help for a beginer

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jensonroberts, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. jensonroberts

    jensonroberts Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 19, 2015
    Hi I just found out that I could be getting chickens![​IMG] I am very excited as I have wanted them for ages. I have done a good amount of research on the internet and a small amount from a neighbour but I would love to know more from people who have loads of experience. I need to know about good breeds in colder climates that are calm and kind. Thanks for all your help.
  2. Caleb999

    Caleb999 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have Rhode Island reds. I live in eastern Ontario, so it can get pretty cold. They came in a cardboard box from a hatchery, and were aggressive and would peck at your ankles the first three days I had them. Now, they are coming to a year, and are super docile. They will eat out of your hand, you can pic them up , cuddle with them, they even come when they're called. I would suggest Rhode island reds as a good first hen. They also lay really well. Good luck!
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I prescribe spending at least an hour a day reading, reading, reading
    (taking notes and copying links into a word file to save for future reference)
    in these forums:

    If you're getting chicks ...

    Build your coop before you get any birds.....
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  4. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Wow, one article in 1993 had everything I needed to know about chickens. What did we do without the internet??? I enjoy reading about chicken care ( not diapering or cooking hot meals) but it is really simple if you don't over think it. Good luck!
  5. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    I'm new to birds, BYC is crazy helpful, but I'm looking at adding birds in the spring and cold tolerant is something I'm paying attention to, but in Indiana heat is as big a problem. Looking around here, you'll find that heat is far tougher on birds than cold.

    That said, some calm, cold tolerant birds that I've found are Orpingtons, Australorps, and Brahmas.

    1 person likes this.
  6. fishandchix1

    fishandchix1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2015
    Ocean City, Maryland
    There are a lot of hatcheries that offer started Pullets rather than day old chicks. This is really helpful because chicks can be very difficult to raise especially if you're a first timer! I recommend Rhode Island Reds, Australorps , or Orpington's they're great for beginners and hatcheries offer them first started pullets.
  7. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    Rhode Island reds are hardy and great layers, but can sometimes be people and/or flock-mate aggressive. All of my barred plymouth rock have been very hardy, good layers, and good around people, but a couple of them picked on their flock mates to the point I ended up culling them.

    In my experience, I've found the following breeds to be cold and heat hardy, good layers, and docile: black australorp, Easter eggers, dominique, and orpington.
  8. I also had Rhode island reds that were flock aggressive. I sold them all. Plus the ISA brown and two white Leghorns. All were being nasty to the flock.
    Seems to me the Red hens are more aggressive.
    I have two Barred rock, two Columbian rock, two Red rock cross, one Lavender Orpington and one black Ameruacana hen. Plus my standard Buff Polish rooster.
    They are all great winter birds and get along great.
    Where I live it gets very cold here in the winter. Some times -30 degrees. When it gets that cold I will heat the coop for the few days the temp. drops that low.
    I also will put out in the run a heated dog dish during the day for unfrozen water.
    Chickens are tough little birds.
  9. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    Most of the heavier dual purpose breeds will do fine in a cold climate provided they have a good coop with a lot of ventilation. I have a variety of breeds and all do fine. Chickens with small combs will be the most resistant to frostbite but again a properly ventilated coop will eliminate frostbite anyways even on large combs. I even have a little Sicilian buttercup rooster who does very well in our winters and he is a Mediterranean breed with a large comb. In regard to the red chickens as stated above, I have not found that result, mine have all acted like normal chickens, which will pick at each other, that's what chickens do they have their pecking order and they will bully the weaker birds. Plenty of food and water space, a large enough coop and run and enough roosts will alleviate some of that. I've got new Hampshire reds and isa brown pullets I just got this summer from hoovers hatchery and none of them are aggressive toward people and not any more chicken aggressive than any other random chicken
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Important considerations:

    Plenty of coop and run space. Absolute minimum: 4 s.f. in the coop and 10 s.f. in the run per bird. I recommend that you start with twice that amount! B/C you never know when you'll just "HAVE" to add some new chickens! What will you do with any accidental roosters? What will you do when your hens stop laying? While the keep them forever idea is what some folks choose, that can get to be pretty expensive to be feeding a non/productive flock year after year. Many chicken keepers keep a rotating flock: bring in a few new chicks every year, and cull the older, non/productive birds.

    Coop safety: Plenty of ventilation and light. All openings covered with 1/2" hardware cloth. Chicken wire is designed to keep chickens in, but is not at all predator proof. Run: IMO essential, even if you plan to free range. There will be times when it's a must to keep them behind a fence: predator visitation, training them to the nest box, flock deciding to go ranging too far from home. Roosts: at least 10 - 12" length/per bird. Best to be on the wide side so those toes don't get frost bit. 2 x 4 on the flat works well. Roosts need to be far enough from the back wall so the chicken's tails don't touch the wall. Need to have enough ceiling height so chickens can perch (ideally) without reaching the ceiling. The little prefab coops often don't allow enough height to allow chickens to roost, and have good ventilation.

    Choice of bird: For very cold areas, look for birds with small combs (rose, pea). Henderson's chicken breeds chart is a good place to start looking at all of the excellent options available to you. Decide what is important to you: Temperament, egg production, egg size, egg color, broody/never broody, cold/heat tolerance, color preference. My preference: small comb, colorful egg basket, cold tolerant. I love a mixed flock. I love Dominique and EE. Other folks choose to have birds of all one breed.

    How to start your flock:

    If you're going to start with chicks, you'll need a brooder. They grow fast. Plan to give them 1 s.f./chick. While a heat lamp is the standard fare, a more natural method is to use a heating pad cave that more closely mimics the heat produced by a broody hen.

    Started birds: will cost more, but will produce a laying flock faster. Generally, they will be between 8 - 16 weeks old. You should be guaranteed that they will all be pullets. Older birds: some flocksters will be removing their older birds or culling their flock. Sometimes someone will be getting rid of all of their poultry for one reason or an other. If you go this route, it's best to have someone go with you to see the birds to help you make an informed decision. You don't want to pay good money to buy someone else's problem birds. There are good bargains, but... buyer beware!

    Finally, don't rule out the option of starting your flock with fertile eggs! That's an incredible learning experience, but only if you're the adventuresome sort, and willing to accept the possibility of a failed hatch. You can purchase an incubator, borrow one, or make one! If you have the confidence to re-wire a lamp (given good instructions) you can make a very good incubator for a fraction of the cost of buying a so-so incubator! I recommend that if you go this route, you avoid shipped eggs, and get your eggs locally.

    No matter how you start your flock, I recommend that you get all of your birds from the same source and at the same time. The risk of introducing disease or external parasites is very real when mixing and matching older birds from different sources. Also, it's difficult to integrate new birds into an existing flock.

    I wish you the best with your adventure! Happy learning!!!
    1 person likes this.

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