Why I Love Having a Mixed Flock of Chickens

“So how many do you have now?” People ask when I tell them I have chickens. “Umm, 13.” I reply.

Usually I don’t get a weird look, but every now and then I can only imagine what that person is thinking. Yes, I am a crazy chicken lady. No, you can never have enough chickens. Yes, they are like potato chips and since I’m a sucker for potato chips, I’m essentially a sucker for chickens.

Don’t judge unless you’ve raised chickens. If you have, you know what I mean.

Once someone sees my flock of chickens, they usually comment on how pretty all of them are. Besides the fact that they are spoiled and fed great food, I totally think it’s because I have a mixed flock of hens which results in a multitude of colors and shapes (and personalities) making it pleasing to the eye. In fact, out of the 13 chickens I have, only three of them are the same breed.

Here are the breeds I have:

  1. Black sex link (3)
  2. Red sex link
  3. Rhode Island Red
  4. New Hampshire Red
  5. Australorp
  6. Blue Copper Marans
  7. Easter Egger
  8. Welsummer
  9. Barred Rock
  10. Buff Orpington

Aside from all the pretty colors that comes with different breeds, here are 3 reasons why I love having a mixed flock —

1. It’s easy to tell the backyard chicken soap opera story

Could you imagine if you had 10 of the same breed? You’d have to name every single one of them (and when you’re trying to be a real life farmer, naming them is not a good thing) and know which one is which — and even then you may not know who is who.

Instead, when my husband and I chat about the daily scoop of what’s happening in our own backyard soap opera, we’re able to just name off the chickens by their breed. That being said, there are some chickens that have been allocated special names like “Misfit” — the chicken you see below — and the zebra colored one goes by “Fatty.”

2. You get a rainbow of eggs

Although you have to be a bit more selective on the types of chickens you raise in order to get that rainbow effect of eggs, by having a mixed flock of different breeds, the eggs are all unique in their own way.

Is it necessary? No. But when you have chickens, you want pretty eggs. And despite having a dark chocolate egg, it doesn’t taste anything like chocolate. It’s just pretty to look at when it’s next to a blue or light brown egg.

And that matters, a lot.

3. It’s much easier to do a head count and tell if anyone is missing

“Alright… five black, two brown, one gold, one zebra striped…” you say to yourself as you let them back in their coop at night.

By having a wide variety of colors specific to the breed you have, it’s much easier to scan out your back window when they’re free ranging and making sure no one is in the neighbors yard or when you’re putting them up for the night and you want to make sure you have everyone.

There are so many breeds of chickens to love and it makes it even more fun when you have a variety so before you decide on getting six of the same breed, consider a mixed flock!

Do you have a mixed flock? If so, what do you love about it?

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About

Aside from being a wannabe backyard homesteader who wrangles chickens and free-range kids, Loriel is the owner/creator of the professional natural lifestyle blog Naturally Loriel, owner of the organic spice blend business Naturally Free, and freelance professional food photographer.


'Why I Love Having a Mixed Flock of Chickens' has 22 comments

  1. September 24, 2015 @ 6:22 pm Nicki

    Thank you for this–it’s very timely for me! Do they all get along? I am getting 3 to add to my 2 (even 5 is a large flock for my yard and city) and I wonder if I should get three different ones now. Maybe I should!

    Reply

    • September 24, 2015 @ 6:50 pm Loriel

      They totally all get along! It’s all in how you introduce the new members, too. We learned the second time around that separating them in the same space for a few weeks is the best way to integrate new members to the flock.

      I say get 3 different ones!

      Reply

  2. October 9, 2015 @ 10:19 am Dior

    Your flock is lovely! We’ve always had a mixed flock too. Right now we have 9 hens: Wellsummer, Australorp, Silver Cuckoo Maran, Olive Egger, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex and Ancona and 2 Cream Legbars. They are all so pretty and have different personalities – and when they start laying we hope to get a colorful mix of pretty eggs.

    Reply

  3. January 10, 2016 @ 10:22 am Kitty

    We have a mixed flock – they’re mainly mixed breed bantams (not sure of their original breeds) and usually a few ISA Browns (we need to restock). The ISAs are great, regular layers, but the speckled bantams are the best broody mamas – I have nine 7-wk old chicks from one and approximately eleven newly-hatched (both mama chooks hatched outside the coop and I have yet to catch the new batch). You’re so right about them being easier to account for when you have different colours and patterns. We had 30 chickens and 6 ducks (also mixed) at one point, so I know about being a crazy chicken lady.

    Reply

    • January 18, 2016 @ 9:16 pm Loriel

      Oh man, I really want some bantams but I don’t think we have enough space to separate the big girls from the little bantams. They are just so stinking cute!

      Reply

      • July 21, 2016 @ 12:12 pm Vicki

        I have a flock of 30something all different breeds, mixed breeds, big, small, 5 roosters and they all live and free range together. Never dreamed I would fall in love with chickens!

        Reply

  4. January 18, 2016 @ 7:55 am Nancy

    Dear Loriel.
    I love your articles.Great information.I feel like someone understands the love of chickens.I read on chicken help me a lot.I am a mom to 38 4 of them are roosters.I know them bye heart.All different.I am looking forward to reading more of you Nancy Lamar Mo

    Reply

    • January 18, 2016 @ 8:59 pm Loriel

      Hi Nancy! 38 chickens? I love it! Are they all different breeds? What’s your favorite?

      Reply

  5. February 4, 2016 @ 10:43 am Val Hamilton

    Hi I have just found you on pinterest, I love your blog….We have kept chickens for the past 9 years…we love our girls. All are re-homed hens, Henrietta is a Wellsummer she was our first hen and she is now about 11/12 years old, she has forgotten how to lay for the past couple of years but she did produce lots of eggs previously!!!! bless her, we love her and it will be a very sad day when she finally puts her feet up. We also have two 4 year old Black Rock hens called Mavis and Gladys. We intend to get 4 new hens from the local organic farm in a few weeks when the weather cheers up a bit (the farm only keep them as layers for 2-3 years.) We are very happy to re-home them. Luckily we have no foxes locally in spite of living in a very rural area surrounded by farmland ,so our girls live a fabulous, free range,healthy “country life”.

    Reply

  6. February 20, 2016 @ 8:19 am Tracey

    i also have a mixed flock of nine beautiful ladies (all with names). I find it very helpful to be able to identify who is laying by their egg color and size. Helps me monitor their general health.

    Reply

    • March 2, 2016 @ 1:10 pm Loriel

      I wish I could tell all my different brown egg layers eggs apart — they are just too similar.

      Reply

  7. March 16, 2016 @ 2:21 pm Kim

    I’m happy to have found your post 🙂
    My hubby and I are planning a small backyard flock this spring. The hatchery will sell a minimum of 5 chicks and I have to decide between one breed or a “variety pack” where they pick a mix of 3 breeds.
    The controller in me wants to pick myself, but seeing the assortment might be fun 🙂

    Reply

  8. May 30, 2016 @ 8:50 pm marie

    I love having a mixed flock-we call them our funky chickens! We have 16 total, 2 silkie bantam roosters-white and black, 1 frizzled bantam rooster and a frizzled bantam hen, 2 speckled spitzhabens, 2 mottled hoodans, 2 black polish, 1 easter egger, 2 black australops, 1 dark brahma, 1 white brahma, and 1 salmon faverole, They all have their unique personalities- I could watch them all day!

    Reply

  9. June 26, 2016 @ 12:20 am Billie

    Hello! I’m preparing to start a new flock next spring. I can’t free range because I am afraid of predators. We currently have 5 coops bc we have a few different breeds and NONE of them get along. So I was thinking I had to have separate coops until I found your blog. Is free ranging the key to having the breeds get along? I’m really torn as to what to do. Keep them separated by breed or do a mix flock. Thanks!

    Reply

    • August 10, 2016 @ 11:37 am Loriel

      Have you tried integrating them slowly? That might help you.

      Reply

  10. July 30, 2016 @ 11:18 am Andrea

    I have a mixed flock..I call them my motley crew. I can’t imagine picking just one kind. I have red sex links, black astralorps, silver lace wyandottes and an unknown white chicken that came from an elementary classroom at the end of the school year. I separate new ones inside the coop for a week or so to allow them to get used to one another and haven’t had any problems.

    Reply

    • August 10, 2016 @ 11:34 am Loriel

      Love it. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  11. September 17, 2016 @ 10:00 pm Susan Claeys

    I loved reading about all the mixed breeds you ladies are enjoying. I got carried away this year with wanting to check out so many different breeds. I currently have cream and silver legbars, Isbars, BBS Ameraucanas, Barbezieux, Bielefelder, Chocolate Orpington, Welsummer, Black copper Marans, Leghorns, Araucana, Ayam Cymani, Bresse, Euskal Oiloa, Anagadori, Penedesenca, white, blue splash, black, golden cuckoo, and Birchen Marans. I have been running out of names for them all. I sure do love watching them. Better than TV!

    Reply

  12. September 23, 2016 @ 8:42 am Stephanie

    We are new to chicken raising. We just started our backyard flock with 4 birds…my daughters each chose their favorite breed and myself as well. We have a Black Australorp, Barred Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, and White Leghorn…Denise, Luna, Yolko, and Peep, respectively. They have been cuddled and loved since the day they arrived through the mail and it’s so much fun to sit with them and observe. They each have unique, fun personalities. My girls are already planning the next group to add to our little flock. I am anxiously waiting for eggs! Thanks for the great blog!

    Reply

  13. September 26, 2016 @ 11:28 am Amy

    Good day, I had a flock of all the same breed (Columbian Rock) and I did not like it, I couldn’t tell them apart!! Now I have a “jewel box” flock where I have Golden Laced Polish Crested x 2, Russian Orloff x 3, Barnevelder x 2, Self Blue Silkie x 2, Salmon Faverolle x 2 and an Ameraucana. I really enjoy all of the different ladies (my only rooster is one of the Orloffs and I chose the right one, he is so handsome and a great gentleman to the ladies, as well as non-violent to me, LOL) and my reasons for choosing to have an assortment are the same as your list, Loriel! Now I’m just waiting for them to lay ? They are 20 wks old and not doing the mating squat yet so I know they’ve got a ways to go still. Thank you for your blog! And also to the others who mentions their chicken breeds on this post, I had a lot of fun googling the ones I didn’t recognize!

    Reply

  14. October 29, 2016 @ 7:53 pm candice

    We just got our girls.. someone gave them to us.They are so cute…..love your blog …. And love our new babies….

    Reply

  15. November 26, 2016 @ 9:59 am Shawn Graphia

    I totally agree with everything you said. I love looking at my flock and seeing all the unique colorations and personalities that make them who they are. I intentionally chose different breeds for a rainbow of eggs.
    And you were spot on about naming them. Farmer are not I quit naming them because something is going to eat that precious one you have named and grown attached to.
    My flock includes:
    (2) Black Sex Linked
    (2) Rhode Island Reds
    (2) Barred Rocks
    (2) Black Copper Marans
    (2) Easter Eggers
    (1) Silver Laced Wyandotte

    Reply


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