help needed on chicken breeds : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Ok here goes..I got a catalog from McMurray Hatchery and am trying to decide what breeds to buy. Please let me know the pros and cons of each.

Mille Fleur Beligan Bearded d'Uccle Brahma Silkies Cochins RI Reds Black Giants Wyandottes Silver Spangled Hamburgs Anconas Blue Andalusians Sultans Crevecoeurs Mottled Houdans Salmon Faverolles Golden Penciled Hamburgs Silver Grey Dorkings Buttercups Red Caps Dominiques Golden Campines

Let me know if they're setters or non-setters, calm, active, not amenable to handling, whatever you have had with them! Thanks.


-- Ted Hart (, February 02, 2001


I would recomend the Rhode Island Red as the best all around bird. They are very productive layers and also an excellend meat bird. Whyandottes also tend to be good layers and can be good setters in my experiance/

-- Gary [Nova Scotia} (, February 02, 2001.

you are trying to compare apples to oranges here (fancy breed to utility breed) so before I can help, what are you looking for in a chicken?

-- grant (, February 02, 2001.

We have Rhde Island red and White Rocks. We've had them for about 3 1/2 yrs. New ones added yearly. The white rocks are the oldest and still lay better than the reds. When we order new we'll order more whites. A friend toldme about another kind, and I don't remember what she said. I'll ask her again and let you know. She says they're are excellent winter layers. She has brahmas and they didn't lay hardly at all this winter.

-- Cindy (SE In) (, February 02, 2001.

We could talk for PAGES re: these breeds. You really might benefit from a book to help you narrow down your choices. Have you ever had chickens before? If you haven't, I would disregard the sultans, houdans, silkies as choices since they take some special care (such as higher entrances, trough feeders to maintain muffs, etc.)to maintain their unique beauty.

Do you want them for meat birds, raising stock, or only eggs? This will affect your choice too. Brahmas are very large (as are some of your other choices such as Salmon Faverolles, and Black Giants) and require extra room per bird. I have found all the Brahmas I have had are very gentle and go broody (not a good thing if you don't plan on raising chicks).They were always the ones that let the excited children handle them.

If you live in a cold area Dominiques may be a very good choice as they are good general homestead birds and are not as prone to frostbite in my opinion.

I can't say enough good things about the hardiness and good temper of the Red Leghorns I have now. I've had White Leghorns and they are dependable too, I just don't prefer a white bird. I also have some Eqyptian Fayoumis and are they small and skittish, regardless of my handling. They lay a small egg too.

When I first began ordering chicks I found it extremely fun to order their hatchery mixes (like the rare and exotic breed mix) that let me try some fancy birds at a reasonable cost. But then I value variety and I got it!

Keep that wish book handy and let us know what you choose.

-- Anne (, February 02, 2001.

Before you order from McMurray, check out these hatcheries. I've had good service, healthy birds, and their prices are more user friendly than McMurray!

Ideal Poultry

Privett Hatchery

Here's a great poultry site:


Scroll down and type in what you're looking for, or scroll a bit more and click Feathersite to enter the site. More scrolling to the index.

-- ~Rogo (, February 02, 2001.

Out the ones you've listed I have Rhode Island Reds and Dominiques. The Rhode Island Reds are good layers, and have proved to be the most docile of my motley mix, and let me handle them, and don't mind it too much when my kids (8 and 3) want to pet one. The Dominiques I have lay a slightly larger egg, but not as often, as the the Reds. And they're more skitish than the Reds. But I do plan on getting more of both breeds this year though. I also want to get some Buff Orpinngton, as everyone I've spoken to has said they are a fairly gentle breed.

-- Eric in TN (, February 02, 2001.

I have Rhode Island Reds, and Polish chickens. The RIRs are older chickens (some are 5 years old) and they still lay well. They tolerate cold very well. They are calm, Fiona the naughty Nubian, jumped in the coop with them and they just moved away. The Polish can a flighty bunch (if I add new hay to their nesting area they throw a fit) but are very curious and friendly (even the rooster)--I've raised them since they were a day old. I have to move them out of my way or I'll step on their toes--they definately are people liking chickens. The Polish are just starting to lay and they do have small eggs but most of the pullets lay every day (3 Polish eggs equal 2 large eggs.) My daughter plans on showing the rooster and a hen or two at County Fair.

I'll be ordering chicks this spring-about 40 or so, and I think they will be all Rhode Island Reds.

Stacy Rohan--in Windsor, NY

-- Stacy Rohan (, February 02, 2001.

I just want to have a combo of meat, egg, and fancy chickens. That's why I posted here to obtain info on chicken breeds.


-- Ted Hart (, February 02, 2001.

Hi Ted, I can't help you much with the fancy breeds. As for the meat/chicken combination, a good breed is the Buff Orphington. Good layer, calm and also good meatbird. Or the Barred Plymouth Rocks are worth looking into for dual purpose. One final suggestion, is the White Rocks. Good egg production and according to my info, they grow fast and dress out easily. Good Luck!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, February 02, 2001.

Really liked Ann's response. Try several breeds but stay away from the "exotics" for awhile. We started with Pearls and White Leghorns about 21yrs ago, got tired of an all white flock. Tried the Rainbow Layers mix and the Meat-N-Egg Combo from Murray McMurray and have been repeat customers. (The chicks are very healthy and had a better survival rate than the ones from the feed store. We are trying a different hatchery in our area but if they don't work out its back to M&M) We keep a mixed flock of Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red , Silver Spangled Hamburg, Brown Leg Horn and Araucana . Also a Brahma for a broody hen. It is a nice mix for winter and summer prodution. We also kept several Cornish X Rock hens this year from our butcher order. (Tired of ordering, want to raise larger butcher birds ourselves. Has anyone had success breeding this cross?)

-- Nancy Bakke-McGonigle Mn. Sunset (, February 02, 2001.

hi i would suggest ordering from cackle hatchery.they are the cheapest i've found and i had realy good luck with thier birds. i ordered 50 heavy barnyard special and five turkeys. you are garantied at least 12 pullets. i ended up with 18 also they threw in 5 exotic birds. i didn't lose is thier on line addy p.s i had friends order from mcmurray and 2 of them lost all thier birds. mcmurry replaced them but they had to start all over. good luck cindy

-- cindy young (, February 02, 2001.

Ted, Whew that is a tall order, Mille Fleur,Belgium, Silkies, some Cochins are banties, little bitty chickens with the Cochins being the easiest to survive on a homestead. RI Reds, Wyandottes, Dominiques are a heavy breed that can lay and be butchered for meat, the Hamburgs, Dorkings, Buttercups, Red Caps, are a smaller chicken, more nervous and less meat, smaller eggs. The Aracauna used to lay less and set more but have been "improved" to set less and lay more but still not the layer like the RI Red, Black Australorp, White Rock. The Cochin (my favorite) are poor layers but great setters and raisers of all kinds of poultry. The Giant Breeds Black Jersey and White Jersey are great for meat but not real good layers. The Cornish Rock crosses are strictly for meat and poor layers esp. considering how much they eat. I cross my own chickens and eat the hybid crosses that the Cochins banties set and hatch out and raise. I agree that an assortment is fun and gives you an idea of what you want for a flock. I like Cackle Hatchery too and have ordered from a lot including Murray McMurray which has a great color catalog that will drive a chicken lover crazy, cause you want all of them! lol I have Black Australorp Roosters and hens, because they lay well, lay big brown eggs and are pretty docile. I have some white rock hens, some RIR hens because they lay well and also big brown eggs, and the cross with the Australorps produce big fast growing fryers. I have Aracauna and Cochin banties because I like the cool assortment of colors the Aracauna's have and the neat little green eggs that they lay and they are great setters too. I love my Cochins because they are the sweetest friendliest, neatest little chicken and are the very best mothers. Hope this helps, good luck and have fun.

-- karen (, February 02, 2001.

Thanks, Rogo, for the links to other hatcheries and your opinion of them. We had 6 hens, 1 rooster and a neighbor dog infestation last fall, so chicken-shopping I go this spring.

Ted, as a child, we raised chickens for both eggs and meat and we always had Rhode Island Reds (used for meat and eggs), Dominiques (meat and eggs), Silver-laced Wyandottes (brood hens mostly), Bantams (brood hens) and Leghorns (meat and eggs). We hatched out our own chicks often, so over the years they all crossed into Banty-Island Silver-laced Domi-horns and Red-laced Banty-dotte Leganeckers ~ both GREAT meat and egg breeds! ;-) We also had a few Japanese silkies and other smaller fancy breeds, but they didn't lay as well as the others and were never as pretty as the pictures! LOL!

-- Wingnut (, February 02, 2001.

I ordered black, white, and blue Jersey Giants from Sand Hill Preservation Center (319) 246-2299, and have been very happy with them so far. Got them as chicks in September and have had to keep them pretty much confined due to weather so far, but they are getting really big and they are sure pretty! No opinion yet on their egg- laying...hasn't been any yet. I would be interested in hearing about other Giant breeds...

-- Shannon at Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary (, February 02, 2001.

Ted, I have gold laced Wyandottes and they are a very productive pretty docile bird....except for my old dead rooster, Ambush. I now have a silver laced Wyandotte rooster and he is super. They are very dependable layers and a good sized and beautiful bird. None of mine have gone broody yet, but they are supposed to tend towards broodiness. I like 'em a lot. Oh, brown eggs, btw. Good luck with your choice!

-- Doreen (, February 02, 2001.

We have had several different breeds of chickens at differet times and my favorite has been the Light Brahmas. I know someone earlier mentioned that someone's didn't lay well in the winter but ours kept laying all last winter (with light). They are the most calm chickens we have ever had, especially the roosters. I think they are very pretty too and they lay "large" brown eggs. Ours always followed me around the place and were usually didn't even squawk when picking them up. It's very cold here in the winter and they don't have large combs to get frostbitten. I thought they tolerated the cold very well. My next pick would be Buff Orpingtons.

-- Terry (, February 02, 2001.

No one mentioned one of my favorites, Turkens also known as Naked Necks. Good layers, Good Setters, Excelent Meat bird (easy to pluck too!). Kind of fancy in an ugly sort of way.

-- Mark in NC Fla (, February 02, 2001.

Let's see if I have this right. In automotive parlance, what you are looking for is a Winnebago Motor Home, that has the off-road capabilities of a Humvee, and which you would like to enter in the Indianapolis 500! If you can find or develop it, my friend, I am ready to invest and will gladly trade my bridge in Brooklyn! After having tried a plethora of breeds I can tell you this: If you want eggs, the leghorns are the most efficient, and the browns and reds are acceptably calm, while the best layers, the whites, are so damn flighty that I, personally, cannot stand them. Further, I free-range, and they are as dumb as a Palm Beach Democrat! The browns and reds are marginally acceptable on being flighty, and lay nearly as well. Dual purpose?: I feel that a white feathered bird is best, as they are, in my opinion, easier to pluck. What this really means is that it is a bitch to pluck chickens, and you will always miss a feather here and there. If you miss a tiny white feather, your spouse or child will not begin to vomit with an expulsion of words similar to "EEyoouu!" They won't even see the damn feather, and will happily, without knowledge thereof, ingest said feather. With a darker colored bird, given the same care in plucking, they will barf! Bottom line here!? White Rocks or White Giants. Expect a good layer and passable meat bird. My experience after many years? If you hatch your own, go with White Giants or White Rocks. Want meat? Buy Cornish Rock crosses! Want eggs? Decide if you want brown or white eggs and how much flippancy you are willing to accept. I prefer the somewhat less efficient heavy breeds for eggs. They are, in my opinion, more fun. If you want hyper disgusting egg machines -- White Leghorns! GL!

-- Brad (, February 04, 2001.

Ted, we've tried quite a few of the breeds you've mentioned, and liked most of them for one reason or another, except the white leghorns and the Cornish cross meat birds -- my daughters used to get absolutely disgusted with the appearance of those, as they grow so fast that they outgrow their feather covering and you can see a lot of bare skin. My opinion is go with one of the slower growing breeds and accept a slightly less meaty carcass. But as far as your question about what to get, I think you ought to buy a couple different packages of mixed birds and try them out for yourself! Besides that, it's a lot of fun to get a whole bunch of unidentified chicks and try to figure out what they are as they grow up!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, February 05, 2001.


Lets all the years I have had chickens and the best ones for my clime are Wyandottes (the silver & Golden)New Hampshire and for a fancy, Mille Fleurs. The Mille`s lay a very nice almost light yellow egg, which children love to eat hard boiled or fyed. I try to get breeds that are very gentle, not too noisey and can be for meat & Eggs.

These ones were ordered from M&M.. In the past I have had Buff orpingtons (they were way too noisey for me, changed something in the pasture and they would all yell at it)

Easter egg chickens, very aggressive.

Partridge rocks are ok...but they moult all their feathers all at once.

Speckled Sussex, pretty bird, but noisey...interesting egg color, almost a lavander.

Old English game,,, to aggressive

Cochins,, do not lay well, but very broody, not goo for W. Washington state clime.

I had some Chickens that origniate in Poitiou France that layed really dark eggs, forgot their names( so much for my memory)very, very aggressive, but goodness, their meat was the best I had ever tasted. Would have them again, If I could get a run build just to hold only those birds.

Good luck!

-- Bergere (, February 06, 2001.

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