First Timer Here, looking for advice on first flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mlehman, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. mlehman

    mlehman Hatching

    Jul 29, 2008
    Garden Grove, CA
    Hello everyone. I am Mike. I live in Garden Grove, CA. I am seriously entertaining the thought of starting my first flock. Due to inexperience and space considerations, I am thinking of starting out with 5 hens. I may purchase 17 week old started pullets for this project. And, I will build my first coop, about 4 feet by 4 feet and 2 feet deep. I plan to make it movable (on casters) with a 5 foot run coming out of the front.

    What I basically need, is some actual advice on who, what and where to buy what I need. As far as the coop itself, I can build that. Some advice on what has worked and what has not would be great.

    But, for the birds themselves, a little advice is needed. I have read a lot about the differences of day old chicks versus 17 week old, and it seems the 17 week old are easier to start out with. But, the day old can imprint with me, will need some vaccinations and to be debeeked? Also, the 17 week olds would start laying sooner. But what about sexing, the minimum order some hatcheries require, and the straight run deal?

    I am raising them solely for the eggs, thinking 5 would be more than enough. But, would love to hear some advice from others that started small and wanted to stay small.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. gumpsgirl

    gumpsgirl Crowing Premium Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Welcome to BYC and congratulations on entertaining the thought of starting a small flock! If you don't have a lot of time, I would recommend the started pullets versus the day old chicks. If time is not an issue, then I would go with the day old chicks. They are so fun to raise and watch! Some hatcheries will let you only order a few. I think My Pet Chicken does that. You can also try your local craigslist. There are usually people who list their chicks for sale on there. There are many who don't vaccinate and some who do. It really is up to you, but I would NEVER debeak a chick or chicken. There is absolutely no reason to do this and it can cause problems down the road. It is harder for the chickens to eat and drink without their beaks and debeaking hurts. The reason that the large poultry farms debeak is because of the mass numbers of chicks and chickens that they have in such small, confined spaces. As for a coop, check out the coop designs section of this forum. There are lots and lots of great ideas listed there.
  3. buc

    buc Songster

    Apr 20, 2007
    Welcome aboard.

    I have one warning for you, you might think you want only 4 hens, but before long you will be looking around and wonder how on God's Green Earth do you now have 24.

    They have a way of growing on you.

    I recommend the Silver Laced Wyandotte as your first chickens, they lay year round and look good.
  4. mlehman

    mlehman Hatching

    Jul 29, 2008
    Garden Grove, CA
    Thank you for your help. This is a nice forum to learn.

  5. rachel

    rachel Songster

    Apr 11, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I second that about debeaked birds-- it's mean and serves no purpose in the backyard flock. Luckily, when you buy them from the hatcheries they come with beaks. [​IMG] Also, for backyard flocks, vaccinations IMO aren't neccessary. If you're really concerned, you can feed them medicated starter feed, but you should remember that what you put in your bird, goes into the eggs that you eat. A flock of 5 hens will provide you with around 15-28 eggs per week, most of the year, depending on breed. For most families, that's plenty.
    I planned on getting three chicks about a year and a half ago. I ended up bringing home 4 from the feed store. Added three ducks, and have 8 more chicks on the way, and really really want a few more varieties as well as some meat birds in the future. It's a slippery slope. You'll love having them though! [​IMG]
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    What they said above. You do NOT NOT NOT need or want debeaking - its only purpose is to reduce the casualties due to keeping chickens WAY too crowded and miserable. Debeaking is actually a DISADVANTAGE of buying started pullets, since feed store started pullets are almost all debeaked.

    Vaccinations you probably don't need either, barring special circumstances, although if it makes you happy then sure go ahead.

    Have you asked around at local feed stores to see when their chick orders are and what breeds they carry. That is by far the simplest way to get small numbers of chicks. Alternatively you could try which (expensively) can ship smaller orders... I *think* Ideal will do so also as long as you absorb the risk.

    Or, see if you can locate someone within driving distance (either on BYC or elsewhere) who might sell you some chicks or young birds.

    FWIW, your coop and (especially) run are pretty small for 5 birds... I'd really suggest either upsizing the living quarters or just getting like 3 chickens. Both they and YOU will be much happier that way (sanitation, social interaction, and veterinary-problem wise).

    Good luck and have fun,

  7. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

    May 11, 2008
    Howell Michigan
    You might want to read some of the post under coops. You will find it very helpful.

  8. mlehman

    mlehman Hatching

    Jul 29, 2008
    Garden Grove, CA
    Thank you everyone for your help. I have decided on the day old chicks from I am going to get 3 delewares and 2 Rhode Island Reds. I think they will be a great way to start.

    For my coop I am going with a hutch style, about 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 3 feet deep. I will provide a safe and secure enclosed run of about 4 feet wide and 10 feet long, but will hopefully allow free range in the yard when the get to be about 3 months old. I think this should be more than enough.

    Unless someone has another suggestion?

    Thanks again,

  9. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I agree that vaccines aren't necessary, but feeding medicated chick starter wouldn't help anyhow. Medicated feed only treats coccidia (sp?) a parasitic infestation, not disease. Once the chickens are old enough for layer feed, at 20 weeks or when they first start to lay, the majority of the danger from coccidia has passed and the layer feed is not medicated.
    Mike, you should ideally have 4 sq. feet of coop space per chicken; so for 5 chickens you want 20 sq. feet. Double that for their run. So it sounds like with your current plan you'd have enough run, but not enough coop space.
    Good luck with your chicken adventure and welcome to the forum.

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