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What are good chicken breeds for a long term shtf / teotwawki situation?

Let's consider three traits:

  • Hardiness
  • Dual purpose for meat and egg production
  • Broodiness

Hardiness

Hardy is defined as, "robust; capable of enduring difficult conditions."

The breeds listed should be able to forage, disease resistant, able to spot predators, tolerate heat and cold, tolerate outdoor conditions as they are not pets, no bad habit traits such as feather pulling.

Dual purpose

This is defined as having a good sized breast and body for meat and good egg production for several years.

Due to meat production I feel this rules out Bantams. If you are only feeding a couple of people Bantams might be ok.

Broodiness

This is when hens sit on eggs in an attempt to hatch chicks.

For most breeds the urge to go broody has been bred out of them. Some of the older heritage breeds such as Rhode Island Red and Barred Rock rarely go broody. This is to not to say they will "not" go broody, they are just unlikely to go broody.

While some breeds are unlikely to go broody there are several breeds that still have the broody trait such as Buff Orpingtons and Australorps.

My list

Australorp - Excellent egg production, good foragers, and go broody at least once a year.

They also tolerate my southeast Texas summers. It can be 100 degrees outside as long as they can find shade the heat does not seem to affect the Australorp.

Buff Orpington - Good egg production, maybe not as good as the Australorp but still good layers.

I saw a young Buff Orpington rooster get heat stressed in the middle of summer, but this was when he was in direct sunlight for a long time. Otherwise there have been no problems with my Buff Orpingtons handling 100 degree Southeast Texas summer heat and high humidity.

From my hens it appears the Buff Orpington goes broody more than my Australorps.

Dominique aka Dominicker - Not listed for either its egg production or size for a meat chicken, the Dominicker is listed purely for its hardiness.

The Dominicker is considered Americas first chicken. This is the chicken breed settlers took with them as they traveled into the frontier. If the Dominicker sustained settlers then it has a place on my list.


Special mention

Guinea fowl - Retains a lot of its wild traits, excellent foragers, goes broody, meat is good source of nutrients and protein.

Ducks - Lays large eggs, goes broody, hardy, large size for meat production.


List your favorite breeds

You can list as many chicken breeds as you want, but if you list a breed please include a description. The goal is to provide as much information for people thinking about getting chickens.
 

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Never Give up
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When we started off we started with 2 of 15 different bread that were either brown or green egg layers that were duel purpose. We get real hot and real cold. After years of many, many different breeds now we keep Ameraucana's, Salmon Faverolles, Australorp's, and Buffies. They are very resistant to weather great personalities, and breed well. Also we always keep our Rosters Salmon Faverolles. We have had some very good Roosters that are well mannered. I don't like Rapest Roosters.
 

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Cave canem
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If you bought two dozen dual purpose chicks you may not get even ONE good broody in the whole lot which means no chicks without electricity.

I would probably get 3 or 4 standard American Game hens for their broodiness and mothering skills. A good broody hen is extremely valuable in her own right.
 

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Interesting thread. My Buffs are broody as well. They hold up great in the cold NY winters. My only complaint with the Buffs is their "gentleness". I've lost many to predators while free ranging. (Seems to be at a much higher ratio than my other breads) They don't seem to have a good instinct for self preservation. My Americanas are feisty but not great layers. Golden laced wayndots are feisty and good layers but are not broody.
 

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<--My Faverolle Chicken
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I really like my Partridge Rocks... they are a real stout bird and they have gone broody for me. I didn't really allow them to sit on the eggs so not if sure they are good mama's. I have just recently had one of my Cornish hens go broody on me. I allowed her to have some eggs to sit on (I also put some in the incubator at the time in case her's didn't hatch). She did hatch one of the 3 I let her sit on and I was able to sneak the 4 that I got from the incubator under her. She has been a really good mama hen.
The other nice ones I have that are both size and egg a large type is the Light Brahma - they are not broody though. I also really love my Salmon Faverolles they are getting older so I don't get many eggs from the one hen I have - also not the broody type. The rooster is a nice guy though...not too rough on the other girls that I have him with.
The Easter Eggers hens are nice too because of the pretty eggs, but I learned that the roosters are stinkers so they went to freezer camp.
I have a lot of different breeds and could rattle off the pros and cons of several more but I think the post would go on and on so I'll let others chime in their favorites.
 

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My first flock of chickens is 4 ameraucana. They haven't laid any eggs yet (5mo old), so idk about any of your traits in them...

But they are a good size and haven't died in the Texas heat. Plus they (hens) don't make a peep.
 

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Don't rule out bantams. If it got real bad, the bantams do not need much food since they are smaller. They are more likely to be able to forage the majority of their needs vs. a larger chicken.

You would loose out on the meat, of course, but you'd still have the eggs.

Plus bantams tend to go broody at the drop of a hat, so that would make it easy to raise the next generation.
 

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Ephemerally here
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Buffs! Quieter, much quieter than Australorps! Pretty smart for birdbrains! Personalities, big-time! The old one, TammOShanter, follows Wife like a Dog, comes when called, cuddles, begs for greens, and more..

Buffs get pretty big. Make lots of eggs, and some go broody.

Buffs are good exposed, way down temps. Mine roost on top of the coop all winter here in Seattle ex-urbs. In Five Years, only went in when I forced them, when it was gonna be windy and below Zero F.

Yes, original chicks, with no old hen to train them, were taken in big numbers. But now, with one wise old hen left from the initial Eight, she trains all the others about predators and dangers.
 

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Bonjour and all that rot
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Australorps and Buff Orpingtons are the same bird other than the colors. They are good meat birds and go broody which is what I want if I am going to raise my own flock and not depend on the hatcheries. Rhode Island reds are a hardy bird but not very broody. In a poop hit the fan I would stay away from the "pretty,pretty nice" birds for self sufficiency. I didn't pick up and love all over my buffs and they keep a watch on what gets too close so I've been lucky not to lose any to predators. I must admit the only other birds I have had are golden comets(too friendly) and red sex links.(no broodies)
 

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patriarch
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Its odd observing grown adults discussing chicken raising. Chicken and farm fowl has always been a tradition with farm / suburban families. Fresh eggs and meat has been one of the basics of the kitchen table. Chickens are great for children for pets, chores, and a responsibility.
My children raised chickens for their 4-H project, result...........Grand Champion! (Bantam Partridge Cochin)
We grew up with chickens in and around the yard. Getting flogged by the old mean rooster at grandfathers, and gathering them eggs for mother to sell. We take it for granite that everybody has had this experience. I have again, 6 young Rhode Island Reds and 6 Silver Laced Wyandotte's. Good luck with your chickens, too.
 

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Another 2 thumbs up for Australorps . Mine handle real cold down to minus 15 and freezing rain snow, and real hot 100 with high humidity.
 

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Cave canem
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Another breed that I am interested in is Brown Leghorns. They are very good layers (white leghorns are the source of all the white eggs at the grocery store).

Their coloring and flighty temperaments make them great for free ranging. I bought an older white leghorn off craigslist and her eggs are HUGE for such a small bird, bigger than the jumbo eggs at the grocery store.

 

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Follow your own star
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My barnyard mix go broody all the time. Two out of three cochin bantams went broody.
Most of my silkie/easter egger mix go broody.
My muscovies OMG broodies out the ears, 6 out of ten hens on eggs one just hatched about a week ago.
 

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Just thinking out loud... without electricity I think you could incubate eggs with hot water from a wood stove easy enough. Where I am most of the old farmhouses have water reservoirs plumbed into the kitchen wood stove. It wouldn't take much to add a little coil to set a clutch of eggs on... what do you guys think? I might have to just try it lol.
 

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patriarch
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Just thinking out loud... without electricity I think you could incubate eggs with hot water from a wood stove easy enough. Where I am most of the old farmhouses have water reservoirs plumbed into the kitchen wood stove. It wouldn't take much to add a little coil to set a clutch of eggs on... what do you guys think? I might have to just try it lol.
Dont think it will work. No precise control on water temperature! The old incubators were water heater via a coal oil lamp. They still make them. My grandfather had two large ones. Im sure there are plans on building one somewhere. Sometime you see then at auctions and Craigslist. They would need to be in a room without any drafts and an even temperature.
 

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Unless you keep one breed of chickens, your flock will be mixed in a couple of years. My flock is very mixed. I find cochins to be the best setters. they are a large bird but are not the best layers. I keep an ancona rooster in the flock to get some egg production from the birds. I have chochin roosters in the flock as I like cochins. The outside flock has all the hatched roosters and is very mixed, even some bantys. I usually purchase a couple new birds each spring to add some pure genetics. Last year it was anconas, this year is was buff cochins. ducks are great layers, they set and mature fast. We eat duck eggs alot as we have a dozen in the pen and a dozen free range. They too are mixed. My guineas are great at foraging and are noisy. they are poor mothers. I have yet to see a clutch of eggs mature. I usually have to steel the eggs and incubate them or if I let the hen hatch them, I steel half the keets and put them in the brooder. I'm not sure keeping a pure strain in a time of chaos is the best way to go.
 

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Dont think it will work. No precise control on water temperature! The old incubators were water heater via a coal oil lamp. They still make them. My grandfather had two large ones. Im sure there are plans on building one somewhere. Sometime you see then at auctions and Craigslist. They would need to be in a room without any drafts and an even temperature.
might not be easy to figure out at start ,,,but i believe it can work ,,,i think the best bet would be to use volume of water as a temp control ,,like maybe 50 gallons in a insulated area ,,,the incubator above it

with that being said i have hatched wild duck eggs on a water bed ,,,lol under a pillow ,,,i rescued them from a construction site,,,just used a damp towel to keep them moist

and several years ago i remember reading about some ladies who were hatching chicken eggs in their bras
 

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Cave canem
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I find cochins to be the best setters.
The benefits of a good broody go way beyond just sitting on the eggs too.

They keep the chicks at the perfect temp 24/7, they guard the chicks from other flock members, they teach the chicks everything they need to learn and the chicks develop much much faster as a result, also the chicks grow up as flock members which solves integration headaches.

For folks new to chickens if you have a broody and want her to hatch eggs don't just let her sit on random eggs that get laid in her nest box (other chickens will keep laying in her nest). That leads to a ton of wasted eggs and dead embryos and may ruin any chance for even a couple of live chicks.

Give her 1 or 2 infertile marked eggs and keep collecting the rest every day, move her nest to a separate area of the coop (maybe pen it off and give her food/water) so she can set in peace and also so the chicks will be penned in with her for the first few days after hatch. Collect the eggs you want her to hatch, mark them, and put all of the eggs under her at the same time, preferably at night.

You want all of the eggs to hatch within a day of each other so she can tend to the babies without abandoning eggs that are a few days behind schedule. Sadly new chicken folks that have a busy hen house often see a setting hen and think "oh good...she will hatch out babies...I will let nature take it's course" without realizing a hen house is NOT a natural setting.
 

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Some good info here, thanks. :thumb:

I like the New Hampshire. I have had quite a few different breeds and the New Hampshire seems to be the best for me. Prolific egg layers and good meat chickens as well.

Heartier than anything else I've had, easter eggers were very weak and they all died off but 3 of them.

White brahma, they were fine health wise but did not lay as many eggs as the NH.

NJ giant, they actually did pretty good but a bobcat got all my hens, all I had left of that was the rooster, he was a healthy rooster but I had no use for him after all the girls were killed.

Rhode Island reds, they were ok but were pretty small compared to the NH and laid smaller eggs. Healthy breed.

Guineas are loud as hell, not fond of them at all.

Turkey are dumb as hell.

Of all the breeds I've tried I like the NH the best, there are probably better breeds out there I'm just not willing to do another experiment just yet.
 
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