How did you go from 'zero' to having chickens?

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by saffron, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. saffron

    saffron Hatching

    Jun 15, 2009
    Southwest Ohio
    So I've been wanting to get chickens (as pets and for fresh eggs) - go figure. I confirmed that they're legal where I live, and about a week ago I put the finishing touches on a coop modeled after a lovely one I found on this site. I've also found a vet in my area who will see birds. I still don't feel confident about getting started though. Truth be told, my closest experience with chickens is lurking on this website. I've never known anyone IRL who had chickens, and in fact I've never even touched a live bird before. Among other things, I'm really lost about how to find a reputable/ethical breeder.

    So how did you get started with chickens - did most people here grow up with chickens? Did you have a chicken 'mentor'? Or how did you manage to figure chicken care out on your own?

    Seems like there's a lot of good info out there for people who somewhat know what they're doing, but less for complete novices.

    Thanks for listening.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  2. Sammimom

    Sammimom Songster

    Mar 29, 2009
    Wow! You are so prepared! Chickens are really very easy. I found "Keep Chickens" by Barara Kilarski and "Living With Chickens" by Jay Rossier quite helpful. We got our four chicks from the local feed store in March, they have been so fun. When I have a question I just give a shout out to the BYCF, and get loads of help.

    Just dive in! [​IMG]
  3. chickenbottom

    chickenbottom Songster

    Dec 30, 2008
    hollister, florida
    i grew up around chickens but then wasnt around em for years. the basic guide to chickens is keep em fed, watered, and their living quarters clean i think you will do a great job and some people order from a breeder some from a hatchery oh and [​IMG]
  4. Renee

    Renee Songster

    May 7, 2008
    I got my first chickens last March with no experience whatsoever. Like you, I read material on this site and in books, and built my coop first.

    I ordered from Ideal and I am happy with my chickens (I want eggs, not breeding chickens).

    I'll tell you what I have learned.

    Chickens are not as easy to keep as I thought they would be. They die and get ill much more often than your normal household pets do. It is very difficult to tell when a chicken is ill, since they hide it so well.

    There is no consensus on how to treat chicken illnesses and parasites. Some worm all of the time, others never do; some cull immediately at the first sign of respiratory illness, others run through every antibiotic at any sign of illness; some take heroic measures to save eggbound or crop impactions, others don't because the problems often return. If you wish to treat your chicken like it is a cat or a dog, I would be prepared for some pretty regular vet bills, especially if you are paranoid like me, and think that each runny poop is a sign of e coli.

    Each flock is different, too. Most people use pine shavings. My chicken ate so many she got a sour and impacted crop. I use sand now, no shavings at all.

    Some people use the deep litter method, and in some parts of the country I imagine it is the only way to go. Others clean daily. Some swear by food-grade DE as a worm preventer and lice and mite preventer, others wouldn't get near the stuff without a mask and a hazmat team.

    Feeding has a learning curve too. I thought chickens ate scraps. Well, if you want to avoid possible problems like feather picking, you should feed grower or layer pellets. When they molt, they need more protein. They need oyster shell and grit. Many people give apple cider vinegar in the water (no metal containers!) as a method of preventing fungal and yeast problems, some give yogurt and probiotics to prevent e coli, salmonella, and other bugs, some give black oil sunflower seeds for extra protein. Most start the chicks on medicated starter to avoid high mortality from cocci. Some let them free range anywhere including the compost pile, others say watch out for botulism. Some feed corn and scratch, others say they won't get a balanced diet that way.

    I try to take the most conservative route in all cases: medicated chick starter, organic layer feed once I started eating the eggs, clean coop and run, no shavings, fresh water with a little liquid vitamin in it, weekly yogurt and extra protein during molting. No antibiotic unless a vet prescribes it. No worming. No free ranging in the compost pile. No heroic measures to save a seriously ill chicken (by that I mean surgery).

    I also recommend buying and reading a good book like Storey.

  5. ChOOkens

    ChOOkens ►ChOOken In A Box◄

    Jun 1, 2009
    I'm not very old so I can't say "oh hey I grew up with chickens." But some relatives did.

    When I discovered one of my friends had chickens I wanted them myself. He bought 3 little chicks in and they were so cute and fluffy.

    There's business that lets you rent chooks then decide if you want to keep them, we rented ours for 6 weeks then decided to keep them. I couldn't be happier with my decision. [​IMG]
    (Oh and we;ve had them for about 13 weeks. They're about 30 wks now.)
  6. Drafthorsegal

    Drafthorsegal Chirping

    May 29, 2009
    I waited until I got my own place, made it comfortable for the cats, dogs, and horses... then looked around to see what else I wanted.

    I really wanted chickens. I just didn't understand how much I'd really LOVE my chickens after I got them. For example, today I had my three EE and two Australorps out in the grass in the sun playing. They romped around me (they are 4 and 5 weeks old) until they got so tired they took dust baths in the grass and flopped down beside me to all nap safely under my watch. I decided, watching the absolutely adorable pile of awkward teen chickies that if I never had to move from that spot the rest of my life I'd be super happy. Horses were out, grazing... the breeze was blowing.... it smelled wonderful and all my daliahs are in full sprout... life is good.

    I think... its time you had moments like that now. Go decide what sort of chicks you want and order some somewhere! It's time! It's really time. Be afraid, thats only natural, but things will work out and you'll be a good chicken friend. In fact, you sound alot like me with my first horse. I went out, rented a stall from a neighbor with a boarding stable down the road about two houses, got it all ready, got all the horse stuff I'd need... then spent three months shoping for 'the perfect horse' (tm).. and it was well worth it. Ten years and five horses later... its time for you to take the chicken plunge yourself!

    I have a feeling... you'll start something in your area. You might be the only one now, but once your neighbors get to see your chickens... taste the eggs... and have someone to help them, odds are a few more chickaholics will crop up in your neighborhood... and to think, you'll be leading the way!

    Good luck.. and please keep us posted!
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  7. hollymh

    hollymh *A Scrambled Egg*

    Feb 8, 2009
    One day, long long ago(more like 6 months ago) a neighbors hen laid eggs in my flower box, she came back everyday for two weeks and dropped an egg off, so I decided I wanted to hatch a few!!! Then, I found a bator online for $50, had my hubby rob some eggs(three of them), put em' in the bator and wa-la I had chickens!!! They ended up being house chickens for many months until company came to visit, I started with three and I now have an entire flock of chickens, ducks, and more recently quail!

    Then after I got chickens,ducks and more birds lol I got a garden full of fruits and veggies!

    Next, peacocks, pigs,goats and a horse or two LOL

    ETA: I'm stupidly in love with all my animals, I never would have thought I could [​IMG] a chicken [​IMG] I was lucky enough to have the resources to build a coop and fidn this site prior to hatching my first set of eggs, this site is my go-to for anything bird related!
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  8. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    First off, WELCOME!!

    We are so glad you are here!

    Sounds like you've done your homework. Good JOB!

    There are MANY wonderful breeders here on BYC.

    If you want to hatch your own, get some hatching eggs from one of them and incubate them.

    Much better than hatchery birds.
  9. pixie74943

    pixie74943 Songster

    May 25, 2009
    Adelaide, Australia
    How did I start with Chickens??

    I got one and threw it in with my friends flock. Then I made something roughly like his and brought the bird home.

    It was wrong, really. But it got better.

    You're already waaaaay ahead of me. And you've got the whole BYC Forums. Go get yourself some chickens and start enjoying it. [​IMG]
  10. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

    Apr 22, 2008
    You're more prepared than I was. Our coop wasn't finished and we don't have a vet here who will see chickens. I did do lots of reading and research. It ended up being much easier than I anticipated from everything I had read. Take the plunge!

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