I was liking the idea of getting some fertile eggs and hatching our own, but after all the reading I’ve done I’m thinking we’ll give that a miss. Very complicated for first timers methinks!
Now I’m thinking that we’ll get 4 week old chicks that have already been sexed – 1 rooster and 12 girls. The advantage of this is we can handle them while they are young and get them used to us, which in turn will give the boys enough confidence to collect the eggs.
I have to say, at this stage, I am leaning towards either Barnevelders or Wyandottes as good dual purpose, pretty birds. Dual purpose is definitely a goer with Tim reckoning he could kill a bird after watching Matthew Evans do it on ‘Gourmet Farmer’. ‘As long as the knife is sharp,’ he said.
However, if I’m not so concerned about pretty, perhaps a good dual purpose would be the Light Sussex or Australorp. But, if we are just going for egg production, then maybe the Ancona. Of course, I could just get a mixed flock, but that would make breeding difficult. Hmmm…decisions, decisions, decisions.
After a few more days of research and talking to people and thought processing time, this is what I’m now thinking. Maybe to begin with we don’t get any roosters, but have a mixed flock of the different breeds that I am particularly interested in, maybe two of each of my top 5 or 6 breeds…or even one of each.
I’m pretty definite about having the Ancona. They are good layers with striking feathering, although they can be a little flighty, however once they’re used to you they settle in nicely. I like the Australorp which is a good dual purpose breed and bred for Aussie conditions. I love the Wyandotte, they are so pretty and reasonable layers. I’m also pretty definite about the Barnevelder, which is striking and a really good dual purpose breed.
Also in the mix we’d like an Araucana for the blue green coloured eggs it lays – that was a special request from Brydon (blue is his favourite colour). Also under consideration from my reading so far are the Light Sussex, Faverolle, Welsummer, Adulusian, Minorca, and maybe some bantams, especially the Silky.
I think having a variety of birds to begin with will be fun and will help us decide which breeds work best for us and if there are any breeds we’d like to specialise in at a later date, and it will definitely help us work out which breeds cope best in our environment. If we do breed, we’ll be working on keeping the breed pure and if necessary, learning how to breed back to good utility birds that deliver on their promise, not just look good for the show ring. However, if I could manage to have both – good utility birds that are good enough for showing – then that would also be really good. The biggest issue I think I’m gonna have is making sure I get utility birds and not show stock.
Just read a timely article in the ‘Australasian Poultry’ magazine called ‘Best Breeds for Climate Change’ by Megg Miller (who also publishes ‘Grass Roots’ magazine) which addressed some of the issues I’ve been having in regards to what breeds to get, especially in the heat. I’ve also been given the number of a local chicken lady who may be able to help me as far as that goes too.