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Leicester_H

What age to buy new girlies ? What breed ??

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Hi

 

Our hens are primarily pets and secondary egg layers.

 

We want to get 3 new girlies to go in an (empty) eglu with 3m run. We are thinking that if we get them younger than POL they would be easier to 'bond with' but we don't want to get them so young that they are needing too much extra care and attention.

So we were thinking of 10/12 weeks old - does this seem sensible ?

I assume that we can buy them at this age ??

Plan A is to get Rhode Island Reds - anyone experience of this breed ?

Or what breed for long life ?? (we still have 5 ex-bats which cause heart ache when they are ill/die so we want some stability from a second mini-'flock')

 

Anyone recommend a supplier near (ish) Leicester ??

 

As always, thanks in advance, H

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I assume you don't intend to ever mix them with the ex-batts Leicester_H.

 

3m is very small run for 3 large hens like Rhode Island Reds. They are a feisty breed in my very limited experience. I think you should consider bantams, or plan for a much larger run. There is a thread running about bantam choices at the moment. 10-12 weeks is a good age to get them. They will be on rearers pellets by then and quite hardy. I shouldn't limit yourself by travelling distance. We have driven 3 hours each way for the right stock. You only need to do it once and then get the long term benefit of good birds.

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10 - 12 week is a good age, as long as they are fully feathered they won't need heat, they will need to be fed growers feed for a while though. Hens4pets in Nottingham near IKEA, might be a good bet I think she sells RIR's, I have had a chocolate orp bantam and the sweetest tamest little sablepoot from her. https://www.hensforpets.co.uk.

I gave up trying to get pol's that I wanted and am hatching out my own with my broody, due to hatch any day now(hatch)!

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I assume you don't intend to ever mix them with the ex-batts Leicester_H.

That's correct - we tried letting Boo (an original omlet girl) free range with the ex-bats, but it nearly came to blows so they were kept separate.

 

3m is very small run for 3 large hens like Rhode Island Reds.

That's useful to know - I assumed that they were approximately same size as Omlet hens.

 

I would go to Merrydale Poultry, which is close to you, H, and have a chat/ look round.

Yes - they stopped selling hens but have started again - we got Lily & Smokie from there.

 

Thanks for the comments - keep them coming, H

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I got my New hampshire bantams at about 12 weeks of age. It's nice to see them still grow a bit and develop into little personalities. But as these are my first ever chickens, I have to practice a lot of patience in the egg department.

New hampshire bantams are quite similar to Rhode Island reds, but a smaller version. I have them in a Go up with standard run. I think it's a good thing that they can free range a bit, because else the run would be too small for these feisty ladies.

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I got my silkie when she was 3 weeks. I had to keep her indoors for a little while, but she went outside in the sun in her own little enclosure with her quail friend. My other hens didn't even notice when I integrated her, as she'd always been there, albeit behind a mesh fence. She is the most forgiving, loving hen ever. She has never turned down a newbie :D

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I assume you don't intend to ever mix them with the ex-batts Leicester_H.

 

3m is very small run for 3 large hens like Rhode Island Reds. They are a feisty breed in my very limited experience. I think you should consider bantams, or plan for a much larger run. There is a thread running about bantam choices at the moment. 10-12 weeks is a good age to get them. They will be on rearers pellets by then and quite hardy. I shouldn't limit yourself by travelling distance. We have driven 3 hours each way for the right stock. You only need to do it once and then get the long term benefit of good birds.

Hi could you direct me to the thread about Bantam choices please as I am new here

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It was discussed in the thread 'absolute beginner' Rosalie. But if you want a more detailed insight into bantam breeds I recommend the book called 'Choosing and Keeping Chickens', written by Chris Graham. ISBN 978-0-7537-1552-9 published by www.octopusbooks.co.uk. Bantams are split into two groups. 'True' bantams have no large fowl counterpart e.g. Sebright and Pekin. Other bantams have, e.g. Orpingtons, Leghorns and Wyandottes. Lots of information on the breeds and the only way to get more is to contact the breed club and talk in detail to a longstanding breeder and perhaps some keepers. You would be able to meet them at the National shows.

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Hi

Still can't decide what to get!

 

I have empty eglu with 3m run - they would have some supervised free ranging most days.

 

I think I want 3 girls that

a. are approx same size as omlet hens

b. are pure breeds (so lay fewer eggs but over a longer period and have longer lives than hybrids)

c. are friendly (they will primarily be pets)

d. hardy birds that can cope with most weather conditions and are disease resistant

 

Any specific suggestions please ?

 

H

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Gosh there are so many. You've got, legbars, leghorn, skylines, Marans, light Sussex, wyndottes, araucana, brahma,. Look on the internet or wait here for more suggestions :D

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I was looking in a book that gives weights (as a size indicator) and they all seemed quite heavy BUT I'm comparing them to my current ex-bats which only weigh eg. 1.6kg.

 

Can anyone tell me how much a typical full grown omlet girlie weighs please ?

 

H

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Confusingly Light Sussex exists in Pedigree form, so why the much later developed hybrids used the same name I don't know Chickabee? In my experience the Pedigrees that produce the most eggs are aggressive foragers so tend to be much less friendly and can be highly strung, which won't suit confinement. The colouring is rather plain as well. Hybrids seem friendlier in my experience.

 

We have Wyandottes, none of which are friendly at all. We had a Rhode Island Red who was decidedly nasty. I don't think Leghorns lay for an extended period based on ours, which are just over 3 and have stopped.

 

There may be some benefit in getting something mid-range though. First breed that springs to mind is Marsh Daisys. We had one that was a real delight. We also had some lovely Cream Legbars, but they are very flighty. You can get Utility strain Orpingtons, which are large docile birds (over 4Kg) so too big for your run perhaps? Salmon Faverolles look lovely.

 

I suggest to get a copy of 'Choosing and Keeping Chickens' by Chris Graham.ISBN 978-0-7537-1552-9. Published by Octopus Books. My copy came from a Charity Shop of £3, but you may be able to get it from Amazon cheaply?

 

This is a decision best not rushed. The younger you get them the more friendly they will become. Perhaps 10-12 weeks is a good age but realise that they won't lay until 26 weeks at least (hybrids sometimes before 21 weeks) and may take 30 weeks, or even longer if Winter puts them off.

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If you haven't got a book I'd spend some time looking through the breeds on the Omlet website and for any that take your fancy, do a bit more research and look at a lot more photos. Virtually anything will be fine in your set up, including larger birds - you have the room. I'd get a pure breed for a longer life, and personally if I have to buy in any new stock I like it to be a bit older (ie up to one year old) than a bit younger because I've had a few problems with growers succumbing to illness which an older bird would shrug off.

 

The usual 'easy to keep' breeds include welsummers, wyandottes, sussex, pekins (bantams obviously!) and marans. But I wouldn't let that constrain you. There are so many more like plymouth rocks, dorkings or araucanas which don't get quite so much publicity but they are excellent solid performers. Find whatever you like the look of, make sure it is likely to give you what you need (eg not flighty if you are looking for something friendly) and preferably see one in the flesh (and be prepared to change your mind!)

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My welsummer is gorgeous, but she is rather big, so I'm not sure that would be an option for you. I've had a cream legbar. She was very skittish. They can be prone to mareks, unfortunately she was :(

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According to omlet they weigh 2kg :)

Ta - I did look under Breeds > Chickens but I couldn't see a weight for either of them.

 

OH wanted RIRs but someone above warned that they might be too large for my eglu set-up.

 

So many to choose from - so difficult !

 

I have the book.

 

Thanks all, H

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I think if you want pure breeds, then eggs will always come second. You are not likely to find a breed that lays incredibly well and is also very friendly AND goodlooking. If eggs do come first, hybrids probably are best.

 

I went for New Hampshire bantams, because they are relatively easy going, look like a chicken that a kid would draw (or like I always imagined chickens looked... :lol: ) and are small enough for my garden. Oh and are relatively easy to get where I live.

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I've had a pair of pekins for two weeks now that I got at ten weeks old. They haven't needed any special care (othe than being kept seep rate from the grown up wyandotte bantams) and are SO friendly but very small! I would think 3 or 4 would do well in your set up though, especially if you can let them out from time to time.

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