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My garden will only comfortably fit a go up with a two metre run, so I can only have two chickens. I've read that hybrids produce lots of,eggs for approx two years and they don't live that long. Would it be better to get proper full breed chickens? I do want eggs, but there is only my dog and I to feed.,

A local farm has all manner of point of lay hybrids for sale right now, but no proper full breeds as yet. When do they become start becoming more available?

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The pure breeds will probably be available in late spring / early summer in numbers (they’ll start laying between now and the next few weeks and then 3 weeks incubating and around 15 weeks growing). There will be some sooner than that I expect.

As to which is better, that depends entirely on what is important to you. You’re right that hybrids TEND to lay more eggs but for a shorter time. Also they often lay throughout the winter. Pure breeds on the other hand TEND to lay fewer eggs and usually stop laying during the shorter months. On the other hand they live for longer, and although their laying will tail off they’ll keep laying for longer. 

If you decide you want pure breeds, different breeds have different characteristics so you can chose what you want - some are excellent egg layers.

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Thanks again mullethunter. Preferably I'd like eggs in the winter too, so hybrids it is. Any recommendations? I'd like friendly ones and two different types. 

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I would pop down and see what your stockist has available. Hybrids are pretty similar in nature except for the Leghorn based (White Star etc) and sometimes the ones that lay blue eggs.

Generally they start off a bit skittish but settle down once they start laying and fatten up a bit.

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Don’t ignore bantams.  My favourite is the Poland. Never goes broody and lays a good sized medium egg just about to very day between February and October.  Consequently it is long lived - 10 years plus.  It does need a covered run though, as it has a thin skull, prone to cold in winter and is susceptible to bullying because of its poor eyesight.

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I agree about the bantams. A 2 m run would house 3 smallish bantams. I have one New Hampshire bantam left, lovely birds and never broody. I also have Dutch bantams, which are more quirky and tend to go broody, but they normally stay quite small ( had one bird the size of pigeon). They are really friendly and chatty.

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We had some Dutchies once - very sweet, but quite delicate and hardly ever laid. Araucana bantams will give you blue eggs once they settle down to laying, they are hardy birds and lay the longest each season.

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So, I could definit have 3 bantams in a go up with a two metre run and a couple of hours in the garden free ranging? If so, it's a no brainer, bantams it is!

 

How small is the egg from a bantam the size of a pigeon?

I'm going to have a quick read up about bantams now :)

 

1 hour ago, Patricia W said:

Don’t ignore bantams.  My favourite is the Poland. Never goes broody and lays a good sized medium egg just about to very day between February and October.  Consequently it is long lived - 10 years plus.  It does need a covered run though, as it has a thin skull, prone to cold in winter and is susceptible to bullying because of its poor eyesight.

Probably best I don't have Polands as they will  live under an apple tree. 

Edited by Microstead

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8 hours ago, Microstead said:

So, I could definit have 3 bantams in a go up with a two metre run and a couple of hours in the garden free ranging? If so, it's a no brainer, bantams it is!

 

How small is the egg from a bantam the size of a pigeon?

I'm going to have a quick read up about bantams now :)

 

Probably best I don't have Polands as they will  live under an apple tree. 

You'll need to get busy picking up windfalls then :)

Depending on the breed, the eggs are roughly 2/3rds the size of a hybrid

 

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But the yoke is actually roughly the same size, there is just a lot less egg white.

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I read the very first post in this thread and immediatley thought 'BANTAMS'....so very pleased that others have got there before me (nothing unusual there 🤣). We had three bantams in a Classic.....but be warned; smaller though they may be they still manage to eat as much of the garden as bigger girls! Good luck...let us know what you go for in the end! 

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So many decisions to make!

Its harder to find breeders of bantams near me (east sussex) and I'd like eggs in winter.

I am worried that bantams are so small and couldnt defend themselves from next doors cat. Though in turn the cat is scared of my 8 year old Staffie so ithat doesnt come inot the gardent much. And I'm worried they would fly in to my apple tree or worse, my neighbours garden, and I won't be able to get them back. I lke the fact that I can have 3 though..

I live in a long skinny victoriana terraced house with a long skinny  3.5 metre wide by 20 metre garden, so it's not that I have  tiny garden, But a 3m rUn would have to run length ways and I wouldn't be able to sit and watch the chucks/ bantams  in th run from my window if I have a longer run.

I think I'm going to go for two hybrids first, they give eggs in winter and are more robust and I don't have to worry about cats, only my dog. Maybe when the novelty has worn off a bit and I'm more confident in my chicken keeping skills,  ill be happy to turn my run around and get an extension so that I can have more chickens I  future, maybe combined with bantams, say one,chicken and two bantams. 

The main reason for getting chickens is for the eggs, and the manure for a couple of vegetable beds I am planning on making. I'm feeling the need to get more in touch with nature. So pekingbantams are out of the e

 

 

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Introducing birds can be very tricky. They are feisty madams that protect their own turf against intruders, this includes new hens. So do consider getting more than 2 birds. If one dies, you won’t be left with a lone hen.

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My cat and all the neighbourhood cats are terrified of my bantams!  Polish Bantams lay a good size egg - about medium.  I’ve got Barbu’D’Ucles and their egg is a little smaller.  Beware though, many bantams can fly!  They like to roost high so may well decide to roost in your apple tree.  All you do then, is pluck them down and pop them in the next box.   I had to stop Madonna free ranging though when I got tired of chasing her through neighbours gardens! 

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I hear what you're saying CT, but even if I got 3 chickens, one would die at some stage and Id have to do the introductions. Chickens seem more robust and lay eggs in winter. In an ideal world and I feel a bit more confident with a couple of sturdy chickens as my first foray into poultry keeping. I'm going to do a mock set up of the run tomorrow in my garden, see if I can fit an extra metre in for a run extension.

2 minutes ago, Patricia W said:

My cat and all the neighbourhood cats are terrified of my bantams!  Polish Bantams lay a good size egg - about medium.  I’ve got Barbu’D’Ucles and their egg is a little smaller.  Beware though, many bantams can fly!  They like to roost high so may well decide to roost in your apple tree.  All you do then, is pluck them down and pop them in the next box.   I had to stop Madonna free ranging though when I got tired of chasing her through neighbours gardens! 

Would three polish bantams fit a 2M run. What about 1 chicken and two bantams? Can I clip a bantams wings so it doesn't fly away? Can they be tempted down with food easily?

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Yes you can clip their wings. I have a mix of bantams - Wyandottes, araucana, Plymouth Rock, campine, pekin and Dutch bantams. Nine in total in a 10 square meter run who free range when we’re home. We have lots of eggs between March and September, but at least 3 or 4 per week all months except Nov and December.

I can show you exactly how big Dutch bantam eggs are because I had one today 😄 (Waitrose card for scale). The pekin eggs are slightly bigger and all the other girls eggs are quite a lot bigger - around the size of a small bought egg. 

Bantams such as Wyandotte’s, Plymouth rocks, marans and welsummers, although obviously smaller than full sized or larger fowl, are actually fair sized birds. I would definitely recommend three bantams, but if you can manage to fit in a 3 metre run you would probably be just about ok with 3 of the more docile (I.e. not leghorns or blue egg layers) hybrids. 

Ive never had Poland’s, but from what I’ve read they’re not the best breed to start off on because they have to be kept dry due to their crests which can also cause them other problems.

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This is such a tough decision. A 2m run fits my garden better in terms of placing the coop so it's protected and being able to watch them from inside me home. But what I'm picking up is that it's better to have 3 bantams than 2 hybrids in terms of a cooks social needs. I can live without eggs for a couple of months I suppose and if I can clip their wings that will help a lay my fears of them flying into other people's  gardens or trying to have a sleep over in my ancient apple tree.

I need to make up the eglu, try it in my garden to see if there a way to fit a 3M run and visit a breeder to have a look at some chickens and bantams in real life. 

Poland too delicate for a starter foul

Wyandottes too broody

Pekins not enough eggs

Leghorns not domesticated enough

Will check out welsummers, plymouth rock and Sussex lights

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Apart from the hybrids and Leghorns on my grandparents smallholding, I have always had bantams - all the cats in the neighbourhood are terrified of them, so I wouldn't worry on that account. I have a mixed flock of several different breeds, but I wouldn't recommend Polands to start with - they are pretty high maintenance.

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Thank you all so much for your input. I've done a bit of reading up on bantams now, and as  youve calmed my fears of them getting taken by a cat or flying away, im going to get bantams, three birds are better than two. But my bantams need to look like farmyard chickens so I'm after a bantam rir and any variety of plymouth rocks, or  a light Sussex.  Looking for breeders now. Pekin bantams are very common here as are silkies.

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Bantam cuckoo marans are also nice birds - I've only been keeping this breed for a couple of years but they're great layers of dark brown eggs and the eggs are a good size for a bantam - our mature birds lay eggs of between 50-58g.  The birds are generally calm and friendly and they seem pretty hardy.  Not sure how easy they are to find in the bantam form though.

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Minnie&Moose are your bantam marans laying at the moment? Would you be able to post a picture of one of their eggs? Also how big are they compared to, say, your rescues? All the ones I’ve ever seen have looked pretty big for bantams.

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