Which hens for our broody? Need good layers and hardy hens, - which to choose

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We have six hens from a variety of types. They are all fine, but they have never laid very well except for one but she is really aggressive, and now they are three/four years old, they are laying shorter season.

anyway time to incubate some news hens under one of our broodies, but which type to choose? we live in Scotland and have very cold winters, so it needs to be a hardy hen. I had thought about Black rock , but can't see any on ebay just now.

There are light sussex, on ebay  which I think are good layers. Otherwise there are burford browns, which I realise are hybrid, but I'm fine about hybrids, specially if they lay lots of eggs! There are welsummers (not such good layers, but nice brow eggs maybe) marans, (same) and mixture of hybrids.

what do you recommend for good, hardy layers?

Our hens have a large mud pen, and free range in the garden about 3/7 days.




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Hello and welcome sarahkk

Before you go down the ebay route, have you read the "hatching egg ebay rant" on the chat section?  :wub:



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Hi Jinty,,

I'm not completely used to your forum/chat and the way it works and I can't figure out how to find this ebay thread.

we did our last few batches of eggs from ebay and had good results. We also used a local farmer and got a bunch of completely random hens, nothing was what it was supposed to be and the hatch rate worse than the eggs we got through the post.  Maybe it depends on who you buy from?

I've found some black rock eggs online now, but it appears they can't be 'real' black rocks as you can only buy those as chicks or POL. but the kids love watching the eggs incubate even when our broodies do the job - a lovely process to watch.




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    • Dark Brown Eggs
Hybrid hens lay most eggs, and of course to get a hybrid you need to maintain 2 separate flocks and then breed them together to get the benefits of the cross. 

Mostly it is only the big commercial enterprises which will bother to do this and they will generally go on to hatch the eggs.

Most of the eggs sold by smaller producers will have been laid by their "hybrid" hens rather than being a cross.

Strain, rather than breed will dictate the egg numbers, but I know what you mean about seeing the chicks with their mums!  Irresistible :)

All the best

I love my traditional clean legged English Cuckoo Marans



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You mention Light Sussex and for a pure breed layer they can't be beat.  Very good layer with the right strain (240+ eggs a year) and for British conditions they are very hardy and adapt well to all forms of husbandry.  LS are also great mothers and go broody regularly something a hybrid won't do.  So if you want to see a hen with it's brood you will need a pure breed.  I assume you really don't want to rear hybrids and keep breeder hens and cocks.

« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 11:51 by hillfooter »
Truth through science.



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Hi Sarah, you aren't going to be able to buy BlackRock hatching eggs on ebay, as they are a "patented" hybrid for want of a better definition, by a hatchery in Scotland.

If you want regular eggs I think you will be better off buying point of lay hybrids direct from a breeder.  Then you know you have the correct offspring, rather than the offspring of hybirds which will show very few of the parent characteristics.

It you want to hatch pure breeds, then Sussex are a very good dual purpose breed (you will be able to eat the boys at about 24 weeks), or for a light breed, leghorns are prolific layers of large white eggs, but have a reputation for being a bit scatty and flighty.



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I like the Light Sussex. We have had -19 temperatures and they have been fine with no extra help re their care. They also started to lay during the cold temperatures in January.
they are friendly as well. I have eaten some cockerels we hatched and they were good. :)

If you go for hybrids from a large hatchery they may be vaccinated and it isn't supposed to be good to mix vaccinated and non-vaccinated birds. I know some do do it. ;)
Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted!!



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Thank you all for your advice. I've only just re-found this advice forum, I lost the link!

I got pressured by the kids into making a quick decision, and went for Rhode Island Reds, which are under our broody silkie now. However, she doesn't appear to be as good a broody as her sister (I found the eggs cold and not attended twice), so I wonder if the eggs will hatch?

I think if this brood does not work out then I will get some POL black rocks.

thanks for all your advice again.


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