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Chickens for Dummies?

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Hello, I wonder if anyone out there can share their wisdom with this greenhorn? We are going to be getting our chickens next spring. I want them for meat AND eggs, and I want ones that will be broody.... in other words, I don't want to have to keep buying chickens from now on. 8)


What breed of chickens am I looking for? I am getting so much conflicting information that my head is swimming!



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Hello Linda!!!!


welcome. you have come to the right place!


I presonally prefer two breeds for this purpose... a Bantham breed also referred to as Banty's and a heavy meat breed.


Please order this free catalog... http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/




or any other hatchery catalogs you find.


they all offer the same basic breeds and each one has a few different ones.


I have had wonderful luck with Silkies and Buff Orpingtons.


I often stick teh BO eggs under a sitting silkie. Both breeds can be eaten, both breeds are great egg layers, sitters and mothers.


I have a however, any banty is a great sitter! a boody hen.. will die trying to hatch a rock!


3 banty eggs = 2 large eggs


Any of the "heavy" breeds are great meat but not all heavy breeds make great sitters. And in a cluch of 12 hens, you might only 1 or 2 broody hens or you might have 4 or 5. It just depends. If they are all broody, then hens aren't laying in the nest. A hen can sit easily on 12-15 eggs. If a hen pushes an egg(s) out of the nest, it means the egg isn't fertile.


Just start asking questions .... I am ready!


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I like the Red Star chickens. They're similar to Rhode Island Reds but so calm and pretty coloring with their dark red and a little cream and black here and there. I always get hens but I'm told they are sex linked, which means at hatching you can tell the sex by their color. That would be good on the farm to know which to keep and which to butcher as they grow. They lay beautiful brown eggs, all year long.


My chickens are free range and put in a building at night. Since I garden I ALWAYS get a heavier bird that can't fly over my fences and destroy the gardens. A chicken can do a lot of damage to gardens if given the chance and the lighter ones are over the fence in a second.


Also, if you want hens and roosters both order the straight run at your hatchery. They are much cheaper that way and you can butcher all the roosters you want and keep some or all of the hens for egg laying. They won't lay until about 5 months. Remember to keep a rooster or two for getting more chicks later on.


I live within 40 miles of Murry McMurray where I go pick up my chickens. Here's a link to the Red Star I'm talking about. If you're close enough to a hatchery and want to pick them up it's fun. At Murry McMurray they also have gobs of chicks for sale for like $.50 each.



Raising chickens is easy so have fun. You'll fall in love with your girls.....I always have anyway!!!
















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Welcome, LindaM!!


Lots of good answers here already, but you also can search what we have posted already. There's a *wealth* of good information here.


In the bar above this thread, click on "Search".


Forum or Category to search = homesteading


Words to search for = chickens


Search options = entire phrase


Date Range = all posts


Number of results to show per page = 30 (any more and it seems to load more slowly)


Then click on "Submit", grab a coffee, and start reading!!!

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Buff O's get my vote.. For a good dual purpose.. They are my favorites..

Cornish Cross as mentioned before are too good to be true but they are everything described.. Good luck!


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I live within 40 miles of Murry McMurray where I go pick up my chickens. Here's a link to the Red Star I'm talking about. If you're close enough to a hatchery and want to pick them up it's fun. At Murry McMurray they also have gobs of chicks for sale for like $.50 each.

That makes me darn envious!
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Barred Rocks get my vote for best dual purpose bird. For egg production I love the Red Star's (large brown eggs) and very hardy breed. I also like the white leghorns for good egg production (white eggs) and excellent food conversion.


If you call the hatcheries they will assist you into choosing the kind of breed that is most suitable for you. As far as the banty's go, they are a very small breed and lay tiny eggs. Banty's are very broody and truthfully for me they are the only birds that have given me chicks. Cute little things.


Let us know how it goes.

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Hi Linda,

We usually have kept a mixture of breeds, but I intend to order the Black Australorps from McMurray. They are the champion egg layers and good for meat. I found that it would be cheaper for me to order 25 pullets and 25 roosters instead of ordering straight run, at least for this variety. Make sure you read the instructions they give for caring for your babies. A plastic kiddie pool works well for a brooder. A round container like that keeps them from crowding into a corner and smothering each other. I also suggest that you pay the few extra cents per chick and get the vaccinations they offer. Have everything ready before you need it, just like planning for a baby!


Chickens are great. Don't forget to save a rooster for breeding if you want your hens to raise babies. Have you ever butchered before?

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while 1 rooster can handle 12 hens without any problems... 3 roosters keeps the focuse on each other and off of me!


I never have less then 3 roosters per 18 hens. But then I usually have more chickens then I can count anyway. My chickens free range during the day and are in the hen house at night.

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there are many kinds of chickens that will go broody(want to set).....we have a mixed bag of birds some old and some new.....we make our two bantys(Grumpy and Growler) raise the chicks ...i do not keep a rooster....if i want chickens or i should say pullets and then those for eatting i buy day old chickens when the hen has been sitting on her eggs for 2 weeks and then in the night i take her eggs away and give them each 8 chicks...they keep them warm and i do not have to worry about the lights going out in the spring and early summer...you only need a rooster if you want to raise chicks,,,,and alot of breeds do not breed true,,,,we have barred rock, araucanas, mixed breed and 2 banties..if i wanted to throw a rooster in i would do it for about a month then set the best eggs under a hen and let them set......chickens are easy to raise and they are sure good eatting ...will raise 50 cornish crosses this summer for the freezer and maybe more so i have some to can.......then i will can rabbit with the chicken meat......here it is MOTT....meat on the table........no one every knows what i put in the casseroles....whether it is chicken or duck or rabbit or what have you.....i would recommend not getting flighty birds or birds that will dress out tiny...like rhode Island reds and /or any of the smaller breeds...take care and keep the faith

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  • 1 month later...

I keep all my layers in a very large pen and hen house and let them out of the pen about 2:00 or so in the afternoon after they have mostly all laid for the day. Even then, sometimes I see one going back to the henhouse to lay her egg. Right now, they are not laying very well. I may have to go put a light on them at night.

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