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Livestock/Horses Cows, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, and other four-legged friends.

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  #1  
Old 07-07-2016, 12:07 PM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Default Heirloom chickens or crosses?

When we started down the chicken road, I knew next to nothing about these useful birds. A chicken is a chicken and it lays eggs, and that's about it, I thought. Soon enough, however, we learned that there are egg breeds, meat breeds, dual purpose, ornamental, etc. And before I knew it, I became an enthusiast for heirloom breeds. I have a particular soft spot for big fluffy ones: Brahmas, Orpingtons, full-size Cochins, and more.

Right now, however, I don't have a pure-bred flock (I hope to get there someday, with bartering - the prices of heirloom chickens are simply outrageous around here). We have a Black Brahma roo who is gorgeous, and this season I'm crossing him with our mixed New Hampshire hen, who is big-sized and a good layer of large brown eggs. The chicks that come out are almost all black, have feathered legs, and hopefully some of them will grow into nice big chickens who are handsome like their father and good layers like their mother.

What about you? Pure-bred chickens, crosses, mutts? Why or why not?
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Old 07-07-2016, 01:13 PM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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my farm is generally the last refuge for other peoples rejects, my chicken flock was brought together from several farms getting rid of unwanted birds (former battery hens, surplus roosters, older birds past peak production). my flock is a mix of breeds (mostly dual purpose types). they may not be as productive as other flocks but it cost me nothing to get a flock going (unwanted birds being given away).

generally I like birds that can forage and have good instincts
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Old 07-07-2016, 08:19 PM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Setanta View Post
my farm is generally the last refuge for other peoples rejects, my chicken flock was brought together from several farms getting rid of unwanted birds (former battery hens, surplus roosters, older birds past peak production). my flock is a mix of breeds (mostly dual purpose types). they may not be as productive as other flocks but it cost me nothing to get a flock going (unwanted birds being given away).

generally I like birds that can forage and have good instincts
We've had ex-battery hens in the past, too. I have never seen anything more pitiful. It was very rewarding to see them recover and start behaving like proper chickens.
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Old 07-07-2016, 09:20 PM
doc doc is offline
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I've kept hens for eggs for about 10 yrs. I'm a beefeater. The wife feeds me chicken meat for punishment, so I'm not interested in keeping birds for meat. {Chicken is, like, 10cents a lb from the store. Why bother with cleaning 'em and cleaning up afterwards, even if you like chicken?}

Located in a suburban area, roosters are noisy (and another pain in the galoot, like goats) so we don't have them, I periodically order chicks from places like Cackle Hatchery. Let them do the hard work of breeding and brooding.

I like the variety of keeping various heritage breeds-- I'm partial to the green eggs (with or without ham) of Ameraucanas. We get 2 eggs every 3-4 days from each--that's good enough production. We wind up having plenty extra and need to give 'em away before they spoil.
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Old 07-08-2016, 01:24 AM
Doninalaska Doninalaska is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmallFlocksMom View Post
When we started down the chicken road, I knew next to nothing about these useful birds. A chicken is a chicken and it lays eggs, and that's about it, I thought. Soon enough, however, we learned that there are egg breeds, meat breeds, dual purpose, ornamental, etc. And before I knew it, I became an enthusiast for heirloom breeds. I have a particular soft spot for big fluffy ones: Brahmas, Orpingtons, full-size Cochins, and more.

Right now, however, I don't have a pure-bred flock (I hope to get there someday, with bartering - the prices of heirloom chickens are simply outrageous around here). We have a Black Brahma roo who is gorgeous, and this season I'm crossing him with our mixed New Hampshire hen, who is big-sized and a good layer of large brown eggs. The chicks that come out are almost all black, have feathered legs, and hopefully some of them will grow into nice big chickens who are handsome like their father and good layers like their mother.

What about you? Pure-bred chickens, crosses, mutts? Why or why not?
We have had all kinds here. Layers have to be hardy to survive here, so that limits somewhat the breeds that we can have a layers. Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Islands, and Buff Orpingtons have done well for us in the past, but at the moment we only have a few "barnyard crosses" that we got as barter for plants last year. We used to get a Red Cornish Cross for meat that was a great eating chicken, but the guy who bred them retired and subsequently died, so those are no longer available. Only my wife and I live here now, so we don't have a reason to keep many chickens of any kind.
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  #6  
Old 07-09-2016, 12:45 AM
sher sher is offline
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Default chickens

we just have 12-15 chickens for eggs. We try to stay with rhode islands and a few arkanas for the colored eggs the grandkids like. They lay good and seem to stay healthy. We are able to sell enough eggs to buy their food and keep us in eggs. They would not be a breed to butcher, but we just keep them for eggs so that is ok.
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Old 07-10-2016, 08:38 AM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc View Post
Located in a suburban area, roosters are noisy (and another pain in the galoot, like goats) so we don't have them, I periodically order chicks from places like Cackle Hatchery. Let them do the hard work of breeding and brooding.
I get what you're saying, but we actually love hatching our own chicks. Another consideration is that here we don't have large reputable hatcheries, and private breeders are often untrustworthy and charge high prices. So it pays off to have a self-reproducing flock.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:59 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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out here cheep chicks are straight run and cost $3.50 each, sexed are $5 each, better breeds go as high as $20 per chick.

I built my flock from free chickens culled from other flocks and have been hoping that one or 2 might go broody. crossbreed chickens would be ok, I figure free younger hens born from the flock would work well enough and extra roosters will go for the canner. having a few roosters is beneficial as they will provide some protection and organization to the hens (mine free range in the woods sometimes)
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:19 AM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Setanta View Post
having a few roosters is beneficial as they will provide some protection and organization to the hens (mine free range in the woods sometimes)
Certainly, I love my roosters. They are capital for warning the hens about hawks.
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  #10  
Old 07-11-2016, 10:07 PM
CountryMom22 Female CountryMom22 is offline
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We have a mixed flock. Some heritage breeds like Barred Rock and Buff Orpingtons. We also have a few Ameracaunas and a mixed breed rooster. The majority of the flock are Red Sex Links right now. I've had Golden Laced Wyandottes and wouldn't give them roost space around here again. They were easily the stupidest chickens that I have ever owned in more than 30 years of raising chickens, although they were awfully pretty! Around here, the 4H kids raise the sex links and sell them at fair time to raise money to build a permanent poultry barn on our fairgrounds. So I bought a dozen to support the 4H. And although they might not be the prettiest or smartest chickens around, they do lay a lot of large brown eggs. I'll be getting a few more at fair time this year, too.

Some of our other chickens we got for free from people moving or getting out of chickens. They lay well and add some color to the flock. In our case, if they lay eggs and eats bugs, we're happy!
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