Beginner flock questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Alex41, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Alex41

    Alex41 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello,

    I've read a couple of books and done some online research of chickens so far. Read through this Forum also. I've got a basic idea of how this all works, and have some questions.

    My wife and I would like some chickens mainly for eggs, meat secondary. I think a dual breed is a good choice.

    The breeds we are thinking of two of the following three breeds - Rhode Island Red, Orpington and Wyandotte. We have two boys, 3 and 5 years old and have heard the Orpintons are very docile and don't mind petting and being picked up. I'm thinking that breed for sure.
    I'm guessing these three breeds would go well together if we chose a few of each?

    Since we are beginners would it be wiser to stay with only one breed? or even two max?

    We would be buying chicks in January and raising them until feathered, then put them outside in a coop and secure run(not yet built)

    Honestly we are not sure of how many chickens to get. I'm thinking of erring on the high side, as to get 2 roosters of each breed along with pullets and thin out the worse tempered one. Also bound to make some mistakes and maybe lose a few along the way, sickness, predators, any with bad behavior go into the freezer, etc.

    Any input on my ideas so far?

    Thanks,
    Alex
     
  2. ginger7

    ginger7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would say that you should start out with the Orpingtons.12 might be a good number to start out with.
     
  3. bstromgren

    bstromgren Out Of The Brooder

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    We had Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks when our boys were about the same age as yours. The boys could pick up the birds and love on them all they wanted. Orpingtons, RIR, Rocks are all good breeds docile breeds. Order more than you think you will need. You'll probably be glad you did. Worst case scenario is that you get rid of some, which is easy to do.
     
  4. Alex41

    Alex41 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm guessing 10 girls and 2 roosters?

    Alex
     
  5. Alex41

    Alex41 Out Of The Brooder

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    I've heard picking them up on a regular basis, since chicks also keeps them docile through they life as they become used to it.

    I'd also agree with getting more than I think I need.

    Alex
     
  6. bstromgren

    bstromgren Out Of The Brooder

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    Absolutely. We handle the chickens as much as possible at any age. And it is great for the kids. They learn a new respect for non-domestic animals and can identify with the unique personalities of each bird. They understand that animals like chickens are more than just a link in the food chain and can be considered a pet or friend.
     
  7. Alex41

    Alex41 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 21, 2013
    Eastern PA
    Thanks for the replies.

    About how long until these breeds are fully feathered and ready for a coop outside?

    Alex
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    With your little guys, I'd say nix the roosters to start. At first, just go with hens and see how you actually like having chickens. Roosters add a whole new dimension to chicken keeping, and DO NOT mix well with children. Lots of threads here about roosters flogging little guys, and kids even ending up scarred. Roosters need to be treated as livestock, not pets, and should not be handled regularly or they lose respect for humans. Hens handle handling much better and are lots more docile, they make much better pets.

    Of course, each bird will be an individual, but Orpingtons sound like a good way to go. All those breeds you mentioned should be nice backyard birds, and I'd go ahead and get a few of each breed to see which you like best. No reason to stay all with one breed, I'd say most of us on this board have mixed flocks.

    The following year, if you're still good with the chickens, and your boys are good with them, at that point you could consider adding a rooster or two. Several of us here think a rooster raised by older hens is a better rooster, more respectful. Your idea of getting different breeds and roosters to go with them leads to different pens to separate different breeds for hatching, which is lots of work. Starting slowly is best. You can always add more chickens later, trust me!
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    hahaha- just to confuse the issue. I will give some totally different advice.

    For a family of 4, I think half a dozen layers would be more than enough eggs for you! 4-5 eggs per day really add up quickly. I would start out with a smaller flock. I would not recommend getting a rooster. In the years to come, as you gain a little more experience, your children get a little bigger, figure out what you do and don't like in a chicken, you can make adjustments to your flock.

    Roosters are a crap shoot, and many turn out mean. The person MOST likely to be attacked first will be your youngest child. Many many times, that attack will come out of nowhere, what was once the pet becomes very vicious. A bad rooster can ruin the whole chicken experience for kids. They are eye level with a big set of claws and spurs, and a bad flogging is not a wonderful experience even for an adult. Children can get scarred on their faces or even have eye damage. Check the July/August postings, and you will find numerous postings on people confused how their royally treated pet can turn into such a nightmare.

    Another problem is that chicks are tiny, and what seems like a very large space for them, shrinks as they grow. Chickens can have some really rotten habits, and almost all are caused by over crowding. Most people buy chicks in the spring, and about July, this board will erupt with their flock picking on one bird to the point of bloodshed. What has happened, is that the coop/run has often times become too small for the number of full grown birds in the flock. Once when I was getting started, I had 14 birds. As summer began to close, the day shortens, and the birds spend more time in the coop/run and less time free ranging. I could feel the tension rising in the flock. I removed 4-5 birds, and the tension immediately lessened, those left were much happier, much calmer. There are rules of thumbs for area per number of birds, but experience will outweigh that in my opinion.

    I do strongly recommend in getting several different breeds of similar adult size. It is easier to tell them apart, and see their personalities. Hens without a roo will interact more with humans. Coming to you for treats, and are more friendly. With a roo, the flock dynamics change, and they look to the rooster for leadership. A mature roo will generally keep between you and his ladies, and may object violently to your holding a hen.

    Just so you know, I do have roos, and I like a flock with a roo. But they are more independent, and I don't particularly like to hold my hens for pleasure. I have very nice roos at this time, but I have had a demon too! When my grandchildren come to visit, the boys are locked up. It is not worth a chance, roosters often see running, yelling, high pitch laughter as an attack, and respond in like. They have a VERY small brain, do not bet your childs health on the reasoning skills of a rooster.

    Mrs K

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  10. bstromgren

    bstromgren Out Of The Brooder

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    Mrs. K's words are true. We keep our roosters penned with a few hens for breeding purposes. I've been attacked many times by a territorial rooster. We have some 7 week olds that were in the chicken house last night. I think it got down to about 10 degrees. They were all in good spirits this morning. We keep extra hens because once the word is out, everyone you know wants to buy eggs.
     

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