One of the main things I was looking for was the ability to withstand cold (down to -30) temperatures in the winter, and hot (up to 100) temperatures in the summer. Because of this, I chose not to get the flashier breeds. We were also looking for birds that were able to forage, were friendly, and were good layers, and weren't too flashy/pale colored to avoid attracting predators. I also tried to pick dual-purpose breeds so that if 16 turned out to be too many, we could eat the extras!
Of our order of 25 chicks, 9 were meat chicks which we will slaughter & freeze sometime this fall when they are big enough, and the remaining 16 were 2 each of the following 8 breeds:
- barred rock
- black australorp
- buff orpington
- rhode island red
- silver laced wyandotte
- speckled sussex
Ancona: These two girls are my favorite so far. They will end up being smaller than the others, and I don't know how hardy they will be. But they are really active, and should be good foragers and avoid predators. They are also the only breed I got that lays white eggs, which my husband requested. I figure on a day or so should do him, right? :) These are also one of the breeds that just really attracted me, I'm not sure why! I think I liked their foraging ability and their looks. We'll see how they do!
Barred Rock: These are supposed to be a very quiet bird, and so far, I really agree! My two girls are very docile and calm when I pick them up. And they also don't seem to care when I am moving around beside them in the coop, unlike some of the other breeds. They are supposed to be good foragers too, and from what I have seen of them going after little grasshoppers, I would agree with that too! We'll see how well they do in the heat & in the cold, but others in this area have them too, so my girls should do fine.
Black Australorp: These ladies have seemed pretty skittish for me so far. They are supposed to be cold hardy though, and good foragers, so hopefully they will do well here.
Buff Orpington: These are supposed to be a quiet bird, cold hardy, and they can be broody. My two girls seem pretty alert and not easily panicked. I know they can be hardy around here, but their light color has me a bit concerned about predators.
Rhode Island Red:
These have good egg-laying abilities and are considered hardy, and seem to do well in our area judging by other people around who have them. My two are rather skittish so far, but hopefully with more handling and exposure to me they will get better.
Silver Laced Wyandotte: These should be cold tolerant and may be broody. I think the chicks are very pretty, and the adult pictures I have seen are also beautiful. My girls are fairly active, not staying still long, and not liking to be close to me.
Speckled Sussex: These are supposed to be calm and cold tolerant. My two don't seem very interested in getting close to me though! They are very pretty though, and they both look identical! I love the feathers that are coming in on their wings, they are going to be beautiful adults.
The consistent thing I looked for was hardiness. I'm just hoping that these birds will mostly be able to make it through our cold winters and hot dry summers. I would really like to end up with a couple breeds, or even one, that really work well for us. Longer term, if having layers works out and we enjoy having them, I think it would be really great to have just one or two breeds and have roosters also, so that we can incubate our own chicks, perhaps even to the point of selling chicks! We'll see though, it might be more work than we can handle!
I'm joining up to the Homestead Barn hop today, so hop on over to check out the goings-on on other homesteads all over the country!