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My Barred Rocks have...erm, strong peoarnslities too. My White Sussex is the loudest.Any cross with Rhode Island Red in will be a good layer, and generally a bit more docile. It depends what you want from your hens.If getting eggs is your priority, go for a commercial hybrid. If you want cute chickens or novelty eggs, or to protect a rare breed, go for a pure breed, but remember that generally feathers and looks have been bred at the expense of egg laying, and they'll lay more like 180 eggs pa (some crosses can churn out 320 eggs pa). I have an Aracauna who lays beautiful blue eggs. When she feels like it.Avoid any bird with a pom-pom or mad head feathers. They're tricky to keep clean (special feeders needed) and the birds tend to be less hardy.In the UK we can rescue ex-battery hens, I'm not sure if that's a possibility in the US? You pay a couple of 's for a scruffy oven-ready bird that is otherwise headed for dog food after a year, and give it a happier life. They'll carry on laying well for quite a while and watching them re-feather and learn how to perch, scratch around and discover slugs and dandelion leaves is very satisfying.I really think it's also worth considering spacing your birds out if you aren't going to cull them. Try to avoid only having one, or introducing one bird at a time, but say you wanted 4 birds, get 2 and then add 2 more next year. (For 6 add another 2 the year after). It's tempting to go out and buy them all in one go, but hens live easily to 8 or so, and 4 x 8 year old birds aren't going to give you many (any) eggs.Sorry, rather long, but HTH,Hazel

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