|Picture of a few of my favorite breeds:|
Ameraucana, Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, and Golden Comet
|I especially like the Golden Comet, a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Leghorn|
I generally order my chicks in the fall of the year. Late September when they arrive I put them in the smaller of my two coops. As they grow through the winter they are kept cozy and warm in the small coop with a heat lamp hanging from the ceiling. In the early spring (when they have grown sufficiently enough not to be eaten by the cats) they are let loose to roam in the gardens and begin the tilling process. As they scratch the ground, eating the weed seeds, finding the grubs that have wintered over and sometimes a mouse or two, I enjoy watching their antics as they enjoy their freedom. However, once the gardens are planted in late June I begin penning them in the Large coop where they will spend the summer laying beautiful, nutrient rich eggs. The older hens that were living in the large coop have been sold as 2 year old layers, or put into the freezer. I rotate the hens out every two years. This keeps egg production high, and allows me to try new breeds.
If you are ordering chicks for the first time, research which breeds will do well in your area. I like the dual breeds best for my area. The long cold winters are hard on the lighter breeds, frozen combs and feet are common with the light breeds even though their egg production is better. For the past 30 years we have raised chickens. Sometimes up to several hundred at a time. I raised the Golden Comet, along with my other favorite breeds, the past 5 years. I personally really like this hen. They handle the winter weather fine and begin laying earlier than the other breeds (about 18-20 weeks old) . Their egg production is good, but the light brown eggs are a little smaller than the dual-purpose, heavier breeds.
If I were to list my favorite breeds, they would go in this order:
1. AMERACANA, because they lay gorgeous, green eggs, and I think the eggs taste better! This breed is not real productive as a laying hen, but I love the variety of colors the hens come in!
2. RHODE ISLAND RED, a good layer, sensible, and seem to be more hardy than the other breeds.
3. GOLDEN COMETS, great egg production and are quick to mature and begin laying.
4. BARRED ROCKS, I think they are beautiful and produce eggs fairly well. Very Hardy. Dual-purpose.
5. AUSTRALOP, lays well, but is also a good dual-purpose breed. The beautiful dark black feathers glisten with green and purple in the sun.
6. BUFF ORPTINGTON, very friendly, docile breed, does not lay as well as the other breeds, but tastes great for Sunday Dinner.
I have ordered from several companies over the years and have found Cackle Hatchery to be the best company to order from. Quick, friendly service, and if there has ever been a problem they are more than willing to make it right.
gathering the eggs from the straw filled laying boxes attached to the outside of the coop
What is your favorite breed of chicken to raise?