Brand new, probably about to make bad choices: Change my mind!

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by etvixen, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. etvixen

    etvixen In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2019
    Help! Tell me what to get! Posting for the 1st time.

    I've convinced my SO that we NEED chickens. I've raised and fostered some chicks, been around lots of barn chickens, but have not had an adult flock of my own ever. I'm about to order some chicks and I have eccentric taste and I need to be steered from making a mistake.

    Here's my situation:

    Technically, I can legally own whatever.
    Realistically, neighbors may complain about too much noise, etc.
    We have a (steep) 1/4 acre., a nice coop with run that will be converted to a tractor (4'x8' total).
    I don't want to deal with a lot of broody hens at this time.
    I enjoy free ranging chickens so I can interact with them or enjoy watching them. We will appreciate any and all centipede, cockroach, and scorpion killing services they may offer. Eggs that get laid wherever may be an issue b/c of the terrain, but as long as I find a couple a week, I'm good I think.
    We have neighbors' dogs and cats loose sometimes (but no other prey animals of any kind).
    I want to enjoy watching, interacting with, and looking at my chickens. I don't need high production or large eggs at all, but I do enjoy colorful eggs and cool looking birds. I like a lap visit now and again, but I don't need a permanent sidekick.
    It's warm/hot and dry here year-round. Feral chickens thrive here.
    I don't garden particularly, but what damage may be done to what I do have will be it's own discovery I guess.
    Being new, choosing naturally healthy birds makes sense. I'm attentive and good with animals generally, though.

    I'm a bit caught between getting a matching flock and getting a variety. I can probably keep 6-7 hens. Having a color scheme would really be nice...I'm drawn to the silver spangled Appenzellers and Egyptian Fayoumis, lol. Is that just an awful idea? And I like pretty much anything blue or splash (eyeing Ameraucana and Marans for that), although I also like Welsumers and Crested Cream Legbars (as well as lots of other breeds I've already pretty much ruled out).

    If I get all independent foragers, am I taking too big of a risk of them moving off entirely? What can I do to help my chances that everyone will come home at night?
    Can I get a mix of the birds I mentioned and expect it to work out ok? Am I approaching this all wrong?

    I know I'm late to get anything I might want. I don't want to order blue and splash and end up with a bunch of black, really (although if not heavy-bodied, maybe not the worst thing), and I don't want to deal with straight-run at all for 1st ever order. Are there hatcheries I should avoid? Are there mistakes to avoid in terms of hatchery/backyard chicks that are likely to not just not be show quality, but may very well look like a complete hot mess?

    Thanks in advance for the welcome and the guidance!!!
  2. CountryFlock

    CountryFlock Songster

    Apr 24, 2014
    United States
    Do you plan on buying chicks or eggs? I like meyer Hatchery. I don’t know of a hatchery that you should avoid. If your chickens are outside of their run to free range then I would expect to lose some to predators. I would also keep in mind the neighbors dogs and cats. Other people suffer losses a lot because of dogs.

    Inside the run will eventually become dirt with enough chickens.

    With different breeds of chicken interacting with each other, the only worry would be if you had large fowl with true bantams. Some large fowl can do fine with non true bantams. But of course no jersey giant with d’anvers or duccles.

    If a pecking order is established and there’s no roosters I think large fowl hens will be fine with bantams even
    Rachel Taylor and etvixen like this.
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Hi there, welcome to BYC! :frow

    Get a variety... you won't regret it. It's fun to be able to tell them apart and maybe get different colored eggs. Makes it easier to tell if someone is having issues and help them.

    As long as you lock them into their coop when they move in for about a week... they will be homed to it, and will always return unless hiding a broody nest or gotten by a predator. They are creatures of habit.

    Since there is no one right answer for everyone, I have one final suggestion... get just a few (3-4) this year, and a few more next year (or a couple per year ever after)... this way you always have someone coming into lay when others are molting from age.

    I have no issues keeping large and bantam fowl together as long as there aren't large fowl roosters. Some peeps even do that. Free range for excess of 10 year, only lost 3 chicks SO FAR.

    A good fence will keep dogs out, they are a top killer of entire back yard flocks.

    Good luck on your adventure! :wee
  4. etvixen

    etvixen In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2019
    Thanks for the great tips! Buying chicks not eggs... I guess I'll just follow my heart and deal with any consequences (I've heard Spitzhaubens described as both quiet and noisy?). My partner likes the idea of a mixed flock and I'll probably learn a lot more that way, so there's one decision made. :) I definitely like the idea of rotating new ones in periodically, but I'd rather have to give a couple away than lose one to a dog, another to illness, shipping stress, or being mis-sexed and be left w/ one lonely soul. I always have to plan for Murphy's Law in my life, and of course, rookie mistakes. :oops: Our perimeter fencing is being improved, but won't ever be Jack Russel proof. My SO and I are both home all day, so maybe I can just teach my Havanese dog to hang with the chickens and sound the alarm if needed. That sounds like something he'd be into.

    I plan to have the coop mostly parked over sand, but easy to move in case of a storm, which would hit the normally leeward side of the property. I'd like to have the option to keep the chickens just in the coop/run but roving the lawn as well, just as a possibility. Wind and sun are big issues here, so those are issues I'm going to need to work the bugs out of as well.

    So much to learn and do. I don't know why placing that order feels like one of my bigger life decisions :lol:. Thanks for the support new chicken friends! :hugs:wee
    Rachel Taylor and Rick M like this.
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    If you are able... An E wire placed around the perimeter at nose height can work wonders. Plug in ones are more affordable than solar. If you bait it, so they come sniff... just watch the rapid retreat and unlikely return. ;)

    I also prefer Meyer hatchery. But nothing bad to say or words of caution about others. If you are getting chicks shipped, I would have poultry nutri drench on hand and direct dose to the beak anyone who seems weak upon arrival and also have some in the first drinker full. Report any losses you have in time so that you can be refunded for them.

    For rotating in new stock... you can always give away an older bird next year to make room if you need to. Maybe one you haven't connected with as much, or that just isn't your favorite, too broody, or not working out for whatever reason. Your reasoning is right on though about not wanting to end up with one lonely soul. :)
    etvixen likes this.
  6. etvixen

    etvixen In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2019
    I live in Hawaii, and even expecting it to be hard, it was harder than I expected to get chicks shipped here! Oof! I hope I receive healthy chicks, but did have to get more than I wanted and a few straight run, so giveaways are definitely in my future. We'll see how it goes. It's gonna be a busy bathtub. :D I love the idea of some hot wire but I tried to err on the side of good free ranging birds for now, which I prefer to keeping everyone cooped up and hoping they are secure enough in there, and which I'm sure my husband prefers to doing yet more landscape modifications for my untested new hobby. I'll just have to see what they attract as far as neighborhood dogs go and react to what issues present themselves. I hadn't thought of baiting an e-wire or having just a single strand vs netting. That would be great, much more doable.

    Wish me luck, folks! :confused:
  7. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crowing

    Jul 24, 2016
    Washington State
    How many chicks did you get? What you described sounded like more than a 4x8 coop/run tractor will hold when they are all full grown. There is a formula for how many chickens per sf - Coop 4sf per chicken, Run 10sf per chicken. Free ranging makes a difference, but you did mention keeping them confined at times. Just be sure to have enough space for them. And enjoy your new chicken life!!!:welcome
    Chef JimmyJ likes this.
  8. etvixen

    etvixen In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2019
    Thanks for that input ValerieJ. It has been pretty confusing to determine what the space needs actually are. Commercial standards, even "free range" seem impossibly draconian. Coop/runs seem to advertise themselves as much more adequate than they really are. Even trying to compensate for that, I may have underestimated. On the bright side, I tend to go overboard on making sure any animals in my care are super happy and have a very enriched environment, so if issues arise, I think I'll be able to notice and address them. It's best we not tell my husband just yet that I'll be needing a second coop and to extend run area many times over.

    Since I know I like happy animals I can actually interact with, I had to figure I'm going to end up free ranging these birds 99% of the time. There are two main issues I foresee with that:
    One, by choosing birds who are free-range savvy and by living in a place where chickens thrive naturally, I'm risking their increasing their own territory into my neighbors', attracting feral roosters, and straight up deciding to move away.
    Two, if and when I need to travel, it would be best if I could keep the chickens cooped for a day or two to simplify things. I could attach an extended run area for those times, perhaps. As an outdoorsy horse-girl stuck in a suburban neighborhood with a NYC native spouse, How do people in similar situations make a slightly farmier life happen for themselves?? I mean, we actually have a mow, blow and go gardener who comes once a week. I was assuming I'd be keeping them contained while he's here?

    I think the vast majority of the time the chickens will just be "out" and coming into the coop/run mainly to sleep, in which case I don't think 6 would be an issue, but understanding what to expect during inclement weather or if there's a bully in the group are things I still need to learn about. It will be a little bit interesting to juggle the # of chicks I had to order and the fact that I did end up with some straight run while I can figure out who's who, who gets to stay, and who gets to be a gift to my legit homesteading friends. I will make a commitment to stay in touch in the forums for advice and stern reminders that I:rantcannot!:rantkeep!:rantall!:rantthe!:rantchickens!!!:rant:jumpy:jumpy:jumpy
    ValerieJ likes this.
  9. CatWhisperer

    CatWhisperer Songster

    Jun 16, 2013
    northwest Arkansas
    Be wary of and do everything you can to protect your chickens from dogs. Dogs seem to be the number one killer of chickens. Any dog that gets access to you chickens will kill them. Take the time to train your own dog too, before an accident can happen.
    etvixen likes this.
  10. Perris

    Perris Crowing

    Jan 28, 2018
    Gower, Wales
    Good luck!
    we have the same, and our flock just disappear into the borders/under the shrubs while he's here; I assume the same would work for you if you have some areas the mower man doesn't go. But it would be wise, the first time they experience the mower man, to contain them somewhere where they can see what's going on, and associate the noise with the action, to familiarise them with the procedure.
    EggSighted4Life, etvixen and Stiletto like this.

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