you, or temperate weather, because they can die of heat exhaustion or freeze to death quite easily on a two day truck ride.

Agreed, I have read horror stories about all chicks being dead upon arrival--how sad. Some hatcheries may allow you to pick up your order of chicks. This is what I plan on doing because I just cannot fathom chicks being without water for 2 or more days. :eek:

Daydream Believer
Jan. 2, 2011, 10:44 PM
Chicks can live for 3 days at least without food or water. They absorb the yolk before hatching and live off of that. They don't need water during that shipping period. The main hazard is if they are delayed somehow.

Make sure to let the post office know when you have chicks coming and foster a nice relationship with them (if you get chicks shipped often...which I do). I had one nice PO employee call me one night when they got there and she let me come after hours to pick them up. Another one made sure they were kept in the heated area until I could get there.

I buy broiler chicks almost monthly these days....up to 100 at a time. I have lost a few in shipping but not that many. Generally those that die are the weaker ones and it is not unusual to lose some post hatch anyway..shipping or not. Also a reputable hatchery will ship a few additional chicks just in case someone does die en-route.

Calvincrowe
Jan. 2, 2011, 10:52 PM
I have Black Australorps (excellent layers, unfriendly and flighty), Buff Orpingtons, now 3 or 4 years old, (super calm, friendly, decent layers, not too broody), and Delawares (decent layers, VERY broody, not friendly at all).

I love my hens, and out of 11 birds, I'm averaging 7 eggs a day this winter. I keep a light on in the house from 6am to 9pm and that seems to help the laying situation. I pen mine all the time--they have a large (40 x 50 foot) grass pen, then a smaller (20 x 10 foot) dirt pen next to the barn and then their house inside the barn. We simply cut a hole in the barn wall, installed a wee door and built a coop inside. It is under the stairs to our loft (storage, not hay).

I like the variety of egg colors, from pale cream to dark reddish brown, and the intensely orange yolks. I sell my excess to my colleagues at my school.

I just can't bring myself to give away or butcher these tough old ladies, so they'll live out their lives right here on the farm.

Just how long to hens live???

SmartAlex
Jan. 3, 2011, 11:19 AM
Just how long to hens live???

I would say on average 5-7 years would be almost tops. I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions, I'm talking about a wide average of back yard layers. My mother has an old age retirement flock. When one does poorly, she takes it out of the flock and gives it an assisted living apartment. One hen she finally felt was just staying alive to please her, and she finally had our horse vet euthanise it. Now and then we talk her into a mercy beheading. But mostly, hers die of some malady or other around 5 years old.

ladybugred
Jan. 3, 2011, 11:38 AM
Re- I'm thinking about going through Meyer, they are in Ohio, and I'll be in the Gettysburg PA area. Also they only ship when the weather is conducive to little chicks. They seem to have a decent replacement policy. Talking to the PO is a good idea, thanx.

CC- Your mom sounds as bad as me, after the chooks spending the best part of their lives feeding me and mine, I can't see just offing them!

To be honest, I don't care if the chooks are friendly, so long as they don't attempt to attack like a rooster I once knew.

Thanx for all the info!

LBR

Tiramit
Jan. 3, 2011, 12:18 PM
My husband and I have had a variety of standard, fancy and bantam breeds over the years and, like others, have been very happy with our Black Australorps and Black Jerseys laying in the winter. We've had less success with Wyandottes (5 different varieties), Rhode Island Reds or Orpingtons. I am completely amazed by our Wheaten Maran hen who has been laying large, chocolate brown eggs each day, even during our recent cold snap (knock on wood). Plus she's a very friendly, sweet hen. I wish I had 10 more like her!!!

We also have a bantam and exotic flock that's more for fun than egg production. Our best bantam layers were bantam Americanas from McMurray, but I've sworn off ordering chicks since my last 4 orders had at least 25% dead (who packs bantams and standards together? Of course the bantams will be trampled!) and at least 50% roosters, even on my more expensive "sexed" orders.

We're not that far from you and can advise using Ideal poultry over McMurray. We lost 0 chicks from Ideal in 3 orders and at least half from McMurray in 4 orders, including 2 that were replacements for losing chicks in the first! If you're up to a drive, you can wait for the Chickenstock event in West Virginia later this year. We found some very nice hens there.

mg
Jan. 3, 2011, 12:36 PM
I'm not a chicken person myself, but my father has Bantams at the farm and I think they are just the *cutest* things ever! They have a little indoor coop that's heated with a wire sided "play pen" type area, but several of them like to roost in the rafters in the barn.

How do your horses get along with your chickens? One of the hens LOVES my horse. She hangs out in his stall all the time--sitting on the edge of his heated water bucket or on the edge of his grain bin. He'll stand near her and blow hot air on her and you can tell she's just in heaven. She's also great for cleaning up the grain he misses! I think it's one of the cutest things in the world, watching them together :)

SmartAlex
Jan. 3, 2011, 12:57 PM
McMurray is one hatchery that won't pack standards with bantams. When I've ordered from them, I haven't lost even one chick. Of course, the post office was smart enough to call me Sunday morning (yes Sunday) to have me come to the back door and pick up my box. Thank You Post Office! :D

Tiramit
Jan. 3, 2011, 01:26 PM
McMurray is one hatchery that won't pack standards with bantams. When I've ordered from them, I haven't lost even one chick. Of course, the post office was smart enough to call me Sunday morning (yes Sunday) to have me come to the back door and pick up my box. Thank You Post Office! :D

This must have changed in the last year (perhaps due to my frustrated calls) because they absolutely did pack bantams with standard chicks in my orders. 3 times! And each time several of the bantam chicks arrived dead or so battered that they died shortly after. This wasn't one or two bantams either as I was after more bantams. According to the McMurray reps packing them together is (was) standard practice.

My post office is also quite quick to call us with arrivals but it didn't help with our shipments.

Megaladon
Jan. 3, 2011, 01:34 PM
Re- I'm thinking about going through Meyer, they are in Ohio, and I'll be in the Gettysburg PA area. Also they only ship when the weather is conducive to little chicks. They seem to have a decent replacement policy. Talking to the PO is a good idea, thanx.

CC- Your mom sounds as bad as me, after the chooks spending the best part of their lives feeding me and mine, I can't see just offing them!

To be honest, I don't care if the chooks are friendly, so long as they don't attempt to attack like a rooster I once knew.

Thanx for all the info!

LBR

Meyer also allows pick up too. :)

Tiramit, any experiences with Sumatras?

Tiramit
Jan. 3, 2011, 02:00 PM
Megaladon, no, sadly no Sumatras yet. We've come close once or twice but something kept us from buying them (like the person in front of us who purchased the last pair at Chickenstock :D). I do have Phoenix now (lovely and good layers!) and have had La Fleche in the past (also lovely). Also dabbled with Buttercups (not very bright, LOL), Sultans, Silkies and quite a few random breeds. Very few have been good layers but are a lot of fun to watch pecking around the yard. Ours is a rather eclectic flock!

2DogsFarm
Jan. 3, 2011, 02:21 PM
Delawares (decent layers, VERY broody, not friendly at all).


Hey!
I beg to differ.
My Delawares are the friendliest of the lot. and not at all interested in going broody.
My broody hen was - of all breeds! - the Houdan . she went for 3 months! beginning in June, then moulted hard and just started laying again yesterday.
The Delawares moulted pretty hard in October too and just started laying again last week.

If you're worried about getting roosters, order sex-linked chicks.
Maybe a little pricier but you know what you're getting & they are crosses of production breeds so great layers.

Megaladon
Jan. 3, 2011, 02:42 PM
Megaladon, no, sadly no Sumatras yet. We've come close once or twice but something kept us from buying them (like the person in front of us who purchased the last pair at Chickenstock :D). I do have Phoenix now (lovely and good layers!) and have had La Fleche in the past (also lovely). Also dabbled with Buttercups (not very bright, LOL), Sultans, Silkies and quite a few random breeds. Very few have been good layers but are a lot of fun to watch pecking around the yard. Ours is a rather eclectic flock!

Darn! Was hoping for some input :lol: I seen them in a catalogue--really liked them (for fun-not production). Then at my county fair there was 3 of them (rooster, 2 hens). While all the other chickens were cockadoodle-doing, all 3 of the Sumatras just sat/stood there. They were very quiet and reservered and seemed to take in their surroundings. So then I was even more intrigued. But anyway, maybe someday. How long did you get your Phoenix's tail? (assuming you have a rooster) :D They are also on my "someday" list ;)

tle
Jan. 3, 2011, 02:52 PM
I adore our chickens! They're a riot to watch (not the brightest bulbs for sure). We picked up 6 one-year old Barred Rock hens locally in August so we'd have some hens laying NOW. Then in october we picked up 25 chicks... they'll be laying come spring, at which time I'll probably order another 15 or so. Anyway, the barred rocks are doing fabulous! Lost one this fall to egg impaction and a chick a few weeks ago to an impacted crop. we're getting typically 4 eggs/day from the 5 hens (sometimes 5, sometimes 3). The chicks are half Rhode Island Red and half Easter Eggers (sold to us as Arcaunas but they're not... is ok). Will probably look at Australorps next.

As with horses' coats, light is the key to keeping them producing during the winter. That and making sure they have fresh water. We put heat lamps over our waterers... dual purpose in keeping the water from freezing AND keeping some light in the coop. so far so good!

BTW, my order was from McMurray's and we didn't lose anyone in transit! Will be ordering from Mt. Healthy next as we can go pick them up instead of paying shipping.

SmartAlex
Jan. 3, 2011, 03:46 PM
This must have changed in the last year (perhaps due to my frustrated calls) because they absolutely did pack bantams with standard chicks in my orders. 3 times! And each time several of the bantam chicks arrived dead or so battered that they died shortly after. This wasn't one or two bantams either as I was after more bantams. According to the McMurray reps packing them together is (was) standard practice.

My post office is also quite quick to call us with arrivals but it didn't help with our shipments.

Really? I'm suprised. I first ordered back in 2003 and then again a couple of years later, and not only was there policy of not mixing them stated in the catalog and on the website, but the web ordering system flat out wouldn't accept a mix even if you did it accidentally. In fact, that's the only reason I haven't had Bantams in years. I just don't need 25 of the little buggers! Maybe they caved to popular demand in more recent years.

ladybugred
Jan. 3, 2011, 06:24 PM
Mega- I would love to pick up instead, how would chicks do during a 7 hr drive??? That way I could do a couple banties as well!!

I will definitely check out the Chicken show in WV

I'm thinking about picking up a book about raising chickens, which one would you suggest?

Thanx

LBR

Jay-N-Jete'
Jan. 3, 2011, 06:41 PM
We have had lots of luck with Red Stars (sexlinks)
They are really friendly, calm, and most lay every day (usually 20 eggs from 22 ladies, plus a bantam egg every other day!)

During the winter, they need a light to keep up with production, but they lay all winter.

They went to every other day during the autumn molt, but, other than that, most lay every day!

We lost all our girls to a mink this October....
Just ordering eggs to hatch now!

deckchick
Jan. 4, 2011, 01:15 AM
My Silver Pencil Plymouth Rocks just started laying. Pretty birds and rare. I think there's only 10 people breeding them in the US.

Here are the boys: http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/659b9a74.jpg

Here's what the girls look like: http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/3a531ddb.jpg

I have dark Brahmas that are very similar to yours BITS, but my chickens have feathers on their feet and a very small comb. I live in Central Alberta, they do fine here year round, when it hits -40, I will make a hot breakfast for all my critters though!

Here is a video of them...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsX6uE9VVUQ

Poniesofmydreams
Jan. 4, 2011, 09:26 AM
We have four New Hampshire Reds and they are awesome. We get 2-4 eggs per day and they are super friendly. My girls raised them this summer.
We also have five Silkies. They are only five months old. But they are so cute. They live in a separate coop from the bigger girls.
Overall, the chickens have been a great addition to our family.

Sakura
Jan. 4, 2011, 11:04 AM
We have four Australorps:
Nicki (Nicole Kidman)
Drogheda
Sydney
Adelaide

Two Road Island Reds:
Scarlett
Red

One Americana:
Sparkle

Four Araucanas:
Daisy
Smoky
Honey Mustard
BBQ

Two Sicilian Buttercups:
Da Vinci (the rooster)
Mona Lisa

One Japanese Phoenix:
Aka-chan

All of them are friendly... will eat right out of your hands... a few of them will let you pick them up. The Araucanas have just started laying... and only two of my Australorps are laying right now... but I'm ok with four to five eggs a day.

kari
Jan. 4, 2011, 07:58 PM
I have a mixed flock...composed primarily of Buff Orphingtons, Dominiques, Easter Eggers, and Black Austrolorps. I also have a couple of random chickens in there, Anconas, Black Langshans, Turkens, Cochins, etc. The Turkens are egg laying machines. They lay me an egg every day, without fail....I am giving away eggs to whoever will take them at this point. I have had very good luck with McMurray hatchery. Do check out backyardchickens.com It's a wealth of information with very sweet people. I got a mixed flock primarily because I wanted different looking hens, and different colored eggs. I got my wish. I am currently getting about 18 eggs a day, pink, blue, green, white, brown and green. It's a riot to watch people open the egg cartons that I give them and be shocked at all the different colors. I love to watch my peeps, it's better than television any day!

in_the_zone
Jan. 4, 2011, 08:13 PM
Honestly, the sex link/red run chicks they sell in the spring at Tractor Supply lay just as well as anything else, if not better. They breed them so they "lay themselves to death" and you will have heavy egg production for a good 2 or 3 years.

Fred
Jan. 5, 2011, 08:50 AM
I love my chickens!

I started out with just three RI Reds, a rooster and 2 hens, and they were the sweetest birds and great layers.
Then I got some Buff O's and Barred Rocks - such beautiful birds.
I gave a bunch away, and then we had a terrible dog attack a few years ago, a couple of my neighbour's dogs came over.. and I was left with one badly injured poor rooster, a very handsome Barred Rock/Buff O cross.
After that I lost heart for having the chickens, and just had him for the next few years.
But, I bought him 2 little red hens from the feed store last summer..
and I am back to wanting more chickens, in the spring.

Thanks for this thread, lots of helpful advice.

One question? What is the best way to remove chicken poop from the walls?

Fred
Jan. 5, 2011, 08:52 AM
My Silver Pencil Plymouth Rocks just started laying. Pretty birds and rare. I think there's only 10 people breeding them in the US.

Here are the boys: http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/659b9a74.jpg

Here's what the girls look like: http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/3a531ddb.jpg


lovely! My rooster who is the result of a Buff Orphington rooster and Barred Rock hen looks very much like this.

ladybugred
Jan. 5, 2011, 12:56 PM
Possible dumb question, at what age do chickens start laying? I had assumed if they were born in the spring, they would lay in the fall, but I've seen on BYC where they don't lay for a couple yrs??

Am I misreading? Are these chickens odd? Is this right?

LBR

deckchick
Jan. 5, 2011, 01:56 PM
When I had ISA Browns, they started around 19-20 weeks. My Dark Brahma's were about six months old. It depends on the breed, what they get fed, light, etc.

JCS
Jan. 5, 2011, 04:15 PM
We *love* our barred rocks. We have had RIRs as well. Both breeds seem to be fine in the cold and all of them lay an egg a day, religiously. (We did have one dud in our flock of six RIRs who never laid at all.) The Barred Rocks seem to lay smallish eggs. But they have the BEST personalities. I swear they would come right in the house if we let them. My 2-year-old daughter adopted one of the barred rock chicks as her own personal pet, and the hen (Charlotte) has become very people-oriented and sweet. Both Charlotte and her BFF Emily come running up to be petted when we go outside, and Charlotte even enjoys being picked up and snuggled.

They are free range, with a coop that we close up at night in cold weather. They have a heat lamp for very cold nights. Using a light at night will keep them producing eggs right through the winter.

I just want to share the names of my three BR hens...
Emily Chickenson, Jane AustHen, and Charlotte Braaaaaaaante.

bathsheba8542
Jan. 6, 2011, 09:35 AM
We are really pleased with our Welsummers ... big layers, brave, and interesting. I love my two Ameraucanas, but they are nervous and haven't blended in with the flock well. Backyardchickens.com is a great resource...I also feed nonmedicated crumble with tons of treats, including weeds from the garden, any vegetable except onions, peppers, and avocado (poisonous). They LOVE pound cake and baked goods...the ladies at the barn save me their stale breads, etc. and the chickens really appreciate the treats. When they are bored, I'll throw in a few cabbages for them to attack, or watermelon which is great in the summer heat to keep them hydrated. My advice would be to make sure their coop is in an area that is out of the summer sun, think about fans to move air, keep ice packs in the freezer to drop in their water dispensers when it's hot, and use a stall mat under their roosting poles to make daily clean up easy and save on bedding. We have plenty of fox around here, so our chicken yard is wrapped with 3 strands of hot wire, fence buried under ground, and aviary netting. I'm a little obsessive.

2DogsFarm
Jan. 6, 2011, 11:30 AM
I just want to share the names of my three BR hens...
Emily Chickenson, Jane AustHen, and Charlotte Braaaaaaaante.

:lol: Very Creative!

I was a little more pragmatic naming my hens & 1 juvenile rooster - they are:
Salad, Noodle, Xtra Crispy, Markena (named for a coworker), Misty Cologne (friend's Drag Name) & the babies Connie & Detective John (named for friends)