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Chickens on the homestead

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by sumi, May 26, 2017.

  1. May 26, 2017
    sumi

    sumi Super Self-Sufficient Administrator

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    Most homesteaders have a flock of chickens and for people taking the first steps to self-reliance poultry for eggs, meat, or both is usually a safe, not too intimidating start.

    I would like to know what you all have in your flocks. What breed(s) have you got and what do you like about them?

    What is the purpose of your flock? (Eggs, meat, lawn ornaments)

    I currently have some OEG (LF) who I was given by our local travellers, after admiring their flock of birds. I love the games for their looks, demeanour and the hens are amazing broodies. I also have a young pullet I'm chicken-sitting at the moment and two older hens, a Sussex and a hybrid.

    We keep them mainly as lawn ornaments at the moment and because I love having chickens around. We do get a fair number of eggs, but since we barely eat any, I give away most of them.

    Most of my flock here. Sorry it's not the best pic, I had to bribe them to get them all in one place and even then I had to move fast!

    IMG_20170526_102007.jpg

    My son's little hen, not pictured above, a few weeks ago when I came home and found her quite comfortable on my bed (she likes to come into the house when we leave windows open)

    IMG_20170423_145408.jpg
     

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  2. May 26, 2017
    Country homesteader

    Country homesteader Lovin' The Homestead

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    IMG_20170520_183408.jpg IMG_20170512_094826.jpg IMG_20170428_054936.jpg In my flock there is Rhode Island Red and Buff Orpington. The first pic is of Mr.Rooster. Second and third pics are of the hens. I also have 2 other roosters (1is a Buff Orpington -ROO roo and the other is an Easter egger- haven't thought of a name for him yet.) They were just given to me this past Sun they are still being integrated.
    The pics were taken a couple of weeks ago but I also had to bribe them then work fast to get a nice pic.
     
    Cynthiadoz12 and sumi like this.
  3. May 26, 2017
    sumi

    sumi Super Self-Sufficient Administrator

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    Both lovely breeds @Country homesteader I had some RIR in the past and would definitely get more! They're sweet birds and they lay so well.
     
  4. May 26, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    Ok... I have a random assortment of breeds. We have 2 heritage breeds we are focusing on- Dominiques and Dorkings. Dominiques are a great deal purpose bird, cold hardy amd calm (the hens, that is). We are juat getting started with Dorkings, but they are big calm birds who are supposed to be amazing for meat. We'll know in the fall. Not the best egg layers but they tend to lay in the winter and are great broodies come spring.

    Then we have Dark Cornish to cross in for meat offspring. Just starting with them also.

    And then there's the layer flock of random birds... Jersey Giants, Easter Eggers, White Orpington and NH's (the latter will likely find their way into a stew pot soon). Oh and what I think is a Partridge Rock and her 2 daughters that are crossed with my Dom roo.

    We have our chickens for meat and eggs, tick control, tilling, fertilizer, and entertainment. We enjoy getting random new breeds for fun but are primarily focused on a few heritage breeds.
     
    sumi likes this.
  5. May 26, 2017
    TexasLisa

    TexasLisa Lovin' The Homestead

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    Good Morning!

    7 years ago we finally moved out of Houston into the country. New acquaintances of ours were moving and gifted us with their chickens.
    Who would have thought we were going to raise chickens???

    I have Australorps, Speckled Sussexs, and EEs. I love the Australorps because they make great mamas and their eggs are a nice size. The Speckled Sussexs have such a quizzical personality. They want to know what you are doing at all times. I bought the EEs, just to see a blue egg. I also have one that lays an olive colored egg. They are good layers and my rooster who is an EE is such a gentleman.

    We eat the eggs and sell them. Haven't eaten one yet, but will one of these days. I love to have them around because they always make me laugh.
     
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  6. May 26, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    @sumi wait, did you say RIR are sweet? I've never met one that wasn't mean! They're such good egg layers but I've stayed away because of their unpleasant personalities. Must be different strains!
     
  7. May 26, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    NH, definitely different strains of RIR out there. Most of the RIR we had when I was growing up and since then have been sweet, sweet birds with good personalities and moochy around humans. The last few I got from the TSC were not even fit for raising up and were killed while juveniles.

    Sumi, did you make that quilt???? :th It's gorgeous!!!! :love I think it's so funny that the chicken comes in your window and sleeps on the bed. :lol: That's just the sweetest thing.
     
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  8. May 26, 2017
    tortoise

    tortoise Wild Hare

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    We have some sweet RIR. The first year I would bring them kitchen scraps almost every time I left the house. One in particular is named "Sweetie Pie" and would come running over when I called her.

    Roosters have varied. The second rooster we had was pretty intense and when the girls came running to me he would try to protect them from me. That was the end of me feeding the chickens! The rooster we have now is much more chill, I don't fear for my ankles when I walk by him.

    My RIR came from Murray McMurray hatchery
     
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  9. May 26, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    I'm happy (so far) with my birds from Murray McMurray. I think they have decent stock for a hatchery. Good to know there are friendly RIR out there!
     
  10. May 26, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Right now I have standard Plymouth White Rocks and Black Australorps and a few mixes of both, which come out barred birds. The WRs are my main breed, which yields excellent meat of incredible flavor due to the marbled fat within the muscle strands and also remarkable texture, as the meat fibers are so fine and densely packed.

    Their feathering is also more fine and densely packed than other breeds, so one could use their feathers for pillows and comforters if they so wished...their feathers have amazing loft and they have more downy feathers close to the body than any breed I've ever had also.

    Their laying is exceptional for a DP breed, with most being daily layers in peak season and slow down to 3-4 eggs per week in the winter time if they are not in molt.

    They go broody each season but not excessively so...some just once and others a couple of times. I don't let them go broody past the month of May or early June. I'm selecting and breeding for birds that go broody early, raise their family and then get back to the business of laying. They are excellent broodies and fierce mothers, can set large hatches easily and this current flock has a tendency to head to the woods for brooding, which I don't mind if they stay in close enough that the preds are still deterred by the presence of my dogs but far enough out the dogs won't eat the eggs.

    They are thrifty on feed and stay in great condition, even store great stores of fat under their skin, on mainly forage and fermented layer as a supplement. They get to be heavy breed birds on the same amount~and often less~feed than the smaller layer breeds. They are hard working birds that forage extremely well and tend to love free range living, getting out in all weathers to hunt and liking to raise their young along the edges of the wood line.

    Naturally hardy and not prone to illness or reproductive issues, they can live and lay well clear up into age 5-6 before they stop laying in regular cycles. The hens yield as much meat on their carcass as do some DP roosters of other breeds, so a spent WR hen is still very valuable as meat.

    Of a gentle, docile temperament they make for a very quiet and peaceful flock addition and their regal, genteel way of moving and calm demeanor make them a delight to have around. The roosters are quiet, intelligent and gentle. They don't tend to look dirty like other white breeds and I think that is due to the high feather quality they possess, which means they also don't tend to have feather loss on their backs in heavy breeding situations.

    [​IMG]
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    My other main breed is Black Australorps, which are the finest layers one can get..a true workhorse breed that lays well and lays long into old age, lays in the winter and even during their molt..they just slow down a little then.

    [​IMG]

    Naturally hardy, thrifty on feed, rarely ever go broody, great foragers, quirky and funny personalities, gentle but the odd one here and there can be a little loud at times, easy keepers and a beautiful bird. I've never had a BA come up missing on free range in all these years...great survivors and savvy out on range.

    I'd recommend Black Australorps to anyone, be it for pet flocks or working flocks, though their carcasses don't tend to get real big or heavy, they can still have a respectable carcass when their laying days are done. They are a perfect breed for newbies as you just can't mess up with BAs...they can stand up to mismanagement and still lay a ton and survive into old age, plus they have delightful personalities.

    The mix of these two breeds yields meaty cockerels and pullets, beautiful birds but spotty on laying performance and health, a little too broody and not enough laying, but nothing to shout about. The current mix I have is a great layer, though, so there's hope for the mixing of the two.
     
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