Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Backyard Chickens: Choosing Your Flock

Gracie, Gavin, Gladys & Goldie 
Hello everyone.  I hope you are enjoying your week so far.  Today, we are going to discuss choosing chickens for your flock.  We couldn't decide on just one breed, so we picked a variety for our flock.  When selecting more than one breed of poultry, you want to make sure that they are compatible.  For example, you don't want to have large breeds mixed with small ones.  The large hens may bully or even kill your smaller hens.  Also, you do not want to mix aggressive breeds with docile ones even if they are the same size.  However, if the hens grew up together then they usually will accept each other and you can have a mix of breeds and sizes.  It will require a little bit of research to find the perfect fit, but it will save you money and heartache in the long run.

The breeds we have are medium to large in size and gentle, they include Cream Legbars named Gilda, Gayla and Gavin the rooster (medium size), an Australorp named Gladys (large), a Golden Laced Wyandotte named Goldie (medium to large), a Black Sex Link named Gracie (medium to large) and an Ameraucana named Gypsy (medium).  The friendliest one of them all is Gypsy.  We raised her from a small chick and I believe she doesn't know she's a chicken.  She will run over to me and find a way to fly up onto my shoulder whenever I visit the pen.  It's almost as if she can't stand being around the other chickens and doesn't know why I keep leaving her there.  So, I will walk around the yard with her on my shoulder to give her a break from being a chicken in the coop.  I never thought I would have a chicken as an actual pet, but I love her to pieces and tend to spoil her. I am hoping she will begin laying within the next month.  Her eggs will be blue or green in color and are often referred to as Easter eggs.  The Cream Legbars will have a blue type egg, the Golden Laced Wyandotte and Black Sex Link will have brown eggs, and the Australorp will have very large white eggs.

Gayla, Gypsy & Gilda

We have not had any issue with having these breeds in the same coop.  The larger hens tend to stay together and the smaller ones have created their own clique.  As with any group of animals, or people, you want to make sure they have plenty of room.  The larger the coop and outside play area, the less issues you tend to have.  They are able to roam around, forage and entertain themselves which leaves little time to think about bullying chicken little. Typically, you will need 3-4 square feet per chicken for the hen house and 3-4 square feet per chicken for the run (outside the hen house).

I hope this gives you a little bit of information for choosing your flock.  Just make sure to do some further research on which breeds would suit your needs.  Whether you are looking for pets, egg layers or even dinner meat, you have a large variety to consider.  From the fancy feathered to the plain white, I have no doubt you will find at least one breed to fall in love with.  We will see you again on Friday, when we have our recipe of the week.  It's also the Fourth of July for us here in the States, so be careful and be safe! 

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