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First flock, choice of breeds and number of chickens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by gldnbear93, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. gldnbear93

    gldnbear93 Hatching

    Jan 2, 2012
    Good morning all,

    So this will be my first flock of chickens. We live in a suburban/rural (our subdivision is more suburban) on a 1/4 acre lot. I am in the middle of building a largish tractor (12ft long and 3ft wide overall-the house is 3'x4' and the run is 3'x8'). From what I gather this should house four hens fairly well.

    We want a laying flock in a variety of standard sized breeds for brown and colored eggs. We have four kids so we would like fairly docile/gentle birds. I have been going over the various breeds and have it narrowed down to the following, Plymouth Rock, Ameraucana (easter egger), silver laced Wyandotte, and a Buff Orpington (my daughter has her heart set on this one).

    Unless I am able to find all of these locally, I would like to order from a place where I can get all of these in one order/shipment ( I have read good things about Ideal Poultry with successful shipments all the way to Maine). A friend also wants to add to her flock and will order with us so Ideal's minimum should not be a concern.

    Do you think this tractor size will house four hens sufficiently?
    Will these breeds generally coexist ok if raised together from chick age?
    Are they good layers and fairly quiet and gentle as chickens go?
    Any other suggested breeds (suitable for the northeast climate)?
    Any other recommended hatchery or breeder closer to Rhode Island?

    Thank you all for any suggestions and input.

  2. real_redhead

    real_redhead Songster

    Jun 6, 2011
    Roanoke, VA
    I think if you raise from chicks and your kids handle them and hand feed treats your kids and girls can get along very well. I have 5 girls and all are very friendly, we raised 4 of them from day old chicks and they tolerate my kids (7 and 9) very well. My kids pick them up, carry them around, give treats and some of the girls like being petted by the kids. The kids know which girls like to be petted where.
  3. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Songster

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    First and foremost [​IMG][​IMG]

    Plymouth Rock, silver laced Wyandotte, and a Buff Orpington are very manage-able for your little girls. I have all 4 breeds you mentioned and my EE is the most difficult bird in my flock. Other folks here may have had better luck but Ana my EE is like I said very indipendant and has a mind of her own. The Black or Red Sex Link also know as a Black or Red Star is a common good producer of eggs and would be a great second choice. There are hatcheries;


    that offer sexed chicks for .50 cents more and they say have a 90% success rate at being hens. They will ask do you want packing peanuts (roosters) so decline since your in a housing area with restrictions more than likely to roosters.

    Yes to the tractor idea and if I had more room I would put up a tractor. I cant build any more bc of my handicap but if you are handy and can take on a building job go for it. Here is a company that builds chicken tractors and the website may give you idea's for yours or if you want a ready made one here is a great choice of coops and I would order here if I had the money. Its called The Green Chicken Coop and they make small to large coops and A-Frame runs that are 8' to 24' and are very cool. The large one I am attracted to is call the "Elizabeth" here it is http://www.greenchickencoop.com/images/2507_3hzq.jpg
    but the link to the site is www.greenchickencoop.com if your interested.Best of luck and [​IMG]

    edit for the URL correction.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I have all 4 also, except my wyandottes are gold laced.
    I think they all lay well and in my experience the Orps are the most docile.
    I believe any breed chicken can be tamed if handled properly, some can be a real challenge but not the breeds you suggested though.
    I'd limit the handling by very small children to older chicks.
    My Ameraucana has been broody twice and raised chicks. Her eggs were quite large from the very first one.

    Whatever you build, make sure it's predator proof. Predators are the number one reason to provide any housing at all.
    Keep in mind that chickens die, sometimes inexplicably. It's harder to add birds later if you lose some so I recommend you start with as many as you can comfortably house.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
  5. suzeqf

    suzeqf Songster

    Mar 17, 2011
    [​IMG] Have you considered a turken, My girl ZZ is a sweetheart she's very docil and curious, I also have an Ameraucana who is very docil I also love my banty girls two of there egs equals one large brown egg. I have 10 roo's and 12 hens so I would also suggest getting them sexed when you buy them.
  6. aoxa

    aoxa Crowing

    [​IMG] I would skip the SLW if you are looking for friendliness. From many people I've heard from, including myself - they are very skittish and a little wacky. My girl is getting better as she closes in on laying, but is still not as friendly as I'd hoped. I definitely recommend the barred rock. They are wonderful birds for any age group. The daycare kids really love my barred rock hen, Dixie. She allows them to approach, pick her up, and carry her around whenever they want. We live right next to a small daycare. [​IMG] Example above :gig I have heard EE's are a little crazy, but some are not, and who wouldn't want those colourful eggs? I don't have any, and I really want some. Unfortunately they are scarce in my country. I think you should be able to keep 4 hens in the set up, but some will say you need more space. Remember that Buff Orpingtons require more space, as they are really huge birds. They also eat more than others and are not well known for their egg production. Anyway.. Welcome to BYC! You will love it here!
  7. jarvis

    jarvis Songster

    May 12, 2011
    i recomend barred rocks.. they are awesome.. or marrans ? um cochins and brahmas are gentle .. =) i love my ameracaunas <3 and the two ees they are awesome .. they should all be fine if you handle them from young ages .. buff orpingtons are sweet beautiful birds as well .. all are great layers ...

  8. NC ChickenKate

    NC ChickenKate Chirping

    Jul 30, 2011
    Wilmington, NC
    If you go for banties rather than standard large size hens you can get a few more into the space you have described. When fully grown they will be easy for anyone to pick up. The eggs will be a bit larger than half the size of standard I understand. I have EE's (4), Welsummers (2 - lay a chocolate brown egg) and silkies (2). They have a 7 ft. x 7 ft. coop and a 7 ft. x 8 ft. enclosed yard with a roof. All have been handled daily since arriving by mail 14 weeks ago (purchased from MyPetChicken) and of the group the Welsummers are probably the least friendly...but all 8 will fly up to my lap to eat out of my hand and be pet...so the least friendly is still quite friendly.
    All get along wonderfully with each other. I give them lots of mental stimulation by occasionally moving things around a bit both inside the coop and out in their yard, and hanging a variety of veggies here and there for their snacking and entertainment enjoyment.
    I live in a rental house inside the city limits which has limited how many chickens I may have in the space I have available.
    Chickens are easy to keep as along as their basic needs are met...tons of ventilation in the coop, food w/ all the right nutrition for their age, fresh water 24/7, a safe and secure environment.
    Welcome to the wonderful world of chickens and BYC!
  9. zerwitt14

    zerwitt14 In the Brooder

    Jan 16, 2012
    I too am a newbie, and I have pretty much the same questions about breeds, I have 5 kids from 9 to 2 years old, who will all be our "helpers" in raising the flock. A frind of mine who has a flock of 17 hens has Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Aracaunas, and suggested they are all good layers. Any other thoughts out there for me? I live in Indiana and we have all four seasons, today alone it was nearly 50 and rainy, and is now is the upper 30's with wind adviseries! So we have all the fun weather.
  10. gldnbear93

    gldnbear93 Hatching

    Jan 2, 2012
    Thanks for the responses everyone. It sounds like I am pretty close to what I was looking for. It sounds like a key may be to make sure the chick get a quite a bit of early attention to get them used to being touched and held and acclimated to everyone.

    Aoxa, That's a great photo of the kids. That's probably a pretty loud and rambunctious yard next door. Goes to show how gentle the hens can be especially with the loud unpredictability of kids.

    SteveBaz, thanks for the hatchery suggestions. I will also look intot the sex link hens. The tractor I am building is made moslty from the scrap pile at home depot (check their off cuts rack for first quality, but odd sized lumberIi got four half sheets of 1/2" plywood for $2 total-I should have picked up the other four half sheets they had there that day-and numerous 4' long 2x4s for $0.50 each-Sunday morning seems to be the best time to go around here, all the off cuts from Saturday business). The wire I ordered through Wayfair it was the best price I could find and I have not had good luck with getting good deals through Craigs list around here.

    NC ChickenKate, I though about banties, I'd like to have more than four chickens, but the friend I mentioned has several and they just drive her crazy, taht's why she is looking for some standard size hens. I will get aquainted with a few first and see where it goes form there. I have a feeling I will have to build a larger permanent coop eventually.

    zerwitt14, welcome to BYC! I have four kids from 10 to age 5 (twins). I caught the twins about 20feet up in the pine tree a couple days ago. They are a couple of daredevils. I don't mind the tree climbing, but that's a little high for that age. I got lots of good suggestions on this thread and some reinforcement of the reading/research I did. Much of what I read also indicated theat these breeds are pretty cold hardy. It also seems in general as long as you don't have condensation build up in the henhouse (decent ventilation) the hens can tolerate some pretty cold temps. We had some wild temperature swings a montha and a half ago with a couple days approaching 80 and then two days later it was below 30.

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