One day, on my way to work, I had customer call me at our family pet store and say, “I have all these chickens I don’t want. They are young, do you know anyone who could take them!?” My only thought was ME ME ME! Annnndddd that is exactly what I said. My husband had mentioned that in the future he would love chickens and I took that as in, today was the future! Hehe, so on my way home for $10, I got a box of 10 White Leghorns. They were so cute! They were not tiny chicks, but my heart exploded with joy! I picked up a bale of straw and bag of feed on my way home from work and when my hubby got home he was like, “Why are you so happy!?” Clearly, he knew something was up because I am usually very happy but I am telling you…I WAS ON ANOTHER LEVEL OF HAPPY!
I ran him out to the barn and said, “Look inside the whelping room!” FYI: Our home was previously owned by an amazing, A-MAZING German Shepherd breeder named Fred Migilore. He had a beautiful whelping room that I decided was the perfect space for chickens! Plus, it had a doggy door that went out into dog runs under a lean-to off of the barn. IT WAS PERFECT! He opened the door and said, “Wow, you put straw in here, it looks great.” (Full of sarcasm too!) I kept smiling and said “Do you see anything in the straw!!!!!!!” I was so excited, BUT his face went white… as white as the chicks’ new feathers and he was like “OH MY GOSH MANDIE! I SAID FUTURE! NOT NOW!” And smiling I said, “Technically this is the future, to when you told me.” Hehe, he just
laughed and said “Well now we are chicken owners!” Little did he know, our chicken numbers would go from 10 to 75 and I would get ducks, guinea fowl, quail and pheasants! I have been so blessed to have the home we have and the land to have our tiny farm and I am sure Fred is rolling around in heaven laughing at all the things I put my husband through! Sometimes I feel like I can hear him or my mother saying “Mandie, ask for forgiveness instead of permission; if it brings you joy and will bring your children joy, DO IT!” So… I do! Let me tell you, I drove home once with a 1-week-old baby cow in the back seat of the Buick Enclave and sent a video of it to my husband as a way of saying, “YAYY BABY COW OWNERS!!!” But anyways, I am getting distracted! One thing I never did as a chicken owner was look into who lays the most eggs and who could handle the winter weather! I just wanted chickens, cute little raptors running around my yard eating all of the bugs and scraps! I knew this would make my heart happy, but I wasn’t thinking about what would fill the fridge with eggs! So, I am going to share with you who I feel are the top breeds and based off of Hoover Hatchery in Rudd, Iowa and who’s laying the most!
Below, I will list who lays the most, color eggs and size, if they can handle the colder weather and if they are great if you have children. BUT I am a bit biased I do believe every chicken breed is good with children, it depends how much you expose your children to them while they are young. It is so important to do this! Have them helping feed, help clean, grabbing eggs and just enjoying the chicken’s presence.
My mind was blown when I saw how many some hens lay per year!
300 to 325 Eggs Per Year (so crazy!!!!!!)
1. White and Brown Leghorn
a. Large white eggs
b. Not a bird for meat for they are fast and lean
c. Do very well in the winter at least in Mid-Michigan temps.
d. These are good with kids, but they are fast and not the cuddliest breed.
2. California White
a. Large white eggs
b. Hardy, dual purpose
c. Same with kids as the Leghorn
3. ISA Brown
a. Large Brown Eggs
b. Hardy in cold weather
c. Great with children, they are very chill and very easy tohold and have a lot of personality
a. Large Brown Eggs
b. Great in cold weather
c. Great with children
d. I love their colors, personally
280 to 290 Eggs Per Year
1. Smokey Pearl
a. Large brown eggs
b. Hardy in my opinion, do great in Michigan temps
c. Good with children
2. Cream Legbar
a. Medium blue eggs, so pretty!
c. Great with kids and full of personality
3. Starlight Green Egger
a. Large brown or olive-green eggs, 5% of this breed will lay brown or shade of brown olive-green color eggs
b. Hardy and fun in the snow
c. Great with kids
4. Sapphire Splash
a. Amazing colors
b. Large brown eggs
c. Hardy in my opinion
d. Great with kids
5. Sapphire Gems
a. MY FAVORITE!
b. XL Brown eggs
c. Hardy for extreme cold
d. AMAZING with kids
e. They are so much fun to have around the farm!
6. Calico Princess
a. Large brown eggs
c. Friendly all the time, so great with kids and very calm
These are my top 10! They are amazing birds to have and all of them are great with kids, just some are not into the whole pick me up and cuddle me, that kids love to do! I hope this helps you as a chicken owner and someone who wants to raise birds. Not all of these breeds are dual purpose. Some are strictly layers, but if you do have to cull one it will still make a great soup.
I personally love the sapphire gems, because we have 3 children and they literally will just walk up to them and just let them pick ‘em up! It is so comforting knowing this and the XL eggs are always appreciated.
Our farm consists of a lot of breeds and I am excited to see our Barnyard mixes this year. We have so many breeds and they always hatch eggs in the classrooms at our children’s school, so OF COURSE we bring some home! Last year, my oldest brought home 3 and guess what…it was 2 roosters and 1 hen! Pshh, stinkers! BUT! I do have to say they are so friendly and so wonderful! AANNNDD BEAUTIFUL!
This year I will be supporting Hoover Hatchery, because they use the same essential oils that’s in the feed I use, NatureServe Layer Pellets! I love their set up and they even give virtual tours online on Youtube and have a very open curtain policy, with not hiding the way things are done at their hatchery. I will be purchasing California Whites, Brown Leghorns and Amberlinks from them.
Be sure to request if you would like your chickens to be vaccinated. They provide 2 types of vaccines.
We have never requested any, but I do believe I will be requesting the Marek’s this year. I have such a beautiful flock; I do not want to take any risks losing anyone. The cocci vaccine covers coccidiosis and if you feed medicated feed, you do not need to get this vaccine, but if you do not, then it would be a good idea to or simply purchase Corrid.
Corrid is specifically designed to only treat coccidiosis and only needs to be added to water for 3 to 5 days. It can be found at your local feed shops and larger box stores.
Anyways! Please, please, please keep me posted and leave a comment on what your favorite breed is, even if it doesn’t lay a bunch of eggs! I want to know! This blog ismy way of sharing with you, so NEVER hesitate to share with me! We are here to support each other!
Your Crazy in Love with Chickens Friend,
Published by Amanda B.
Our family homestead began 6 years ago when we decided to buy a home in the country in the beautiful state of Michigan. I was on a mission to have it all but no idea where to begin. So, our dream house found us! I know, I know, that doesn’t sound right, but it did!
An older gentleman that shopped at our local pet food store had approached my family about having a home for sale and once we saw it, we knew there was no way we could get approved for the amount he was asking. BUT this man was an angel disguised as a human here on earth. We called him up and he met our daughter (my mother’s 1st of 3 grandbabies) and when I explained to him the sad news he simply said, “I have known your family for a long time, your mother worked at my kennel and holds a piece of my heart and I do not care how much you get approved for. I want that little girl (pointing to my dear Abby who was 6 months old) to have a forever home. When you get approved by a loan company come find me and buy my home.” With tears of joy and tears of so much weight being lifted off my shoulders I hugged him with the biggest and hardest hug I could gather up and we went through the home buying process. 6 years later, I am here in this very home to share my love for poultry and homesteading. That entire step of homesteading started with chickens!
We have always been in love with animals and nutrition is my number one priority for my animals. My family’s business is Holistic Pet Store, feeding raw, dehydrated raw and the finest foods for pets and holistic and homeopathic supplements for people and pets. We take nutrition to a different level. So, finding a poultry feed that fit in was my task and I was up for the job. I of course brought in organic, soy free, and even things to add such a safflowers and sunflower seeds, but as my family grew, this $48 per bag of feed for 30+ poultry was not in the budget plan. We went from a family of 3 and a couple dogs and chickens to a family of 5, 4 dogs, 7 cats, 3 guinea pigs, 20 rabbits, 4 goats, 2 cows, 30+ chickens, 20+ ducks, 3 turkeys and 1 pig. So, I took my knowledge of feed and started fermenting everything. (I’ll explain this process to you soon in another blog post, it will blow your mind!!!) Every animal’s feed had been fermented and costs were minimized tremendously and it seemed as though nothing could go wrong…but it did.
The Words that Changed Everything
When Evie my 3rd beautiful baby girl came into our world, my job was on hold which meant my money used to pay for the animals’ feed was no longer available. Things became solely on my husband’s shoulders. He was prepared and had budgeted for most of it, but money just seemed to disappear. So, we did what it was time to do. We sent the cows for butcher and rented the goats out for parties and events, and cut costs where we could. Which sadly meant buying the cheapest feed. We did the usual big box store brands. We thought this cannot be too bad and everything will be fine. The first few months everything was okay but we slowly noticed our chickens lost their shiny feathers and softness. They even had weaker immune systems and we had lost chickens more than we ever had the years prior. We had no sign of Avian Influenza, but we had chickens dying at random moments for no reason. I truly felt it couldn’t get worse and then I started cracking eggs and the yolks were gray, the beautiful orange yolks dwindled to flavorless, bland grays and pale yellows. At this time, I felt like the odds were against us and was about to sell everything I owned and when I was able to work, I would start up with a new flock.
The next day we had our wonderful truck driver from our distributor, John A. Van Den Bosch, come in. When I told him the news and was to my wits end, he said the magic words that changed everything, “Have you ever heard of NatureServe?”
At first, I thought to myself maybe, then quickly realized I never had. He told me about the company and how Van Den Bosch carries them and that he truly feels it is the perfect fit for what I am looking for. When I looked them up, by golly-gee he was right!
NatureServe was everything I was looking for, they used fermented probiotics and digestive enzymes and ESSENTIAL OILS. Combined, it was an immune system booster created by man with 100% of natures bounty. I was blown away. HOW DID I MISS THIS! I am sure if you are reading this you may think I am kind of crazy but let me fill you in on a life of one of my chickens.
They receive fresh water every other day with essential oils in it to help prevent respiratory issues, as well as keep the immune system stable. They have free access 24/7 to almost 200 pounds of feed that is mixed with safflower and sunflower seeds. As a treat we chose fermented broccoli sprouts or flaxseed sprouts. They have almost 11 acres of grass and wild herbs and flowers to rummage through and a medium sized pond to find some yummy tadpoles, baby frogs, and crickets to eat. But when winter hit, it was fermented sprouts and feed they relied on the most. To find an affordable but not breaking the bank food that fit my lifestyle and ethics was hard until that magical day I was introduced to NatureServe.
NatureServe is a company based on family and faith. They use the highest quality ingredients while going above and beyond with what they are putting in their feed.
For example, they use:
Fermented pre/probiotics and digestive enzymes to support your flock’s digestive tract
Flaxseed for a safe form of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber
Alfalfa, THIS ONE I LOVE! Reduces seasonal depression in chickens, helps hens lay all winter or during a usual off season, and is an amazing protein source
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural de-wormer, and with its main ingredient being silica it will help give your poultry a healthy heart
Marigold may be the best ingredient added to this feed! Marigolds help the skin’s ability to heal faster as well as reduces eye infections from even starting. This flower is also a natural anti inflammatory which is wonderful for chickens that free range on several acres all day
Oregano and Thyme to support immune system
The feeds are produced through Belstra Milling in DeMotte, Indiana. With NatureServe’s ingredients being the safest and the healthiest, I know what I am putting into my flock is of the highest quality. After all, don’t we do this so we can feed our families the healthiest meat? As a homesteader we use the whole chicken. The chicken’s meat is for food, the bones and certain organs are used in stocks and broths. Why feed a food that is destroying an animal’s immune system when you can feed a layer that can excel your poultry’s life and not only improve their way of living but your own.
What change came since being on NatureServe
Longer egg laying duration
No issues with blocked eggs or eggs breaking inside the chicken due to optimal nutrition
Golden orange yolks
Healthy chicks, poults, and ducklings
Nutritionally satisfied poultry (no aggression due to lack of nutrition or hunger)
Beyond beautiful feathers and colors
I can’t wait to touch base on more topics with you! Keep your eyes peeled for more fun blogs by yours truly,
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