Brand new to this, need a little help!

gpaaske

Hatching
9 Years
Mar 11, 2010
2
0
7
I'll try to keep this short...My girlfriend wants backyard chickens, free range, and I think its a great idea! We live in the country, 400 ft off the road, so there is plenty of room (St Charles, Mi). She is talking to someone at work that is telling her some things that I am a little skeptical about, so I'd like some help. She thinks that we can go to our local TSC and get a coop for $150. I think I have her convinced to get a kit online in the $270 price range that would probably be a little easier to maintain. She also thinks that we can get 4 or 5 chicks, bring them home and put em in a big washtub (with feed, water, bedding, etc) and in 6 weeks or so put them outside in the coop, closed in for another 6 weeks or so. And then open the door and let em out to free range. Sounds simple, right? But what I'm reading sounds a little more complicated then that. Heat, etc. She is concerned, with good reason, about spending a bunch of money and then losing the chicks, or finding out there to much work, etc. So she is trying to start out cheap. Personally, I don't anticipate losing interest, especially after reading some of the posts on this forum! Advice? And maybe a recommendation for some ultimate newbie reading material? Thanks, all!!
 

chicmom

Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
8,696
285
316
Strasburg Ohio
Well, for chicks, you need pine shavings for bedding, chick starter food, a chick feeder and a chick waterer, and a heat lamp. (One of those hanging lights with a clip on it so you can aim it into one corner of the brooder. Your brooder could be a wash tub, she's right. I use a very large plastic storage bin for mine. You can get most of that stuff at TSC, in fact all of it really. You can even use a big cardboard box as a chick brooder if you really want to save money. You just have to aim the light (or hang the light) in one corner of the coop and you put a thermometer under the light and it should read like 99 degrees to start, and every week you raise the lamp and drop the temp 5 degrees. It is very easy to raise chicks. Make sure their box or whatever is not in a drafty place.

As far as $150 for a coop, I'm having a hard time visualizing that. Was she maybe looking at a rabbit hutch? When the chickens are bigger, that will be too small for five or six chickens.

But you can definitely get started.......

I hope you do!

Good luck!
Sharon
 

Paganbird

CrescentWood Farm
11 Years
Apr 25, 2009
1,418
2
189
Western Pa
Quote:
I'd go for the online kit. My husband built our coop inexpensively, but it depends on how handy you are. You want to make sure it's big enough... or the chickens will cause problems. Prevention is the easiest cure for feather-picking & bullying.
She also thinks that we can get 4 or 5 chicks, bring them home and put em in a big washtub (with feed, water, bedding, etc) and in 6 weeks or so put them outside in the coop, closed in for another 6 weeks or so.

That sounds about right. You'll want to give them a heat lamp, but it's not all that difficult.
And then open the door and let em out to free range.

Just keep dogs away & lock them up at night. Make sure they have a sheltered area if you have hawks.
She is concerned, with good reason, about spending a bunch of money and then losing the chicks, or finding out there to much work, etc. So she is trying to start out cheap.

The coop is going to be the biggest start-up cost. You may find that free-ranging doesn't work well for you... just build your chickens a run. If you have 5 chickens that are secured at night, I suspect you would not lose them all at once. It could happen (dog attack), but most predators will run off with a bird or two... giving you time to correct the problem before losing more birds.
Personally, I don't anticipate losing interest, especially after reading some of the posts on this forum! Advice? And maybe a recommendation for some ultimate newbie reading material? Thanks, all!!

Chickens are addictive. I started out with 10 chickens and now I have about 75... and peafowl... and button quail... and cortunix quail... and ducks. Have you seen the Chickens For Dummies book? Here's the link to it in the BYC store. It has all the basics. http://www.coopedup.net/store/product_info.php?cPath=48&products_id=187
 

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