One of the most common questions for new flock owners, is can you keep different chicken breeds together? The short answer is Yes! In fact, most chicken owners celebrate their varied flock. But, there is some level of skill to succeed in a mixed flock. Getting your goals and choosing the perfect breeds can be a difficult task. Keep reading to get the whole scoop on a mixed flock.
What Is The Benefit Of A Mixed Flock?
When you think about having a variety of chicken breeds, you might wonder what the goal is. Are there any benefits of having a mixed flock?
- Having a mixed flock is visually pleasing. Seeing all the different colors and sizes can be beautiful.
- Different chickens lay a variety of colored eggs. These make beautiful collections for anyone selling or gifting their eggs.
- You could have eggs all year if you plan for different laying seasons.
- If you are looking at breeding chickens, you could have a variety of broody and non-broody breeds. Broody chickens do not lay eggs so that you will want a mixture.
- Also, you can tell the chickens apart with ease. This is important for monitoring health egg quality.
These are only a few of the benefits of having a mixed flock.
What To Look For When Mixing
When you mix different chicken breeds, there are a few factors to consider:
- Climate – you will want to make sure that all chickens will do well in your area’s environment. Some chickens do not do well in seasonal changes. Combined with being in a mixed flock, they might get picked on if they are weak.
- Equal temperaments – You will want to choose breeds that have similar personalities. If they conflict too much, they will not blend well and possibly fight more.
- Size of the coop – You will generally want to have 1-1.5 square meter space per chicken. If you have a mixture of large and small chickens, it is best to be on the safe size of 1.5 square meters. If you do not have enough space, your chickens can become agitated quickly and start more fights.
- Plenty of food, water, and treats for everyone – You wouldn’t want your chickens to feel like they have to compete for necessities.
If the breeds that you choose to meet all of these requirements, then you are on the path of success.
Does Size Matter?
You may be thinking that smaller Bantam chickens wouldn’t do well with Large Fowl. But, this is a common misconception. Breeds of all sizes can get along great. Bantam chickens can sometimes even rule the roost in the pecking order. As long as all breeds are of similar temperaments, you shouldn’t have any problems.
What Breeds Do Well Together?
When you are looking at mixing breeds, you will want to choose chickens with similar personalities. You wouldn’t want a few aggressive breeds with docile ones. This mix can only go in one direction. Choosing breeds with similar temperaments is an essential part of mixing flocks. There is an infinite combination of flocks possible, and for the most part, all kinds get along well. When mixing, it all depends on what your goal is:
- Variety of eggs
- Breeding purposes
These are just a few of the reasons you would want to have a mixed chicken flock.
Some of the most commonly mixed breeds are Barred Rock, Marans, Easter Eggers, and Orpingtons. These make for a variety of colors and egg types. This flock will be very docile and also make great pets. If you want all-white eggs, you may want to try different kinds of Leghorns. If you prefer brown eggs, you might want a mix of Delaware, Swedish Flower, and Black Copper Marans. There are also amazing Maran mixed flocks that will produce eggs all year round.
When you add a rooster to this group, you can even get a mixture of different colored eggs. These hens will then go on to produce different colored eggs of their own. With over 400 breeds, there are thousands of possibilities. So the sky is the limit on what your flock could look like.
What Breeds Don’t Get Along?
There are a few breeds that do not get along well together because of personality differences. But, there are also some things you should stay away from if you want your flock to co-exist peacefully.
As mentioned already, you want breeds that have similar temperaments. You wouldn’t want to mix Rhode Island Reds with Orpingtons. Reds can be overly aggressive while Orpingtons are push-overs. This mix will likely end in disaster.
In addition to personality traits, you want to make sure that you don’t have chickens that look too different. If you have five red chickens and one that is white, the white one will likely get picked on. The same goes for chickens with large crests. If you have several chickens with no crest and only one with a fluffy crest, there will be some issues.
This isn’t to say that you cant have a mix of breeds that look entirely different. You will just have to take care that you have the proper ratios. We recommend that you have at least three of any breed that you get. The old saying “birds of a feather flock together” is true. If you have at least three of every breed, no single chicken will be excluded and picked on.
What Rooster Is Best For A Mixed Flock?
Choosing a rooster for your flock depends on why you want one. You do not need to have a rooster for your chickens to lay eggs. But, having one could give you some mixed breed chickens and added protection. If you are raising chickens for food, having a meatier rooster can produce heartier offspring as well.
Roosters such as the Barred Rocks can check all of these points, and also make great pets. They will keep their females in line and together for protection. But they won’t feel the need to protect their flocks from you and other family members.
Other common roosters kept with a mixed flock are the Rhode Island Red and Easter Eggers. These roosters will protect your flock and give you a variety of offspring.
Creating Hybrid Chickens
One of the great benefits of having a mixed flock is creating your own hybrid. These hybrids could be beneficial for multiple reasons. Some people develop hybrids to produce more eggs, more meat, and a variety of egg colors. Doing this can take a little trial and error, but there are some that we know work well.
Bovans Brown hens are excellent egg layers. They produce more eggs than the average chicken, and all the eggs are very uniform. These are the most common hybrid bred. The popular ISA brown is a hybrid of their own. They are excellent egg layers, and when crossed with the Leghorn, they make beautiful eggs. You could also experiment for different egg colors with Olive Eggers (a dark brown egg breed mixed with a blue egg breed.) If you raise for food, a great cross is the Rhode Island Red and the Delaware hen, since both of these breeds are larger and hold more meat.
How Do Introduce New Breeds?
Ideally, you would want to introduce all breeds as hatchlings or pullets. Starting early will help the chickens adjust and grow into their pecking order without too much aggression. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t add chickens to your flock later. There are just a few precautions that you will need to take to make sure all chickens are safe.
- You will first want to find the perfect match for your existing flock. It is better to choose hens that are the same size and age as most of the chickens that you have already.
- You will also want to get 2-3 at a time of the same breed. These new chickens will sort of cling together until a pecking order is determined once they are introduced.
- Before introducing these new chickens to your flock, you will want to isolate them for 30 days. During this time, you will want to keep an eye on their health. Once the 30-day quarantine is up, you can safely add them to your coop.
- When you are ready to add your new chickens, you will also want to provide extra water and food sources to eliminate fighting. Adding a few new treat distractions can also help disperse any tension.
- Now you can add your chickens one of several ways, or you can even combine any of these methods:
- Add the new hens at night while the flock is calm
- Introduce them all in new territory with no food or water to get acquainted
- Slowly by setting up another cage and getting them closer and closer
- Now just monitor until you are sure that they have figured out their places.
If you notice that things are not going well, it is best to remove all the new chickens. Wait 24 hours and then try again. Sometimes things go well without a hitch, and other times it might take longer. After separating is an excellent chance to change tactics for better success.
What Will, Your Flock, Look Like?
With so many reasons for having a mixed flock, there is no end to the possibilities. Once you have a clear goal in mind, it will help you choose the best breeds for your coop. Not only are the variety of colors visually pleasing, but they also make for great talking points. Whether your chickens are pets or raised for practical reasons, keeping them can still be fun.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!!