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Chicken People!!!!!!!!

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  • Chicken People!!!!!!!!

    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.


    I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

    R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed

  • #2
    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!


    • Original Poster

      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!

      I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

      R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed


      • #4
        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.
        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


        • #5
          My Buffs are rather broody. And one has a beak as sharp as a knife, I swear. Ouch.

          But those Black Australorps are egg laying machines. Good meat birds, too. Good foragers, pleasant temperament. Dark color helps protect them from predators.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              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

              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

              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.
              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
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


              • #8
                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.


                • #9
                  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!!
                  I LOVE my Chickens!


                  • #10
                    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.)
                    ... and Patrick


                    • #11
                      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.


                      • #12
                        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.


                        • #13
                          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!


                          • #14
                            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.
                            ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::


                            • #15
                              I am greatly offended that there are no pictures on this thread!


                              • #16
                                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 )
                                bad decisions make good stories


                                • #17
                                  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...


                                  • #18
                                    Not sure about cold hardiness, but Leghorns are fantastic layers.


                                    • #19
                                      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:



                                      • #20
                                        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.