Thursday, April 7, 2011


I've been researching breeds for our hens for the past few weeks and have narrowed the decision down to three:  Black Australorp, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Buckeye.  Each of these is an above average layer, cold hardy, docile and friendly, and adaptable to free range and confinement. Further, I can't stand seeing any of my girls get bullied, so I wanted to make sure that for the most part each type of bird we got would get along in a mixed flock.  Since our girls will get names and end up being backyard pets,  we chose breeds that would enjoy our company and allow my daughter to carry them around and sit on her lap (as she does with my neighbor Mary's chickens).

Thanks to Mary who blogs at, I will be ordering our hens through Bourne feed who gets their shipments from a hatchery in southern Missouri. All the images below are from Cackle Hatchery.

The Buckeye is a somewhat rare breed from Ohio.  Buckeyes are known for being easily handled and friendly, and are very cold hardy. She will grow to be about 6 1/2 pounds and produce about 3-4 eggs a week. I like the idea of supporting hatcheries that carry rare breeds and the Buckeye fits the profile of the kind of hen I would like to have around.  She's pretty isn't she!

The Barred Plymouth Rock will mature to about 7 1/2 pounds and is considered a good layer as well as meat bird.  Plymouth Rocks apparently have increased in popularity along with the rise in popularity of backyard chickens in general.  They are considered dependable, calm and adaptable birds.

I am most excited about the Black Australorp hens!  I love the silky black feathers that look iridescent in the sunlight.  These are also considered above average layers with about 5 eggs per week, very calm and docile and cold hardy.  Some folks have reported that these are very broody (sits on the nest to attempt to hatch her eggs), even annoyingly so, but I'll take the risk.  Gorgeous!

Even though the city of Columbia limits backyard chickens to 6 hens (no roosters), I will likely order 3 of each because of the likelihood that some of them will be sexed wrong.  If not, having a couple extra hens will be fine with me!

Update!  When I called the feed store to make my order they had a minimum of 5 per breed.  After talking with my girl, we decided to go for 5 Buckeyes since they aren't sexed and we will just get two random bantoms when we pick them up.  The Austrolorps are on back order until the end of May.  We can't keep roosters in the city, so we can order Austrolorps later in the season to replace what roosters will have to go.


  1. I have a Buckeye amongst this year's batch being brooded in the house, and she is friendly and hilarious. She likes to sit on my shoulder, and is the only one of the bunch who comes over to me when I open the brooder (the Blue Andalusian doesn't avoid me, but she just wants out, not to come see me.)

  2. Thanks Lisa! I am tempted, after seeing other comments to get more buckeyes instead of the barred rock. I love that she will sit on your shoulder. My daughter will be in looooove!


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