Saturday, February 15, 2014

Our 2014 Chicken Choices - for now

Oh, Chickens. We like our chickens. I wrote a post about trying to find the perfect dual purpose chicken – so far, we like the Buckeye the best. It still remains; they are a really good mix here! Winter hardy, pea comb, fair egg production, good size, tasty, independent and good foragers.

But… I might want to look a little further.

I found a great chart comparing heritage breed chickens. The variables I was keying into:

  • Temperament
  • Size
  • Egg Production
  • Rate of Growth

So I have five breeds on my radar now. Two I currently have: Barred Rock and Buckeye.

Before we get into that, here is a quick intermission:

Take a look at what we brought back from the coop tonight:

A shell-less egg! First one we’ve had like this.

Now on to the chicken breeds!

Information in this section taken from the ALBC Heritage Breed Chart.

Jersey Giant – 185 eggs/year – reliable layer, (I've heard they can go broody - not listed though), 8-11lb, slow growth, calm

Deleware – 150-200 eggs/year, setters, 5.5-7.5lb, eat at any size!, fast growth, early maturing, gentle

Australorp – 250 eggs/year, setters, 5.5-7.5lb, medium growth, early maturing, active, yet gentle – only one with white skin

Buckeye – 120-150 eggs/year, variable broody, 5.5-8lb, medium growth, active, yet gentle – only one with pea comb
Our experience: Active probably means enjoys foraging, which has been our experience.

Plymouth Rock – 200 eggs/year, setters, 6-8lb, fast growth, calm
Our experience has not been fast growth, or 6-8lbs. They are not our favorites, but we are keeping them for now since we have 4 and we can see if they go broody.

So now we have some decisions to make.

The Australorp looks like a pretty good contender for all around bird with such good egg laying and general good qualities. If they are “active, yet gentle” like the buckeyes, I think we’ll like them.

I definitely want some Jersey Giants because of reports that they are such easy keepers. Sure would be nice to just let them grow out and roam around until they are large enough to have a turkey dinner – I mean chicken dinner. We would keep quite a few for their dependable egg laying even in the winter. And a rooster so that we could end up with Jersey Giant fertilized eggs.

And then the Deleware are interesting because they are supposed to be good eating at any size but also with a fast growth. Both Deleware and Australorps are good setters and about the same size, so it might be a comparison year for how well they compare on meat.

So I’m thinking we’ll favor the Jersey Giants and Australorps, and probably keep our Buckeye around. I guess it's another experiment year!

Anyone have experience with these breeds?

I share this post at:

Simple Saturday Blog Hop
Simple Live Sunday Blog Hop
Homestead Barn Hop
The HomeAcre Hop


  1. I've played around with several different breeds. I love our barred rock, but the best for me has been the classic Rhode Island Red. Heat and cold tolerant, low feed compared to bigger birds (no more Hampshire Reds!), friendly, reliable layers in all kinds of weather. And BIG eggs, for their body size, tough and healthy. I'll be getting some this spring. I love the little puff balls!!!

    1. We had three Rhode Island Red that we loved too. They were very sweet and good layers. But they weren't especially large birds compared to our Buckeye for dual purpose quality... We also have two NH Red hens, but we aren't planning to keep the breed long term. We didn't love them and their roosters weren't the nicest. :-/ I need to place an order for our fluff balls soon too!

  2. Good Luck with your chickens choices!
    I really like Buff Orphingtons.
    Thank you for sharing your post at the HomeAcre hop!

  3. I've been looking at Buff Orpingtons a little more too! Along with even more breads... There might be quite the mix this year.




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