Four questions from me (a complete newbie).

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bittersweethorsefarm, May 22, 2010.

  1. bittersweethorsefarm

    bittersweethorsefarm Hatching

    May 22, 2010
    West Virginia
    I just purchased a new horse farm this month and my farm already has a chicken coop & a small fenced area right outside of it. I have been scrolling through the Breed list for suitable egg layers (wanting also friendly, non-agressive, easily contained, and not noisy).

    Easter Eggers
    Russian Orloff

    I started a buying search, but wasn't planning on buying anytime this month nor possibly June. But looking always leads to buying when it comes to me. [​IMG]

    Whichs to my questions below... [​IMG]

    Question 1: What is your experience with each (or one) of the breeds above?

    Question 2: Is it easier to start with chicks that have already hatched or receive eggs that haven't hatched yet?

    Question 3: I have seen foxes roaming my property (no hunting is allowed in the community) and I know the fence surrounding the chicken coop is good to keep them out, but I was eventually hoping to allow them to free range once older --- but with foxes, cats, raccoons, etc animals roaming around is that advisible to free range them or should I just later on build a larger containment area?

    Question 4: Do I need a rooster or can I just have females?

    Question 5 (HA! I lied): going from question 3, what do you do to keep other animals from killing your flock?
  2. NancyinAlaska

    NancyinAlaska Songster

    Dec 26, 2009
    Willow Alaska
    Where is the horse farm? Florida?, or Alaska? That has alot to do with what breeds of chickens will do the best for you. I live where it's cold so I look for breeds with rose or pea combs, single big combs get frostbitten easily. Of what you named I have Light Brahma's and Speckled Sussex, they do well here. I'd buy chicks from someone local if you can, and if not get day old chicks shipped from a reputable company, McMurray, Ideal.......................????? Hatching eggs can be tricky. I have a family of fox that eat here daily, and no problems. Owls, eagles, they are all a threat here, I have 6' fencing with fishing net over the top, bottom of fence has chicken wire held down with rebar like spikes every foot. As for a roo, it's up to you, you don't NEED one, they are fun and if you want to have fertile eggs that you can hatch yourself you have to have one. Hope that helps, have a goodun.............................
  3. wishful

    wishful In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2010
    Tacoma, WA
    Welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    I don't have chickens yet so I can't answer your first question. Though just one note on the Hollands - they're a very rare breed and may be difficult to find. I know Sand Hill Preservation Centre has some, but they don't sex their chicks, so you'd have to get them straight-run. Although now that I typed that I feel like I've seen them somewhere else... Oh yeah, Ideal has them. I don't know the quality of them or anything, but they do have them, so I guess Hollands are findable afterall. Go ahead and ignore this bit, then. >.<

    Again, I don't have experience of my own but from reading around I'd guess it's easier to start with chicks. For one thing you can have them sexed, so you know with a fair amount of certainty (mistakes do happen, but sexing's pretty accurate) that you're getting a certain number of each gender, instead of having to wait until they hatch and then having to figure out what to do with the extra roos. Plus you may have a few losses with chickes, but it sounds like sending hatching eggs can be a bit unreliable at times - not necessarily always, but I'd imagine the success rate is lower than with chicks. And then of course there's the patience thing - I don't think I'd want to wait for the eggs to hatch, haha.

    Free-ranging is always a risk and if you have a lot of predators, it may be more of a risk than you want to take. A predator-proof run is really the only way to keep them safe. I know some people free-range them for just a few hours, while they can be there to supervise, so that's one option if you want them to get out sometimes but don't want to leave them unprotected.

    You can just have females - the hens will lay just as well without a rooster as they will with one. A good rooster will offer some protection, though, and warn the hens about danger and just generally look out for his girls. And of course if you're wanting to hatch out your own eggs someday you'll need a rooster. If you just want hens for eggs, though, you don't need a rooster.

    As for keeping animals from killing a free-ranging flock, I'm not totally sure. You could make sure you're there with them, as I said, but it seems like a swift predator could still nab a chicken in front of your eyes. A livestock protection dog is one option, but you'd have to be careful with the dog you selected for that job, as many dogs would attack your chickens instead of protecting them. Providing the chickens places to run to, like bushes or woodpiles, can also help so they have somewhere to hide if a hawk is circling overhead or some such thing.

    Good luck with your chicken-keeping!
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  4. chickensrock98

    chickensrock98 In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2010
    well hello and congrats on your new farm.

    1. i have had no experience with any of the breeds but i have heard great things about easter eggers.

    2. its really your preference both are cool i personally like buying day old chicks because you can pick almost any breeds and you dont have to worry about
    all the incubating hassle and having some of the eggs not hatch. and you can get just hens and not having to worry about getting 9 roos and 1 hen.

    3. i wouldn't let them free range unless they are well supervised but even then you can not be 100% sure they will be safe i would recommend building a large run. you do not need a rooster hens will lay without a roo but they can not hatch roos are good and bad the good they are very good looking they will protect and keep the rest of your flock in order the bad they can be noisy but if you have neighbors that dont mind and you dont mind than roos are and excellent choice.

    5. roos will help fend off other birds or cats

    well hope this helped
  5. bittersweethorsefarm

    bittersweethorsefarm Hatching

    May 22, 2010
    West Virginia
    Quote:Thank you Nancy!

    Sorry I forgot to mention... West Virgina (in Berkeley County). Normally mild winters, this past winter year was not fun though.

    Fencing is 6 feet with logs and cement blocks on the inside to keep the preds out... one strand electric wire at the top (but isn't hot yet).

    I would consider a rooster, but I have heard horror stories with overly aggressive ones so I was hesitant to look at them more. Do you or anyone reading/posting to my questions, know what is a good gentle breed of rooster (that is also not protective of his flock with humans or chicken friendly pets)?
  6. bittersweethorsefarm

    bittersweethorsefarm Hatching

    May 22, 2010
    West Virginia
    Quote:thank you!! Still learning what breed is rare and what is easy to get to. I always wanted chickens, but never had the motion to actually "get them" until I saw my farm had everything already set up (just needs a little fine tuning from lack of use). [​IMG]

    I am leaning more to likely keeping them in the smaller containment while young (but old enough to not need special chick care) and then build a larger area if I find them needing a larger area to move about.
  7. bittersweethorsefarm

    bittersweethorsefarm Hatching

    May 22, 2010
    West Virginia
    Quote:Thank you! I didn't even think about a rooster helping to fend off the smaller preds... but I've always been wary of roosters for rumors of aggressive behavior towards humans. I may have to get a rooster down the road and see what happens between him & me.

    I came across coyote statues (very similar to the owls one would place on roofs to guard against birds from landing) and thought I might buy a few and place them near the chicken's area (but not close enough that it would scare them) to see if that would ward off foxes and other predators (says it is excellent to keep geese away). hmmm I may give that a try. [​IMG]
  8. tammyd57

    tammyd57 Songster

    "I would consider a rooster, but I have heard horror stories with overly aggressive ones so I was hesitant to look at them more. Do you or anyone reading/posting to my questions, know what is a good gentle breed of rooster (that is also not protective of his flock with humans or chicken friendly pets)?"

    You can't go wrong with a Giant Cochin rooster. They are very gentle with their girls, and I have never heard of one who was aggressive to people. If you aren't going to be breeding and hatching eggs that you want to be pure, you can get a Cochin rooster to have with any breeds of hens. He will guard them and bring them treats. Cochin hens are very gentle also, but they lay a smaller egg and sometimes not as prolifically as other breeds. But they are very nice too.
  9. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Quote:[​IMG] from Montana

    Q1: I have Easter Eggers and their temperament can be all over the board, but I love mine. They're a kick. I'm planning on getting some Barnevelders. I hear they have nice temperaments. (I currently have sex-links, Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, and brown leghorns).

    Q2: I believe that chicks are easier mainly because you can't guarantee the numbers on hatching. Too many things can go wrong for the novice. You'll need an incubator and egg turner.

    Q3: You may lose some chickens if you free range them. Many opt to have large pens where their chickens can go outside.

    Q4: You can just have hens. No rooster required unless you want fertilized eggs.

    Q5: I keep my chickens in a barn and I close it up at night. We have grizzly bear, black bear, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, eagles and hawks here. Not to mention the occasional loose dog. A six foot tall fence with electric wire near the ground and near the top usually prevents critters, but I've never done the electrified fence thingy.

    Those are my answers. Others with greater knowledge will be sure to share! [​IMG]
  10. I own so I can say these ones are the best.....[​IMG] [​IMG]

    5 BPR,
    1 RIR,
    5 BO's,
    3 light Brahma,
    3 welsummer,
    1 black langshun, 1
    1 white rock,
    1 speckled Sussex,
    2 black Astrulorps

    So far I find them all really great birds very mild they even run to me and sit by me or hop up on my lap if I have treats.

    It is your choice what ever you feel willl work for you.
    Last edited: May 23, 2010

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