1st time chicken owner. Advice?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by FDaniels, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are finally going to get chicks for our backyard as pets & egg layers. We live in Alabama and have hot summers & cold winters. We are leaning towards these breeds: sussex, australorp, RIR, barred rocks, delawares. We'd like a mix of breeds so are all of these good in both types of weathers, friendly and good egg layers? Also, since we're just starting out is it better to get baby chicks or adults? We like the idea of babies & developing bonds with them at such an early age but still wondering which is better? Also we both work full time day shifts & are gone for 8 to 10 hrs a day so is there a way to raise baby chicks in a brooder while working full time & no one at home? Is there a way of supplying heat for them which won't be dangerous to leave on while we're gone?

    Our chickens are going to be fenced in free range. We're fencing in an area of our yard that will be at least 50x50 (2500 sq ft). What's the best diet for healthy birds? And if we do decide to sell eggs at a farmer's market are there any requirements we need to meet first? Inspections, licenses, etc? Thanks guys!! Any & all other advice that you can think of would be great!!

    Oh, how many would you suggest we start off with? We were thinking about 15 or so hens & 1 rooster. Or should we just get hens for now & then a rooster down the road? And if we do go with baby chicks (or if you guys think there's a way we could) what age can we put them in the pen with the older ones?
     
  2. shannondee12

    shannondee12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I ordered day olds from a hatchery. While waiting on those, my brother gave me an adult pair. Pro for adults is instant eggs but that was the only pro in my opinion. I ended up giving them back because he had hatched them and put them in a pen. Without socializing them when young, it made them impossible to get close to and catch for health checks. Once the babies came, I used the typical heat lamp in the brooder but I am reading a lot about a heat emitter as a safer alternative to the heat lamp. I'm not sure on when to add a new flock member because like you, I'm a newbie as well. So from one newbie to another, congratulations. Chickens are very forgiving and you will quickly become addicted.
     
  3. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for answering & it's nice to meet another newbie! That is exactly what I was worried about when it came to adults. We're leaning towards going with the McMurray hatchery. I don't like how people stick them in a pen & don't socialize with them. We're actually doing a complete remodel of our home & yard & this is when we finally decided to get chickens once we got our backyard cleared of the trees & got their pen built. We're also adding a deck to the back of our house so we can watch them whenever we're eating. We also rescue cats & dogs & we're moving the location of our cat enclosure & building a complete & better new one. We've got an old shed we're going to fix up & use as a giant cat house & then the cat's 50x50 enclosure will be attached to it. The 50x50 chicken pen will be right next to the cat enclosure & then the 50x50 dog enclosure will be built right next to the chicken pen. We liked the idea of the chicken pen being "sandwiched" between the two. Both the cats & dogs will help alert us to any unwelcome visitors & we'll be putting baby monitors in with the chickens for extra alert protection. Just in case anyone is wondering: all 3 enclosure will be completely enclosed on the top so that nothing can enter any of the enclosures.
     
  4. shannondee12

    shannondee12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hand feed my birds 3 times a day so they are very people friendly. I walk out every morning and before they see me the hear "good morning ladies" and they all come running. I have 4 cochins in the brooder now and the one LOVES tummy rubs. I can put my hand in there and he runs up and leans into my hand waiting for me to rub his belly. It's hilarious!

    My husband says I would rescue all animals if he would let me. Lol. As it stands now I have 14 chickens, 3 ducks, 3 rescue cats, a rescued Marshall ferret and my ever loyal companion Bella. Bella is a mastiff dog who doesn't know she is a dog. She loves the chickens (in a good way)
     
  5. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Same here lol. And we've got a rescue sheltie mix boy named Kojo (8 months old) who thinks he's a really big cat :) Would you happen to have any advice on how we can brood the baby chicks & keep them warm when we're gone to work during the day? Is there a heat lamp/emitter we could safely leave plugged in when we're not there? We'd have to keep them in our house until they were old enough to go outside since we don't have access to an outlet on the outside. Thanks!!
     
  6. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A lot of questions! Welcome! I would suggest that you get your chicks from your local hatchery and all female. Many times we will order a dozen at a time and often one turns out to be a rooster. You will be most happy if your brooder is in the garage instead of the house! After a week or so.... you will have dust fines everywhere in the house and the smell will not be good after awhile. Create a roomy brooder with a secure hanging brooder lamp so the chicks can huddle under it or move away for less heat. Give the chicks clean water and feed in the morning and later in the evenings and you will be fine away at work during the day. You will have eggs several months later that you can sell to family and friends and enjoy yourself. Later down the road you can think about selling to a farm market. We have so many people wanting our eggs just by word of mouth that we rarely keep up!.... and that is with dozens of layers. Good Luck!

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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  7. MistyMountain

    MistyMountain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome!! We also ordered from McMurray two months ago. I went with their rainbow layers bargain (15) and added two Easter Eggers to make sure I got at least two (since you can not choose what you get in the bargains). I also got a free "exotic chick". They came in super fast. In fact, they came in a week before I expected them! No worry, I actually wanted them asap, but thought I had to wait because of availability. They were all happy healthy little fluff balls. I lost one at two weeks, but I think that one had something wrong on the inside, since she really quit growing and went down fast. I had no pasty butt issues, and they are HUGE happy and sassy 6 week olds now. THEY GROW FAST!!! A negative, and this is not McMurray's fault, just a change I will do in the future: I ended up with A LOT of leghorns. I wanted a mix, but next time I will order the specific breeds that I want. I ended up with 3 white leghorns, 4 brown leghorns, 3 Silver Spangled Hamburgs, 5 Easter Eggers, 1 Red Star (most friendly and calm!!), 1 Silver laced Wyandotte (suspect a Rooster here). Beware of Chicken Math... I really only needed... 8, maybe 10 chickens!!

    Also, have your run and coop ready ASAP... brooding in the house (especially 17... in my laundry room... in a super big box...) gets old FAST. I have dust everywhere.... and cleaning out the brooder daily at this point stinks... pun intended. I have promised my husband that I will never again do this in the house!! I also found that the heat lamp with the 250 heat bulb was way too hot, and I worried more than anything about it getting knocked over. I used a 150W regular bulb, which can still get super hot and burn if knocked over, but I slept better at night. If I only have pictures of how I rigged that one up... It was secured so it would not fall, and what secured it was secured in case it failed, and that too was secured just in case. I also stepped it down to 100w, 75w, 60w, etc. per week until they no longer needed a bulb at all.

    All in all, fun stuff, but I can not wait for them to get outside!! This weekend can not come fast enough! Have fun!
     
  8. gimmie birdies

    gimmie birdies Overrun With Chickens

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    My husband made the mistake of telling me I can hatch as many chicks as I want. He has not said no yet but this will be my last batch I better not push it. As far as heat this winter, I have set up green houses on either side of my coop, hopefully that will heat things up. also I have a 4 unit lay pen, I plan on closing off one of the lower pens and putting a cookie sheet down with a lamp on top, thinking if I have nice warm lay pens they will keep at it. good luck will your birds!
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  9. birdsrfun

    birdsrfun Out Of The Brooder

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    Go with baby chicks, and make sure you have a very large brooder box. These chicks, although small now, will grow quickly, and they will need room. With getting so many birds, you want to give them room to prevent pecking, and also, using a red lamp will help prevent pecking. Putting your brooder box in the garage is the way to go.

    Rig a way to hang the lamp over the brooder box so you can raise it or lower it to regulate the temperature. Make sure you have a strong cover on the brooder box with good hardware cloth to prevent injury or worse, in case the lamp falls. Make sure if the lamp were to fall, that it wouldn't cause fire either.

    Handle these chicks as much as possible. You will be gone all day working, but make sure you find time to spend with them in the morning before you leave. When you are home in the evening, you will spend your most time with them. If you want chicks to bond with you, be friendly, and easy to handle when they are adults, you need to handle them now, several times a day, every day.

    Diet is another huge issue. They will need a starter food, and plenty of water. You may want to put some electrolytes in the water for them at this age. For the first week or so, they will pretty much just eat the starter food, so you don't have to worry about grit. You can start adding veggies and treats as they get about 3 weeks or so. You may want to add grit at that time, although I just started letting mine outside to peck in the dirt. They will take in small rocks and dirt on their own to help them digest other foods other than their starter food.

    Now that I think about it, by the time you get them, and when they will be about 3 weeks old, it may be too cold for them to let them out for a little while? I'm not sure what your weather will be like in the mornings and evenings, so if you start feeding them extra's, you may want to just offer grit for them to be safe.

    Wow, I am rambling on. As for the breeds, hopefully someone with more experience that me (I am still a noob) can help you with that. Hope this helps and welcome to BYC!
     
  10. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am going to suggest you read my chicken blog. It will help you out alot if you go from the start, but I will post a link here for the how to pick a breed page on it. I documented my flock from day 1 till now. It has been 5 years since then. I free rang my birds not in a fenced area. I do cover food and such also as well as predator loss. But for you now pick a breed will help you make some choices. http://bmvchickens.wordpress.com/picking-a-breed-of-chicken/
     

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