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I know nothing, please help me!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jmbiker11, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. jmbiker11

    jmbiker11 In the Brooder

    Dec 28, 2008
    I want to get into keeping chickens, but I have no experience and know nothing about it. So if anybody could help me that would be great.

    First I guess what kind of housing do they need? I live in Alabama so it doesnt get too cold. In the winter it might get in the 20s or 30s, during the summer though it is hot and humid.I was looking at pictures of tractors on this website and I was thinking of building one of those because I live in a neighborhood but its not like Im
    right next to someone, im even considered county not city.

    Im going to get them as pets, and their eggs. So I was wondering could I just get 2 or 3 hens or do I need to have a rooster?What would be the best breed for a beginner?Is their a certain breed that lays eggs to eat?Do I need to get them as chicks and raise them or can I just buy them ready to lay eggs?

    What do I need to do as far as keeping them and their coop clean?

    What's the best food for them?

    Any other advise or help would be much apreciated thank you.

  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    First of all [​IMG] You can start with a simple house mainly something they can get in out of the wind and rain. You dont need a rooster, unless you are wanting to hatch chicks. You can eat eggs from any of them. All chickens are basicly the same, theres not really any that are a better beginners chicken. You can get the ready to lay, unless you are just wanting to raise them from babies. Laying pellets or laying crumbles is what I feed to my layers. Hope this helps.
  3. SussexInSeattle

    SussexInSeattle Songster

    Oct 6, 2008
    One more thing, if you buy chicks, you need chick starter feed, if you buy layers, then you need the layer feed, just like puppies and dogs. Different foods for different stages.

    If you want "Laying machines" and don't care about temperament, try Rhode Island Reds for brown eggs and white Leghorns for white eggs.

    If you want chickens that are calmer try Black Australorps for lots of brown eggs and friendly birds. Or try Buff Orpingtons. If you want the birds more tame, buy and raise from chicks, if you don't care about any of this, buy layers already grown. It seems like if you buy 2 of each breed, the breeds know which ones are their same kind and they will hang out together. You do not need a rooster. Eggs happen regardless, same as women ovulating if there is no man around.

    If you want birds that you can eat after their laying days are over, buy breeds known as 'meat' birds because birds known to lay a lot kind of have 'scrawnier' bodies and are nothing like the birds you buy at the grocery store. Much tougher, very little meat.

    The big time meat birds are ready to process long before they are old enough to lay.

    As for housing, always think and build larger than you fist thought you might need. Seems like everyone who built a cute little coop wishes they built something larger. A lawn tractor would be nice but if you get snow, you may wish you had a lot more space in there for them if they decide to stay inside for a few days.

    I have an old barn/garage that was perfect for my 10 girls when I recently had to lock them in for 2 straight weeks due to snow storm after snow storm, all layered on top of each other. My girls just did not want any part of the snow so they stayed in all that time.

    Your local feed store can give you a lot of help, it may also be where you get your birds. They should be able to help you with a lot of your questions.

    Besides their chicken feed, they like treats of different types of foods and mine like: Oatmeal, Cottage Cheese, Yogurt, bananas, spaghetti, pizza, grass, bread, corn, the list is almost as endless as what people food lists are. I just like trying all types of foods to see what appeals to them.

    Mine free range in my fenced yard which the fence is only 3 feet tall and they stay home. I prop the barn door open with a medium sized rock so the door is about 5 inches wide and they come in and out at will. (In the summer I prop it wide open to keep it aired out-in winter they hate the wind so it is only wide enough to come and go) They sleep on roosts (poles or 2X4's) and lay eggs in the nest boxes that I built. You can build square boxes and lay hay or shavings in for them to lay in or you can use 5 gallon buckets on their sides or even dog crates or milk crates on their sides. Do not encourage the birds to sleep in these nest boxes, always place the birds on the perches you made if you find them sleeping in the nest boxes, otherwise you will always have poopy eggs.

    They like to roost from 3 feet up and higher. They need a pole about the size of a broom handle to 1 inch thick or the size of rafters.

    There is no perfect way, it's just what is right for you and your birds and all this is just my own opinion, other people may think all this is way off so it's just one person's opinion, you may find other ways suit you better.

    As for cleaning, I use a dog pooper scooper and rake the poo each morning into a bucket from the shavings under the roost and remove the dirty stuff to my compost pile.

    Straw can be messy and difficult to keep clean, most prefer shavings and I recently saw someone post about rice hulls.

    I also offer my girls orchard grass hay to nibble on but they really prefer grass the most. They also should be offered gravel or sand and I also offer my girls oyster shells and crushed up chicken egg shells to eat. Every egg I consume has the shells recycled back to the chickens. I try to crush them good so they never think about pecking their newly laid eggs for calcium.

    Finally, good luck, beware of the addiction and sorry this is so long
  4. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing Premium Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
  5. TexasVet

    TexasVet Songster

    Nov 12, 2008
    Willis TX
    Do yourself a favor and buy "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens." It's under $13 and will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about chickens, including which breeds to buy, how to hatch eggs, feeding, breeding, pens, slaughter techniques, and on and on. Best book about chickens I ever bought.

    You'll find it and over 75 books about chickens here: http://astore.amazon.com/countchick-20

    in Texas
  6. crtrlovr

    crtrlovr Still chillin' with my peeps

    Hi, and welcome! That being said, go to the home page and click the index to find the frequently asked questions section. There is enough valuable information to keep you reading there for days on end... everything from links to sites describing chicken breeds and their qualities such as cold or heat hardiness, disposition, origin, egg color, body size, etc. etc. etc. to all you ever wanted to know (and more than you can remember!) about what kind of house to build, how to protect against predators, what to feed & not feed, ... the list goes on and on. Do your basic research here and learn as much as you can BEFORE you get your chickens! It will save you lots of time, effort, money, and will help you be more confident right off the bat. also, be assured that there are lots of kind, helpful, knowledgeable folks who are willing to share their time & expertise if you do have a problem or question. Hope to see you around the BYC forum! [​IMG]
  7. johnmayersquare

    johnmayersquare Let's Talk About Chicks, Man!

    Nov 17, 2007
    Port Orchard, WA
    Quote:Great info! Well Done! [​IMG]

  8. namreknat

    namreknat In the Brooder

    Sep 21, 2008
    N.W. Oklahoma

    You have found a wonderful source of info on chickens and a lot of friendly folks. Alot of reading here equals less problems with your chicken venture. Good luck!!
  9. luvmyturkens

    luvmyturkens In the Brooder

    Jun 3, 2008
    You will learn more than you can imagine here. I was a person who never thought I'd ever have chickens. My son got them for Easter last year and now I can't wait til spring so I can get more chicks.

    Everyone here is very helpful and there are things that I have learned that friends who have had chickens for years didn't know.

  10. thedeacon

    thedeacon Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    If they will be pets I suggest you start with babys. As they grow, they will become the friendly pet you hope for. A fully grown hen may not quite down enough to catch and hold.

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