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How many to start with?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by anniebethj, Nov 23, 2008.

  1. anniebethj

    anniebethj In the Brooder

    Nov 21, 2008
    Plain City, UT
    I've decided to get some chickens, but I need a coop first....the problem I have is I don't know how big to make my coop until I know how many chickens I will be getting. Is it best to just start out small, and then increase later on, or should I just dive right in, and get several? Is it better to order from online, or go to a local feed store in the spring?
  2. GopherBoyFarms

    GopherBoyFarms Songster

    Mar 18, 2008
    Vancouver WA
    it depends on if you are in town, or not...how many chickens does your town allow? If there isnt a limit (there isnt where we are....so far) then I say do like we did....JUMP IN we knew NOTHING and ordered 25 day old chicks...that was last March. Now we are hatching chicks, selling eggs, have 2 brooders, a home made Gopher-Bator, and we are building our second coop.
    GO FOR IT! you are in the right place to learn all you can about being a chicken addict.

  3. sussexgal

    sussexgal Songster

    I think also, it depends on what you would like the chickens to do for you. Do you want just eggs for your family? Do you want just lawn ornaments for a few pets? Are you wishing for a rooster so you can have fertile eggs for a broody to hatch or to go into an incubator? Hatcheries have minimum $ or minimum chick numbers to fill an order - but they will sex the chicks for you. Farm stores have chicks, but it's a toss up on the sex of the birds. So.... it's kind of a personal thing with how to do it. I was like Gopher... I jumped in with both feet. It's been a wonderful experience and I love all the feather balls that share my yard. But I did have to deal with excess roos and eventually develop a plan... excess eggs get sold and we eat the birds that aren't going to be kept. You learn as you go and one sick bird will make you an expert on the various maladies in the chicken world. They'll make you laugh and they'll break your heart. If it were me? I'd build the coop larger than you think you'll need..... chickens are addictive and you'll want more no matter how many you have [​IMG] Welcome to the wonderful world of poultry!

    edited for spelling
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2008
  4. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member 10 Years

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Sussexgal, that was a really good post.

    To the OP: [​IMG]

    This is the perfect place to get all the practical advice you need about raising chickens. I'm glad you're here!

    You could always start small, with plans to increase the size of your flock as you learn more and see additional breeds you want to own (which is unavoidable here...some people have the most beautiful birds! [​IMG] ). If you do that, just build a large coop and have a few birds (5-10) at first. The coop construction section is the best place on this site to get information about building your coop.

    Before you go out to buy some chickens, do your research. Find out your local ordinances and make sure you can have a rooster where you live (if you can't, you can still keep chickens and they will still lay eggs for you). Like Sussexgal said, you need to think about what you want the chickens to do for you and what you are looking for in a chicken. (Yes, picking out a chicken breed is very similar to picking out a dog in that you have a lot of characteristics to consider). Some chicken breeds are better at laying eggs, some are friendly, some are flighty and standoffish, some are better for cold climates than others, etc. You may also want your chickens to have a particular "look".

    This page is a good place to start just to begin thinking about what breeds you might like to keep:

    You can order your birds from a hatchery or get them from a feed store. Feed stores will have less variety; they usually only have a few different breeds of chicks at a time. It's really up to you which way to go. With a hatchery, you're more likely to get the sexes you want as you can order them by sex. This site is a great place to ask about various hatcheries and see which ones are worth ordering from, and know what to do to plan for the arrival of your chicks.

    I think that's all the information I'll share with you for now. I'm sure within a few days, you'll be posting all over the forum with your questions. You'll find the folks here friendly and helpful. See you around the forum and welcome to chickens! [​IMG]
  5. antlers

    antlers Songster

    Jun 20, 2008
    East Cent Minnesota
    Then multiply it by 2 to allow for loss and jeeze I should have gotten more and ........
  6. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    Chicken lady is right. Start small. Your initial expense will be lower, your construction costs will be lower and your feeling of wasted time and money will be lower should you decide that keeping chickens isn't right for you. (It does happen, folks.)

    As sussexgal said, you have to know what you expect from the birds and you have to provide a little more information about that for anyone to give advice about how many to start with.

    But to start you off, if it's just for eggs for your family, I'd say estimate how many eggs you family will use in a year and divide by 200. (Around the number of eggs a laying hen might produce.) That will give you the approximate number of hens you need. Add some extra for the eggs you will need to bribe your neighbors with to feed the birds while you're away.


    [edited for spelling]
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2008
  7. 2468Chickensrgr8

    2468Chickensrgr8 Songster

    Nov 7, 2007
    Ditto...All very good advice !!!......Antlers is speaking from experience....dont make the coop to small...because you'll be wanting more !!!
  8. mylilchix

    mylilchix Songster

    I agree, build bigger. We have a 60 sq. ft. coop for our roo and 14 hens. I've become so addicted I'm already planning a secondary coop and larger run for next year. I'll be ordering at least 8 new chicks in the spring.

  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Unless you're restrained by local zoning, it is probably worth building a larger rather than smaller coop (finances and space permitting). You can always convert it to a garden or storage shed if you are some unique weirdo who ends up not liking chickens<g> and it will allow room for More CHicken Acquisition in the future. It is MUCH MUCH easier and cheaper to build a larger coop int he first place than to try to enlarge whatcha got.

    You might consider not getting too awful many chickens to start with, though, maybe like 5 or 6. It will give you more of a chance to decide what you like, dislike, want, don't want, etcetera and then you will still have room for More Chicken Acquisition according to lessons learned [​IMG]

    If you want to be really on the small end of "few", though, I'd sort of suggest starting with 3 rather than just 2, b/c if you should lose one of a pair then you have all sorts of problems whereas if you lose one of 3 then the survivors still have company and you are not *forced* to deal with the health and social problems inherent in introducing a new adult chicken.

    Have fun [​IMG],

  10. anniebethj

    anniebethj In the Brooder

    Nov 21, 2008
    Plain City, UT
    Thanks for the advice everybody. I mostly just want eggs for my family, but I also would like to have some to share, and maybe sell, eventually. We live in a subdivision, but it is in a rural city, cows and horses and goats are all allowed, so I would think that there wouldn't be much in the way of limiting chickens either. I guess I will have to call the city offices in the morning to find out.

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