I've been reading the board here for a couple of days, and trying to do my research on other sites as well. I've learned so much, thanks for the great info!
We finally moved out of the city, and have a nice huge backyard, and are really looking forward to getting set up with some chicks, in the hopes of some good laying hens later.
Planning to keep the chicks in a closed in pen in the garage at first, with a heat source, etc. and it will have to be pretty secure as we have a cat that lives in there. She's pretty lazy and not much of a hunter, but I'm sure chicks will be TOO much temptation and being so fragile I'm sure I'll have to keep them completely away from her, probably with double walls or a very small mesh.
We live in NW Florida, so it will soon be warm here.
My real question is about the chicks. They have sometimes a few feather-plucked sad looking things at the feed store, but nothing in the newspapers and no one knows about anything (although I know lots of folks around here have chickens). I've asked a lady who raises eggs for our store and she orders from MurrayMcMurray.
I've got their catalog, and found a few more online. Generally, they all sell chicks by 25's, for warmth in shipping. I really had only planned on 4-12 chickens ... 25 sounds like a lot.
Then I got to looking at the breeds, and ...
Silver-laced Wyandottes were my first choice. From the descriptions of breeds I read, I also like Black Australorps and RIR's. And MM's Red Stars and Black Stars both sound good. They all sound like good layers, and getting along in hot/cold weather (it DOES get cold here, for a while, most winters).
And I do want a rooster or two from what I have read ... partly for ornamental reasons and partly to keep an eye on the hens. I hope that works out ok. I thought of letting my daughter (she's 10) pick out a type of hen, or choose a rooster or two, and raise for 4H or just a homeschool project. She's excited!
Anyway ... my real problem is that I can't figure out where to buy chicks, except from a hatchery. And I wonder if they ship well, and adjust after shipping? I can be home for almost all of a day or 2 after they arrive, and would be prepared with everything in advance.
And I wonder if 25 is just too many to start out with? I like the "tractor" idea, but it sounds like I can't build one large enough for so many and be able to move it. I'd thought of PVC and chicken wire, which should be light, but I don't have a tractor and would be moving it by hand with only my daughter to help.
I really can't afford anything too expensive to build, at least not right now.
I thought of trying to find someone to split an order with, but no luck so far. And how do I know that I get the chicks I wanted (breeds) if they come all mixed up? The pics of chicks sometimes look far to similar to me.
Maybe I can just raise them all and sell off some excess as they reach laying age? If there IS an excess ... I don't know what to expect in the way of mortality rates from various sources.
The fences are low, and I want a garden ... I could fence the garden, and let them roam for much of the day, but there are woods around here and I see hawks flying, and raccoons and possums are commonly hit on the road. We don't have a dog, but I considered getting one to help with predators. I know that dogs in themselves can be a problem, but I DO have a lot of experience with raising and training dogs, so I hope I could manage that part.
Not sure if this is a question easily answered ... and I'm sorry the post is so long. If anyone can help with any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!!!