Getting started (chicks or hens - that is the question)

javapop

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 14, 2013
10
0
22
Georgia
We are in SE Georgia, and need advise on starting with hens, or do we need to start with chicks? Totally new to this!

Please advise, we have a coop, a chicken tractor. Have waterer, and just need to know about feed.... and anything else!

Please advise, or point me to a better forum on this site!

Thanks, David
 

HEChicken

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 12, 2009
7,552
208
356
BuCo, KS
My Coop
My Coop
David, you can start with either chicks or hens.

Pros of chicks:
  • They are used to you and will be pretty friendly and tame once they are grown
  • Cute, entertaining, chick TV
  • Easy to find, especially this time of year, and don't cost too much
Pros of hens:
  • Will be ready to start laying soon after you get them (will stop laying due to stress of move for 2-4 weeks)
Cons of chicks:
  • Can be a lot of work to raise them in a brooder, transition them to outside, train them to roost etc
  • Wait time for eggs
Cons of hens:
  • May not have been handled much so could be stand-offish
  • Harder to find locally and not as easy to ship as chicks

So there is food for thought for you. There may be other pros and cons but those are what jumped to mind first thing.

As for feed, if you get chicks, start with medicated chick starter, then switch to either non-medicated or a grower formula when they are about 8 weeks. They can stay on that for life, but offer supplemental calcium (oyster shell) around 16-18 weeks of age. OR, at that age switch to layer pellets. If you get grown birds, go ahead and start on the layer pellets right away.

I can't recommend brands since I don't know what is available in your area but I can say that in my opinion it is best to feed a good quality feed, as the better nourished they are, the better quality their eggs will be.
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
576
448
South Georgia
It's a personal choice. Chicks are a bit of bother to raise, although you could raise them in your coop at this time of year. They might need a heat lamp for a few weeks weeks. You'll probably find they avoid being under the heat lamp around 3 weeks of age if you raise them in your coop. Hens at point of lay are not easy to find, and you can't tell how old they are once they're adults, so it's not unusual for people to sell hens who have stopped laying, or slowed down considerably. You can have pullets around the age they start to lay) shipped, but it is risky and expensive. A lot depends where you are going to buy them. You can mail order from a hatchery or buy chicks (seasonally) at feed stores. Those chicks are usually shipped from a hatchery. They are usually a week or two old (the store should tell you) so have recovered from the stress of shipping and will need little or no heat. Or you can find a breeder or farm in your area to sell you some birds. You might check out our Buy Sell Trade forum. Be careful of using a source you're not familiar with, such as a stranger on Craig's list, as they sometimes either are too old to lay or have a disease.

That's what I can think of, off the top of my head, anyway.

Feed is simple enough. For young chicks, starter or starter/grower feed. Once they start laying, layer feed, either crumbles or pellets. Many people offer oyster shell separately to laying hens, as a calcium supplement. Or feed flock raiser to any age, but be sure to provide calcium for the laying hens.
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
Some people like starting with chicks because they are cute and fun but they generally require a brooder set up with a warming light and a little more time and care then pullets that can live outside. I have a very small space and work a lot so while I love chicks I generally just buy 2-3 month old pullets who can move straight into the coop. I think it's easier. Up to you if you want to.

It takes a little effort but you can still tame them to you just fine. Mine all come when I call them and eat out of my hand.

If you get chicks you can decide if you want medicated or unmedicated feed chick starter. Up to you. Once your hens reach layer age, if you have a flock of all laying hens you can switch to a layer feed if you want. This is a chicken feed made for adult hens and has extra calcium for egg production. The other option is to buy a grower feed or a flock raiser feed and just add a bowl of calcium (usually oyster shell) on the side. Your hens will eat it as needed. This is ideal if you have roosters or some older and some younger birds who can be harmed by too much calcium.

Good luck! Welcome to BYC!
 
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debid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Jan 20, 2011
7,557
6,886
516
middle TN
It's worth noting that it's hard to guess the age of a grown pullet/young hen/old hen so people get taken regularly by unscrupulous sellers. It's also impossible to know what illnesses they may have recovered from that they still carry. Approach grown bird purchasing with caution. When I wanted to add grown pullets, I found my source through the Where am I/Where are you board here. It was a great experience so I don't want to dissuade you -- just ask a lot of questions and walk away if anything seems off.

And chicks are great fun, of course.
 

TLWR

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 10, 2010
2,892
302
286
southern AL
When we (well, me) decided to venture into chickens, I wanted adults. But I have ducks and didn't want to worry about keeping them separate to avoid passing disease between the 2. And finding adults of the breeds I wanted.
So we decided on chicks. I was going to order them, but I was impatient and TSC had soem of the ones I was considering, so I snagged 6 of those and rehomed 3. Now there are 2 more in the brooder from our school hatch. One will be staying as I think the other is a roo.

brooding chicks isn't too bad. You just have to spend time with them daily so they are friendly. I did mine on sand it was pretty nice. They are fuzzy critters, so I got them out as soon as our cold snap ended onto the patio. The little ones now spend the day in the pen and the bigger little ones spend the day free ranging with the ducks. The little ones are still too little to free range. They still come back to the brooder on the patio at night and get a light if it gets too cold, but I think we are past that now here.

Chicks are fun to watch grow. They are entertaining.
I still think ducks are cuter and a bit more fun, but I'm content to raise either from day olds.
Now dogs... I want them as adults. Our next (several years out) may be a puppy. I'm not looking forward to that lol
 

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