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Need some advice on chicken breeds

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  • Need some advice on chicken breeds

    So fiancee & I will be getting chickens for the first time this spring! We have an 8.5 acre farm. We've done lots of research, and he's working hard on building our chicken coop. We know what supplies we will need for chicks, and are going to buy them locally.

    We are only getting 6 chickens for now, and a local farm that sells them recommended the Rhode Island Red, Black Astralorp, and Barred Plymouth Rock. Our criteria was that we were only keeping them for egg-laying & pets, would like something that seldom goes broody, and we would like a gentle bird rather than anything more fiesty.

    Our winters are normally (except for this year!) in the 20's & 30's, but the teens & single digits are not unheard of.

    The local farm will have Rhode Island Red & Barred Plymouth Rock pullets available together 2 different weeks, but will have Black Astralorps available two other weeks (so I can't get all 3 breeds together). I know they say not to combine younger & older chicks.

    So what would you rather have...a mix of Rhode Island Reds & Barred Plymouth Rocks, or just Black Astralorps? Or is there a breed you can recommend other than these 3?

    TIA for any help!
    <3 Vinnie <3
    1992-2010
    Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

  • #2
    Rocks and Australorps are both great breeds, low maintenance & good layers. If you don't want something "feisty", I'd go with one of those over the RIR. Orpingtons are nice too, slightly less productive layers than the BR's and Aussies, but really laid back & docile.
    You can definitely combine younger and older chicks if you're talking about a difference of only two weeks, it's when there's a dramatic size/age difference, or when introducing new birds to a mature flock that things can get ugly..

    Edit - Scratch the Orpingtons if you don't ever want broody, because it will happen.
    "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville

    Comment


    • #3
      I find Rocks fit our farm nicely. They are active foragers but calm, curious and gentle. They are mostly not broody but I have a few pullets who are acting that way now. Look at the bright side...if they do go broody and sit a nest, you get free chicks (assuming you have a rooster) that the hen will raise. I'm going to let my broody orps raise a few clutches this year for replacement pullets.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've never had Australorps; but not counting roosters, my Rhode Island Red & Barred Plymouth Rock hens were lovely girls. Mild-tempered, healthy, & good layers of nice large brown eggs - even in the colder weather.

        Comment


        • #5
          I LOVE Australorps. I've kept about a dozen breeds over the years and they are by far my favorite. I have two, Daphne and Ada, who are about ten years old, and they are beautiful, sedate, easy-going hens. They laid for years and years!

          Orpingtons are very similar—we added two buff pullets to the family this year now that Daphne and Ada have grown old.
          My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

          Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks! I'm thinking the Black Astralorps sound really interesting. They also offer Speckled Sussex the same week...they seem like nice birds from what I've read. So many decisions.

            Another quick question. What would be a standard size coop to hold 6 chickens? I can't seem to find a definitive answer online. Any opinions?

            Thanks for the help so far!
            <3 Vinnie <3
            1992-2010
            Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BoysNightOut View Post
              Thanks! I'm thinking the Black Astralorps sound really interesting. They also offer Speckled Sussex the same week...they seem like nice birds from what I've read. So many decisions.

              Another quick question. What would be a standard size coop to hold 6 chickens? I can't seem to find a definitive answer online. Any opinions?

              Thanks for the help so far!
              You want a BARE MINIMUM (& I mean BARE MINIMUM) of 2 square feet per bird for your coop. Bare minimums per bird for the outdoor run depends on whether or not your birds will be free-ranging or not.

              Comment


              • #8
                My rocks are very friendly and lay like champions! Definitely my best layers - and I've got some very good ones You won't be sorry if you go with the Rocks.

                As far as coop size, the general rule of thumb is 5 sq feet per bird in the coop, 10 sq feet of run space per bird. So for 6 chickens your coop should be 30 sq feet with 60 sq feet of run space. Of course bigger is always better... Personally I recommend building as big as you can because chickens are seriously addicting, especially if you get into hatching them yourself I went from 4 to 14 in the first a year and a half that I had chickens!

                Comment


                • #9
                  You want a BARE MINIMUM (& I mean BARE MINIMUM) of 2 square feet per bird for your coop. Bare minimums per bird for the outdoor run depends on whether or not your birds will be free-ranging or not.
                  I would only do 2 sq ft as a bare minimum for bantams... For large fowl (such as the breeds you mentioned) you really need an absolute minimum of 4 sq feet to avoid pecking and stress. The more space the better because less stress = more eggs!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Our BO's australorps are totally NOT friendly. The leghorns are also not very friendly in the "picking them up and holding them department". The Buff Orps and RI REDS she has are ok, but the friendliest in her flock are by far the Barred Rocks. Take a look at this vid:

                    The Barred Rock in the vid will often sit on my grandson's back when he lays down, and loves to be hand fed..... she is the love of his life!!! lol she also lets you carry her around, as does one of the RI Reds....

                    The leghorns are noisy, and prolific flyers unless you clip them, and seem very flighty and high strung.

                    The Buff Orps are BROODY, I agree with the other poster....


                    these are all generalizations, though...chickens DO have personalities.....One of her RI Reds will sit on your lap, one of the others will peck you if you try to touch her....


                    http://s990.photobucket.com/albums/a...rent=029-2.mp4

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RedmondDressage View Post
                      I would only do 2 sq ft as a bare minimum for bantams... For large fowl (such as the breeds you mentioned) you really need an absolute minimum of 4 sq feet to avoid pecking and stress. The more space the better because less stress = more eggs!
                      You're right - for some reason I had bantams on the brain. Four square feet is the barest minimum for standard-size chickens, & if you're into the larger breeds like Jersey Giants, Cochins, etc., 6+ is better.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I will also chime in that my Barred Rocks are really lovely hens. I have a few random other hens who are all good layers but can be a bit hysterical at times. The Rocks just go about their day every day in a calm and sensible (well as sensible as a chicken can be) way...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hmm. My Rocks and RIRs are both the most broody hens I have and the more aggressive. They aren't aggressive to people but are mean to the other more laidback hens and they chase my JRT with no 2nd thought about walking up behind him and jumping on his head to attack him. My RIR hens will eat your human hand off if they are trying to go broody though..lol.

                          The sweetest hens I have are EEs (miscalled Ameraucanas most often), but the Buff Orpingtons aren't too bad either. The Silver-laced Wyandottes are hell on wheels as are my Black Stars (Rock/RIR crosses).
                          Rhode Islands are red;
                          North Hollands are blue.
                          Sorry my thoroughbreds
                          Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you want friendly egglayers look for Production breeds: Black & Red Stars, Cinnamon Queens, etc
                            They are bred selectively to lay & generally do not go broody.

                            That said:
                            The absolute broodiest - she was a BroodMonster for 3 MONTHS!!! - of my flock is the Houdan.
                            And she is a decorative breed, not known for laying OR mothering chicks.
                            She was looking so poorly - not to mention living in a nestbox & screeching like a banshee if I or any other chicken came near her - I got her 2 day-old chicks hoping she might adopt them & get on with her Life.
                            Of course the day I brought them home, she was like "NTYVM, done being broody"
                            *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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've had great luck with Delawares --- they are super docile and friendly!

                              For laying hens, Rhode Island Red all the way!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks again for all the advice!

                                We went to the local farm today. We were planning on getting Golden Comets, Black Astralorps, and Speckled Sussex. But when we got there, they had already sold out of the Black Astralorps (they had only been open 30 minutes, they must have been in hot demand!). So we ended up with 3 Golden Comets & 3 Speckled Sussex pullets.

                                They are super friendly, and currently cozy in their brooder. I'm so excited.

                                https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net...22509869_n.jpg

                                https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net...64473845_n.jpg
                                <3 Vinnie <3
                                1992-2010
                                Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Aww, aren't they just precious little angels! So cute. I have Golden Comets and they are egg laying machines! Have fun and enjoy your new chickies, they will make great pets!
                                  I LOVE my Chickens!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Congratulations on your first chickens! It's addicting! I've found that no matter what the breed of chicken as long as you raise them from a chick (or an egg) and really love on them that they will be very friendly. I've never had a mean rooster here either but that is the luck of the draw, I think.

                                    You'll love the Speckled Sussex. They are gorgeous hens when they mature. I have a SS named Imogen and had another named Irene but a fox got under the fence and killed her. I have a Golden Comet hen, Ethel, that is a character! Her "sister" Lucy died this year and she was one of my favorites.

                                    I have Black Australorps (Mildred and Molly) and a Barred Rock (Johanna). Let's see - I've had Buff Orps - very nice birds (Agatha and Dorothy Maud), and have Easter Eggers (Poot and Gertrude) and a couple of more pure Araucanas (Marguerite and Cordelia). I have some banties, and they are such cute little ladies (Verity and Pricilla). I have some assorted mixed breed hens from a friend (Blanche and Bette and Dimity).

                                    I can let my tame girls out to wander the yard when I'm home - the other girls came from a friend and tend to want to wander or fly over the fence. I have a 14 x 14 dog kennel attached to the large shed/coop for daily turnout. The chickens used to have the run of a 50 x 50 yard that was covered by pheasant netting as protection from hawks but after the fox got in I couldn't keep him out so put the sheep in there instead. It was my back yard. hee hee

                                    Enjoy your chickens! Soon you will get more. It's a sickness!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Wait until you see your chicklets fall asleep standing up. It's the most adorable thing. They kind of slooowly tip over onto their heads!

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by maunder View Post
                                        Wait until you see your chicklets fall asleep standing up. It's the most adorable thing. They kind of slooowly tip over onto their heads!
                                        Omg, I watched them do that already! Haha, what a trip! They just closed their eyes, slowly fell forward, then thunk!

                                        I'm so in love with them already. They are really good about being picked up. My fiancee & his dad are building a really nice coop & run right next to our horse barn. I have a feeling this will be an addicting hobby.

                                        And while I'm at it, does anybody have any tips on dealing with pasting up? I already had to pick one chicks bum this afternoon & poor girl was not happy (although I know it's necessary!). Any tips on making it easier for them?

                                        Thanks CoTH for getting me turned onto this fun animal.
                                        <3 Vinnie <3
                                        1992-2010
                                        Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

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