Considering getting chickens - newby Q's

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by juliajulia, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. juliajulia

    juliajulia New Egg

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    I am just starting to explore getting some chickens. We live in the suburbs on 0.4 acres. I guess that would make our backyard a bit less than 1/4 of an acre. We have 6 children that I think this would be a great experience for and the eggs would be great (although I wonder if we would really be able to produce enough).
    My initial questions:
    What time of year should I hatch the little chicks?
    What would I do with any roosters that hatch?



    TIA!
     
  2. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Early spring is a good time of year to hatch. Gives the chicks all spring and summer to grow up and fill out before they have to face a winter. Though many people (myself included) hatch all year round and the chicks do just fine. It's just that you need to think about housing and heating them more carefully, so spring is a better time of year for newbies I suppose.

    Roosters: 1. You can keep them - if they're reared together they'll usually get on fine. I have two adult roos who roost side by side on the perch at night. 2. You can raise them to maturity then eat them. 3. You can raise them to maturity then give/sell them to someone who wants them for meat. You won't recoup the cost of rearing them, but it's a nicer option if you don't like the thought of 'processing' them yourself. You say you're in the suburbs though, so probably you don't want any roosters at all. In that case you can: 4. Hatch chicks from sex-link eggs - the males and females hatch out different colours and you can identify the roos straight away, allowing you to cull them at hatch, either by euthanising them or selling them/giving them away. Some people sell young chicks for snake food. Some people sell them as meat birds to people who will rear them themselves and eat them. 5. Hatch whatever breed you want, then give away/cull the birds as soon as you can identify the males, which could be at anything from 4 weeks to 4+ months... You have a lot of options with roosters, but none of them are very nice if you're in the least bit sentimental or squeamish.
     
  3. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

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    I agree, start in the spring. Be all set up and order pullets from a hatchery OR buy pullets from you local feed store. Ask is they guarantee that they'll be pullets and if they turn out to be cockerels will they take them back (feed store)? If you want to be guaranteed then do as Gypsy07 recommended and buy sex link chicks. They're nice, friendly, good layers and pretty too. You could look on CL in the spring and see if anyone has any "started pullets", meaning chicks that are older, usually 5-8 weeks old where the seller has a good idea of which are the pullets and which are the cockerels. Again, ask if there's a guarantee and return policy. I can't cull my roosters. I keep some, sell some, trade some. Only one went to a dinner table because he was so mean. I didn't even try to rehome him.

    6 chickens will give you about 2 doz. plus eggs a week. They won't lay as much in the fall when they start to moult or in the winter when there are less daylight hours. You'll find them to be entertaining. If my chickens didn't lay at all I'd still have them, I enjoy them that much!
     
  4. bzbrown

    bzbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

    Make sure chickens are ok in your area. Being an outlaw is not always easy lol, and hens make a great deal of noise... not just the roosters. My outlaw hen is outside right now squaking about laying an egg.. very dramatic.

    I've had 5-6 roo's out of all the chicks I purchased. If I were ordering chicks again it would only be sex links. I was lucky to find a home for each of my roo's although I had to pair one with his fav hen because they were snuggle buddies.

    For sure start with local ordinance and go from there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  5. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, sex-link chicks from a hatchery or feed store would be a good idea. I never mentioned (or even thought of!) that 'cause you just asked about hatching eggs. But if you really don't want to end up with any boys then sex-link chicks should be easy to get as all females, guaranteed. Two common sex-links are a Rhode Island Red cockerel mated to Light Sussex hens, or to Barred Rock hens. Both of these matings will produce sexable chicks and if they're from a good laying strain, they should pop out a lot of eggs for you!

    Alternatively you could just buy 6 point-of-lay pullets, that way you'd be getting those eggs a few months sooner. [​IMG]
     
  6. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    You can keep it simple and buy just a few pullets from a feed store. That really is the easiest. Enjoy them for the years you have them; them decide to cull and replace; or as my boys prefer with the pet hens to keep the old girls and buy the replacements for the eggs .

    Adding roosters really complicates the matter; the crowing is loud, and not all neighbors enjoy the poultry sounds, especially at 4:30 in the morning.

    I know this isn't quite the Q you asked; breeding can easily result in more birds than are easy to deal with and enjoy. 55% of the hatch is boys.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  7. juliajulia

    juliajulia New Egg

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    Thanks folks!

    I know I can have poultry where I live. I'm not sure if it has to be kept to under a certain amount or if roosters are allowed. I don't want to even risk a rooster because of the greater potential of disturbing the neighbors (I do love having a crowing rooster around though).
    I am going to have to learn the terminology if I decide to do this. I have already learned a lot just reading these posts!
    Never have considered myself to be overly sensitive to any necessary matters of animal husbandry but I sure would prefer not to have to destroy any baby roosters.
    If my husband is agreeable to this and I can get a proper habitat arranged, I think hatching them ourselves will be fascinating for our entire family.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    [​IMG] I agree with the other posts. Most likely if you hatch you will pretty much end up with 50/50, males/females. If you start out with hatching a dozen eggs most likely 6 will be males and 6 will be females. Of course you could end up with more females then males but then you could also end up with more males then females and you can't always be guaranteed that you will find a home for the boys. Many people will buy them to eat. What ever you decide to do Good Luck and have fun... [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:My boys love the birds. Seems like a bird is brought into the house every day tucked under the arm of one of my boys. Children learn so much by doing. GL
     
  10. billiejo21

    billiejo21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:My boys love the birds. Seems like a bird is brought into the house every day tucked under the arm of one of my boys. Children learn so much by doing. GL

    I agree!!! I have a totally different relationship with the chicks I've hatched...I love all my birds, but the babies that you watch come out of a shell just have a special place in your heart!! It is also really neat for children to be involved in the process of incubation...my boys were in total amazement when they watched those babies hatch!!! Good luck!
     

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