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What type?

It's taken a bit longer than I expected, but I've now nearly finished off my poultry pen. It's 8m long by 3.5 m wide. It's got a raised covered coop at one end (shed-sized). The whole thing is covered by polycarb sheeting so will be mostly dry. They will be allowed to roam the garden at the weekends and in the evenings.

I was thinking of chickens, but someone mentioned yesterday about Guinea Fowl, and I've noticed ads for turkeys.

So, the question is, what else, apart from chickens, could I have? Am looking for eggs and meat. I can't have anything too noisy as the neighbours would moan a bit.
Nell Merionwen

Guinea fowl are very noisy, like to roost in trees and are generally bonkers I believe. I may be wrong as I have never kept them.
Quail are evil little buggers that kill eachother if they feel threatened in anyway, and they feel threatened by the stupiest little things. they also get board and need lots of twigs, greens and stuff to keep them happy. When they are happy they lay like billyo though. They are also very cute and pretty when they behave.
Ducks are amazing and funny. Drakes are usually very randy though and don't mix overly well with hens unless they have plenty of ducks to catch their eye. They also make a massive blooming mess.
The easiest ducks to keep in a garden IMHO are call ducks but the females are very loud.

Why not go for a variety of hens to achieve a multi coloured egg box?
Nell Merionwen

Ooh and I don't think turkeys can be kept on the same land as chickens but I may be wrong on that too. Someone will be along soon to confirm or otherwise I expect.

I think Nell's summed it up.

I *heart* guinea-fowl, but they are mad as a box of frogs and if you are concerned in any way about noise, avoid them like the proverbial.

Khaki Campbell ducks were supposedly designed to live with hens and are good layers. You could maybe have a couple of females in that size pens; but they do mung the ground.

Hens have natural resistance to the black head virus and are often carriers. Turkeys are very susceptible to it and can therefore see a chicken across three fields and drop dead. You can only try it and see - I've kept them in the same space without problems and I know other people who have. I don't think they lay all that well; but you get some really pretty colours and they make a lovely noise.
Barefoot Andrew

Quail are evil little buggers

God yes.

Don't ask me about the time I hatched chinese painted quail in an incubator in my back bedroom...raised the lid to place them in a brooder, whereupon they all shot out up into the air and everywhere ..and then I spent the rest of the day crawling around with a torch and a net trying to collect the berserk bumblebee size idiots from under the bed and behind the cupboards. Embarassed

Tell us about the day you hatched those painted quail. Laughing

IMO, you can't beat chickens and preferably a nice steady heavy breed. Wink Light Sussex are my favourites and although not officially a heavy breed, Welsummers are also nice to keep, as are Marans.

Sablepoots, they're lovely little birds, very friendly and chatty and the don't make a mess if the garden

If you get bantams, you can get twice as many. Just sayin'.

Not kept Guinea fowl but I've heard them - sound like a really, really, really loud squeaky wheelbarrow. Goes right through your head. Up there with peacocks. Actually, worse than peacocks.

This for th advice. I did a bit more research, and found the la bresse breed, with ixworth and white Sussex coming in a close second. I really like the idea of a mix though.

How easy is it to hatch out eggs? What kit do you need and how do you look after the little uns? There are no Bresse chickens anywhere near my area, so looks like eggs may be the only option. If I get a laying hen, can I simply give them fertilised eggs to look after?

You have to wait for the hen to go broody. It is very obvious when it happens. They clamp onto eggs, or even and empty nest box, growl and scream when you reach in.

Not all hens go broody.

Not all broody hens stick with it - some quit after a week.

Some do a good job of brooding and then are flaky and inattentive mothers - but that matters less if everyone is in a pen rather than freeranging.

We started with a half-silkie hen from the market, cage labelled as "good broody" and she was excellent and a psycho mother as well.

As to whether a hen you have is good at brooding - you learn by trial and error.
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