Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Great Chicken Debate

Yes, chickens are still on the brain. I told you I have been thinking about this ALOT! I am getting ready to purchase my first ever laying hens. This is a big deal. I have done quite a bit of research on chickens, but I always feel like I could know more. Here is what I am looking for.

*I live in Iowa. It's hot in the Summer, cold in the Winter. I want a hen that is hearty and does well in cold temperatures.

*I want a nice bird. One that my kids can play with. Or at least pick up and not be afraid to get bit.

*I want a quieter bird if possible.

*I want a good egg layer, for that is the main reason I am getting hens.

I am thinking of getting 6-8 birds. I am leaning towards getting Buff Orpingtons which look like this...and Rhode Island Reds which look like this...Plymouth Rocks intrigue me as well. Here they are...
All of these birds are considered "great" egg layers. Orpingtons are very hearty and good winter birds.

I am off today to go to Shopper Supply to talk to someone to see if they have any suggestions and/or advise for me on what birds would be best for me and when I can place my order.

Any of you have any suggestions and or advise for me? I'd love to hear any thoughts.


  1. My neighbors have one of the red varieties, I'm thinking they look more like the first picture. They are very nice chickens....I take my toddler and baby to go get eggs and if the weather is warm enough, we go look at the chickens. They have maybe 60 chickens total and they really aren't loud at all. I can't say how easily they handle, but my DD feeds them grass through the wire and they've never pecked her yet :) Good luck! Are you going to sell your extra eggs? Might want to check to make sure you can own a "farm" animal in your area (if you're not rural). We live in rural SE Iowa, btw.....

  2. Just wanted to take a minute to warn anyone who is unaware that exposure to chicken droppings can lead to the disease histoplasmosis which is contracted by inhaling a fungus that is prevalent in bat and bird droppings and which is sometimes fatal. I admit I'm somewhat paranoid about chickens because as a child my mother was responsible for feeding chickens and contracted a version of this disease which settles in the eyes and causes blind spots.

  3. We have all 3 varieties that you mentioned, and have found that our Plymouth Rocks are the friendliest. They come running when they see people, and let the children pet and even hold them.
    They're also smaller than the Buff Orpingtons so probably eat less.
    If you're hoping that your hens will hatch chicks, Buff Orpingtons are the most likely to do so.
    Of the 3 varieties you mentioned, I think Rhode Island Reds are the best layers, but I agree that all 3 are good.
    Whatever type you choose, make sure you give them plenty of light during the shorter fall/winter/spring days. Our production from 16 hens went from 2/day to 13/day when we added a single fluorescent bulb in their coop.

  4. I don't know much about chickens, but the first thing I would check is whether or not you can have them in town. I live in Sioux City and I'm not sure if we can have "farm" animals in town. They have recently become pretty strict on their animal ordinances.

  5. Thanks Kim. That is a god point about the light. I have read about that as well. I am planning on putting an artificial light in their coop.

    I have checked with my local ordinances about chickens and I am allowed chickens on my property. Just no roosters. So I will not be having any babies or any early morning wake up calls (besides my children)!

  6. Chickens are a great idea. We have had chickens ever since we got married 16 years ago. They are wonderful for the children and the eggs are the best. My husband grew up raising chickens and introduced it to me. Of the 3 varities you mentioned I think buff orpingtons are a the best choice. They are excellent layers, quiet and not aggressive. We have in the past had barred rocks and rhode island reds that would peck at our children. I'm not sure of your location but many farm stores have chicks for sale in the spring and you can place an order at the store for exactly what and how many you want. Be sure to order pullets if you don't want roosters. We live in SE Iowa and Orscheln and Farm King have chicks in our area. Hope this helps and good luck with you chicken project. Hope you have just as much fun as our family does with our chickens!

  7. Hi Sara! My girls rocked it this year! With the extreme cold weather we had, all of my girls did so well. Only a bit of frostbite on the tips of their combs ;D They have all been laying like champs even in this cold weather. I do feed them an all natural feed, fresh spinach, clabber (soured milk), and veggie scraps. I also have Buff's and the Barred Rocks as well as Golden Laced Wyandottes. These girls are great because their combs don't stick up like the other varieties instead they are small and stick to their heads. A definite plus in the winter to prevent frostbite. They are also quite beautiful! My girls are all friendly, great layers, and winter hardy. Excited to hear what you end up getting :D