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best egg laying breed of chicken

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Continuing discussion from another thread:

What do I think is the best egg laying breed?

Well, I have this idea to get a bunch of "best" layer breeds, have them mix it up for a couple of years, and then try to come up with my own optimal breed for feed-to-egg ratio given a forage situation. 

So I would start with:

pearl leghorns:  they lay white eggs, but they are just egg laying machines!

red star and black star:  the standard layer for brown eggs

australorp:  the record holder for most eggs in one year

Braggs mountain buff:  this guy raised his own breed where he did a simple and amazing thing.  As he collected eggs, he would put the largest eggs in the incubator.  He did this for years and years.  And now he has a breed that lays lots of freaky big eggs!

Rhode island red:  a heavier breed well known to be moderately productive.




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Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
The Leghorns are basically a factory breed now, no matter how they started.  I understand they're quite flighty (the emotionally unstable kind of flighty), and since they are a fairly light breed, they will fly over fences and into trees, and won't necessarily return.  And they're said to be noisy.

I'm sure you will want to find a reputable source that may have some foraging ability.

Jumbo eggs... ah the trials of the hens who have to lay them.  I wonder if the condition of a hen becoming eggbound has anything to do with producing large eggs?

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I think you have the right idea with starting with a mix and picking your own. one major difficulty I have found though is balancing keeping track of their egg production and feed while allowing them to free range.  in order to be sure who is laying what you have to watch alot (to the point of ridiculous) or keep them in seperate areas. in order to evaluate feed conversion they must be kept separate. but in order to evaluate foraging ability they need to be out with everyone competing and somewhat under observation. it gets complicated to say the least. I have been mulling this over for years.

My best foragers/ layers in my opinion that I have had are the easter eggers. I wondered if part of the reason behind that is because they are not heavily selected for color/type. as long as they lay lots of colored eggs they can go in the breeding pen. wherein other breeds are heavily selected for type,color, egg production and to some extent egg color. as everyone knows bringing out extreme/consistent traits in a breeding program also tends to unleash some of the genes in the population that would be considered negative. sort of the opposite of hybrid vigor.


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"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Non-grouping of breeds is really just a crapshoot, like raising apple trees from seeds.  Mind you, there's nothing wrong if you just want some eggs and some meat chickens, but unless you keep your layers and meat birds separate, you're probably going to lose any 'best' quality of either.

Mixed breeding can be beneficial if you pay attention to what you're doing, but indiscriminate crossing can just produce 'junk' chickens, that aren't that good for eggs, and  not that good for meat.  Like mutts at the dog pound, they may make fine pets, but they're probably lacking in much herding ability, bird flushing ability, or other breed-specific proficiencies.  You can't expect a poodleXdalmationXpit bull mix to herd sheep.

Keep in mind that most existing breeds didn't exist 500 years ago. THEY were bred for certain characteristics, which is what they have now.  Non-selective crossing of them turns them back into 'just chickens'.

Sue

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I think having some that to an extent are 'just chickens' can be good. with  positive extreme characteristics, such as incredible egg laying ability, come negative characteristics, such as 'stupid' or short lived. characteristics that in my admitedly very small experience leghorns have. If I order another batch of chickens I am going with the americanas (easter eggers) because of the rather loose parameters surrounding their selection for breeding I think they are the closest to a good homestead bird that I have run across. I have had red and black stars, white leghorns, a cinnamon buff (a cross for brown egg production, I think it is called different things by different hatcheries) and now the worst......barred rocks. I also have some birds that I am 90% positive are dark cornish, of course I don't expect them to be super dooper layers, but I like them, you pick them up and they are like picking up lead weights....anyway.....My best hen right now looks like a delaware but was hatched out of my best americana (rip) her father was a 1/2 legghorn 1/2 banty mutt.  I swear those banty mutts add an extreme measure of predator intelligence and forage ability. Egg laying abilitiy is great but if you are trying to truly raise them in a free range situation it is worthless if they can't survive the conditions. better to get half the egg production out of birds that are alive than a big fat 0 when they are dead. it takes a balance. most breeds/breeders aren't into balance they are into cool characteristics.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Banties, the pitbulls of the chicken species!  I don't think they know what fear is, if my friend's birds are any indication.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
ha  actually though mine are fearful. .....thats the only reason they are still alive!

banty mutt- "gee,.. the blood curdling sound that 'clucky' made after trying out that new patch of ground on the other side of the fence makes me a little hesitant to follow despite her call to the flock that she find food just prior........"

leg horn - "ugh, ugh scratch scratch, peck peck, ugh ugh. dog food yummy yummy............

paul - I think you have to clarify what "best" means to you. leghorns are  widely considered the best in a commercial production situation but that doesn't neccessarily they are best for your needs.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
The source of your chickens is also important.  If you find someone who has raised multiple generations of Leghorns with great foraging ability, I'm sure they would be a better source than the big hatcheries that sell chicks in batches of ten thousand, with the outlook that they will be factory chickens with a lifespan of 18 months.

I was reading in AcresUSA magazine that you can't just buy any calf and put it on pasture.  Many lines have been on corn for so long that their guts apparently can't deal with much else.  There are lines of cattle that have actually NEVER eaten grain, just pasture and brush forage.

As they say about other things, consider the source.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
certainly. but that begs the question ...are those leghorns that have been raised that way leghorns anymore? or are they something else entirely?' since that is what leghorns are, commercial production birds, if they are not that anymore they deserve a new name.  same with those cattle. if they can eat nothing but corn, I would be hesitant to even call them a ruminent since corn will not stimulate rumination. if that is true they aren't cows...they are freaks. (but I take everything I read in acres with a big grain of salt)
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Like many other things where there are people on opposite sides of the line between love and profit, there are probably Leghorns and Leghorns.  Maybe the people who show them would know more.

AcresUSA is quite political, but everything is, these days, like it or not.  But it does make sense.  I was reading elsewhere that corn is poor feed for cows because they have trouble digesting the starch in it.  But if the corn is used for making ethanol, and the 'waste' is fed to the cows, the 'bad' stuff has been removed, and all the nutrients that were in the corn to begin with are still there, as only the sugars and starches are removed.  They only started feeding corn to cows and getting into that factory/feedlot garbage because the U.S. was inundated with feed corn, and they had to find something to do with it.  That's also the reason behind the production of high-fructose corn syrup.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
that is true about the sugar and by products. I hate byproduct feeds though. fresh hay and forage is the only way to go as far as I'm concerned. as I'm sure you know grain feeding in large amounts reverses the omega fat ratios in the final product too. I have been poo poo -ed on other forums for daring to have a dairy goat that doesn't get any grain. she gives excellent milk in quite sufficient quantities though on alfalfa alone so why would I feed grain?


think of the rumen as a big compost pile. its the rumen microbes that break down the food and make it avavilable to the animal. it is supposed to have the right balance of microbes and microbe 'food'.  fiber stimulates peristalsis and 'turns' the compost. high starch low fiber diets result in an acidic enviroment because of the byprocuct that the sugar digesting microbes produce when they eat the sugars. at a certain point it becomes too acid and kills the fiber digesting microbes halting mobiltiy in the gut and continuing the flourish of sugar eating microbes and the resultant acidic byproduct and can result in systemic acidoses and death.  supposedly feedlot animals can be adapted ot all grain diet only because of the minimal intake of food and they most likely suffer from low grade acidoses for their entire life imo. it would kill a dairy animal.  the digestion of the fiber creates the precurser to milk fat and high grain diets are known to supress milk fat.  fyi when you see the averages for milk fat% in goats milk they are kinda skewed becasue few people test that that aren't going for high volume production and inadvertantly suppressing the milk fat. me. I want rich quality milk not watery volumes.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Leah, you're just not a feedlot/factory farmer, that's all there is to it! 

Waste for feed doesn't appeal to me, either, but if a feedlot owner does feed corn waste instead of 'new' corn, it sounds like it would be a lot better for the cows.

Most waste, as we know it, tends to have at least some of the nutrients removed, but in the case of ethanol production, it isn't.

'Modern' agriculture isn't about what is good for the animals, or what makes ideal food for humans, and it hasn't been for a long time.  It's about profit and cutting corners.

Your animals are lucky.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
traditional production it isn't about quality its quantity. as a prudent person i understand that business must make a profit or they simply can't exist. I myself was self employed full time until I had my daughter four years ago, my husband has been as well and up until december was working as a statutory employee responsible for all his work related expenses (at least 25,000 a year) so the financial realities of business are very real to me. I want to bring that up because I think alot of people get so hung up on on trying to do what is 'best' instead of trying to do what is 'realistic' as far as changing farming practices go. I certainly don't kow the solution but a balance must be struck between the neccessities of business and the health of the food we produce. personally I want the public to make better choices and let the free market change to accomodate them. I think all the crazy legislation is NOT the way to go. it just lines more pockets.

some breeds of chickens just are made for factory farms. just like you couldn't make a jack russel terrier a bird dog and ieven if over generations  you were were able to succeed then it wouldn't be a jack russel anymore!

I still think the crossbreeding or americanas are the way to go. the gene pool in specific breeds is narrow it could take a long time if ever to weedle out the few 'foraging genes" in a strain that has been breeding them out for so long. if egg production were the only thing you were looking for then it would be easy, but a true free range chicken requires a more complicated set of traits and genes to facilitate them (uhm...in case people are wondering chickens are well...bird brains......they don't learn much and operate almost entirely on instincts)

dairy goats are an interesting example. the 'best' are such good milkers that they will milk themselves to death. they absolutley cannot get enough food from foraging alone. are they considered the best milk goats? yes. are they the best for a forage farm? no way. they would die of hypocalcemia if left to their own devices. they are the best for a dairy not the best for a homestead........... in my opinion of course......and you know I never have any of those 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I was thinking of having something like ten small pens.  Each pen would have roughly the same wild food.  I would then pick ten hens, one for each pen.  I would give them each a week in the pen.  I would carefully measure their feed and their eggs.  One winner would get moved to the breeder flock. 

Then the 10 pens would rest for three weeks. 

Leah, are you saying that you think the easter eggers are the best foragers?  So if I included them in this competition, they might be the big winners?

As for getting crazy breeds, I have to important points:

1) these ain't apples, and

2) I'm gonna start off with breeds that have the qualities that I want

It's true that once you cross two breeds, you're gonna get all sorts of wackiness.  I'm okay with that.  In fact, I like that a lot.  Some will have the worst attributes and some will have the best.  I figure that after about seven years my new breed will start to stabilize.  This is simply how it is done in the chicken breeding world.

I'm not going to mix in any meat breeds.  I'm going to shoot for feed to egg ratio when given forage. 



Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
To tell the truth, if what you're aiming for is decent egg-laying and adequate foraging instincts, I would just buy a collection of breeds with those qualities and turn them all loose together.

I thought you meant your were going to mix all kinds of chickens, egg and meat birds, good and bad foragers, natural birds and egg-laying machines.  To me, that isn't such a great idea.  But putting like-type birds together sounds fine.

I have to tell you, I don't like that one-chicken-to-a-pen idea.  Chickens are flocking creatures.  Even on my acre, my four girls tend to move around the property together.  Inducing the stress of being single chickens, you may be adding stress, and stress is the enemy of happy chickens and good laying. (Mind you, I am kind of slow at learning this, myself.)

But if you're attempting to create the Wheaton chicken, it would probably take many years to reach a standard, and then to stabilize it so it bred true.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
yes in my experience the easter eggers are the best combo of foraging and egglaying. and they weren't poor layers at all! only out competed by the leghorns (that were terribly shortlived) for a while. they were all over the place hunting. since nobody has been terribly concerned with color or type in the breed only the ability to lay colored eggs well, they haven't got all the stupid inbred traits in them imo. and they are a relatively new breed, not bred and inbred for eons. 

something that may have contributed was that mine were all very "mixed colored". brownish, black flecking, some blue traits etc... so I think they had natural camo that protected them somewhat. they all had muffs too. 
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
forgot to add. one nice thing about the easter eggers was tehe colored eggs. I learned that chicken x lays a pink egg, chicken y lays a blue and z lays green etc... the black stars layed brown and the leghorns white, so it was real easy to tell who layed what without them being all penned up separtly. of course I had two pink layers and the leghorns all layed white so there was some confusion.  and because they themselves (easter eggers) weren't uniform colors it was easy to tell them apart from each other. unlike my stars then or barred rocks I have now that I can't tell apart even if they laid eggs that were different colors.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Speaking of good egg-laying breeds, I am thinking of getting a few more birds next spring.  I have Buff Orps now, and would like another breed of the heavier type and gentle nature.

Any suggestions?

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
i don't really have much expereince with any that could be considered a heavy breed. I think i may have got a buff orp with the latest chicken grab bag from the feed store. its is so passive!!

two little girls from next door came over yesterday to play. of course the game is always 'lets see if we can catch a chicken'. they never have been succesful before! but they caught that orp (?) over and over as well as a little gold banty with a black head/cape that I am not sure of the breed. it was interesting to see and I think that it was quite revealing' distinguishing brainiacs from the mellow fellows...er fellowettes.

sue if I post a pic of that suspected buff orp will you compare it to yours to see if it looks the same? between the coloration and the personality that is my bet right now but i'm not 100%
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Sure!  I'll let my girls see the photo and see what they say.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
these guys are an example of the coloration that imo helps them to get along on  their own. the one has a bit more white than I think is ideal, but the white could theoretically help in the dappled shade of a woodland setting.  the rooster on the left also has a muff, all the easter eggers I have had wore muffs. I'll never find out if this guy is an easter egger  though..... he will be supper once he gets a little bigger! I already have a favorite rooster and the only one I want to keep out of this batch is possibly a rhode island red.  I figure he likely to be a good contribution to the gene pool.


[
sue- here is the buff that I have. what do your girls think? are they kin?

let me try this again. that was weird it came up fine on the preview.

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I lined my girls up in front of the monitor, and they all agreed that he's not family.  They said he looks like one of those pheasant-type masher guys from the local tavern.

Here's a photo of a Buff Orp:  http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-Buff_Orpingtons

(My Henrietta said yeah, that one is family, but she and her sisters are prettier than that bird... sigh)

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
hmm. it came up fine on the preview before! fixed it now. thats gotta be a buff orp don't you think? after looking at those pics I am even more convinced. this one is going to become a favorite for sure, she is beautiful! maybe I'll get rid of everything else and just buy buff orps! just plain gorgeous. that site said there are blue ones also Iwonder what they look like! here is a pic of a 'wild' blue banty hen I have (descendants of my original chickens) I'll never eat her just because I like looking at her. lays pretty decent too, when you can find the eggs she once layed two eggs on  ladder I had hanging on a wall! only found them because she did did her little advertising routine while I happened to be out there. the one on the left is kind neat looking too, I need to do a little poking around to see what she is.



yeah those guys are kinda ugly. it'll make it easier to eat them
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Okay, the gold one sure looks like a Buff Orp, all right.  Kind of short, cobby body, short tail, big feet.

Tallulah says it looks like her Aunt Esther.

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Susan Monroe wrote:
To tell the truth, if what you're aiming for is decent egg-laying and adequate foraging instincts, I would just buy a collection of breeds with those qualities and turn them all loose together.

I thought you meant your were going to mix all kinds of chickens, egg and meat birds, good and bad foragers, natural birds and egg-laying machines.  To me, that isn't such a great idea.  But putting like-type birds together sounds fine.



I'm gonna mix them all up in the blender! 

Yeah, the idea of all egg breeds and forager breeds sounds like a plan.  Mix them up real good and let a few of them get broody and maybe run a few eggs through an incubator a few times a year.  End up with a really thorough mix of all the breeds.  After a few years, take some of hens and put them through "the test".


Susan Monroe wrote:
I have to tell you, I don't like that one-chicken-to-a-pen idea.  Chickens are flocking creatures.  Even on my acre, my four girls tend to move around the property together.  Inducing the stress of being single chickens, you may be adding stress, and stress is the enemy of happy chickens and good laying. (Mind you, I am kind of slow at learning this, myself.)

But if you're attempting to create the Wheaton chicken, it would probably take many years to reach a standard, and then to stabilize it so it bred true.


I don't think there is any other way. 

And it is just for a week.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Leah Sattler wrote:
they all had muffs too. 



Muffs?

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Ear muffs.  Extra feathers around their ears that look like fluffy earmuffs.

"I'm gonna mix them all up in the blender!"

Oh, I see!  Like the birds that hit the Airbus that landed in the Hudson River.  Gotcha! 

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
you can see the muffs on the above mixed up looking rooster. you can also get ones with 'tophats' and wild crazy hair (polish breeds). the crazy hair ones are supposedly very docile because of restricted vision. thr frizzle chickens are  funny too. I had one of those for a short period of time. the dang thing stayed inthe chicken tractor till dark then got out and came to the front door cause it wanted to sleep in the cardboard box I had kept it in previously. came home late one nite and never saw it again. pretty sure the neighbors dog ate it while it was waiting on the door step.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/soxs/152161754/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7326810@N08/1234721055/
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
Yummy...a chicken shake! Don't tell McD's about it. They'll throw in some chocolate, malt & call it a McChocoChicken malt! Hope the feet don't get stuck in the straw! 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
If the feet are sticking in the straw, they're OBVIOUSLY not blenderizing them correctly.  Try a jet engine, I hear they work great.

Sue
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
I can't help it. I keep thinking of that old Sat. nite live skit where they are "selling" the "Bassmaster" & Dan Akroyd puts the fish in the blender. Too funny! Sue, you have a great sense of humor! 
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
Susan Monroe wrote:
Try a jet engine, I hear they work great.

Sue


now that is funny! I'm careful now to swallow whatever I am eating/drinking before I read your posts.

paul - I think that sounds like an excellent plan. except for the whole mcchicken shake thing. 
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 943
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
I'd like to come to the defense of the Leghorn chickens, LOL!  They are an old breed (very old, described in ancient Roman documents), and if you get the brown ones they are good foragers as well as good layers.  Being flighty helps keep them safe from predators. 

I have to admit that my chickens are all in chicken tractors (we only have one acre, and have close neighbors, so I can't let them run loose), so I have to feed them, but moving them around every day does help with the feed bill, and at least during the growing season we get nice orange yolks.  I have several Easter Eggers, and like the different colors they come in (as well as the green eggs), but they aren't the best layers I have.  Three White Leghorns fill that spot -- I have whites because, since they are in cages, camoflage isn't all that critical.

I'll be doing some crossing over the next few years -- I want birds that have pea combs (because we have cold winters, and I keep the hens in the tractors year-round), and that lay well in the winter.  If a few of them are willing to go broody in the spring and summer, that would be a bonus (because I'd rather not have to keep buying chicks every year, and don't want to mess with an incubator).  I've got the Leghorns and Easter Eggers, four Cuckoo Marans hens, two Buff Orpingtons, two Barred Rocks, a Silver-laced Wyandotte, and a Black Australorp.  Coming next week are some RIR chicks, and the following week I've got Golden-laced and Buff Wyandottes coming.  I'd like to get a couple of Brown Leghorn roosters to use on all my hens; right now I have four Silkie roosters, one in each tractor.  The Silkie hens got taken out the other day when a dog tore into their pen (don't use chicken wire on your pens!).  The Cuckoo Marans and the Buff Orps are probably my best bet for broodies now that the Silkies are gone, so I need to repair the Silkie pen and move those hens into it. 

One of my breeding criteria is that they need to do well in the chicken tractors, which isn't quite as bad as confinement cages, but still too close for some of the flightier breeds.  I want the pea combs from the Easter Eggers, but they are very prone to picking and feather-eating in the tractors; thankfully pea combs are dominant, so I should hopefully be able to keep the combs and try to breed out most of their more nervous characteristics.  I'd like to have a good assortment of colors, and this mix should provide it!

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Kathleen, what part of the country are you in?

Sue
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 943
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
Susan Monroe wrote:
Kathleen, what part of the country are you in?

Sue


Southern Oregon, near Klamath Falls, right now.  I've lived in New Hampshire and Alaska, though (raised in Alaska) -- both have cold winters. 

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Compared to Alaska and New Hampshire, you probably feel like you're living in FLORIDA!

Sue
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 943
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
Susan Monroe wrote:
Compared to Alaska and New Hampshire, you probably feel like you're living in FLORIDA!

Sue


LOL!  Not quite!  I've lived in Florida, too, when my husband (ex) was in the Air Force.  Summers here can get hot, but it's a dry heat and not nearly as uncomfortable as the humidity in New Hampshire.  Of course, the trade-off is that we have to water nearly every day, or stuff dies.  No rain at all from mid-June to late September, except maybe a thunderstorm or two.  I'd love to live farther south, someplace with almost no winter, if there wasn't the trade-off of even hotter summers. 

It's been spitting snow all day -- hard to believe that spring is just around the corner.  But the chickens are starting to lay again, so I'm happy.

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Kathleen, I live north of you, not far from Olympia, WA.  It's not as warm here.  It was even warmer in Eugene/Spfld than here.  But we still get that same dry period that you do.

I am trying to figure out the cheapest way to harvest rainwater.  And for the short term, it appears that a large above-ground swimming pool may be it.  I would rather have a large concrete tank, but I will have to figure out the costs, and see if my old cement mixer still works.

Sue
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 943
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
I've been thinking about harvesting rainwater, too, but I'm not sure how much we could get, since most of our precipitation comes as snow. 

We lived in Tacoma for four years when my ex was first in the Air Force, so I'm familiar with the climate in that area.  We bought an old house right downtown  -- I think the lot was about 30' wide by 125' deep.  But there were a couple of big old fruit trees in the backyard (a pear and a plum), and we had a garden.  We raised rabbits in the garage, which faced the alley, and had a few ducks in the yard (Pekins, for meat).  If we'd known about permaculture back then, we would have been doing that, I'm sure!

All my chicks came today!  It was fifteen degrees last night, and our garage (where the brooder pen is) isn't insulated, so I couldn't get the babies warm in their brooder even with the heat lamp.  So, I ran to town and got a big Rubbermaid bin (I use them for feed storage) and they are sitting in my room on top of the sewing machine!  They won't fit for very long, as there are 44 of them in the bin!  But it's supposed to get a little warmer now, so hopefully they'll be able to go back out to the brooder in a couple of days.  There are 14 RIR pullets, 15 Golden-laced Wyandotte pullets, at least 10 and possibly 15 Buff Wyandotte straight run (there are five extra light colored chicks, but I'm not sure that they are Buff Wyandottes).  I'm hoping to cross the Golden-laced and the Buffs and try to get Buff-laced Wyandottes, just because they are pretty.

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
When I had my chicks, I kept them in a wire dog crate in the bathroom, with a wide strip of newspaper woven around the bottom so they wouldn't get out.  But I only had eight.  When I had to clean the crate, I put them in the bathtub.

The cats would line up outside the door with their noses tucked under the door.

I would invite my dog in and we would just sit and watch the chicks.  As they grew, she would just study them intently.  One day, she was in there with me, just sitting, watching them, and then she looked up at me and grinned, and I swear she was saying, "Hey, Mom, they're looking pretty meaty now! When is dinner?"

Sue
 
 
subject: best egg laying breed of chicken
 
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