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Old 04-29-2016, 09:27 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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Default cross breed chickens

Just started a free flock of chickens, I got a 10x10 coop in the fall and stocked up with 450 LB of feed, and all the feeders and such, making sure I had the supplies in advance of the birds.

a friend gave me his old flock (his neighbors let their dogs run wild and they killed half my friends flock, just kept digging into the pen or tearing open the fence). anyway my friend gave me the surviving 8 birds, 7 road island (3 red, 4 white, they said they were all road island), and 1 bantam rooster.

today I am going out to pick up another 10 birds from someone giving them away (older hens, still laying but past their peak), and then I will be getting another 10 from them a few days later (I can separate the 2 flocks for a few days in a big dog crate, they can meet each other but can't fight, I figure 2 or 3 days to establish a pecking order, then I will pick up another 10).

the people with the 20 hens don't have any roosters (all hens are road island). I want to start a reproducing flock, but I need more than just 1 bantam rooster. I found several free roosters listed in the paper but they are a different breed, Buff Orpington, Barred rock, and a Polish. does anyone have any experience with mixed breed flocks? should I wait till I find a same breed rooster or will it be better to take the ones I can get, and will the chicks (if any) be any good?

my interest is meat and eggs, so I figure a mix breed between 2 American strains would work, letting them hatch out some new birds, butcher the excess roosters and unproductive hens, and sell eggs. I have a good size woodlot (orchard, sugarbush, etc) and am free ranging them, cutting back on feed cost. I worry that that many hens will wander with only 1 rooster to keep them together, and if something grabs the one rooster there won't be any. I am thinking of picking up the orpington and barred rock roosters (keeping them isolated in separate cages for a few days in the coop, they can meet the rest of the flock but the cages will keep them from fighting.

any advise would be appreciated
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Old 04-30-2016, 12:21 AM
doc doc is offline
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Your plan about gradual introduction of new members is a good one.

450 lb of feed should last you a couple yrs- especially if they'll also be free ranging for forage.

We keep a flock of about 20.They free range the 100' x 150' fenced in backyard and rarely leave, although they easily can. They're pretty smart about keeping under cover and we've only lost 3 or 4 to hawks in 8 yrs.

We're in a suburban setting, so we don't keep any noisy roosters, so I can't comment about breeding, but the various heritage breed hens get along well. I don't think they know they're different breeds.

Roosters are noisy and it can get annoying. Add in the cost and bother of incubating eggs and, for my money, I'd just as soon buy chicks when I need replacements
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Old 04-30-2016, 10:20 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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that was my thought too, they don't know they are different breeds, I was going to get chicks but I can't power an incubator or heat lamps reliably. I wanted to get hens and hope some go broody and hatch out the chicks for me, let them do all the work.

I was wondering about the result of mixed breeds, American breeds are good for both meat and eggs, but I was worried if mixing breeds if they would result in new hens that would be small and poor egg layers.

I ended up getting the Buff Orpington and Rock Roosters. the farm I got them from also had an Americana but someone else was coming to get it, and there was a Polish at another farm but I decided the 2 would be enough. cross breeds between the different birds should have decent eggs and meat, if they don't then i'll just have a big BBQ at some time.

Might pick up a few more Reds from the commercial farm, chicks are selling for $3.50 in the area and the commercial farm is providing hens ready to lay eggs. birds were clean, no breathing trouble, no mites or lice, healthy. the commercial farm replaces their entire flock every year, so all the hens are just a year old, past the best egg production but still good layers.
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Old 04-30-2016, 11:57 AM
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sunflower sunflower is offline
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Some of the best breeds for being broody are Cochins and Buff Orpingtons. They not only go broody they make good mommas. Staying with the chicks until there old enough to be independent. Most breeds of birds have had the broodiest bred out of them unfortunately. I like to keep at least one broody bird in my flock.
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Old 05-01-2016, 06:01 PM
CountryMom22 Female CountryMom22 is offline
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You picked the right roosters. The polish would have been useless as far as protecting his flock because he can't see anything coming from above, due to his feathered head. Barred Rocks and Orpingtons are both usually good to deal with, not too aggressive to humans, although every bird is an individual, of course. The resulting chicks will make good eating and laying birds.

My only concern with your set up would be the size of the coop. 10 x 10 might not be big enough depending on the number of chickens and with 3 roosters, that could be a little tight. Just my two cents. Good luck and enjoy! There is nothing better that (real) fresh eggs!
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Old 05-02-2016, 09:08 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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yeah the coop is a little small, but I am not using it for more than a place to secure them at night, there is no fenced in run, when I let them out in the morning they have the free run to go anywhere they want. I positioned the coop between the cabin and the orchard, assuming that they can binge on apples and bugs.

I will probably try to give away the tiny bantam rooster, he is so much smaller than even the smallest hen and I doubt he would have an easy time. I know of a few people who keep only bantam chickens so I am hoping one of them might want to add the rooster to their flock.

I also plan to butcher some of the Reds if they are unproductive, they are there to produce eggs, if they don't then they go for soup.
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