Chicken Newbie in N IL

Kickin Cowgirl

5 Years
Aug 28, 2014
Greetings! I have never owned chickens, nor did I ever believe I would have the desire to do so! In recent months I have been doing research and am now excited to get my first chickens in the very near future! My family lives on 15 acres in a rural area. We have horses, cats, and a rescue cockapoo. We are in the process of converting one of our smaller buildings into a chicken coop and as soon as it is ready I hope to bring home some hens! I am most excited about their insect control! We have had terrible ticks in recent years. In fact, my now-15-year-old son was hospitalized last summer (2013) with a tick-borne illness. The bonus of having natural bug predators is fresh eggs! We have a friend who is interested in culling his flock of bantam salmon favorelles, so I am hoping he is still interested when my coop is ready. My concerns are keeping my hens safe from hawks (we see them in our area) as well as keeping them happy during our cold midwestern winters. My desire is to allow the chickens to free range during the day (to maximize our insect patrol) and securing them in their safe coop at night. I have spent many hours on BYC gathering information for keeping our new family members healthy, happy, and safe! Thank you to all for your ideas, suggestions, creativity, and sharing!
Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

Sounds like you have a lovely home and great family.

Yes, hawks are a huge issue especially with free range flocks. There is not a way to prevent them if you free range. If you confine them you can cover their run with a roof, hardware cloth or hog panels and hawks won't get in and hurt the chickens. But there are some ways to help prevent them if you free range. Bushes, trees and buildings/porches to take cover under will all help protect your flock from hawks and other predators. Here's a great link on hawks to check out too.

Good luck with this great adventure and feel free to ask questions.
Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided to join our flock. I'm sorry about your son having to be hospitalized and hope that he is completely well now. Raising chickens is a wonderful experience for children. My granddaughter (pictured in my avatar) loves our chickens. Salmon Faverolles are a great breed for children; very friendly and gentle. Other breeds you might want to consider that are gentle and good with children are Australorps, Orpingtons, Silkies, Cochins, Sussex, and Brahmas. Just be careful about getting too many roosters. The recommended ratio of roosters to hens is 1 rooster for every 10 hens. With too many roosters, you get aggression, fighting, and over-breeding and battering of the hens. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck in getting your coop ready and getting your flock.
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

So glad you could join our community! You have come to the right place for all the learning and fun. Mountain Peeps has given you some great advice on keeping your birds safe from hawks. They are not shy and will attack even when you are present. Unfortunately when you free range, you have to be willing to lose some occasionally if you live in a high predator area.

Good luck on this new adventure! If you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask. Welcome to our flock!
Maybe you need a good Livestock guardian dog or two. If you chickens free range you will be having random losses to raptors and other predators. When hawks migrate, you can get a ton of them passing over and dropping in for lunch., if your farm is along their flight path.
You are all so encouraging and helpful! Thank you for your replies! I feel part of the BYC family already.
Welcome, this site has lots of great info!

We have 13 acres and we fenced in a quarter acre for our garden and the garden fence attaches to our coop and completely enclosed run. During the day the hens go out in the fenced garden area and keep my garden pretty much bug free! Yes, I occasionally lose a tomato or zucchini but I don't mind the extra payment for their hard work!

Last Spring I let the chickens out to free range on the rest of the property and lost a couple of hens to hawks. Lesson learned! They are happy with their quarter acre fenced garden area. I am happy they help enrich the soil and keep the grasshoppers and other bugs down. And I don't have to worry about losing one while I keep them somewhat contained!

Good Luck!

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