I want to be a chicken mom….

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by The old hen, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. The old hen

    The old hen Hatching

    Feb 9, 2014
    I am new to the idea of raising my own chickens, but cannot wait to get started. I am 59, single, retired and live alone. I have numerous questions before starting my flock.
    1. How many chickens should a single woman who loves to cook and bake start with?
    2. How big of a coop should I get?
    3. What do I do when I leave town for a few days?
    4. How do I know what color eggs different breeds lay?
    5. What breeds are best egg layers?
    6. I am in Poulsbo, Washington. When would be the best time to get started?
    7. Should I start with grown chickens or babies?

    Thanks so very much!
    The old Hen!

  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Songster

    Aug 4, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!

    1. How many chickens should a single woman who loves to cook and bake start with?
    Hens take breaks for reduced daylight hours, molting, brooding, and regular breaks between laying. Regular breaks between laying vary between breed, production is normally 1-2 days break a week and some breeds like game birds are 2-3 days between eggs. Start with the number of eggs you plan to use a day and double it to count for the breaks. Then add 5 to that number because you are bound to have some roosters in there. That would be the number of girls you want. In peak season this number will give you more then enough eggs, and in low season (winter) you will still have enough to get by. There are tricks to storing extra eggs if you need to. One of them is to crack open the egg into an ice tray and when frozen put the "egg cubes" in a bag in the freezer for quick measuring and use.
    2. How big of a coop should I get?
    The coop size needs many factors to determine such as free range vs pen, size of the chickens, levels vs one big floor, and stationary vs tractor. The basic rule of thumb is 1 sq ft for bantys and 2 sq ft for giants inside with a 4 sq ft pen for each bird. Free range doesn't need as much room in the coop IF your flock gets along well. I don't like the numbers much and determine my coop size based on how my flock is with each other. It is best to build your own and there are coop pages on here that have a lot of info on all different sizes and types of coops.
    3. What do I do when I leave town for a few days?
    There are many things that can go wrong when you are not there. Feeders can get knocked over, water can run out, something can get into the coop and harm them, a fire can happen, ect... I suggest to have a trusted care taker for them and a pen for them to go into to get some protected outside time. The care taker needs to make sure they have feed and water, they are safe and contained, nothing has gotten into the coop, and if not in a pen to open and close the coop daily. It is hard enough to find a care taker that will do that much, much less to clean the coop and collect eggs. Many with chickens don't go out of town because of this, I would start calling pet sitters, neighbors, or friends to see if there are any that can help if you choose to go out of town.
    4. How do I know what color eggs different breeds lay?
    We have a breeds section where many posters have listed the color of the eggs they receive from their hens: https://www.backyardchickens.com/products/category/chicken-breeds
    The list is A-Z so it is easy to look threw.
    5. What breeds are best egg layers?
    By far I believe the production red breeds are the best for x-large brown eggs on a regular schedule. Remember that the more they lay threw what should be a break period for them the less years they will be laying overall. There are many high laying breeds and on the link above you can filter your results for high production on the left of the page.
    6. I am in Poulsbo, Washington. When would be the best time to get started?
    Right now is a good time. Believe it or not they will be good no mater what time of year you start, but you don't want to have to build a coop in the snow and frozen ground. Most people choose spring to start their flock.
    7. Should I start with grown chickens or babies?
    There is a huge difference in the two and all I can tell you is what I prefer and it may not be what you want. I prefer chicks for many reasons: Reduce the contamination to my flock from others, I can handle them when young and get them used to me, I can control their feed and outside schedule, I can see if there are any problems from the get go, and they are just so cute! Now if you need eggs right now you can always go for the already laying but then you have the problem of not knowing if there was a problem with them or the flock they were in to begin with. Treating a health problem is much harder and more stressful then preventing it in the first place.

    Good luck in whatever you decide! Remember chicken math is a real thing and if you just start with 3 you will be at 30 in no time...
  3. Trefoil

    Trefoil Songster

    Dec 7, 2011
    1. Figure out how many eggs a week you need. Figure a good laying breed will lay 2 eggs every 3 days in season.
    2. Depends on how big a secure run you have and how many chickens. The best way to go, IMO, is buy a used shed on craigslist or where ever and modify to you chickens needs.
    3. either hire a chicken sitter or use bulk feeders and waterers.
    4. http://www.feathersite.com/
    5.Ask here as a specific question, browse the hatchery sites online,the best layers are going to be leghorns or the hybrids bred for commercial purposes. Most people to some degree have chickens as a pet that lays breakfast so they tend to choose breeds that appeal to them and are less hassle to own than strictly lay the most eggs.
    6.I'm not sure there is a "best" time. There are advantages and disadvantages when ever you start.
    7. If you start with chicks, there will be a while before you start to get eggs. I believe you stand a better chance of not bringing disease in with chicks. But you also will have at least 3 months before you start to get eggs, so its really a matter of personal choice.
    Whatever you end up doing, enjoy.

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