Backyard Chicken Wannabe...

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by pvhouse, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. pvhouse

    pvhouse Hatching

    Jan 31, 2008
    Jenks, OK
    Ok, see here is the deal. My wife and I have been on a lifestyle change for the past several years which has included gardening, buying food through the Oklahoma Food COOP, farmers markets, buying local milk, homeschooling our kids, etc. This is a complete change for us. Next on the list is getting a few hens for the backyard...we want to have eggs of our own and fertilizer for the garden. I was thinking about starting with three to four hens. My question is, which breed should I choose? Any suggestions? Also, here is another twist to the wife and I are on a year long challenge to not buy anything new in 2008 (you can check out my wife's blog for more on I have rationalized that chickens won't fall into the 'new' category because they will actually be productive members of the family. However, I will be trying to find all that I need, to raise the chicks, used. This would include feeders, coop, etc. So, if anyone lives in Oklahoma (I live in Jenks which is in NE OK, just outside of Tulsa) and has used stuff that they would like to sell or get rid of, please let me know.

    Thanks for any advice that you might have.
  2. newchickowner

    newchickowner Songster

    Aug 19, 2007
    I'm pretty new to chickening, but I'm sure more knowledgable people will be along soon. I just wanted to send you a warm greeting [​IMG] and say congrats on the life style change and I aspire to be more self sufficient as well!
  3. 2dream

    2dream Songster

    Jan 7, 2008
    Jackson MS
    pvhouse - I am way to new to be of any help - but love your post. Good luck with all your plans. Think I will approach my DH with this concept. Will definately check out your wifes blog.
    BYC is a great place with lots of wonderful folks.
  4. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    Hi And welcome.

    As far as breeds, I picked by egg color and hardiness for cold and heat. (you sure you only want 3 or 4? [​IMG] )

    As far as food and water, I did buy a waterer, but for food I use a big rubbery tub thingie, its only about 3 -4 inches high, but I just pour a jug full of food into it every three days or so and they're happy - the high sides prevent them from kicking out the food.....

    a waterer would be handy to have - perhaps ebay or check the Buy and sell forum.

    If you get little chicks - you'll need to set up some kind of brooder (cardboard box works) and a heat lamp of some kind.....

    you guys are going to enjoy your new challenge !! Good Luck!
  5. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
  6. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    I prefer a big heavy hen and a large egg layer. (If they don't lay at least they will fill a stew pot descently. You may even find yourself venturing into meat birds to raise. Lot's of us do this too.) You can go through the Handy Dandy Chicken Chart at Hendersons and read on the qualities of different breeds to help you decide what breed you might like best. To me you can't really beat the size and production of the buff orpingtons. They also do well when confined and are more docile and sweet girls.

    You do need a modest hen house and run (the coop).

    Expect to put as much as 30+ weeks into your new girls before you ever see an egg. Many breeds do start to lay between 18 - 24 weeks but sometimes you can never be sure. Depending on the time of year and with winter weather it can take some longer than others to start producing.

    3 - 4 is never enough. In a perfect world 1 egg a day from each hen is ideal but there is no promise that every hen will lay every day. Some might lay every other day. You can't have enough hens - try 8 - 10. LOL

    You may get addicted and built your own incubator and hatch your own eggs! There are instructions here for everything you can imagine in the DIY arena.

    I know about the need to save and not spend money! If you do a search you will find all sorts of instructions here for making waterers and feeders and most everything you could need for your chickens.

    Perhaps you might want to start researching how to's in the learning center .

    Would have to agree that getting chickens is not getting something 'new'. LOL

    Welcome to the coop! Enjoy the adventure!
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
  7. mom'sfolly

    mom'sfolly Crowing

    Feb 15, 2007
    Austin area, Texas
    A local feed store would be a good bet for chicks, possibly even started pullets. Many clever people here have made feeders, waterers, nest boxes, etc with recycled materials. Do a search and see what you find. I particularly liked some recent nest boxes made from cat litter containers. I also just score a free 4x4 "coop". It was a playhouse style hunting blind on display at a local sporting goods shop. It had been vandalized so they let me have it. Craigslist always has plenty of free or very cheap materials. I dumpster dove for shingles for my coop.
  8. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

    Nov 16, 2007
    San Antonio TX
    I agree with the making feeders and waterers, and with the fact that you will want more than three or four hens. Especially if you want fertilizer. You could always order straight run sex-links, I've heard the roosters make ok fryers, and you could learn a new self-sufficiency skill: butchering.
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Feederers and waterers are a snap to make out of freebie/found/scavenged bits. Homemade feeders in fact can be much *better* than commercial ones, since you can make them to exactly suit your personal needs.

    The harder things not to spend money on will be the coop/run -- you will need GOOD fencing - raccoons and dogs, in particular, are pretty strong and can make a quick messy meal of your hens. Even before figuring out your coop/run design, start looking NOW for any free bits you can find of hardware cloth or welded wire mesh fencing, the smaller-mesh the better. (Chicken wire, as such, is generally too flimsy nowadays to do anything more than keep chickens *in*).

    And either you will need a premade 'house' type thing for your chickens (up to and including a large wooden packing crate, spiffied up) or you will need to start scavenging lumber and then spend a buncha time building. Someone on this site has a good set of pix of a coop they built solely from scavenged pallets and the like.

    Also, you may have trouble getting really suitable bedding for your coop without paying money (or bartering I suppose maybe)... NON-dusty wood shavings are probably best (the stuff from a woodworking shop is often real real dusty), or chopped straw, or something like that. The 'free' options like dead leaves or pine needles or shredded paper tend to get much poorer reviews from people in terms of matting down or stinking.

    If you want lots of eggs and only 3-4 hens I would really recommend one of the sex-link hybrids, as being very high production (yet personable and easy to get along with). "Breed" breeds are not necessarily going to have quite as early maturity or as consistently high egg production, at least for the first several years. OTOH if you don't care so much about # eggs (or the egg/feed cost ratio) then anything that takes your fancy is fine [​IMG]

    Good luck and have fun,

  10. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    As far as a nest box - anything works:

    My girls sit two or three at a time, I have two boxes like the above pictured one.... they love em - lots of room to move and turn and of course sit with a friend... [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008

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