Basic chicken Qs?

Fairmont, WV(Zone 6a)

I've been thinking about raising chickens and have been lurking around here and doing some background reading (Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, Raising Chickens In Your Backyard). I have a couple of basic questions and could could use your expert opinion. :)

* I have half an acre of land. It's in town, but there is a fair amount of space between my house and any of my neighbors (several hundred feet) and there is a wooded lot on one side of my property. I haven't yet checked the local ordinances on keeping poultry (I know I have to do this first), but assuming it is OK to keep you think half an acre is adequate? Are there certain prerequisite conditions for the land?
* The million dollar question: What breed(s) would be best? DH and I would like chickens primarily for eggs, and then toss them in the pot when they get too old to lay. So I've been leaning towards the double-purpose breeds. We're not trying to sell eggs or make a profit...maybe if we had zillions of eggs we'd try to sell them at the local farmer's market, but that's about it. We don't plan to breed chickens, at least at first (one obsession at a time :) ).
* I understand some breeds are better in cold weather and some in hot weather. Just what constitutes "cold" and "hot"? Winters here are usually in the 20s-40s (although it can get as cold as below zero for a day or two), and summers from the upper 70s-low 90s. Would it be best to have a mix of varieties?

Thanks everyone :)

Lodi, United States

How many chickens do you want to have? There are a lot of nice dual-purpose breeds. I think some of the better layers are the Australorps and Delawares. It also depends on the strain--some lines are better than others even within a breed. Also some breeds are very quiet and calm and even cuddly (Buff Orpingtons are total sweethearts--at least the hens) others are noisy and excitable--not so good in town.

I'm not sure about weather--I think the worst thing that happens in the winter is the roosters combs may freeze--as long as they have good shelter and feed. Some of the little bantams are more sensitive--but you wouldn't want them for eggs. Birds with feathered feet need to be kept in dry conditions. Heat is a question I am worried about--but then we get in the 100's. Turkens (Naked Necks) are supposed to do well in heat and cold--but you have to like the way they look, which is pretty strange (I think they are cute). They are suppose to lay very well, be disease resistant, and be friendly--I think heavy birds with soft feathers are more susceptible to overheating.

Actually I think your climate is pretty moderate. A lot of people on the forum will be able to give you great ideas on birds--there is a lot of experience out there.

Conroe, TX

We have RIR, Australorp, Ameraucana, Barred Rock, and some RIR Sexlink mixes and a little Blue Cochin Bantam laying right now. Coming up in the ranks are some Buff Orpingtons, more Australorp, more Ameraucanas and more bantams.

Our RIR's, Australorp and Barred Rock, lay pretty well, the Ameraucana is beautiful and pretty quiet but doesn't lay as well as the others. The little Blue Cochin lays very well though her eggs are small. I like the small eggs though. They are just about the right size if you don't want a lot of egg or if you want to make one french toast (there is no extra left, it all goes in the bread). And she is a sweety.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

a pea comb is osmething you really want, esp if you have a roo and want fertile eggs. frostbite on the comb, besides painful and unsightly, causes infertility...

sound like you want something that forages well, can protect itself from predators, or at least doesn't atttract them...

pick a color that blends well with your land... and then also, do you want them to be able to go broody or to have the broodiness bred out of them?

we went with two breeds to begin with, a white layer and a brown layer. now, two years later, we have too many to mention LOL but those first two are still our priority.

and then toss them in the pot when they get too old to lay. So I've been leaning towards the double-purpose breeds.

a dual purpose breed is best eaten when young. so get straight run in order to butcher the cockerels. when taken care of, a hen is REALLY old when too old to lay...

there is a site called Slow Food USA that has an Ark of Taste... see what they suggest...

Cincinnati, OH

"...and then toss them in the pot when they get too old to lay."
The oldest toughest meat and bones make the best soup.

The highest priced chickens, by far, are the "Black Chickens" (Silkies) sold by Chinese grocers. The South American chickens get the best egg prices. Aracauna (West Argentina) lay blue, green or sometimes tan. The Americauna (East Peru) I understand lay blue, but I have never owned one. The Mediterranian breeds (white eggs) and the Jungle fowl (brown eggs) stay close to the coop. The Aracauna like to forage and may bother your neighbors.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

if you need mouse control, or snake control, consider the Buckeye and some guineas...

Cincinnati, OH

If you need a burglar alarm, consider the some guineas.

Fairmont, WV(Zone 6a)

Well I just called the city clerk's office and it turns out that NO livestock is allowed within city limits, including chickens. :( I am seriously bummed about this. (It's not like Fairmont WV is exactly a planned community...but whatever. :( )

Thank you everyone for your time and suggestions.


Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

sorry Pam. there is a nationwide movement to get cities to change these out-dated ordinances. if you are interested i think the magazine Backyard Poultry [also online] can be ehlpful...

meanwhile, live vicariously through us!

Luther, MI(Zone 4b)

I think our town has a similar ordinance, and we are a real big city...last census listed us at 328 people. I don't know if they counted the cats and dogs too, but they might have to get that count. LOL


Of course, we don't live in town.

Cincinnati, OH

Muscovies and swans are mute. Muscovies' ancestors are not from Mocba (Moscow), but from the gulf of Mexico. If they can't see them or hear them who will know?
Muscovies freely interbreed with real ducks but the heterogametic sex (i.e. females) in 'Mule Ducks' are sterile. Sexes are reversed between mammals and birds.
Muscovies were popular in the cities during the depression and war.

Larks do not count as livestock, directions follow:
Alouette, gentille alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai la tÍte
Je te plumerai la tÍte
Et la tÍte - et la tÍte
Alouette - alouette
O, o, o, o, o

Lark, gentle lark
Lark, I will pull your feathers off
I will pull the feathers off your head
I will pull the feathers off your head
And the head - and the head
Lark, lark
O, o, o, o,

According to Larry, Darryl and Darryl, from the Newhart Show, the finches are tastiest of all.

Tempe, AZ(Zone 9a)

True araucanas lay ONLY blue eggs, as do true ameraucanas. It is the Easter Eggers (mutts) that lay a variety of colours.

I live on six tenths of an acre and have more chickens than I choose to count (then I would have to admit my addiction, lol). They have plenty of room, and eat various bugs and scorpions. Our zoning is agricultural, and there are no limits on poultry (although there are on larger animals. But throughout the city, all single family homes are allowed by zoning laws to have up to five hens.

Tempe, AZ

Cincinnati, OH

I bought them as Aracaunas in the Seventies. I guess I got mutts.

Fairmont, WV

Not sure if you are still interested in a backyard coop. I know this post was a while ago. But I also live in Fairmont and am wanting to start getting the city ordinance changed to be more inclusive to those with smaller areas. Let me know if you are still interested and I can add get your information.

Richmond, TX

I'm glad this forum has come back to life. Anyone else out there?

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