hi! I can't wait to start my flock. could use some advice

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by adamheath, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. adamheath

    adamheath In the Brooder

    Jan 20, 2014
    I've been dreaming of starting a flock and have been reading up on here and in a few books for years. Never had a landlord that would allow chickens, but we just purchased our first home and according to zonining laws I can have a flock of 12!

    My plan is to start off with 6 birds and add more next season if I feel like we can handle more. I want to raise layers. Pretty much narrowdbit down to two breeds. Barred rocks or RIRs. I've read mixes reviews of both breeds and was just wondering what y'alls reccomendations were. I live in southern California so winters aren't an issue. Summers can get pretty warm tho. Do both breeds lay year round and do I really need artificial light to keep them laying through the winter? I plan on feeding commercial layer feed until I get a routine down then adding fodder to the menu. Any comments/advice would be appreciated
  2. relizabethcole

    relizabethcole In the Brooder

    Jan 20, 2014
    Hi, I also live in a warm climate (North Carolina). The lowest it gets here is maybe a light freeze at night, above freezing during the day. A week of 40 degree temps is a cold week here and it doesn't last long. Our chickens live in an open air coop (mostly wire screen with one corner closed off with plywood so they can stay out of rain and wind. Our chickens lay through the winter without any artificial light. The summer is harder for them than the winter and they usually stop laying for a while when it is really hot (high 90s), molt in the fall and start laying again in the winter. We've had them for 3 years, so I'm not an expert, but that's the pattern I've noticed.

    My advice is don't bother with artificial light and keep their coop open and airy for hot weather (they won't mind the cold.) In the winter give them some scratch (cracked corn and wheat) at bedtime to keep warm at night. During the day they will sit in the sun, run around to keep warm. In the summer mine love shade and ice water.

    I have Orpingtons. they lay well. huge eggs.

    have fun!
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hi there, [​IMG]and welcome to BYC!

    You will need to experiment with your birds this coming winter as to whether they lay or not. Some birds do well in the low light of winter and others don't. Some breeds can be better layers than others, however it still boils down to each individual bird.

    Good luck in all your chicken adventures and enjoy BYC!
  4. cstronks

    cstronks Songster

    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    In southern California you will more than likely want a heat tolerant bird. Winter will be a non-issue for you. Cold for a chicken is nowhere near what a person considers cold. Effectively, a cold hardy bird is meant to spend extended periods of time in sub-freezing temps. I have Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and a Minorca in New Jersey (which has had cold snaps of -5 degrees) and the birds have been great. Between my flock of 5 I get 3-4 eggs a day, which is just one less than what I average in the summer. If you are interested in layers, then hybrids like sex links or comets would be your best bet. Heritage breeds like australorps and Rhode Island Reds are also tremendous layers with more durable builds. Both australorps and RIRs do extremely well in the cold! Hope that helps with your bird decision.

    As of how many birds you can get - my advice would be to just go for it. Aside from building a coop, the difference between having 6 birds and 12 birds is minimal. You will still have to feed them and give them fresh water once or twice daily, along with egg checks, so what is carrying more feed or buying a bigger waterer. Once you establish a flock, it is very difficult to integrate more birds, and this can cause stress and fighting. The integration process can also take weeks to establish, and then the hens will need to establish and order and accept each other. Sometimes, they just do not get along. My one regret is that I only started with 5 chickens. I now want a flock of roughly 20 hens, as I am designing a new coop, however it will be very very hard on my current flock of 5. You can do 12 as long as you have the space! Best of luck to you!!!
  5. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! You might want to check out the S CA thread to find out what breeds are working for people close to you https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/161/california-southern Hatchery RIR probably lay better than the hatchery BRs, but if you are going to have a mixed breed flock, RIR have a tendency to be pretty bossy. Are you planning on replacing them every couple of years, or will you keep the birds long term?
  6. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG] We're glad to have you. Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks should provide you with plenty of eggs-- they are pretty good layers. However, some Rhode Island Reds (in my experience) can be mean and standoffish.
  7. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Congratulations on your new home, and good luck establishing your flock.
  9. Alright [​IMG] great to have ya onboard with us [​IMG]

    congratulations on your new home [​IMG]

    I hope your flock turns out well [​IMG]

    gander007 [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by