I'm new, and seeking your advice and opinions! :)

baeksu

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2020
7
13
18
TL;DR version:

Last spring, my sons talked me into backyard chickens. Surprised how much I liked it. Want more egg colors. Open to your suggestions.


Version for those who love to read:

Last spring with all the COVID measures, I tackled some long-procrastinated projects. Instead of tearing down my sons' backyard playset, my teenaged sons talked me into converting it into a coop and trying backyard chickens. I'm from Oklahoma City and grew up in the '70s working on my grandfather's farm, so chickens didn't really have any charm for me, but as always I gave in.

Well, I have to admit that it's been great. We have a large backyard, and the playset was converted into a large run (200 square feet) and smallish coop (25 square feet). Half of the run is shaded by a large elm tree. They free range daily in my large backyard, and they're pretty spoiled between my sons and I - table scraps, mealworms, etc. We bought seven in May: four Buff Orps, two Cuckoo Marans, and one Golden Polish.

The bad: TWO (!!!) of my "guaranteed" female chicks turned out to be roosters, which are illegal where I am, so we slaughtered and ate those... which was a great biology lesson for my boys, but not really why I bought these birds. Alas, the family terrier dispatched one of the young pullets as I learned the hard way about spots in the chicken wire that needed better fasteners.

But we have our four girls left - three BO's who my sons call The Heathers and one Cuckoo Marans named Marie Antoinette. They're all laying beautifully - consistently 4 eggs per day before winter hit, but even with the short days and cold weather we're still getting 2 to 4 eggs every day without fail. My boys are proud of their chicken idea and I enjoy them as well.

So my question:

I'm going to buy a few more next spring. I figure I can comfortably have a flock size of around 8 or 9. I'd like some white egg layers and some colorful egg layers - preferably blue. My youngest son wants Easter Eggers for some reason, and at this point I'm not going to tell him no, since his advice on everything chicken has been good.

But white egg layers? Good grief. To read all the internet reviews, they're all skittish and flighty. The California Whites look great, but you've got to order 10 or 15 at a time, anywhere you go? How do you guys do this? I really can't buy more than 4 chicks or 5 tops, and the only online places either do not carry Cali. Whites or make you order 15 of them or whatever. Leghorns are flighty, Sumatras are mean, Polish lay small eggs... they all seem to have drawbacks.

I'm open and appreciative of all advice and suggestions.

I've been a teacher for 25 years, so I think of my birds in terms of classroom personalities.

Pictured:
(farthest away) Heather Sweet, gentle, bottom of the pecking order, poorest egglayer, wants to please the teacher, sits in the back, might fall asleep
129857473_10158956631839675_6431140598872164461_o.jpg
.
(2nd farthest) Heather Feather, the top of the pecking order, no-nonsense, bossy, it's a very rare day that she doesn't lay an egg, will be upset if she doesn't get an A.
(2nd closest) Heather Chungus, big girl, kind of just stares, slack-jawed, is either mentally challenged or intellectually gifted.. I can't tell which.
(closest) Marie Antoinette, lays beautiful eggs almost daily, definitely has ADHD, is compulsive, can't keep her mouth shut. Interrupts me constantly when I'm talking.
 
Last edited:

Hei 20

Free Ranging
Oct 8, 2020
1,926
10,857
501
TL;DR version:

Last spring, my sons talked me into backyard chickens. Surprised how much I liked it. Want more egg colors. Open to your suggestions.


Version for those who love to read:

Last spring with all the COVID measures, I tackled some long-procrastinated projects. Instead of tearing down my sons' backyard playset, my now teenaged sons talked me into trying backyard chickens. I'm from Oklahoma City and grew up in the '70s working on my grandfather's farm, so chickens didn't really have any charm for me, but as always I gave in.

Well, I have to admit that it's been great. We have a large backyard, and the playset was converted into a large run (200 square feet) and smallish coop (25 square feet). Half of the run is shaded by a large elm tree. They free range daily, and they're pretty spoiled between my sons and I - table scraps, mealworms, etc. We bought seven in May: four Buff Orps, two Cuckoo Marans, and one Golden Polish.

The bad: TWO (!!!) of my "guaranteed" female chicks turned out to be roosters, which are illegal where I am, so we slaughtered and ate those... which was a great biology lesson for my boys, but not really why I bought these birds. Alas, the family terrier dispatched one of the young pullets as I learned the hard way about spots in the chicken wire that needed better fasteners.

But we have our four girls left - three BO's who my sons call The Heathers and one Cuckoo Marans named Marie Antoinette. They're all laying beautifully - consistently 4 eggs per day before winter hit, but even with the short days and cold weather we're still getting 2 to 4 eggs every day without fail. My boys are proud of their chicken idea and I enjoy them as well.

So my question:

I'm going to buy a few more next spring. I figure I can comfortably have a flock size of around 8 or 9. I'd like some white egg layers and some colorful egg layers - preferably blue. My youngest son wants Easter Eggers for some reason, and at this point I'm not going to tell him no, since his advice on everything chicken has been good.

But white egg layers? Good grief. To read all the internet reviews, they're all skittish and flighty. The California Whites look great, but you've got to order 10 or 15 at a time, anywhere you go? How do you guys do this? I really can't buy more than 4 chicks or 5 tops, and the only online places either do not carry Cali. Whites or make you order 15 of them or whatever. Leghorns are flighty, Sumatras are mean, Polish lay small eggs... they all seem to have drawbacks.

I'm open and appreciative of all advice and suggestions.

I've been a teacher for 25 years, so I think of my birds in terms of classroom personalities.

Pictured:
(farthest away) Heather Sweet, gentle, bottom of the pecking order, poorest egglayer, wants to please the teacher, sits in the back, might fall asleep View attachment 2439506 .
(2nd farthest) Heather Feather, the top of the pecking order, no-nonsense, bossy, it's a very rare day that she doesn't lay an egg, will be upset if she doesn't get an A.
(2nd closest) Heather Chungus, big girl, kind of just stares, slack-jawed, is either mentally challenged or intellectually gifted.. I can't tell which.
(closest) Marie Antoinette, lays beautiful eggs almost daily, definitely has ADHD, is compulsive, can't keep her mouth shut. Interrupts me constantly when I'm talking.
1606528678036.jpg
 

baeksu

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2020
7
13
18
If you want to expand your flock, you are going to need a bigger coop.
I get that. I was limited by factors out of my control. I've read that you can get away with 3 to 4 square feet per chicken of coop space if you have a large run, which I do. 25 square feet would give me 6 to 9 chickens. I might try to find a way to expand it next summer, though.

My girls spend almost zero time in their coop other than sleeping at night and laying in the egg boxes.
 

baeksu

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2020
7
13
18
I read this article, which makes a lot of sense. What stood out to me - and is to the advantage in my setup - is that I have an extremely large run with lots of nooks and crannies for the girls to hide or get some personal space. They also spend the majority of every day roaming the backyard, which is about a half acre with several large trees and bushes. So I made the decision to build the smaller coop. So far no aggression issues, even when I had 7 birds. I think I can comfortably max out at 8 or 9, tops.

https://www.thefeatherbrain.com/blog/how-big-should-a-chicken-coop-be#why=
 

springvalley123

Crowing
6 Years
May 22, 2015
1,162
4,045
497
North of Phoenix
Hi, and welcome!
You could order the minimum of whatever hatchery, as follows:
4 california gray pullets
6 dual purpose straight run, or whatever to process.
This assumes the hatchery mininum is 10.
That should give you 3 pullets for sure. I haven't had the cal gray or cal white, but the cal gray is half barred rock half leghorn; the cal white is 3/4 leghorn 1/4 barred rock. Both lay white eggs.
Hatcheries have minimums on total order, and some even have a minimum 5 of each breed/sex, so you should still be able to meet the minimum and maybe process only a few extra birds.
Also, I knew someone who had some of my brown leghorns (fairly skittish), and she had some older white leghorns also, which were calmer. But in general, the white egg layers are either flightier/skittish, or just like to fly, and some are pretty good at it..
 

The Brick Coop

Songster
11 Years
Feb 6, 2010
77
78
117
haha! I want to see more of your posts! Maybe buy one white leghorn from a local producer; you might have to teach her to roost after a couple days of acclimation to your flock/coop in the puppy crate. (Battery cages do not have roosts.) Or arrange with the feed mill for someone who is ordering a big order to split one chick off for you. Or go to a local poultry show/swap meet and get one. PoultryShowCentral has a show/swap calendar. Blue: look for the little Auracanas and 'Superblue' like on MyPetChicken, or Cream Legbars or Wheaton Ameracaunas (a gamble, some lay green), or--if you can find one--the Whiting True Blue (most productive of the large egg size).
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,133
41,817
1,156
southern Michigan
Welcome!
You didn't mention where you now live, and haven't gone through a winter yet with your flock. In snow country, either a lot of shoveling, a roofed run, or your birds will want to be inside, maybe for weeks, when there's snow on the ground. That's when that coop will be too small for more than five birds, max!
Your run is nice and big, but not very safe, because chicken wire just isn't enough to keep many predators out. If it has even a chicken wire roof, at least hawks will be kept out though.
Breeds: there are so many choices! For blue or green eggs, Easter Eggers are great. The Whiting True Blues look promising, we've never had them here. Leghorns aren't all too flighty, and they are really good producers of white eggs. French Marans lay much darker chocolate colored eggs, another nice choice.
Your local feed stores might have interesting breeds of chicks available, and then you could buy a very small number easily. Those breed types are often available, at least at feed stores around here. Well, not the French Marans...
Just try some chicks and see who you like!
Henderson's breed chart, and feathersite, are good places to get ideas too.
Mary
 

baeksu

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2020
7
13
18
Welcome!
You didn't mention where you now live,

Your run is nice and big, but not very safe, because chicken wire just isn't enough to keep many predators out.


I'm from Oklahoma. Our winters are fairly mild. One or two snowy days per winter, and January/February are consistently around freezing at night, but comparatively mild.

Yes, predators are a bit of a concern but I live in a sprawling suburban area and in my 20 years here I've never seen any sign of raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, possums, etc. Obviously it could happen but for the time being I'm honestly more concerned with our own dog. lol

Hawks are also a concern because we do have some on occasion, and my hens spend several hours per day just ranging around the backyard.
 

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