The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The downsides of experimentation

Clipping a chicken's wing

After some experimentation, Mark and I settled on Black Australorps as the breed that best fits our farm. But then last spring I thought to myself, "I'd really like to try a few more types of chickens that I've never raised before." And so a mixed flock of Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Dominiques, Rhode Island Reds, and New Hampshire Reds showed up on our farm.

Australorp chickThe new breeds drive me nutty. Dominiques are so flighty...that they end up in the garden. Buff Orpingtons are so people-oriented...that they end up in the garden. Rhode Island Reds --- well, I'm not sure what they are...but they end up in the GARDEN.

We put three bad hens in the tractor last fall to deal with that issue, then I pushed everyone else into the woods where they mostly behaved for the rest of the winter. Now that I'm turning the flock back onto pasture, though, renegades are getting clipped. In case you're curious, the two renegades so far have been a Dominique and a Buff Orpington.

Which is the long version of why a box of layer chicks came in the mail last week and the birds inside all looked exactly the same. While it's probably unfair to the New Hampshires (who have yet to cause any problems), I've decided to stick to the breed that has proven itself multiple times over the past decade --- my favored Australorps. Homesteading word to the wise: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

You've mentioned your favourite two breeds as mine. I've kept New Hampshire and Australorps, and both are hardy, reliable layers, that don't cause trouble. I've never kept a New Hampshire Rooster, but I have for Australorp. He was an absolute gent to his ladies, to other roosters and to people. He was the ONLY rooster we've ever regretted dispatching when it was his time to go. No fighting on the way to the block. He trusted us completely, until the end.

So I can vouch for your choices. They were the least troublesome breeds I've come across. Although, the Gold-laced Wyandottes were very well tempered too, they just weren't as reliable layers and went broody at the drop of a hat. But lovely in every other way

Comment by Chris Fri Apr 15 18:41:05 2016
Hey Anna, have you ever considered the Americauna? I have affinity for this breed due to my favorite hen, Ginger, who was the most hard working of my girls...She was constantly foraging and was neither flighty or clingy....even surviving a rather nasty dog attack....and they lay tinted eggs to boot! L
Comment by Letty Sat Apr 16 21:30:28 2016

Interesting comments--I opted for Buckeyes and Icelandics for my free-ranging flock here in the mostly-wooded holler. The Icelandics love the woods and are terrific foragers, but they do end up in the garden every now and then--by accident, I think. Then they can't figure out how to get out, and boy is it hard to catch them! They also don't respond very well to food offers--often they're not interested.

The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are also pretty good foragers but are such a nuisance, following me around all the time and getting under foot! And always looking for handouts. They also haven't laid anything in over a month but play at being broody for about half an hour a day and then get tired of it.

Comment by Jennifer Quinn Mon Apr 18 16:02:54 2016

Our New Hampshire red has also been great and lays really well (by our best guess), but our Rhode Island red is usually one of the first to escape and head for the garden.

Our easter egger has also been well-behaved and lays pretty well (4-5 eggs/wk), but does shut down in the winter more than the other birds.

Comment by Jake Thu Apr 21 02:13:50 2016

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.