Originally Posted by ch1ckenlover
Thanks for answering! My yard is split in half, county and city, so if I keep chickens in the county side I guess I can have as many as I want. I think I am going to get 4-5 chickens
, depending on what coop
I get. I'm also not getting a rooster. The number of eggs doesn't matter, as long as there is about the same number of eggs as there are hens
. I don't care about the feather pattern or color. The same for feathered face, legs or head-dress. I think pink, blue and green eggs are cool, but I don't care if they're brown, white or colored. I live in Harrisonburg VA. Again, thanks for answering!
Several suggestions and comments: You will almost never see each of your girls give you an egg every day. It sounds like you have a bit of room in your yard. That will make it easier.
First, I'd suggest that you explore ALL of your options for your coop and run. You're going to need AT LEAST 4 sq. feet of floor space in the coop, and 10 sq. feet of ground in the run per bird. If you intend to have a continuous supply of eggs, you'll need to replace some birds every year. This will require extra space to either grow out chicks or integrate started birds to replace the older ones. What will you do with the older birds who stop laying? You need to figure that out before you even get any cute little chicks. Unless you are going to set up a geriatric wing in your coop, you will need a plan in place for those old birds. While the advertising on the many smaller coop options paints a pretty picture of happy birds in a cute little coop, reality does not often match that picture. In order to stay healthy and disease free chickens need space. If they are crowded, you will see lots of aggressive behaviors that will lead to wounds, illness, and make both you and your chickens miserable. Ventilation is key. Many of the coops offered for sale are sadly lacking in ventilation, especially the ones that are less than 4 feet tall. That ventilation needs to be high enough above the perches that there will be no draft on the birds as they roost. Then, there are the perches. Most pre-fabs have cute little perches. They need to be placed at least 12" from the wall, and allow enough room for the birds to safely get on/off the perches without disturbing their roost mates. You will need at least 10" of perch space per bird, 12" is better. And to prevent frost nipped toes, the perch should be wide enough to allow the bird to stand flat footed. 2 x 4 on the flat works good. Then the coop should have windows. Often, birds are hesitant to enter a completely dark coop. All openings should be covered with 1/2" hardware cloth, as anything less, including chicken wire is NOT predator proof. Explore your options: For the price of a pre-fab, you can:
* Build your own, most likely 4 x as big, and meeting all of the specs for a good coop.
* Hire someone to build for you.
* Buy a small shed. Look for used, or end of season sales at the box hdw. stores.
Next: There are so many options for breeds. Some people are content to "just go buy some chickens... don't care what breed they are... get some red ones, some black ones, maybe a white one." While others figure that they'll be spending the money, and will have this flock for at least a couple of years, so... might as well do some studying, and choose the prettiest, best laying, best mannered... (according to the breed reputation) birds that they can get. I favor a mixed flock. Don't want all of my birds to look the same! Look at Henderson's chicken breeds chart. Sex links are a good option. They lay very well for the first 2 years. Then, they may stop all together, may succumb to reproductive issues, or may continue on for a while longer, laying much less frequently. The pure bred birds, or heritage birds take a bit longer to mature, may not be quite as productive, but may lay for more years. Your mileage may vary! Then, there are the barn yard mixes. Often a good hearty bird, good layer. But, you never know what you're gonna end up with!
*You can start with chicks: enjoy the pleasure of watching them grow up. (hatchery chicks delivered in the mail, feed store chicks, chicks bred locally) If so, you'll need to provide brooder heat. Check out this excellent article: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors.
*You can buy started birds locally, or from a hatchery. (be prepared to dig deep in your wallet if you buy hatchery started birds)
*Or, you can be non-conventional, and incubate eggs. Excellent option for the person who loves to experiment, is a bit of a risk taker, and wants to observe the creation of life first hand. There is absolutely nothing comparable to holding a warm egg in your hand and seeing the baby chick dancing inside the egg when you candle it. You can often even see their toes! Then, comes the much anticipated hatch! You can also take this a step further, and make your own incubator. I started my flock this way: hatched eggs in a home made incubator, then added 3 hatchery chicks from the hardware store.
Edited by lazy gardener - 9/22/15 at 6:57am