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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question to the chicken wizards around here ... And yes my family and I are still deciding if we are gonna be brid people or not.

So here goes ... Is a mixed flock better or single breed as far not begin susceptible to sickness. What I mean is are all chickens gonna get sick if one does or are some sicknesses only gonna effect one breed. We have already determined that we do not want to medicate unless a situation demands it.

Any thoughts or opinions?
Thanks , SD
 

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If you get your chickens from the same place they will have the same exposure to disease regardless of breed. That being said you can inoculate chickens for various diseases (most hatcheries will do this for you before shipping if you ask) or you can just have them shipped in and hope they're OK (which the vast majority of the time they are.) Diseases are mostly a concern for established flocks when you're introducing new birds - but even then you can use quarantine pretty effectively.

I say if you like one breed than by all means go for it, and if you want variety just find a place that offers a variety. Some breeds are more prone to certain problems but you'd have to look into the specific breed to figure this one out. Hope that helps!
 

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We have a mixed flock. I just love all the different colors of the chickens and their eggs . Some breeds I think are friendlier but that is just my opinion ! Good luck
 

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I LOVE my mixed flock! For one, I can tell them all apart, 2, It's my first time having chickens so I really didnt know a thing about any breed. 3, all the different colored eggs are so beautiful to look at.

image-2329231276.jpg

See, how gorgeous is that?
 

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kahiltna_flock said:
I LOVE my mixed flock! For one, I can tell them all apart, 2, It's my first time having chickens so I really didnt know a thing about any breed. 3, all the different colored eggs are so beautiful to look at.

See, how gorgeous is that?
Oh so nice! You got me curious to see the colors off chicken eggs. Google'd it and found this pic.... Cool pic!
 

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Yeah, I just need a Maran for some dark eggs and an olive egger, and a white egg layer. I have just about everything else. I have a leghorn mix I was hoping to get a few white eggs in the mix. She lays tan eggs, oh well, they all eat the same!
 

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Ditto what WeeLittleChicken said.

The only thing I would add is most people begin with mixed breed flocks. The only thing with a mixed flock is try to get birds with similiar temperments. Some breeds can be more aggressive than others. Example is polish. Polish can do well in a mixed flock if they can see so you may want to keep their crest trimmed away from their eyes. Otherwise you will have a bird that spooks easily and that can be very disrubtive to other breeds. Same with silkies. Silkies can mix well, but due to the breeds gentle nature silkies can be bullied by larger breeds. Not saying you would be getting these breeds. Just using them as examples.

There is one thing you may want to consider is selecting breeds for our cold winter weather. I suggest breeds with small combs and small wattles. Breeds with large combs and big wattles can have frostbite issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Is there any prevention from frost bite? Must I have a heated coop? If the breed is cold hardy then am I looking at only small comb breeds?
 

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I have some larger combed girls like my leghorn mix and my welsummer. They did get a touch of frostbite this winter. I don't have a heated coop, well, I did put in 1 heat lamp when it was -20 to -30 for a week or so. It kept the coop around 0. Don't know if that actually counts as being heated! Check to see what other people are raising in your area. They are your best source of knowledge. I put Vaseline on their combs and waddles as well. If you have a lot of birds with large combs and waddles, this could get tedious.
 

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Cold hardy birds generally have small combs and wattles. However, that still doesn't mean they are free of frostbite. A bird's feet can also become frostbiten and in severe cases a bird can loose toes.

Let's start with the coop. An insulated coop helps and I know many people here in AB that just go with this. A good insulated coop should be dry, free of drafts, but the coop should have some sort of ventilation to remove amonia that a chicken's waste produces. Ventaltion depends on the size of your coop and the number of birds you intend on keeping.
The litter you will use also helps with keeping a coop warm. Many prefer the deep litter method, where you use either peat or wood chips. You start by putting down some Diatomaceous Earth [food grade. you can get it at any feed store.] This will help with bug control. Then you lay down a layer of chips. Over winter, you clean heavily soiled areas and then add fresh chips. We like to also turn ours over about once a month. The layering causes decompostion which helps heat the coop. It is perfectly safe to use over winter. Then comes spring, you clean your coop out.

Using a heat source like a heat lamp has its pros and cons. Many people in AB don't use them. The reason is if you make the coop artifically warm, for example 30C, and outside the temperature is -20C and you something knocks out your heat source, the sudden drop in temperature can cause your flock to become sick. Especially if the heat stays off for a long time.
Others do use a heat lamp. You need to place it so chicken can't come in contact with it or they can burn their combs [had it happen myself] and so they can't knock it over. Heat lamps can cause a fire if they come into contact with bedding material. Many barn and coop fires caused during the winter are usually from either a heat lamp or improperly rated extension cords being used to run power to those heat lamps. [I use gauge 12 commercial outdoor cords rated for -30C. They are suspeded off the ground to prevent damage and contact with bedding.]

If you chose a breed with a large comb or wattles, I suggest using waterers that prevent them from coming into contact and getting wet. I use tower type waters that have a small limp. If so, it can still happen that a wattle gets in there. One of my polish roos managed this winter and had nicely ice-cubed one of his wattles. It was sad to see. Thankfully, he didn't loose the wattle but he was puffed and swollen for a few days and after a month of treatment it was okay.

Vaseline does help prevent frostbite, but you would need to apply it daily for it to work. I usually do my roos when temps go to -15C and colder. I will apply it at night as this is when the bird is least active. The feathers do get very mucky after awhile though.

Here's the thing when it comes to combs & wattles. Not all birds will get frostbite. Some manage okay. Only once they do become frostbiten they tend to become more sensitive to the cold so the need to protect them. It's just something to consider when you live in a winter climate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Kahiltna_flock ... Where are you located that you see those kind of temps? We only had -30 a few days this winter ... The wind is always bad though. Would I have to protect their run all the way around or just the windward side?

I know we are coming into spring time ... I'm just trying to weigh all options as we are getting ready to move to a new house (early summer) and I don't want to be caught with any surprises.

I knew that frost bite could be a problem ...did not know about Vaseline... Just figured that folks have been keeping chickens a long time in the cold and heat ... Use some common sense and of course start right.

Thanks for the info. I'm sure I'll have some more questions.
SD
 

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I am in Alaska, just north of anchorage. This is my first winter with chickens, I was a bit nervous, but so far so good. I think we made, all 12. Some look a little worse for wear, a bit of pecking and a fat hen, but they managed to survive. My coop like I said really isn't heated, but it is double walled and fully insulated. I didnt use the Vaseline as much as I probably should have, but they still all have their combs, some tips were lost.
 
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