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My husband and I are trying to decide in a hardy duel purpose breed to raise on or farm and we're very interested in sticking with heritage breeds specifically. I've heard wonderful things about Orpingtons but would like some other opinions. :) thanks!
 

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I had them years ago and they were nice calm birds but I didn't get the egg size I wanted. Could have just been the strain I had, though.

If you like the look of them, go for it!
 

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Also my 2.5 year old birds eggs are what you think of as nice large eggs, but this springs' hatch are laying small eggs- the heritage breeds take time to mature...
(Jersey giants, and the new birds are buff orphs, easter eggers... but I do expect that they will grow larger as the birds age)...
 

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When I first started with laying hens, I had some Buff Orpingtons. I had gotten them through the Murry McMurry hatchery.

They laid lovely big eggs, light brown, almost a pink color. They didn't have the production I wanted though and they quit laying. They had a very gentle disposition, the children could catch them and pet them, no problem.

I switched to a hybrid brown egg layer.

Last summer I got chicks to raise for layers. I got Isa Browns and decided to get a 10 Buff Orpingtons for old time sake. These chickens came from a hatchery in Michigan. Most of these Buff Orpington are nasty & bad tempered, they'll peck at you and draw blood. My husband hates them. :runforhills: We got rid of most of the Buff Orpingtons, and kept the few that are gentle.

I don't know what the difference was between the two groups. Maybe one bunch was not purebred?

I've had New Hampshire Reds. They were nice chickens, didn't get as big as the Rhode Island Reds. Pretty too.
 

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What qualities are you wanting your birds to have? Dual-purpose birds are typically better at one purpose than another (i.e., good egg production and fair for meat or fair for eggs and good for meat), so which would you prefer them to be "good" at?

If you want meat birds at what age do you want to harvest them? For example, Sussex were bred as roasters and are typically butchered at 6 months (although they can be butchered at any age).

Do you want broody hens?

Will they be kept in a coop/run or free-ranging?

Is temperament important?

Do you want a flock of all one breed or a mixed flock?
 

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Heres our example- we moved out to the sierras, have pasture (not so much cover with birds of prey plentiful) so chose big black birds (defensive roo took good care of his flock) - the Jersey Giant and havent had a single issue with birds of prey in 3 years....
Nicely surprised that the egg laying rate is pretty good- 4 eggs a week per hen- for a HUGE bird- year 2 the eggs are very nice and large.
They are good foragers and every year 2 or 3 go broody so you can count on getting a few new chicks hatched out yearly so your flock increases naturally (vs when your kid talks you into buying some fuzzies outa the bin at the feedstore, which is how we ended up with a mixed flock)...
so in all a nice dual purpose - bird- meaty, hardy, lays well enough for us, and completely unbothered by our winters, or conversely the months of 90 plus heat we have here in the summers...(we do have some oak trees for shade around the coop and house)...

very pleased with the Jersey giants.
 

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my faves are rhode island reds and wyandottes. The red hens have a grate personality ( but the rosters are not nice) and wyandottes come in every color you can think of (i like pretty birds)
 

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I don't think they are a heritage breed, but we love our buckeyes! And we haven't eaten any,but they are supposed to be good meat birds.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We're primarily concerned with eggs. We have enough room to free range approximately 50 chickens but even if the egg rate isn't the best, with 50 chickens we will have plenty of eggs to start with. And we want a decent meat quality for when we "retire" our layers after two or three years. Eventually if we have enough business we would like to tag younger birds for slaughter at maturity around 6 months in addition to the egg laying.

We want the eggs and meat but we're fully committed to enriching and protecting a Heritage Breed through breeding and good genetics vs a commercial standard. I have a degree in genetics and want to put it to good use. :)

My husband's only request is brown eggs.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I don't think they are a heritage breed, but we love our buckeyes! And we haven't eaten any,but they are supposed to be good meat birds.

Actually they are listed as a heritage breed. A threatened one in fact. I'll have to look into them.
 

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I have no idea if they are a heritage breed but our light brahmas are awesome. Nice big brown eggs, they are the biggest breed we have, very nice personalities too. We also have easter eggers (our most consistent layers with the sweetest personalities) and barred rocks (noisy and last to start laying but nice birds)
 

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I don't think you can do both effectively.....

To to both with any consistency I think you will really need 2 breeds. Nothing worse than feeding 50 chickens and only 30 of them are laying.

Any 6 month old heritage breed chicken will be tiny for meat purposes which is ok unless you want to sell them. Now add the fact you need to feed them for 6 months and they won't produce any eggs by that time and you wind up upside down on the profit end of things. You also have to keep them safe for 6 months.

I wanted to switch to heritage breeds so I did a test, I got 2 hens from each of the most popular breeds. I was actually shocked at the result. They are not even close to the commercial breeds. I have sexlinks and they are egg machines. Pretty much a egg a day per hen, everyday without exception. Size wise they are the same, but the sexlinks are far more reliable and produce bigger eggs.

If your selling meat the Cornish x are hard to beat, if you want slower growth than the rangers are a good choice. None of the others come remotely close. From a business stand point you will make more money having one breed for eggs and one for meat.
 

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Still I like the heritage d/t not having to replace them every other year or two- I am planning on my gals delivering for 3- 4 years and the productions breeds reallly dont last that long.
Both the brahma and Buckeyes are Heritage btw....
 

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I've raised several dozens of different chicken breeds over
the years and currently have settled on breeding quality
black australorps. Always seem to go back to them for
dependability for egg production and easy going nature.
A very attractive solid black bird in full plumage. Though a
duel purpose breed I only cull excess roosters mostly for
good tasting chicken soup . The black plumage don't make for
an exceptionally clean dressed carcass. I use white breeds for
this.
My next favourite is white rocks for true dual purpose.
Both breeds are also excellent farm yard foragers.
 

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I d not currently have any chickens, but I have had them throughout the years...always loved my Barred Plymouth Rocks for aesthetic value. My personal exp (admittedly limited) BPRs are wonderful foragers and weed-eaters. I usually have no more than 12 hens at a time. I usually have a 4-6 sexlinks for high production and then the rest a mix of heritage breeds.
 

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Actually they are listed as a heritage breed. A threatened one in fact. I'll have to look into them.
I knew they were threatened and an older breed. I just didn't know what makes something heritage. Anyway,that's one reason we wanted buckeyes..they aren't very common. We have really nice birds! Even our rooster!
 
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