Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gone to the birds...chickens that is!

Well I did it. My enabler fleece friend Lisa, has enabled me to take home my first trio of yearling egg laying hens! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! I'm terrified of the big chickens, I am not even going to lie, but they are extremely tame and beg for being held. Its really quite silly. Her chickens lived out her garage door in a state of the art chicken coop and aviary (read spoiled). I hope I can live up to their standards ;)

While researching the different egg layers, I am not in any need to get the most eggs per chicken per year, but its more of a novelty idea. I can feed many of the eggs to my dogs in their raw diets, and I can give many to my family (both my parents and my sister and her hubby and kid), and I'm sure it wouldn't take long to get a following for egg customers!

I was able to bring home 1 Barred Rock, 1 Buff Orpington, and 1 Red Star named Helen. I can't remember the other names, forgive me! :) Since its such a novelty, I'm curious to see what you, the readers and blogger friends have for choices for additional egg layers. I would like to try a black Australop and a silver-laced Wyandotte for sure, but was curious about other breeds. Sussex? Marans? Other colors of Orpingtons or Wyandottes? I don't mind white egg layers either but want to stray away from breeds that are hybrids like the Red Star (I just thought this one looked neat). What breeds are out there that lay white eggs and are more heritage?

I don't want 25 chicks, for a minimum order. I"m thinking 6-8 more hens tops. Preferably started or yearlings, just to get a 'feel' for them, but I am also open to chicks, but would have to split an order with someone.

I think maybe Corinne could pick me up a few 'locally' right??

I'm crazy yes. But these three girls are so tame and gentle (AND BIG), but I'd like some variety in the coop, especially with such small numbers, and I want to be able to tell them apart ;)


Kim Nikolai said...

I have some Buff Chantecler chicks coming in May, 6 hens and a rooster. They are on the "rare" list, originally from Canada and are very hardy in cold weather. They lay brown eggs too. I'm getting some others too (Black Jersey Giants) to butcher.

Here's a pic:

Kara said...

Garret I think the breeds you started with are good ones, I have a few of each of those, as well as a few others. My Silver Laced eggs are smaller than all my other hens, but they are also the most recent to begin laying so I am waiting to see if that changes. I normally would stay away from the hybrids too, but I LOVE my Red Stars, so I think an exception can be made for them! :) Easter Eggers are neat, I like getting blue/green eggs. My white egg layer is a White Leg Horn...more skittish than all the rest but an egg laying machine. Oh and I have had Barred Rocks too, I think think they are a bit noisier than the other breeds...always know when they are laying an egg! I only kept one of those when I found 9 of my yearlings a new home because they were the ones that "hen pecked" the others the most and I thought they would do better in a completely free range situation that they were going to. Wish I could let mine roam all the time, but dogs prohibit that. I will be interested to see what others have to say about the different breeds. If I had to do over again I would only have about 6 layers and order them with a batch of meat chickens so you could make the minimum hatchery order. I am sure folks have extra started chicks or would go in on a order with you. Good luck.

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Speckled Sussex and Buff Brahmas are my FAVORITE chickens. The ones I've had are insanely tame and calm, as well as gorgeous color. Suxxes lay a pale pink egg-not brown at all.

Nancy K. said...

ALL RIGHT, Garrett!!!


I have two Buff Orpingtons and they are wonderful layers (year round)and VERY sweet hens. I actually like the Wyandottes better though because they have the "rose combs" which aren't so prone to frost bite in our cold, Minnesota winters. Then again, I suppose if you're going to build them an aviary ~ frostbite probably wont be a concern...

Happy Spring!

Deb W said...

So what's wrong with bantams? You just use 3 eggs instead of two in the omlet, and they aren't so big as to be scary. Cochins? standard or bantam.

Cindy said...

You need to come to the dark side! Ducks are much easier, lay more per year and heck, you can work the dogs on them. Granted a little messier, okay, a lot, but if you want eggs, that's where it "lays".

Michelle said...

Giving my two-eggyolks-worth, here. The chickens we I that I like the least are the Rhode Island Reds, because of big combs and fewer eggs. My Welsummer also has a big comb but lays slightly better and I love her dark eggs. I have two Red Stars and they lay HUGE eggs very regularly. My gold-laced Wyandotte always lays the smallest eggs, and she's two years old now. I like her small comb, though, and she's very pretty. But my favorites are my two Easter Eggers; they are the friendliest, have tiny combs, and give me eggs most consistently (one pink and one green). And because they are hybrids, they come in every color in the rainbow! If I had it to do over, I'd probably have a whole flock of Easter Eggers in a variety of colors. I must admit, though, that the plumage of the Speckled Sussex could tempt me, too!

Cynthia said...

Okay guy...You DO plan on having someone else watch your wallet on this; Right?

For our climate and barns you need to watch combs and wattles and, if you want your hens to forage you need to make sure you are not working on hybrids. After that the considerations are independent (not good if you want your hens staying close) and/or calm (good, even if the other part of calm is that they are calm to work with but really would prefer you leave them alone). Assuming you are not looking for groups that include a rooster...these would be my choices for our area.

Ideal options for our climate:

You mentioned Marans. They really ARE the most amazing, winter hardy breed but, in type group, the girls really area all about..."just drop the food and back off, please!" I know folks that talk about them being friendly and I supposed they can be but my girls really give me great service by my leaving them alone.

Orpingtons are wonderfully hearty and very matter how many you have in a group. They get broody their second year but that might work for you as a hatching hen seasonally. They are still very good foragers and my girls are the standard for "fluffy butt joy." Gorgeous and friendly and not a mean bone in their fluffy big girl bodies.

Chanteclers love to talk and though late layers, lay longer than many other breeds. My girls will fly up on my lap and yak away for 1/2 hr or more before heading back out to forage with a passion.

Ameraucana are flyers unless trained against it. Still, for the work they require, if you make sure you find the true muffed type, they are passionate, funny, opinionated and wonderful layers/mothers. Everyone needs at least one. Although I am terrified about the passion for flying that the 30 hens I have coming in will bring with them, I love my experience with the 3 I have.

Araucana are very sweet and very good layers in individual groupings. You won't be sorry for picking an individual hen for your group. My neighbor has been raising them for years and I am just starting my own flock.

If you want a few really "Oh, My, God" type hens, I have spent some time with the following and have enjoyed them for that purely WOW factor alone.

Dorking. Turken. Houdan. Faverolle. Russian Orloff (pretty and, from what I have seen from a friend's farm, easy to work with).

Ginny McMurrough said...

Oh now you're starting to speak my language! :o)
I have had both red and gold stars, and they were decent enough birds, fairly hardy and early layers. Good personalities and easy to show.
Buff Orpingtons get huge, also very hardy and ok layers. I've had a few turn nasty on me, but by and by they are calm birds. I raise all my birds from 3 days old and on. Now I have to brag on my personal favorite, Black Australorps. These birds are the shit! lol Mine were as tame as you can get, small children could pick them up and hold them. Very easy to show as they LOVE being admired. I'd teach mine patience and gentleness by sprinkling shredded cheese over my bare toes and let them peck it up. Made them stop and work for it. Oh I miss my girls. They were almost as early layers as my gold stars. It always looked better to a judge to see a young pair of layers with fresh eggs in their cages. :o) Such fancy, lovely girls. I showed poultry for years in 4-H and went to state every year I showed them. I pretty much owned the county when it came to poultry shows, lol. Sorry I'll stop bragging myself, lol.
Let's see your new ladies! :o) Congrats on your new little adventure! said...

I've done a lot of research on chickens lately because I'm trying to get our municipality to allow backyard flocks. I came to the conclusion that if they ever let us I would get two Speckled Sussex (winter hardy, regular large brown egg layers), on Delaware (winter hardy, regular large white egg layers), and one Easter-egger (beautiful green or blue eggs, and good in the winter. It's hard to find pure Araucana hens around.)

I had the same problem of figuring out how I would get just four chicks, as well, and then I ran into Their minimum order is 3 day-old chicks to most parts of the country.

I'm jealous of your new venture!!

Rayna said...

I still think you need at least one standard cochin to cuddle...I'll work on that later this year :D

Laura said...

My favorite are the Dark Brahmas. They are large, lay light peachy-brown eggs, and are not flighty at all. My roo is rather quiet, but takes good care of his girls. I have an ancient Americana hen, who doesn't lay, but will brood a nest. I keep her to make more of the purebreds!

Please have someone watch your avian spending. It's way to easy to say, "But I don't have one of those!" and end up with 30 chickens (I know from experience). I have regular egg customers and occasionally give them to my dogs, and sometimes use them myself, but I only have 6 laying hens - that's enough!

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