What breed of chickens?

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Okay, I know I'm not the typical homesteader because my interest in raising animals is for the sheer joy of watching and enjoying them so I guess my question is not the typical one. I would like to raise some chickens and since there are so many breeds that are pretty and have their own characteristics, I would like to know if it is possible to raise say pairs of ten different breeds of hens (no roosters) in the same area or will the temperament differences make this impractical. I just find the looks of the different breeds so intriguing and would enjoying looking at the different colors. Also, if combining is a little difficult, any input on experience with combining certain breeds that worked well would be helpful. I plan to eat the eggs they produce but really don't care how good of egg producers they are. I would perhaps like to get into showing them so any tips on how to find out more about this would be helpful as well. Eventually, if I really get bit by the show bug I will consider getting roosters to raise my own chicks but for now I would be content to just have them to watch.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), February 28, 2000


Where do you plan on buying your chicks ?If you want to show I would contact a local poultry club and try to get birds from them .They can also clue you into any aggressive birds .I keep about 7 differant breeds large and small and dont have any problems.You can run into problems when you bring new birds into an exisiting flock.

-- Patty Gamble (fodfarms@slic.com), February 28, 2000.

Hi there!

We have a lot of different breeds: Barred Rocks, Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Brahmins, Silver Laced Wyandottes, White Leghorns, Production Reds, Aracaunas, and a couple others, I forget....Murray McMurray Hatchery has special pricing if you just want to get an assortment of Brown Egg layers. Ours is a colorful flock, and has been pretty trouble free, except for recently ( I have a post on here about hen with growth on her head).They all get along fine, plus they get along with our ducks, geese, sheep, and even cats.

I wouldn't have a clue about show worthiness of these chickens, but if you just like chickens (my husband sure does...he calls them "the Dog I never had"!) this arrangement could work out.

I like ours because they do great composting (application, and turning) for us, keep the bug population at bay, and give us tasty, healthy eggs.

Have fun with yours!

-- sheepish (rborgo@gte.net), February 28, 2000.

As you obviously know, you don't need a rooster unless you want fertile eggs, or want to hatch some chicks. I would suggest the heavy breeds, as they are (normally - depends somewhat upon breed) good layers and usually docile. The smaller "egg machines", such as Leghorns, and my recent experiment with Speckled Hamburgs, will give you flighty little birds that drive me nuts. We've had White and Barred Rocks, Orpingtons, Australorps, Black Giants, Americaunas and and some of the sex links, and all have done very well. Our best deal is the local feed store, where they get them once a year in May and only charge 99 cents apiece for pullet chicks. You can order as few as one if you like. If you mail order, you will need to order a minimum of 25. And incidentally, a friend took a couple of these feed store chickens to the fair and won prizes with both. Call ALL of the feed stores in your area and see what they're planning. Good Luck!


-- Brad (homefixer@mix-net.net), February 28, 2000.


Likely as many opinions on this as there are different types of folks homesteading. We have several different heavy breeds and a few Leghorns. Our experience with Leghorns has been different from Brad's. We got one as a reject from someone who was renting a place and found it there. She was a great layer, even in our cold Wisconsin winters. We were very biased towards heavy breeds and figured that although good layers she would be a lousey forager. We were very wrong, she was one of our best foragers and had a very fun personality. Leghorns although used as egg machines are themselves a very old breed and I think it is worth having one or two in your flock. Besides it sure is nice to open the egg box and see all colours of eggs, even a couple of whites. When we lost our leghorn after moving to AR (racoon I think) we decided to order a few more this year. We also have buff orpingtons, jersey giants, black orpingtons, barred rocks, and light brahamas.

Enjoy and I bet this time next year you will have all your own favourites. Kim

-- kim (fleece@eritter.net), February 28, 2000.

Kim - you had the Mother Teresa of leghorns! Brad

-- Brad (homefixer@mix-net.net), February 28, 2000.

We have a leghorn rooster and he can be a terror! But, the kids love him anyway. We have all kinds, started out with 7 "reds", then ordered the variety layer package from McMurray's, and have gotten more chicks whenever we see some we like at the feed stores or someone's sign along the road. Always have plenty of eggs and meat! Occasionally some hens will go broody and we let them, we like to watch the chicks hatch. Chickens are my favorites on the farm, I, too find the colors and breeds fascinating. Get them and enjoy! P.S. Ours are all together, it's mostly the roosters that sometimes don't get along. The roosters seem to have their own flocks that follow them around, too. Ours are in a pen only at night or in bad weather.

-- jean (schiszik@tbcnet.com), February 28, 2000.

Brad, You may be right, I could be real dissapointed when these new ones raise up. If so I'll think of you when I'm cursing them!! By the way, I had a mental lapse when I said black orpingtons, of course I meant australorps. Wish I would learn to read what I write before, and not after I submit it.


-- kim (fleece@eritter.net), February 28, 2000.

Oh Colleen, I must not be a typical homesteader either, I enjoy my chickens the most for the watching and different colors. I have a thought it life: why paint a house white when there are all of those colors out there. I aply this with all areas of my life. I love all the different breeds and can't wait for my Murray McMurray catalog to come each spring. I do have a rooster or two because I have to have the auditory along with the visual. I live a complex life in my mind, and must have pleasure in my sight and earing. I got the brown egg layer mix, and then now am going for the top hats and fancy breeds. They have a all pullet special going on at Murray McMurray. Have fun and enjoy your flock. I once told someone that the most peaceful thing for my to do when I was having a stressful day was to drop everything and go watch the chickens peck and scratch. This person looked at me like I had 3 heads. Maybe shopping is her thing??? To each their own and then some. ;~) Karole

-- Karole (Biz3boymom@aol.com), February 29, 2000.

Hi! We ordered an assortment from M.McMurray last year, one which contained pullets and roosters. Thought we would get 50-50, but only got 6 hens out of 26 chicks. This year ordered all pullets and when we picked them up, 11 were dead, due to the post office neglecting to tell us they were there. An extra day being chilled without water didn't help them. Murray McMurray was very helpful, and immediately said they would replace the entire order out of the next hatch. All arrived ok, except for one. Now we have chicks up to our ears, but they are all doing well. The crested ones in the batch last year were interesting, but couldn't see well, and the others were constantly picking on the back of their heads. They just seemed to be a little dim in the brain department, but were fun to watch! Good luck with whatever breeds you get!

-- Jan BUllock (Janice12@aol.com), February 29, 2000.

As a general rule, you can mix the different types of chickens in the same pen. Chickens are somewhat like people--occasionally you get a jerk that picks on all the others, but usally not. I have to defend Leghorns. I have had the Danish Black Breasted Brown Leghorns for several years, and through several batches of them, and haven't had any trouble with flightiness or aggressiveness. The ones I have had have layed well, and been gentle. Now, Black Minorcas lay large, chalky white eggs, but many of the roosters have a decidedly aggressive nature. So do some of the Silver Laced Wyandotte roosters. You can't turn your back on them.

-- Green (ratdogs10@yahoo.com), February 29, 2000.

Coleen, would like to give my thoughts. If you want to show your birds, I would recommend that you get the best you can afford right at first. It is really easy to get a lot of chickens, same or different breeds, and later wish that you were rid of them so you could get some good ones that you can show. It cost just as much money and time to house and feed plain ol chicken as it costs to feed really good ones and feed and housing are often your biggest expense. There's the space problem too. I'd take my time and ask around and try to get what you really want and not run into the problem of getting a bunch of chikens that you are attached to, (bad English) don't really want and are going to have to get rid of somehow. If you want a lot of different breeds that get along well together, I think it is best to get them as day old chicks. If you try to put them together after they are older, they have a difficult time getting along, especially if some are small and some are large. I have some old English Black Breasted bantams and around 20 big laying hens. If one of the bantam hens gets in with the big hens, the bigger ones all attack her. Good luck. Hope this helps. Eagle

-- eagle (eagle@alpha1.net), March 01, 2000.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. This makes me feel a lot better. I thought I would have to limit them to all of one or two breeds. I am particularly interested to hear about the package deal for brown egg-layers with McMurry. I have always preferred brown eggs as a consumer and would lean towards brown egg layers unless I had heard contrary advice from you all. Glad to hear it's okay. I also had to chuckle to find out there are others of you out there that admit to just plain liking chickens.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), March 01, 2000.

Mom and dad usually got a brown egg assortment, along with a few different breed pairs whenever they ordered chicks. With the brown egg layers, we usually found that they turned into a nicely-tempered, pretty, productive lot. But my favorites are Auracanas - I still can't figure out why these are considered "novelty" birds. I'd definately class them as dual-purpose. Our Auracana hens were the nicest hens to have around (along with our Mrs. Rhode Island Red and Mrs. Buttercup). I really like them a lot (and this is coming from a chicken-phobic girl - I got attacked by a rooster when I was 3).

-- Becky M. (beckymom@kjsl.com), March 01, 2000.


First you should look at the type of weather you have for your area. Next is what size you want. Then wither you mind really nosiy Hens,, or want quiet ones. My Farm is small so every breed of animal I have HAS to get along.

This is just my experiance so far,, so Please no one get upset. We have had in the past, full size . . .. . #Buff Orpingtons,, hens really nosiy yelled all the time. Too Nosiy for me. #Maran`s, Hens very aggressive,,will try to kill anything that moves. #Light Brahama`s are not bad,, but you will sometime get a hen that is too nosiy. #Rocks,,, it very much depends on the lines. Have one partridge Rock hen that is very nice. #Easter Eggs Chickens,,, the batch I had was very much like the Maran`s in temperament. Most of the smaller breeds tend to be very flighty. They also fly really well. Bantam Cochin, OEG, were really nosiy complained all the time. **BUT I have had very good luck with Belgin d`uccles Mille Fleurs,, they are gentle, the most quiet chicken I have had to date. But they will fly, so you would have to clip wings. The Mille Fleur Rooster is very gentle, and not too nosiy. Still looking for a breed of Large Hen,, we are going to try some Silver& Gold Lace Wyandottes this year. Have the chicks already...so crossing my fingers. We are on a waiting list for Salmon Faverolles, but will not get any chicks until much later in the year. Good luck!!

-- Mrs S. Nees (autumnhaus@aol.com), March 03, 2000.

If you are interested, you might try checking with the American Livestock Breeds Conservency, http://www.albc-usa.org/, and pick some birds from their endangered breeds list. In combining birds, you shouldn't have any trouble unless you try to keep more than one rooster. If you decide to do this, make sure that they have lots of room to roam, or they will get territorial.

-- connie (connie@lunehaven.com), March 03, 2000.

Just get your feed wet its wonderful. I always wanted chickens and finally last year my husband agreed. Well I ordered a little of everything from Ideal Poultry I've found them to ship the smallest orders any order over $20. dollars. Mix them as you like. I have a small flock I just love to watch and the eggs are great too. Two Siver laced Wydottes, One Delaware, One Astrolorpe, Two light Brahmas, and two bantam Buff Brahmas, One Speckled Sussex. This year we are adding Two Plymouth Rocks another Black Astrolorpe and quit a feww cochins for fun. My daughter will get 3 mille Flue bantams (I think that is spelt wrong)for her birthday. They look their best walking around the fenced in yard pecking in the grass, they also took care of the slug problem I had along with the grasshoppers in the late summer. This just keeps getting better my lawn never looked greener. The chickens go digging in the woods under the pineedles and leaves we dump in there so they don't dig in the yard. We keep them in the coop at night, and let them out weather permitting during the day. Nothing slows you down more than to watch you chickens in the yard.

-- Gloria Popolizio (Madamor4@aol.com), February 04, 2002.

It's hard to beat rhode island reds. My wife has some that will follow her around and let her pet them like a dog would. They are very gentle chickens.

larry dunn

-- larry dunn (sld5825@comteck.com), February 06, 2002.

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