What breed of chickens do you recommend?


#1

I was wondering what breed of chickens you keep and the reasons for doing so?

We’re almost ready to get some girls for our little lifestyle block, but are unsure as to the best breed. Our main purpose in keeping them are for their eggs (and entertainment) but ideally we don’t want a breed that is overly noisy and has a good temperament around young children.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

EcoGuy


#2

I just received this via private message which I thought was pretty helpful. Posting it here in case others also find it useful…

I have raised several breeds over the years. For roosters the "Rhode Island reds are by far my favourite. They have an inherent ability to be aware of predators and danger faster than many other breeds. I have witnessed these roosters lead prey from the hens to a distant area and give their life saving their harem.

For layers, brown egg, I have had better performance from the New Hampshire and the Rhode Island Reds. The eggs they lay are quite large and daily. These breeds also do well in my W. KY. humidity, heat and winters.

For my brood hens I rely on Silkys They will protect to near death the eggs they sit on and the chicks that hatch. It does not matter which hen lays them. I now have several hens from mixed breeds.

Please listen when I tell you that chickens do not care how pretty their coops are or how neat there pens are. They care about feeling safe. I have 3 mulch piles in my run and they love each one daily. Batten down the hatches in the winter and allow them to breath in the summer.

One last comment. Take the time, a stool or a tree stump to sit on and enjoy, occasionally, the antics of your flock. They are immensely entertaining. I have a Rhode Island/New Hampshire mix rooster that dances sideways to let me know he is displeased with me. Have fun and enjoy.

Teresa


#3

Teresa mentions some good breeds for sure. I like Australorps for high volume egg laying. They are slower to grow out though. Jersey Giants do well. Both will provide a decent sized hen at the end of egg laying age if you are inclined to stew birds (good for soups and dumplings).
I do not free feed my birds but do try to provide a larger coop area for my birds so they have plenty of grass and such to eat and scratch at. I rotate areas. Smaller number of birds 1-3 would be fine in a smaller tractor and will keep your grass mowed and bugs down. I have 10 hens and a roo in one of my coops which is a fixed building and they have two areas which are 50x50 or so, fenced in runs and they go in the coop at night for safety which has a chicken door I close. I call them at feeding time and this makes it easy to coop them at night. They are not free ranging because the roos fight with each other and the toms I have which are free ranging within a 1/2 acre pasture. I do the same for my cornish cross meat birds which free range with turkeys, ducks, and sheep during the day.


#4

I would go for Australorps, Pita Pintas, Barred Rocks, Orpingtins and Cochins. They all lay really well - pretty much every day. They don’t make much noise at all and are friendly and docile and safe to have around small children.
Having said that please bear in mind that I’m talking about hens and pullets. Cockrels and cocks are a different story. The most well behaved cocks I’ve ever come across are ones that grew up with their mother (The hen who hatched them)
Cocks that came from an incubator and grew up without ‘adult supervision’ seem to me to be far more protective of their girls and this can lead to shows of dominance with their keepers. And NEVER leave a small child with a cock or cockrel, even if that bird has never shown any signs of protectiveness. Cocks have spurs that can rip through a child’s clothes and scar a child for life, both physically and emotionally.


#5

They are about as ugly as a chicken can be but find that the Naked Neck Turkens do well here in the Piedmont of NC. Lack of feathers and being ugly doesn’t seem to hinder them in any way, both heat and cold tolerant, good mothers but can’t tell anything about how they do around children. Suppose a lot of that would be how they are raised. Last batch the hens were Turkens and the roosters were Rhode Island Reds. Worked well.


#6

@tools53 Sure are some interesting looking chickens the old naked necks ;-0


#7

Funny, I have always considered rhode islands to be a little snarky.

Definitely the sweetest chickens you can get your hands on are australorps and orpingtons. These breeds are not only extremely hand-friendly but also lay a good number of brown eggs. They’re very hardy and a little heavier than some other breeds so if you choose to keep them as pets they will be healthier as they age, and if you choose to send them to the freezer instead they won’t be a total disappointment in size. Orpingtons do have a tendency to put on fat, though, so watch their diets.

Other good options are plymouth rocks (especially Barred rocks), easter eggers (which are really a mixed breed) and silkies. Plymouth rocks are robust heritage breed birds that are a little less freindly (on average) than the above breeds but tend to be a little more healthy. Easter eggers are an exciting grab bag of colors and shapes, with muffs and beards, they tend to be goofy and also usually lay blue/green eggs - a favorite for kids. Silkies are tender little house-chickens that love to cuddle and brood chicks but can’t handle a cold rain and lay very few small eggs.

But the best chicken of all is going to be then hen you hand-raise yourself at chest-level. While I would suggest never raising a rooster this way, because a rooster needs to respect your space or they can become aggressive, raising chicks at chest level instead of on the floor makes them very friendly and fearless. They no longer see you as a threat swooping down from above but rather something to interact with safely. This lets them be very bold and they will learn to run right up to you for snacks extremely fast. They may even let you pet them over time, or sleep on you, etc.


#8

I like Orps, all the Rocks, Chantecler, Buckeye, Cochin and Bramha,
It gets pretty cold here(-40 to -50C) for atleast a few days every winter. -30 is a given. My coop in insulated but R20 walls and R35 roof is still R0 with vents open. The floor is heated and there is a heat bubble at perch level.
Combs, wattles and feet getting froze is prettymuch a given tho’, soooooo Mediteranian breeds don’t to too good. Actually anything with a large comb don’t do too good.
I am not one for pampering my birds with Vaseline on the wattles, combs and feet. However I do kind of pamper my daughters choice bird the Silkie. They’re so cute. …and so is my daughter. So what can I do right?
I get more than enough eggs and plenty of cockerals for the table and stewing hens after a cpl years of laying. Feed conversion is actually pretty good. They have a huge pen and we let them out now and then to roam the yard and gardens. We have hawks, falcons, ravens, owls, coyotes, foxes, mink, weasels, skunks, stray cats and dogs as well as the odd human all as predators. My birds get quite aware of their surroundings quite quickly…or they die. Of 137 chickens I started with last spring I have only 2 left. 6 dogs and 5 cats did 95% of the predation and the rest was natural predators.
The Solkie roo I have now is always on high alert and I’m tuned into his “sounds”.
It’s amazing how fast a dog can run when a bull-whip is cracked and he’s being yelled at and pelted with stones, pots and pans and a broom. Note to self,“Never ire wife while she has a broom in her hands.”
Anyways, The feathery birds do well in the cold although many desirable cocks do get “naturally” dubbed.
The worst cock I had was a Crevecour(my wife named him Demon) followed closely by a RIR. The best one was a BarredPlymouthRock/RIR that was raised by a BuffOrp hen. He actually attacked a hawk, a few cats and a cpl of dogs(not all at once)defending his hens. My wife named him Hercules after the hawk incident.


#9

@rezchamplofts, what does the humidity look like in your coop? Chickens have very little blood flow in their legs, so if you are getting frozen legs, that may be more of a humidity problem and less of a insulation problem. You also say you have a heated floor. Condensation is a killer.
Many people in northern climates, especially ones with a lot of snow, have had success with low insulation coops that have high ventilation because moisture can be a real killer. So you may want to see what the humidity is like in there at night when the chickens are home. Are you getting any ice crystals anywhere, etc? Are windows fogging up or getting jack frost/ice patterns on them?


#10

Good one. That’s most likely the cause. The floor is heated by a 10 watt light bulb in a metal box under the floor.(my coop is 2&1/2feet off the ground and skirted with 3 layers of plastic tarp). There’s lots of straw but lotsa poop too so moisture​:thinking::thinking::thinking:yes. Frost???..sometimes on the door window. Never on the walls or the triple pain picture window.
Last winter we had 3 running morns(6AM) with -53to-56*C and -40 by 1PM.
This year the ‘twigs I had for roosts are being replaced by 2x4’s. I remember my grampa use those back in the early 60’s(from my memories and probably much longer[they homesteaded there in the late 30’s]). Often wondered why he used good lumber instead of sticks. Apparently even tho I’ve had a much better “formal education” than the old people I was just well taught but still smart as a stick broke off the Dumb Tree when it comes to what was once(is now very ‘un-) common’ sense. Come to think of it my grampa’s chkn coop wasn’t insulated and it had a ‘stack’ for ventilation from about 4 feet from the ground(coop built with 1x5 ship-lap lumber, rock foundation on open earth) and a 3’x3’ (chicken wire and bugscreen)window.
Yup, time to re-think a my coop build.
Very apparently the old people were much smarter than us “educated” ones when it came living off the land.
Thanks for reminding me. I’m humbled in a good way.