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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's the plan...

I want 3 birds in a 4x4 coop with 7x7 run (roughly). I can let them free range a little but not alot and they will have to be happy being confined to a tractor ark coop and run.

I don't like flighty birds. I like slow, docile, calm birds that are low maintenance and act like puppy dogs.

Their diet will be a decent feed with some meal worms and maybe some scratch.

I understand it will require more predator proofing and a run because they can't run away

I want a more rounded hardy bird so cold hardy and somewhat hot weather hardy. My backyard is mostly shade but temps can get to the high 100.

My main purpose is medium-xl eggs at a decent feed efficiency so I am not interested in Meat birds (jersey giants) or Ornamental (silkies).

I don't want a broody bird but can be handled occasionally.

The Chickens end purpose will be soup. So, standard size is a must. If there is a hint of any trait I hate or a trait not there that I like they will be soup sooner than later.

Also reasonably as quiet as an occasionally barking dog.

I know I hate rhode island reds. They are not my cup of tea.

Buff Orpingtons I'm worried about broodiness because they are the top 5 of broodiness.

So I think my final selection is Australorp but my cousin is trying to steer me away and go with her breeds americunas, silkies etc (I think they become soup faster with me).

I think she wants me to go with hers because she's happy with them and they do well with her. I think she just wants me to be happy with the chickens.

What does everyone else think? Is my original selection right or should I look at something else? I kinda like the flock of one breed though.

It's easier to be less attached when they look all the same and act the same. Therefore easier to butcher when needed. Chickens are livestock to me not pets. I would never butcher my pet dog

My pet chicken results
McMurray Hatchery Results
 

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The Ameraucanas are smaller birds, more of a lightweight than the others so if soup is the end goal you may very well find it lacking.

I love my australorps and my barred rocks. They are very hearty layers and very hearty birds. If you don't care about heritage breeds, then a production bred hen may be more to your liking as they are pretty well sprung birds and lay like the dickens. I don't hear my birds unless they are sounding some sort of alarm or what have you, but if I am near hem they are going to tell me all sorts of stories, I think that is just the nature of a lot of chickens. My rocks and australorps are not as chattery as others, I've noted, but they are also lower down on the pecking order and that could have a lot to do with it. Some breeds are more noisy than others for sure but the lower birds don't talk near as much as the higher birds and vice versa. It's a bit of a toss up for noise, I've found.
My Sicilian buttercups were creepy quiet but they aren't great layers hand they are small birds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yea I do like heritage breeds because I've heard of less health problems in general. I like hearty over production. I want 3-4 brown eggs a week per bird with the minimum being 6 a week. Maximum about 12 for 3 birds.

My mother in law's barred rocks and I do not get along. I get along with her orpingtons though.

My husband and I are occasional breakfast people so we do like good eggs but not huge on usage. Our favorite breakfast food is scrambled egg sandwich on homemade bread with a banana and hash browns
 

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Honestly, I'd think australorps would be right up your alley. They are bigger birds, lay at least 3-4 eggs a week for a few years, docile and from my experience not loud without good reason. Because they are not overly rare it's also easy to acquire good stock when you need it. If I had to pick a breed to do a single flock with australorps would be a strong #1 with the Plymouth rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Honestly, I'd think australorps would be right up your alley. They are bigger birds, lay at least 3-4 eggs a week for a few years, docile and from my experience not loud without good reason. Because they are not overly rare it's also easy to acquire good stock when you need it. If I had to pick a breed to do a single flock with australorps would be a strong #1 with the Plymouth rocks.
My gut is saying that too.

I listen to my cousin sometimes and she has a lot of experience but I think we have different purposes. Hers are pets and I don't like the concept of a pet chicken.
 

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Amers don't lay profusely and are considered a light standard sized bird. That definitely doesn't seem to be where you want to go.

I have loads of pet chickens, I can't say much about that lol! But I choose my breeds based on their abilities for the most part: they need to offer something. Some times they only offer something different, but they all have a purpose to uphold - practical or not. I just get attached and some make it to pet status, that's how I ended up with over a dozen roosters. Some of my boys were just never going to make it in the pot even though they weren't breeding quality. They just live in the bachelor pad and get treats and snuggles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't mind other people having pet chickens but I don't get attached to things easy. I don't mind the idea of chickens so long as when they are past their years of usefulness they are either free-cycled or soup.
 

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I agree. Most of my straight run roosters (due to quality or temperament) and hens past their lay period I butcher for dog food. That is just a fact of farming: If it has no use, something else will eat it.
Companionship is a use for me, so I do keep the extremely friendly ones who worm their way into my good graces, even thought they may not have any other purpose. To each their own, for sure.
 

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I think you might be spot on with Australorps. They are much quieter than Ameraucanas. The small combs of Ameraucanas are not great for cooling during hot weather. (I have 2 of each). My Australorps came through the winter with no coop (shelter provided, but no coop). I recommend for the first year no rooster. Without a rooster, they will see you as flock leader and be more mellow for handling. Since you are going to limit to coop and run, a rooster is just going to eat your food and want sex...(hmmmm, sounds like a guy I dated...) Australorps are great layers of large light brown eggs, mediums while still pullets but going to large prior to hitting a year. Mine seem to take a long time on the nest to lay, but haven't been broody yet. You might consider blue or lav coloring, just to fight the heat when they are outside (reflects more), but then you said you had lots of shade...Australorps tend to be a bit large on the comb, and as I said, the comb has great value for heat dissipation (rich with blood vessels for that very reason). Your winters are warmer than mine, so winter cold should not be a problem for them at all for you. Don't even worry about heating the coop. All they need is adequate ventilation to allow the air to dry and be fresh, plus lots of windows for indirect light (you don't really want the hot summer sun baking in directly). They will grow all of the insulation they need, with a great downy undercoat..

By the way, well nourished Australorps can lay almost daily, and even through the winter. Mine do and did. I think I read about a competition in which a number of hens of different breed were kept in a controlled environment where all things were kept equal and optimum, and the Australorp hen laid 360 eggs in 365 days.

Oh, and I also have a hybrid called Amber-Whites, also great near-daily layers, and only a bit noisier than the Australorps, also good with 100 degree heat as long as shade provided, but they are a cross between RIR and RIW so you might not like them, or I would have said more about them. They are almost agressively friendly, but then I have no rooster to boss them - they really do believe that I am flock leader. All of my girls are totally free in my back yard, and none of them have attempted to escape, even over a 4 ft section of fence, and I know they could if they wanted to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think you might be spot on with Australorps. They are much quieter than Ameraucanas. The small combs of Ameraucanas are not great for cooling during hot weather. (I have 2 of each). My Australorps came through the winter with no coop (shelter provided, but no coop). I recommend for the first year no rooster. Without a rooster, they will see you as flock leader and be more mellow for handling. Since you are going to limit to coop and run, a rooster is just going to eat your food and want sex...(hmmmm, sounds like a guy I dated...) Australorps are great layers of large light brown eggs, mediums while still pullets but going to large prior to hitting a year. Mine seem to take a long time on the nest to lay, but haven't been broody yet. You might consider blue or lav coloring, just to fight the heat when they are outside (reflects more), but then you said you had lots of shade...Australorps tend to be a bit large on the comb, and as I said, the comb has great value for heat dissipation (rich with blood vessels for that very reason). Your winters are warmer than mine, so winter cold should not be a problem for them at all for you. Don't even worry about heating the coop. All they need is adequate ventilation to allow the air to dry and be fresh, plus lots of windows for indirect light (you don't really want the hot summer sun baking in directly). They will grow all of the insulation they need, with a great downy undercoat..

By the way, well nourished Australorps can lay almost daily, and even through the winter. Mine do and did. I think I read about a competition in which a number of hens of different breed were kept in a controlled environment where all things were kept equal and optimum, and the Australorp hen laid 360 eggs in 365 days.

Oh, and I also have a hybrid called Amber-Whites, also great near-daily layers, and only a bit noisier than the Australorps, also good with 100 degree heat as long as shade provided, but they are a cross between RIR and RIW so you might not like them, or I would have said more about them. They are almost agressively friendly, but then I have no rooster to boss them - they really do believe that I am flock leader. All of my girls are totally free in my back yard, and none of them have attempted to escape, even over a 4 ft section of fence, and I know they could if they wanted to.
Yea starting out, I am thinking of getting 3 older australorp pullets approx 3 months old. My coop is pretty ventilated. The only environmental factor I worry about is sunlight. I won't have much because of the shade.

I like to garden and with non chicken friendly plants. So, They will be cooped up in their coop and a 7x7 run with a clear roof and hardware cloth.

If you read my other post on the chicken run, I caved when I heard a hawk story involving a hawk ripping poultry wire and I know I have a bold Wiley hawk and slow birds. All I could think was that really would stink to have the egg production go down because I was too cheap to do it right the first time and predator proof against what I know I have. I don't want to have dead birds before their time to be soup. Especially, over things I can prevent.

It will be over 5 sq ft per bird with 16 sq ft per bird in the run. I figure this will let me expand to 4 if we eat more than I thought during peak laying seasons.

I am very aware of chicken explosion and chicken math, I'm trying to avoid that and keep it very practical. I am basing my number of chickens off our current egg usage with a little cushion.
 

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I got black sex link fore the first time back 2 months ago best laying chickens I ever had I would give them a try


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I don't think you have to worry about not enough light with the shade, the day length is more influential, and since I am further north than you, my light is slightly weaker and my days are still shorter (until the equinox). It's the length of light, not so much as the intensity. You'll do just fine. I have noticed that when I am not out there with my girls, they hug the perimeter fencing and the sides of the house to discourage hawks. I do have hawks around and the girls watch for them. They don't spend that much time in the wide open unless I am out doing stuff in the yard. It is important to keep them exclusively in the coop/run for a month or two, to guarantee that they will go back to it eagerly should they get some free range time. They like going home to sleep. Oh, by the way both of my australorps started laying right after turning 5 months. (My ameraucanas started at 6 months, and the amber-whites started at 4 months. For this first summer/fall, expect double-yolkers, though they will quit that before they get to a year)
 

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I got black sex link fore the first time back 2 months ago best laying chickens I ever had I would give them a try

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something like a black or even golden sexlink will lay like there is no tomorrow for about a year & 1/2 but they do "burn out" quickly
i like a quality farm breed. an Australorp is a good choice in part because they started out as orpingtons. Australia-orpington = AustraOrp
now i have had a couple of my buff orpingtons that did go broody last year. i put an icepack up under them in the middle of the night
the cold lets them know that nothing in that nest can hatch so the give up.
 
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