Interested in raising chickens for the first time

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by magickmom, May 27, 2010.

  1. magickmom

    magickmom Hatching

    May 27, 2010
    We are moving in to a new home in the country that has an old chicken coop that has not been used in a while. I have always been interested in raising chickens, but not sure where to start.
    What do I need to do to get the old coop up to being ready for chickens?
    Should I buy some grown chickens to start with, or start with some eggs to hatch so they imprint on us...or a combination of the two? I have kids that would enjoy hatching chicks and watching them grow. We live near a lot of amish...would they be a good source for chickens and fertilized eggs?
    Any suggestions would be great. We live in southern Maryland if anyone knows any good local resources.
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Tell us more about your old coop? Any nest boxes already there? Wooden floor, windows, roosts, pop door? Attached run area? Can you post a few pics?

    As a newbie, I would suggest you start out with a few mature birds before you get chicks, for a few reasons: The older birds have passed that iffy chick stage where anything could happen and they may die for no apparent reason. This gives your kids and yourself a chance to experience the joy of having chickens without the disappointment that comes with a chick death.

    Also, your older birds can show young chicks/pullets how to adapt to life in the yard/coop, show them how to roost, how to come in at dusk, etc. when you finally get chicks. Or you can even let a broody raise the chicks for you, which is so much more fun and easy than trying to brood them yourselves.

    I moved onto a place with an ancient coop also. I just swept it out, installed my nest boxes and roosts, placed chicken wire around the coop's base(it was up on blocks of wood) so that the hens couldn't build nests there. I even used the old chicken feeder trough that I found here. My old coop leans and the floors and walls have big gaps between the boards from age and shrinkage....the walls I lined with cardboard to prevent drafts in the winter and I use deep litter on the floor to keep it warm as well.
  3. ThePigeonKid

    ThePigeonKid Songster

    May 24, 2010
    Ohio - Chickens 3yrs
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    [​IMG] Welcome! [​IMG] Glad [​IMG] you [​IMG] could [​IMG] join [​IMG] us! [​IMG]

    What do I need to do to get the old coop up to being ready for chickens?

    Part of the answer depends on how you plan to manage them, but there are a few basic requirements for any coop.

    1. It needs to stay dry. A wet coop gets stinky and the resulting mold and such is unhealthy for them.

    2. It needs to be predator-proof so you can safely lock them up at night. There is a risk of a predator attack any time of day or night, but the risk sky rockets at night.

    3. You need roosts for them to sleep on at night. The roosts need to be in a draft-free area.

    4. You need to be able to clean it occasionally or access the different areas.

    5. You need nest boxes, about 1 nest for every 4 hens.

    That's all I can think of that is required. The rest depends on your management style, whether you feed and water inside or outside mainly. This might help you post pictures if you want specific suggestions.

    How to post pictures/avatar

    Should I buy some grown chickens to start with, or start with some eggs to hatch so they imprint on us...or a combination of the two?

    There are several different ways to start, all with advantages and disadvantages. Part of the answer depends on your goals for having chickens, part is your specific circumstances, and part is pure personal preference. You can buy and incubator and hatch eggs, you can buy baby chicks, you can buy Point of Lay pullets (Pullets just about to start laying), or you can buy grown chickens.

    You invest quite a bit up front before you really know if you want to keep chickens if you buy the incubator to start with, then need to buy specific equipment for the brooder so you can raise them. If you know you want chickens and you plan to hatch chicks in the future with an incubator, it is not a bad way to go but it would normally not be my recommended way for someone just starting out. If you want your kids to watch the hatching process, it might be right for you though.

    Many people start with day old chicks. The standard ways to get them are mailed from a hatchery or you can buy them locally. You need the equipment to raise them: a draft-free brooder, a place with electricity for the heat source, a heat source to keep them warm while young, and feeders and waterers. This does not have to cost a lot. The biggest problem may be a place to keep them. Many people keep them in the house, but they are loud and create a lot of dust. I put my brooder in the coop and raise them out there. They will imprint on you the same whether you hatch them or get them when they are only a few days old.

    With the POL or grown chickens, you don't initially need the brooder or incubator, but the individual chickens cost more. Depending on how many you get and how you go about setting up the brooder, it may not be that much more expensive than the equipment and feed to raise them to that age. It depends some on how they were managed before you got them, but they probably won't be as friendly as hand raised chicks.

    I have kids that would enjoy hatching chicks and watching them grow. We live near a lot of amish...would they be a good source for chickens and fertilized eggs?

    You have a lot of potential sources for chickens and fertilized eggs. The Amish are certainly a potential source. There are probably a lot of people in your area that are not Amish that raise chickens. You can talk to the people at your feed store that may know good sources or maybe you can put up a sign there. Your county extension agent, in the phone book under county government, would be a great resource to help locate eggs or chickens. You can order chicks or fertile eggs from hatcheries or from some people on this forum. You can look in this thread for people on this forum near you.

    You have so many options and so many decisions. Practically all the options will work for you. As long as you look at your specific goals for having chickens and provide for the basics of feed, water, shelter, and safety from predators, it is hard to make a bad decision.

    Good luck!!!
  5. magickmom

    magickmom Hatching

    May 27, 2010
    I haven't had a chance to look at the coop up close yet. The coop is in a field that has been neglected for ages and is going to need someone to cut down the jungle before we can get back there. Once we get that done, I will take some pictures and have a better idea what I am dealing with. I don't know why the coop is so far from the house seems like it would be better to have it a little closer, but maybe I am just being lazy. [​IMG]
    I know that many schools have incubators and the kids incubate and hatch eggs as a life science project...I was thinking I might talk to my son's teacher about them doing that project and then letting me have the chicks after the class is done with them. Or maybe we could borrow/rent one of their incubators.
    I know a lady with chickens who is planning to move out of the area (we looked at buying her house but chose this other place instead). She had told us that if we took the house, she would leave the chickens for us if we wanted. Perhaps I should talk to her about buying them from her. Might be a good starting point. She had 4-5 hens, 2 little chicks and a rooster. Not sure what breed, but she has been keeping them for eggs and said they are good layers. They are leaving soon and I bet I could get a good deal on them.
    I will talk to our new neighbors too as they may have chickens in addition to their other animals...they have horses, goats, llamas, and a donkey that I have seen so far.
    What should I expect to pay for chickens?
    Blessings to you and yours.
  6. magickmom

    magickmom Hatching

    May 27, 2010
    One more question...How do I keep my chickens safe from my killer cat? Can he be trained to know the chickens are family and not food? Or do I just need to make sure they are kept separate?
    Blessings to you all.
  7. b.hromada

    b.hromada Flock Mistress 9 Years

    Hi Zianna! [​IMG] from S. Florida! Glad you joined us! [​IMG] Either way, enjoy your endeavor! [​IMG]
  8. BarredBuff

    BarredBuff Songster 8 Years

    Dec 6, 2009
    [​IMG] from Eastern Kentucky.
  9. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Crowing

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    [​IMG] and [​IMG] from Ohio. Good advice given. [​IMG]
  10. Soaring Chicks

    Soaring Chicks Soaring Hawks Farm

    Jan 3, 2010
    [​IMG] [​IMG] from Wv.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: