Prep Genrl Need recommendations on purchasing chicks

oleglass

Contributing Member
Have decided to get some chickens for egg production.
Have had chickens in the past, but been several years.
After rebuilding from the loss of our house in the fire, trying to get back on prepping.
What breed is recommended for good feed efficiency and decent amount of eggs?
Live in north Mississippi, so don’t have lots of bad (cold) weather, this past ice is not the norm.
Would like to also have recommended hatcheries to order from.
No children at home, maybe have the grands visit.
Any help would be appreciated,
Thanks!
 

vestige

TB Fanatic
Eggs only?

I have hsd excellent luck with golden comets.

Small so not good for meat chickens but they are heavy layers especially when well fed
 

Cardinal

Snark: a higher form of communication
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Orpingtons will give you eggs all years round and if ya have to eat em, yeah, that too.
 

oleglass

Contributing Member
They are regular sized, as opposed to Bantams, which are little. But their eggs are normal sized, unlike Bantams, whose eggs are little.
Not wanting a meat type bird, interested in egg production.
any online hatchery recommendations?
 

Cardinal

Snark: a higher form of communication
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Not wanting a meat type bird, interested in egg production.
any online hatchery recommendations?
They have been in business for a while.
 

Marseydoats

Senior Member
Orpingtons will give you eggs all years round and if ya have to eat em, yeah, that too.
Mine must be the duds of the universe. I heard folks brag on them for years. When it was time for replacements, I couldn't find any Cinnamon Queens locally, so I got Buffs. Mine molted twice before they were a year old. They only lay sporadically and they're broody and mean. Dh calls them the "c*ap chickens" Neither of us will care when they bit the dust.
My Cinnamon Queens all had personalities, "talked" to you, ran to the edge of the coop when I got home from work to "speak" to me, and just generally liked people. These Buffs don't like anybody. They were all raised the same way. I'm very "hands on" with my chickens. I'm not quite as bad as my neighbor who carried their rooster around with her like a pocket dog while she inspected the garden. I held him every time I went to visit. He was a great old guy and a huge loss when he died of old age.
 

Cardinal

Snark: a higher form of communication
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Wow. That's a royal shame. This group of orps aren't as nice as the buffs I had 10 years ago, This group is orange in color) but they are still very pet-like. Mostly spoiled and demanding of blueberries. I get more eggs than I can use.
 

Pebbles

Veteran Member
Last year I decided that egg production was the most important reason to buy a new crop of chicks so I purchased 10 white leghorns and 15 red stars. I had red stars before, they are sex linked so you know you will only get hens and they lay a nice big brown egg. I have never had white leghorns, and I will never get leghorns again. They are egg eaters and they are horrible to the other hens, picking on the red stars until they have raw spots on their backs. I have never had a flock that looks so horrible due to the leghorns. I am going to give the leghorns away ASAP.
 

Vicki

Girls With Guns Member
I have Golden Laced Wyandottes and Barred Plymouth Rock. I love them both and the Wyandottes are very consistant layers. The Plymouth Rocks aren't far behind but the eggs are more a medium size where the Wyandottes are large. Both lay brown eggs but the Rocks are a lighter color. I have five chickies although I did have 6. Coyotes were in the area and she was the Plymouth that could fly, fly, fly. She got out and that was the end of her sadly. She was also the one the other birds didn't take to very much for some reason and she wasn't as friendly. She was often by herself where the others tend to group. All the other are very friendly and I can pick them up and pet them and they also greet me consistantly.

I have gotten 5 eggs a day since they lost their sister and I think maybe three or four times we received 4 eggs but honestly, I can't keep up with their production. I resorted to pickling eggs and keeping a very large jar of them in my fridge. We like them so that's been a real help in keeping eggs. (I was giving them away constantly) The girls get lots of table scraps and they free range in a very large fenced yard all summer.

I bought mine from a local farm store in early spring last year. I wasn't even planning to get chickens at the time but had been thinking about it for years. I had them as a kid. I walked into the local farm store for something else and there they were. 6 or 8 different breeds and all locally sourced so I thought, why not! They are dual purpose birds but I mainly wanted eggs.

Good luck to you and I hope they bring joy as they do with my family.
 

dawgofwar10

Senior Member
Generally, that is a 1960’s to 1970’s topic... But if you really need to know, first you need to put a little Jovan Musk on to start... just so you understand you could not buy chicks back then, you could dazzle them, amaze them, and even baffle them with your bullshit, but until you married them!!! I was lucky to get away with a wife of 35 years and still going. Hopefully it worked out for the rest of you... :chg:
 

TerriHaute

Hoosier Gardener
My Buff Orpingtons were always sweet and friendly and the roosters were not aggressive toward people. They were good egg layers too. The Black Australorps were egg laying machines but were not friendly and the roosters were so mean that you didn't dare turn your back on them - they went to freezer camp. I've had a few hybrids like Red Star and Golden Comet and found them to be prolific egg-layers but weak health-wise and they only lived 3 - 4 years.

The best chicken I ever had was one that came as a "packing peanut" rooster in an order from a hatchery in Texas. For smaller orders, the hatchery included disposable rooster chicks whose only purpose was to keep the pullet chicks warm during shipping. I kept the "rooster" chicks for few weeks until they feathered out and were old enough to go to new homes without needing a brooder warming light. I gave most of them away but kept one that I suspected had been sexed incorrectly and was really a pullet. I turns out I was right. She was an old fashioned heritage breed called mottled java, DH dubbed her "Speck." Speck was the first chicken to give me an egg. Her eggs were medium-sized but she laid one nearly every day unless she was broody. She raised countless chicks over the years, was smart enough to hide from predators, would eat out of our hands, and was so gentle that she didn't mind being carried around by the grandchildren when they were very young. When she got older and weaker, she became the target of the chicken bullies. They injured her so badly, that she lost the use of one eye. I nursed her back to health and kept her separated in the small coop. Speck went broody for the last time around the age of ten. I felt that at that age, she didn't need to raise a big brood of chicks and let her sit on one egg, which she successfully hatched. DH dubbed that chicken "Chicky Baby." So when I moved Speck to her own living quarters, I put Chicky Baby, who was a Rhode Island Red, with her for company. Speck and Chicky Baby lived together happily until Speck died at age 13. I could tell she was slowing down the last couple of weeks of her life, but she didn't seem ill, just old. I found her gone one morning when I went to check for eggs. Speck is the only chicken who has a place in our pet cemetery. Chicky Baby went back to live with the main flock and was later killed by a hawk.
 

Freeholder

This too shall pass.
Here is one place you can go for breed comparisons: Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart

Go to the bottom of the chart to see what the various symbols mean -- the snowflake means that breed tends to lay through the winter even without extra lighting.

It's easiest, if they have the breed you want, to just go to the local feed store and pick up your chicks there. If you order from a hatchery, there will be a minimum order -- usually it's 25 chicks, because they need that many in the box to keep each other warm. A few hatcheries will send less, but it will cost extra because they'll need to put a chemical heater in with the babies. Although, the Speckled Sussex I got from Cackle a couple of weeks ago had one of the chemical heaters in with them even though there were 25 of them.

If you want hens that will both lay well, and go broody to hatch out replacements, I can recommend Icelandics; however, they are rare and still pretty expensive. They also like to go semi-feral if they get out of the coop. Pretty little birds, though, and good control for pests like ticks. Also very good at foraging most of their own feed.

Of the more common breeds, I actually like the Leghorn breeds. The White Leghorns I had were skittish, but would be the first to come running when I went outside -- skittish is just another word for alert and cautious, which means (slightly) less susceptible to predators. So it's not necessarily a bad thing. People who are concerned about their chickens being tame have them partly for pets, which is fine, but if you want them for eggs, Leghorns are a good choice. They seldom go broody, but if you add a couple of Silkies to your flock they can raise replacements for you. Anconas are a Leghorn-type chicken that are very good layers and are pretty birds. Some of the colored Leghorns are calmer than the Whites, but most of them don't lay as well as the Whites.

The only other chickens that lay as well as, or nearly so, as the White Leghorns, are Sex-links and Production Rhode Island Reds. The RIR's generally lay well even in the winter; roosters tend to be very aggressive.

Ameracaunas (Easter Eggers) can be pretty good layers, and some will go broody and raise chicks (most of the broody hens I've had have been Ameracaunas), but they generally stop laying during the coldest months of the winter if they don't have light.

You might also consider ducks. Some duck breeds lay better than any of the chicken breeds; they are hardy, will pick up more of their own feed; generally lay first thing in the morning, so you won't have to hunt for eggs if you just wait till mid-morning to turn them loose; and they are really good slug control. Drakes are quiet compared to roosters. They need enough water to dip their heads into (and they make a mess with it), but they don't have to have a pond for swimming.

Lots of options -- I suggest choosing a breed you enjoy looking at.

Kathleen

ETA: Browsing through the breed chart, there are four that have high laying ability and generally lay well through the winter: Delawares, New Hampshires, Rhode Island Reds, and Sussex. They are all considered dual-purpose breeds; Sussex are known to go broody and raise chicks. They all lay large eggs, although the Sussex chart says medium to large. Sussex are the only ones that come in several colors, but I think Speckled is the most common (and I think Speckled is very pretty). There are Rose Comb Rhode Island Reds, but I don't know if they lay as well as the Production Reds.
 
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TxGal

Day by day
We've had Barred Rocks for years, some Light Brahmas, Comets, and a year ago added Rhode Island Reds. Also have some mixed Bantams.

We've had really good luck with Barred Rocks, and now the RIRs. The Light Brahmas, which I love for their 'usually' gentle personalities, don't lay as regularly as the other two we have, imho.

If you have a Tractor Supply near you, the ones down here now have their chicks and ducklings in. They've revamped how they have them housed. In prior years they had them in metal stock tanks with heat lamps above. Now they're in really upgraded housing, pretty amazing. The chicks looked much healthier than in past years, and we've had good luck with theirs for the most part anyhow. Top notch housing should make for even healthier, energetic chicks.
 
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nomifyle

Has No Life - Lives on TB
I don't know what kind of chickens Tractor Supply has but Dh will get 12 pullets, no roosters. Works for him, we get lots of eggs once the start laying. However, these 12 are added to his already egg laying flock.

God is good all the time

Judy
 

briches

Veteran Member
I have red star (which is a red sex link) I bought last May at 18 weeks. They started laying at 19-20 weeks and have given us five eggs a day since we bought them (we have five hens). I thought they’d slow down with the fall weather or when they molted - nope. They have done beautifully!
 

Barry Natchitoches

Has No Life - Lives on TB
I am close to you - south Tennessee, so our growing conditions are about the same, oleGlass. I have been growing small flocks for eggs since 2007.

I love Buff Orpintons and Light Brahmas for their gentle personalities, and the fact that they can adapt to life in a small yard very well.

However, neither variety are frequent egg layers. You will be lucky to get two to three eggs per hen per week during their first year of laying. Even fewer the second year.

Rhode Island Reds are excellent egg layers - but they are can be mean and hard to manage sometimes. They seem to have “an artitude” about them, IMHO, and they were always mean to the more gentle breeds in my small flock. I ended up giving my Rhode Island Hens away to another backyard farmer who only raised Rhode Island Reds and thus was better able to handle their “attitude”.

Black Copper Marans do well for me. They are easier going than the Rhode Island Reds, but lay more frequent (and higher quality) eggs than the Buff Orpingtons or Light Brahmas. They do well living in confined places, and do well in our climate. They lay about 200 eggs per hen their first year, and after the first month of laying, those eggs are quite big too. The eggs are a delightful DARK brown, about the color of a Hershey milk chocolate bar.

I hear Golden Comets lay well, and are pretty good in this area too. But I have never grown a Golden Comet myself. That is just what I have heard.
I love my Black Copper Marans.
 

bbbuddy

DEPLORABLE ME
I have Slow Whites, recommended by summerthyme years ago, they are very good layers, and also bulk up like the hybrid meat birds - you actually get good sized breast meat! They are gentle, even most of the roosters, and I have had some try to go broody.

I had Barred Rocks for years and really liked them, but they aren't great for meat like the Slow Whites from Welp Hatchery.

Most of my flock of Snow Whites now are from eggs incubated here. They breed true.
 

Freeholder

This too shall pass.
I have Slow Whites, recommended by summerthyme years ago, they are very good layers, and also bulk up like the hybrid meat birds - you actually get good sized breast meat! They are gentle, even most of the roosters, and I have had some try to go broody.

I had Barred Rocks for years and really liked them, but they aren't great for meat like the Slow Whites from Welp Hatchery.

Most of my flock of Snow Whites now are from eggs incubated here. They breed true.
I'd sure like to know how Welp bred those Slow Whites, or where they got them from. I ordered 25 straight run this year, two died the first couple of days after they got here, but the rest are doing just fine. Now they are starting to outgrow the Speckled Sussex chicks they are with, who are a week and a half older.

Kathleen
 

Freeholder

This too shall pass.
Summerthyme, if you see this, when you bred your Slow Whites, were the offspring all white? I was checking a couple of places, and several years ago someone on BackyardChickens put up a picture of his pullets from his Slow Whites, and they were all kinds of colors.

Kathleen
 

summerthyme

Administrator
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Yes, they've always been white. I started with new birds last summer, and was surprised (not really happy) to see 3 or 4 birds with significant colored "ticking" in the white. I culled the colored pullets, and didn't see any changes in growth rate, laying speed and ability, etc.

I suspect if someone got multicolored chicks from Slow Whites hens, they were fertilized by a different roo than they thought.

I'd love to know they lineage, too! I asked Welp twice if they were a hybrid, but they never answered. However, I see their description in the catalog now says something that makes me think they are a stable line. I bred 4 generations from hatchery stock, and they maintained their growth rates and laying rates consistently.

Summerthyme
 
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