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Chicken Breed Suggestions

by (16131)
Updated about 19 hours ago
Created June 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Hey all,

I am dancing in my kitchen right now. After a long battle with the city's planning commission we are now able to raise chickens!!!!! Happy, happy, happy.

So I get to have five. Although all of my friends have them, (country folk), I've not personally raised chickens for a long time. I want good layers, then when they poop out their least egg I will eat them.

Anyone have any breed suggestions?

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2024 · June 22, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Good information! I am a totally crazy chicken lady, and have about 30 of them. Another thing to think about is how quickly you want them to start laying--the barred rocks, production reds, and the sex links (cinnamon queens are a sex link, which means that their color is tied to sex, so you can tell which are boys and which are girls) tend to lay earlier than a lot of the fancier breeds.

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333 · June 22, 2011 at 6:32 AM

what is your weather? you don't want a dark fluffy bird to overheat in the summer or something small to freeze in the winter.

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78407 · June 22, 2011 at 3:27 AM

Another great bug eater is the Bantam hen- I used to let them loose in the veggie garden when I had chickens.

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16131 · June 22, 2011 at 3:02 AM

Thanks! You can go here to look up your laws - http://www.backyardchickens.com/laws/search.php

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16131 · June 22, 2011 at 2:00 AM

My "city" is really a podunk little town in eastern WA. We simply had to present to the PLanning Commission at their monthly meeting. They sent us back multiple times until someone got a person from the Seattle area to present to them. THen, it passed. I am not sure about covenants. Are they part of a homeowners association?

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3914 · June 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM

They're over two years old, and they're still producing, though a bit slower than they did at first. The eggs are bigger now, though; they tend to get a little bigger as the hens age. Mine are rarely under XL size now. One thing: hens will usually stop laying for a couple months in the wintertime (except maybe their first winter), so don't assume they should go straight into the soup pot when that happens. They'll recharge and start laying again when the days start getting longer.

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16131 · June 21, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Wow, now this is a great answer! THanks so much. I appreciate the note about the meatiness too. How long have yours produced eggs?

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1716 · June 21, 2011 at 11:17 PM

Could you share your story on the fight with the city? Our association won't let us raise chickens and I am curious how to even begin fighting against that.

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16131 · June 21, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Great! I'm originally from Rhode Island, so naturally I wanted to get those (nice logic there). Thanks so much!

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3914 · June 21, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Our local farm store gets chicks every spring, and they'll sell individuals, so my first year I was able to get seven different breeds -- one of each. That way I could compare, and they were a lot more individual than a bunch of the same breed. That's usually not possible if you're ordering them, because most places have a minimum per-breed order (and the farm store here doesn't have them this late in the year). But if you can find a place selling them per-bird, you can experiment with several breeds at once.

The most productive layers are Leghorns. They're also the most efficient as far as how many eggs they produce per pound of feed. They're like little egg-laying machines. That's why they became the industry standard, and their white eggs became the most common and cheapest in the store. However, Leghorns are kind of flighty and their light weight makes them pretty good fliers, so they'd be harder to keep fenced in an urban setting than the heavier breeds. In an urban backyard, I'd go for one of the heavier brown-egg varieties. Several of those lay about the same number of eggs, so it's just personal preference: Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red (and other Red varieties), Australorp, Buff Orpington, Cinnamon Queen. The Cinnamon Queens may be a bit more productive than the others.

If you have kids, they often enjoy Ameraucanas, the ones often called Easter Egg chickens, which lay blue or green eggs. They lay fewer eggs than the others, though, so they're a novelty item.

If you plan to sell eggs, many people will pay more for brown than white, so that may be a consideration. There's no difference in nutritional quality -- the feed determines that, not the breed -- but many people insist that brown eggs are better for baking. Who knows, but it can mean another dollar a dozen.

Edited to add: None of the great egg layers are also great meat birds, compared to a true meat breed. But the heavy breeds like the Reds do have some meat on their bones, while a Leghorn carcass wouldn't be worth much more than making stock.

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2024 · June 22, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Good information! I am a totally crazy chicken lady, and have about 30 of them. Another thing to think about is how quickly you want them to start laying--the barred rocks, production reds, and the sex links (cinnamon queens are a sex link, which means that their color is tied to sex, so you can tell which are boys and which are girls) tend to lay earlier than a lot of the fancier breeds.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e
3914 · June 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM

They're over two years old, and they're still producing, though a bit slower than they did at first. The eggs are bigger now, though; they tend to get a little bigger as the hens age. Mine are rarely under XL size now. One thing: hens will usually stop laying for a couple months in the wintertime (except maybe their first winter), so don't assume they should go straight into the soup pot when that happens. They'll recharge and start laying again when the days start getting longer.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195
16131 · June 21, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Wow, now this is a great answer! THanks so much. I appreciate the note about the meatiness too. How long have yours produced eggs?

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11099 · June 22, 2011 at 12:47 AM

Have you checked out the Backyard Chickens website? You'll get detailed info on anything chicken related ...definitely my go to for any chicken questions I have. We have ten hens right now, two each of five different breeds. I love the variety of their chicken-alities, and while they don't all lay with the same frequency, they all are good layers. My Rhode Island Reds and Golden Sex Links are the best layers, and my Americaunas lay the least frequently, but they make up for that with pretty eggs! My Barred Rocks are the smartest, and the most rascally. The Black Australorps are kind of timid, and the Buff Orpingtons are pretty and fairly mellow. Here's the link for BYC...good luck! http://www.backyardchickens.com/

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1035 · June 21, 2011 at 10:58 PM

I love my black australorp. She's my top forager, the most intense insect hunter in the flock. Her yolks are the darkest in the flock. Except for during her yearly molt, she has always laid frequently and very consistent eggs. Right now she lays 4 eggs every 5 days (I keep a spreadsheet). If I had to pick a single breed for a flock, it would be black australorps. They are also very docile and easy to handle. I had a black australorp rooster too, and he was a nice bird but very loud.

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78407 · June 22, 2011 at 3:27 AM

Another great bug eater is the Bantam hen- I used to let them loose in the veggie garden when I had chickens.

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333 · June 22, 2011 at 6:33 AM

I highly recommend Buff Orpingtons. I have had them for years. They are consistent layers, awesome personality, easy to tame, and oh so cute!!

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580 · June 22, 2011 at 2:21 AM

I love rhode island reds..We raised them in the country. THey are hearty and with stand winter very well....I WANT chickens again and have been considering it. We have an acre but are in town limits...I was wondering how to go about it.

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16131 · June 22, 2011 at 3:02 AM

Thanks! You can go here to look up your laws - http://www.backyardchickens.com/laws/search.php

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5796 · June 21, 2011 at 10:36 PM

I've had great luck with rhode island reds for both eggs and meat. Everyday, nearly every hen lays large brown eggs. The roosters are aggressive, but you don't have to worry about that.

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16131 · June 21, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Great! I'm originally from Rhode Island, so naturally I wanted to get those (nice logic there). Thanks so much!

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