Help me decide - Chickens, Ducks, Geese, and/or Pea Fowl (So. Indiana) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I'm in Southern Indiana, and am interested in getting some wildlife around the place. Unfortunately, its been some time since I've been around the barnyard, so I'm not sure of all the pros & cons of keeping these featherd critters.

Oh BTW - Most would probably free-range, but locked up at night.

CHICKENS: I had three Polish types (one cock & two hens) when I was younger, and we all got along fine. I'm partial to these, but concerned for my 3 1/2 year old grandaughter. I want her to enjoy the chickens when she comes over (and not be afraid of the rooster). Therefore, what is a nice breed to have - I would like a medium to large bird, ornamental, and good layer & temperment. Is Polish still OK, or should I consider another breed?? BTW - I'm definately buy chickens, just not sure of the breed

Guinea Hens - I've seen them & heard they are good for ticks. I also heard they like to roam great distances. I have 5 1/2 acres, but I'm not sure if this is enough or whether they would bother the neighbors. Any opinions on this breed are really welcome.

DUCKS: Heard they destroy flower & vegatable beds, and may foul a small pond. Same as with the chickens, they need to be compatable with my grandaughter. Is there a good breed or should I not bother??

GEESE: I heard they could get nasty. Especially when they a sitting on eggs. Not that interested, but would appreciate your thoughts.

PEA FOWL: I am really interested in having a Peacock, but I wouldn't mind a Pheasant or two. I never had either, don't know anything about caring for them, but would assume it would be similar to chickens. I would really like your opinions about having these around - do they destroy flower & veggy beds, carry disease, what about temperment, or special diet needs.

Quail - I used to breed parakeets and considered these for keeping the bottom of the cages clean, but never went ahead. Are these worth having around??

TURKEY: I haven't thought about them, but if you feel they are worth talking about.....

OK, I should say we have horses, dogs (Rotties), and cats. All are good natured, and get along. I'm not sure how they would be around feathered critters!!!

Since I'll have these for a while, I want to be really sure I'm making the right choice. Therefore, I woulkd really appreciate any feedback you could provide.

Thank you in advance,


-- Rudy (, December 19, 2001


Rudy, I live in West Central Indiana. Hi neighbor. I have several different types of Poultry. I really can't help you much with the chickens as my experience has been that any breed of rooster can get aggressive. Even the bantams. Guineas are great for tick control and will eat some mosquitoes. However they can't seem to stay off the road and all ours got hit. Ducks, got them a few years ago started out with five no problem. Fun to watch very cute raising ducklings. However soon I had 25 ducks and they ate not only the flower garden but veggie gardens also. No fence could keep them out. Only duck dinner helped with this situation. I love geese expecially if you a small pond they are usually gentle some will even let you pick them up and cuddle. However they do lay eggs and will try to protect them. Watch out for little fingures and back of legs as you try to get away. Peacocks beautiful they do make a lot of noise, sounds like a woman screaming. Some neighbors wouldn't mind some would. They too can be a bother to a veggie garden They like to roost as night and not always where you want they to but probably worth the try. Peasants won't stay put but you can replenish the country side with them and get a glimsp of them from time to time. Our neighbors raise Quail and they must be keep in a cage or they become wild but do hang around to whistle bob white most of the time. Not really visible but hidden in the brush. I love turkeys They are gentle and easily come around for attention. I've never be pecked or injured by one they are fun to talk to as they gobble back to you or any noise for that manner. I raise goats, Barbardo sheep, chickens, Japanese bantams, borden collies, a few cats, rabbits and pigeons. My favorite right now is the pigeons after keeping them is thier cages for a while I can now let them free fly they return to their nests at night and I can enclose them if I choose. They're not really tame as for as petting but great fun to watch fly. You're grand daughter would love to watch them. There is all different types of breads I have Frill backs, Kings, and rollers. There is also a good book called Raising Poultry the Moderen Way I'm not sure who authors it. but there is a whole series Raising Something the Modern Way all are great. There's my two cents. Have fun. Linda

-- Linda (, December 19, 2001.

With chickens, especially roosters, their temperment can vary from bird to bird. If you purchase an adult trio where you can determine how the rooster is before hand, it might work. We don't have any mean roosters on our place. Just make sure not to pick on, chase or act aggressively to the rooster. Other breeds to consider are Silkie and Cochins - ours have wonderful temperments and are very tame and even let you pick them up and carry them around. We have 1 very tame polish - she comes and sits on your foot until you pick her up but the others are a bit more wild but are very good foragers. Kids LOVE hunting for eggs and listening to the roosters crow.

Guinea Hens - I've seen them & heard they are good for ticks. I also heard they like to roam great distances. I have 5 1/2 acres, but I'm not sure if this is enough or whether they would bother the neighbors. Any opinions on this breed are really welcome.

Our guineas aren't terribly noisey however they do scream about anything new and will also scream when they are upset. They are good bug control and are make an interesting addition. About once a year they get it into their silly heads to eat bugs from the blacktop road that goes by our house. We chase them off when we catch them there but we usually lose the 4-5 really dense ones to cars. After that they are fine again and don't go up there.

Our ducks are very friendly- if you have food. Yes they will root around in flower/vegetable gardens but so will chickens. If too many birds are kept on a small space of water they will foul it quickly. We use several small kids pools and also have out pails of water for them. If you are going for really interesting/friendly I guess ducks aren't my first choice -too much flock mentality. An exception would be Muscovy ducks, which are some of our favorite birds :-) We love our geese. Yes they can be protective during nesting season but that goes along with being good parents, just keep your granddaughter away from them during this time and until the babies until older. Our geese will eat from our hands and are very easy keepers.

I don't know much about pea fowl except that I have hear that they can scream even louder than guineas.

Our cats are pretty good with the adult birds but will go after chicks, young ducklings and VERY young goslings (if the parents are't around). Our Rottie has a very strong herding instinct so we never allow her unsupervised around the birds and always on a lead or in her outside pen- the 2 occasions they have gotten out of their kennel they have done some pretty major damage to the birds. Needless to say they aren't outside when we aren't home any longer.

Good luck with your decision! Have fun.

-- Trisha-MN (, December 19, 2001.

You can of course have chickens with out a rooster, although your granddaughter would love the crowing. Our roosters are fine around people.. breeds are bantams and cochins. Of course, in every breed you are bound to have a wide variety of temperments.I would go with the chickens and get them as chicks. Hand raising them ,they will be very tame and friendly to people. Especially if you train them to come to a certain sound, like rattling a feed bucket. Thats what my grandaughter does and she LOVES to collect the eggs. We keep them in to noon so they lay in the coop. Guinea hens are nice for bug patrol, but tend to roost in trees and not particularily people friendly.

-- Kate henderson (, December 19, 2001.

Guineas are annoyingly loud, ducks make real messes, peacocks scream very loudly, geese will put a timid kid up a tree; start with some mild mannered chickens until the child gets aculamated to livestock. Add phesants for color and get new industerial strength doormats.

-- mitch hearn (, December 19, 2001.


Just a few comments:

re: ducks - we have 4 mallards and 2 muscovy. All are free range. Neither bothers our kids (I have a 13,11, and 4 year old). The only time they're nasty is when they're setting on eggs, and even then only when you get too close, and they won't leave the nest to go after you - just hiss and peck when you reach for them. We can't get our ducks to use the pond - if we carry them over and dump them in, they're back at the house before we are. We haven't had any problems with them in the gardens, although the muscovy are new so we'll see in the spring.

re: chickens - we have 15 hens and 2 roosters - a Jersey Giant and a hybrid cross of something. They both will 'attack' if you grab a hen, but quickly retreat when you threaten them. I taught my 4 year old to lunge at them when they get too close, and this keeps them at a distance. The chickens follow my son like ducklings following their mother.

re: peafowl - we've got a cock and 2 hens. The hens disappear for days at a time but always come back. The cock sticks around. None bother the gardens. His crow can be noisy but generally he's not a problem. We call him 'WONK' because if you pinch your nose and shout 'wonk' that's what he sounds like.

re: quinea fowl - don't have any but have heard they're hard to keep around, at least first generation birds. Once you raise their keets in confinement, then these can be released and will stick around. Apparently they're also good for controlling snakes, mice, and even rats. We're going to get some in the spring.

re: turkeys - stupid but gentle - watch the dogs around them...they're slow.

re: dogs - I don't trust our lab around any of the birds. So far, the birds have figured out the limits of his run and can get out of the way. But he's always trying and sooner or later he'll get one.

re: everything else - don't have them so can't comment.

Hope this helps...for what it's worth.


-- (, December 19, 2001.

About the chickens: True, you do not need a rooster(unless you want fertile eggs), and temperament varies widely by bird. We had a very gentle Light Brahma rooster, who would actually chase the other,mean rooster away from the children, and would feed the baby chicks. The are also very pretty birds. One of his sons, half Barred Rock was also gentle, as was a White Rock. Right now we have two Speckled Sussex roosters that are very gentle. My advice is, if you get a rooster that is mean, don't fool with him. Have him for dinner straight away.

Turkeys: The ones you raise for meat are too stupid to come in out of the rain. My neighbor in Belton had some free ranging 'wild' turkeys that terrorized the neighborhood(Well, they didn't attack anyone, they just toured the garden every morning,and ran along rooftops, etc.) I looked forward to Thanksgiving that year;)

Peacocks: Same neighbor had peacocks, with the same morning tour, plus they are terribly loud, esp. in mating season. It takes quite awhile to learn to sleep through the noise they make. May disturb neighbors, even with a good size place. They are, however, very beautiful, if you have a high tolerance level)

Ducks: We like to keep a couple, but you're right about them fouling the pond(We like to keep just a wading pool for them, and dump it often). Also, they will quickly trample a garden, and they do like to root in the dirt, and make holes.

Guineas: Again, I like to have a few. They are noisey, but interesting creatures, and are great on patrol. They won't scratch the garden up like chickens. Don't get a lot.

Dogs: Most dogs have to be really trained to leave poultry alone. Some can be trained, and some, I believe, simply can't. I've no experience with Rotts.

-- mary (, December 19, 2001.

I have found that speckled or dark chickens are less likely to be taken by predators than white chickens.

-- Terri (, December 19, 2001.

I am partial to the personalities of the Cochin and Brahma breeds of chicken. I do like the looks of many others, but some can be flighty (Egyptian Fayoumis for example). Also consider the brown leghorn. Pretty and dependable.

-- Anne (, December 19, 2001.

Chickens - we keep about thirty of them, and enjoy the eggs, but they do make a mess of the garden and flower beds. They have no problems around the kids, but if we ever get a rooster that hurts a kid, he becomes dinner real quick.

Ducks- Around here, they are more profitable than chickens, the eggs sell for upwards of $3 a dozen where we are, lots of oriental and asian customers who prefer them to chicken eggs. I'm planning to get more. I like the herd mentality because they seem to stay out of trouble, they don't mess up our flower beds or anything. Mine will eventually all be in low-fenced pens, it doesn't take much in the way of fencing to keep them in, unlike chickens. 3ft fence will do if they are pinioned or have their wings clipped. I'm going to put a 3ft temporary fence around our garden and put the ducks in it until spring, then put them elsewhere for the growing season. We had a couple get down to the pond and I haven't been able to catch them since. They love it down there! Unfortunately, it makes it hard to collect their eggs when they are running wild.

Guineas - it's fun to have a couple, but I wouldn't want lots of them, they are less friendly than the chickens or the ducks. We don't have to worry about them getting run over as it is over a mile to the main road. Ours are kind of ornery and pick on the chickens sometimes.

Good luck!

-- chuck in md (, December 19, 2001.

Rudy, Almost all breeds of roosters can be agressive. I had a polish rooster that was the meanest of all. He would fly across the coop and spurred me in the leg. Ouch! He is no longer with us. Guinea hens are very loud but harmless. They will not be tame like chickens,love each others company and are never seperated. They love to look at their reflections in basement windows and car hubcaps. My daughter loves ducks. They chase very well and are not agressive but they are messy with their water. The bronze turkey was good until he matured and started attacking anyone who ventured near. He is also no longer with us. Hope this helps. Tom

-- Tom (, December 19, 2001.

we live in so. In also and have all of the above. we hatch out babies from march until july. so if you need a local source we can hook you up. e-mail me we can talk about it. It would be great to meet same minded people around here.every one around here think we are crazy to deal with all the anamials and work. but we love it. take care vickie

-- vickie (, December 19, 2001.

If you want a friendly chicken, try RI Reds. We have them,About 10 and the grandkids love them. They can pick them up with no problem.Good luck. Ray Chesterville Me The Farm

-- Ray (, December 19, 2001.

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