With so many different breeds of chickens to choose from, I was overwhelmed. I had a list of criteria for my flock. I didn’t want roosters. In a small flock, a rooster is not needed in his traditional role as protector and propagator. Roosters can be noisy and mean. I wanted friendly hens who were not afraid of people, and I didn’t want any “divas” in the flock. and above else, the hens had to be winter hardy and good layers. I’m raising chickens primarily for the eggs. the fertilizer and entertainment factor are additional benefits.
I hit the books. Barbara Kilarski’s book, keep Chickens, addressed many of my concerns and had some good suggestions. Gail Damerow’s Storey Guide to Raising Chickens was very thorough. the internet enriched the entire learning experience with great message boards populated by backyard chicken “farmers” and YouTube provided informative yet entertaining videos about chicken breeds, cleaning coops, and raising a flock from day-old chicks.
Mostly I’m finding people in my community very helpful and willing to share their knowledge. I’ve been on coop tours and met some chickens. In the end, I’ve chosen to populate my flock with Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps and a single Barred Rock. all are fantastic layers (a Black Australorp holds the world record, poor girl). they are friendly, winter very well, and are full of personality. None of them are reputed to be alpha females – they are content to follow and get on well with other creatures.
The Buff Orpington is a breed of chicken named after Orpington, England, which was made famous in part by this breed. Belonging to the English class of chickens, it was bred to be an excellent layer with good meat quality. their large size and soft appearance together with their rich color and gentle contours make them very attractive (a classic Beatrix Potter type chicken), and as such its popularity has grown as a show bird rather than a utility breed. they go broody very often, and make great mothers. being rather heavy, they are unable to fly, so they work well as backyard birds. due to their build they do well in very cold climates. the fluff of their feathers allows rain water to penetrate, so they must be kept out of the rain.
The Australorp is an Australian chicken breed. it is a large, soft-feathered bird with glossy black feathers and a lustrous green sheen. it is hardy, docile, and a good egg-layer as well as meat bird. the bird’s single comb is moderately large and upright, with five distinct points.
The original stock used in the development of the Australorp was imported to Australia from England out of the Black Orpington yards of William Cook and Joseph Partington in the period from 1890 to the early 1900s with Rhode Island Red. Local breeders used this stock together with judicious out-crossings of Minorca, White Leghorn and Langshan blood to improve the utility features of the imported Orpingtons. there is even a report of some Plymouth Rock blood also being used. the emphasis of the early breeders was on utility features. at this time, the resulting birds were known as Australian Black Orpingtons (Austral-orp).
It was the egg laying performance of Australorps which attracted world attention when in 1922-23 a team of six hens set a world record of 1857 eggs at an average of 309.5 eggs per hen for a 365 consecutive day trial. Well looked after Australorps lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year. A new record was set when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days.they are also known to be good nest sitters and mothers, making them one of the most exceptional large, heritage utility breeds of chicken.
Barred Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock, often called simply Rocks or Barred Rocks (after their most popular color), is a chicken breed that originated in the United States. the Plymouth Rock is a dual-purpose, cold-hardy bird and therefore makes a great breed for the small farm or backyard flock owner. These chickens are often called Plymouth Rocks, but this title correctly belongs to the entire breed, not just the Barred variety. there are seven varieties of Plymouth Rock chickens: barred, blue, buff, Columbian, partridge, silver-penciled and white.
The Plymouth Rock was developed in New England in the middle of the 19th century and was first exhibited as a breed in 1869. Plymouth Rocks were bred as a dual-purpose fowl, meaning that they were valued both for their meat and for the hens’ egg-laying ability. the breed became popular very rapidly, and in fact, until World War II, no breed was ever kept and bred as extensively in the United States as the Barred Plymouth Rock. Its popularity came from its qualities as an outstanding farm chicken: hardiness, docility, broodiness, and excellent production of both eggs and meat.
The girls are scheduled to arrive April 27-28. I cannot wait to meet them. I’m so excited!