Looking for colorful bird

by Jim
(ND)

Question

Looking for a colorful bird,very cold resistant,flighty bird that could survive free range in ND..Any ideas? Thanks

Answer
I would suggest finding a local breeder or farmer that has raised generations of a breed you like in your climate.

Many breeds are available in a variety of colors, and the roosters will generally be more colorful
than the hens.

If by "flighty bird" you mean one able to fly, as opposed to layer and meat breeds that tend to be heavier bodied and can't fly far once mature, the Old English Game comes to mind, but I'd see what's
available near by.

You haven't stated the purpose of these birds, i.e.: to provide your family with eggs or meat. That's something you'll want to take into account when choosing a breed.

For a part of the country that experiences severe winter conditions, finding a local breeder with an established hearty flock for your climate would be a good idea.

You're not necessarily looking for a big hatchery, so the local feed store may be able to suggest someone, or a local livestock auction that handles poultry.

Surviving "free-range" sounds like you would like the chickens to live free at all times and this could be a challenge.

It's generally best to provide night time housing to keep chickens protected from night predators,
like coyote, raccoon, opossum and skunks, or larger, depending where you live.

I've watched my neighbor's flock of free-range game fowl diminish from about 13 to 3 since early Fall 2010. None of the hens have survived,
most likely due to night predators and one of the roosters came to live with us in the coop/yard/free-range set up we provide.

If you can provide a coop and raise young birds in it, until ready for free range release,
they will return to roost at night, if they feel safe.

If you have hopes of harvesting eggs from these chickens, you will want to train the hens to
lay in nest boxes. This might require temporary confinement in the coop as they begin to lay or you'll be hunting eggs all over their free range.

I had a group of Phoenix bantams that did very well 100% free range. I didn't generally harvest their little eggs and really enjoyed the flowing
tails of the roosters as they strutted around my yard.

They found their own roosting area in my sheep barn attic. Some of the hens would nest up
there and hatch their young. With the sheep in the barn most predators weren't interested in entering at night, though I trapped two young
opossums that had killed a couple of chicks.

After that, when my Phoenix chicks hatched I would gather them up with the mom and cage them until big enough they could fly out of harm's way.

Hope this helps!

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