Excited to begin our Chicken Adventure with Silver Laced Wyandottes!

BecauseImSweet

Hatching
Jan 10, 2016
1
0
9
Hello!

I am preparing my family for our first adventure in agriculture, chickens! I am a stay at home mom with two children, ages 3 and 1, and chickens are the first step that we are taking in our quest for a sustainable lifestyle. I live on 3 acres in SE Michigan and I hope that eventually we can grow our operation to be mostly self sufficient as far as dairy, meat, and produce production. I would also like to be involved with my local farmer's markets and be able to provide sustainable products to my community.

Our first step will be to get chickens in the spring!

My reading has suggested that it is necessary to keep egg birds and meat birds apart and as such we will start with a flock of egg producers. Next year we will build a new coop on wheels and house our meat birds on a different part of the property.
I have chosen Silver Laced Wyandottes and I plan to order chicks from my local feed store in February.

I have a few questions and I would really appreciate experience, wisdom and advice!

We haven't built the coop yet but I have a brooding box equipped with a heat lamp to house our birds for the first 8-10 weeks. I have read that you need approximately 3 sq. ft. of floor space per bird. We'll be constructing a coop for our birds during the brooding box period and I would love any suggestions as to design and efficiency on a budget.

I want a relatively small flock for our first year, I plan to order 12 chicks (11 female and 1 male). My research has also suggested that it is only necessary to have one rooster for 20 birds or less. Is this accurate according to your experience? I do want a rooster because I want to keep supplementing our flock with new birds. My novice is about to shine through...When you hatch eggs do you sex the chickens and slaughter males when they are big enough (since you don't want too many roosters?) Is it okay to slaughter birds when they are done laying (even though the meat will be tough-I've been told to mark the meat to be used for soups and slow cooking) or will this upset the other hens and cause them to stop laying?

I plan to vaccinate our flock for Newcastle disease and infectious bronchitis. Do I need to order these from a veterinarian or can I order them from a feed supply? Are there any other vaccinations that you experienced chicken folk recommend?

I think that's about it. Again, I am very new at this. I have had horses, dogs and cats all of my life but this is my first shot at chickens! I really appreciate this community and the opportunity to learn from all of you. Thank you for taking the time to read and offer advice.

Sincerely, Caitlin ("BecauseImSweet")
 

Michael OShay

Crowing
5 Years
May 14, 2014
25,581
2,439
438
Montana
Welcome to BYC, Caitlin. Glad you decided to join our flock. You can probably get the vaccines from a feed store. If not, you can definitely order them online. I would also suggest vaccinating your flock for Marek's disease. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Cheers.
 
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Yorkshire Coop

*
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Aug 16, 2014
22,833
25,184
1,247
Hi :welcome Caitlin

Glad you could join us here! I'm sure you are going to enjoy your new adventures very much. It's a great hobby that's lots of fun and very rewarding. Michael has left you some good advice on vaccination of your birds. If you are planning on incubating some eggs you can only sex the chicks at hatch if you produce sex link chicks from certain breeds of parent birds. Not something I have done but if you type in sex link chicks in the search above many threads come up on this. As for culling them at hatch that is the usual practice for sex link and why people do them. This way you are one feeding the girls and the boys can be dispatched at an early age. As for older hens many do cull them when they have come to the end of their productive life. Often with them going into the pot, if you can seperate your feelings for the birds this is fine to do. Some just can't bring them selves to it when the hens have become pets.
Have you checked out the learning centre? Lots of great articles to get you started there, here is the link ~https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

Good luck for the future and enjoy BYC :frow
 

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Aug 26, 2009
138,797
272,654
2,027
Out to pasture
Rule of thumb is 4-5 sq.feet per bird inside the coop (excluding roosts and nest boxes). And 10 sq.feet per bird in the outdoor run. Chicks are usually out of the brooder by 6-8 weeks or once they are fully feathered out. They will try to fly out well before that - so a wire cover is a very good idea and also to keep pets , etc. from getting in to the box.
 

N F C

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Dec 12, 2013
95,121
404,983
2,102
Wyoming
Hi Caitlin,
welcome-byc.gif


x2 on drumstick diva's coop size advice...bigger is better. Chickens hate being crowded and since you are wanting to add more eventually, it's easier to build it that way instead of having to remodel later. There are some great ideas on coops here:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/2/Coops

And if you run into questions with your build, you can ask them here:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/9/coop-run-design-construction-maintenance

You asked about the roo to hen ratio...1 rooster to 10-12 hens is enough. Since you've done a lot of homework already, you probably already know that with too few hens (or too many roosters), overbreeding can happen and cause injury or possibly death to the girls.

Good luck with all your plans!
 

Bridebeliever

Songster
Sep 12, 2015
2,005
272
191
Revelation 21:9 Washington
Welcome to BYC and chicken keeping!

X 3 on the Merek's vaccination...if you get them from a hatchery they offer this service. If you are getting them from the feed store and you tell them in advance that you want them vaccinated they can have that done for you. That's some feed stores, not all.

I'm just interested why you chose SLW? Because you want a pretty to look at bird too? I have 2 SLW and 1 GLW so yes, they are pretty. But not the best egg layers you could choose. Their average is 200 eggs per year, an Australorp would lay 250+ and a Black Sex Link could lay you 300+. If you are in it for the eggs I'd pick a higher producer.
 

Urban Flock

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 17, 2014
231
20
90
Southern Oregon
Welcome to BYC and chicken keeping!

X 3 on the Merek's vaccination...if you get them from a hatchery they offer this service. If you are getting them from the feed store and you tell them in advance that you want them vaccinated they can have that done for you. That's some feed stores, not all.

I'm just interested why you chose SLW? Because you want a pretty to look at bird too? I have 2 SLW and 1 GLW so yes, they are pretty. But not the best egg layers you could choose. Their average is 200 eggs per year, an Australorp would lay 250+ and a Black Sex Link could lay you 300+. If you are in it for the eggs I'd pick a higher producer.

X2
The SLW are not the best layers but fun to look at. I have to agree with Bridebeliever about the ones mentioned above. We have had SLW and have Australorp and Sex Links presently and both are great layers with the Sex Links laying throughout the short days.
 

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