Hey guys, the newbie is at it with questions again! LOL
I happened to stumble upon what could be a really good offer from a reputable hatchery, at a really good time for me....but I'm not so sure that it's a good time for the chickens. I can get day-old chicks...ISA Browns, Black Australorp or Rhode Island Reds....at a really good price. I can get my choice of sex and any combination of breed mix 'n match I desire...if I hurry up and order before the middle of next week.
They'd be available for pick-up Oct. 26th. I had planned on starting off with no more than 6 chicks. With this deal, I'd have to take 15....but the deal is good enough & the timing (for me) is so good, that I'm seriously considering tackling the 15 despite being an abject, chicken-illiterate newbie! I'm currently off work while caring for my elderly mother so now would be an easier time for me to give the chicks the extra care they need while so you. Plus, I'm already doing middle-of-the-night checks on 2 young puppies & a barely 6 week old kitten that were dumped on my farm so checking on the chicks overnight wouldn't disrupt things any more than they already are.
My plan is to raise them in large Tupperware tubs in my utility room. Even with the heat currently off, the heat generated by the cycling of my deep freezer & water heater keeps the room AT LEAST 70 degrees. I have a heat lamp ready, as well. Giving them 8-10 weeks to feather out, they wouldn't be ready for coop living until the last week of December or the second week in January. Our warmest day last December was 63 degrees and the coldest night was 19 degrees. For January, our warmest was 64 degrees, with a coldest night of 1 degree. I have no electric in their coop & won't have any way to put up a heat lamp.
The overall intent for these birds is as layers while productive & then as meat when they stop laying. It's just me, so I don't need the big broilers the meat birds produce.
Now the $64,000 questions:
1.) Can I safely put my 8-10 week birds in the coop in those temps without having a heat lamp?
2.) Of the available breeds, are any of them better choices because of having to put them into an unheated coop so late in the year?
3.) If no breed is necessarily a better choice, would I be well to mix 'n match? And, if so, how many of each...e.g. 5 of each breed, 7 ISA Brown & 8 Black Australorp or whatever?
4.) As a newbie, am I going to be able to handle 15 birds or am I already a victim of "chicken math" and courting disaster?
TIA of any advice, insight, opinions, encouragement, etc. that you can give!