New and Have a Few Questions...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Bec, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Hi all!! I am very new at this to please bear with me! [​IMG]

    I was planning on getting 6 buff orpington chicks in April and I was so excited. My husband waited and waited to tell me a few days ago that he didn't know if we could afford to feed them for not. He didn't rule it out as of yet, I have until April to order them at the local feed store. I know nothing about feeding chickens and the cost of it. I have 2 geese , but they come and go as they please and they haven't had feed in about 2 years....I was buying them feed but they would rarely come home to eat it. The only thing I see them really liking is the feed the horses drop when they are eating. I am not sure what they are liking better than the feed, but it must be good. They hang with the Canada Geese.

    Anyway, the chickens won't have the option to leave and eat whatever, so I need to know a round about cost to feed 6 hens per month. I have a nice little hen house that was previously a goose house before they left and a guinea house when I had my guines. It has a locking door for them at night so they will be safe and an enclosed run attached. They will be allowed to come out and roam the backyard when I am out to supervise...we have some nasty hawks..apperently they love the taste of guinea [​IMG]

    I don't want to get them and not be able to provide them with the best life they could have. Any Advice for a Newbie?
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    They really aren't expensive to feed. Will they be adult birds? Adult birds do best on lay mash, which I pay about $10 for a 50lb bag. I feed it to them in a feeder and not on the ground so they don't waste it. I would guess that I go through a bag a month with my 8.
    I also feed mine stuff out of the fridge- lettuce, tomatoes, grapes, bananas, etc. This morning, I fed them a banana that was getting a little brown and lettuce that was a little wilted. They will also get left over table scraps, like rice and chicken.
    I also throw them grass and they love it. When I go to the feed store, I pick up a couple of those little sample bags of cat food and feed those to them, too.
    You can also hard boil or scramble the eggs they lay and feed it back to them.
  3. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Thank You for your fast response!

    They will be babies when I get them. That isn't very expesive..How big of a feeder should I have for 6 of them?

    I didn't know you could feed them eggs!! Thats kinda And they will eat chicken?? we always have good leftovers from the kitchen and are planning on having a garden this year, so lots of good veggies and stuff that we will share with them. They will get to roam about if I am around...I am still a little paranoid with the hawks..I had 3 guineas that were allowed to free range around our 2 1/2 acres, unfortunatly they were carried off in the middle of the day. I will protect my hen to the fullest after that! With that being said, they will have lots of grass and bugs to pick at. Do they tend to eat less feed in the sping and summer months?

    How many nests do you recommend for 6 hens?
  4. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    If you are getting them as babies, you will need to give them chick starter for best results. Adult laying food has too much calcium for a tiny chick and can be dangerous. For laying birds, I give them the starter for about 8 weeks, then gradually switch over to a layer grower formula. Then, at 16 to 20 weeks, I switch over to the adult layer formula, and start waiting for the eggs!
    Make sure you don't get grower formula for meat birds - that is geared to fattening birds quickly for slaughter, while a layer formula raises birds more slowly with all the right things for a life time of healthy, trouble-free laying.
    Have fun! I think buff Orpies are sweeties - and make such good moms!
  5. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    Yes, if they will be chicks, they need to be started with chick feed and eventually graduate up to the adult laying feed.
    Feeding them the leftover veggies is very good for them and they love it. They do love chicken and lunch meat (who would have thought?) and grass is a favorite for mine.
    The feed store will have little feeders and waterers that are about the size of a mason jar that you can use while they are babies, then you can switch to the feeder and waterers that are a couple gallons in size.
    I don't know if they eat more or less in the summer. I would think about the same because in the winter they have to keep warm and in the summer they lay more.
    You'll need one 12x12x12 laying nest for every 3-4 hens and 18" of roosting space per bird.
    You can actually build a chicken tractor if you want your girls to pick at bugs during the day but want to keep hawks away. I know of a few people who had chickens swiped up by a hawk right in front of them! [​IMG]
  6. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    I assume that they would need medicated chick feed? Is that the best for them when they are little?

    Now for Orpingtons, how high does the roosts need to be off the floor of the house? and Do the nests need to down on the floor or to they prefer to go up into a nest?
    I read that the heavier breeds need lower roosts, is that accurate?

    You guys are the best!! thank you so much for your responses!!
  7. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    I'd do the medicated chick feed. I've heard others say the same.
    Don't make the mistake I did when you build your coop! I put the nests up top and the roosts on the bottom (total newbie style) and now they lay eggs on the floor and roost (and poop) in the next boxes! ::hitting head against wall::
    Put the nests on the bottom, no more than 18" off the ground. The roost can be set up almost like a ladder leaning up against a wall. They will hop from perch to perch to get to the height they like. Mine like to be high enough to "spy" on the whole backyard.
    Here's some good examples.
  8. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Thats is pretty you used tree branches..I would have never tought of that!! Very cool!

    I really hope that I end up getting them..looks like I will. I have been planning for months now and what a dissapointment that would be to not get any at all.

    We basically want them for pets, the eggs are just a bonus!! Do you recomment getting more to start with just incase some dont make it? For example, if I wanted 4 or 5 should I get 6 or 7? or just get the exact amount i want?
  9. pegbo

    pegbo Songster

    Feb 8, 2007
    Hi Bec! Congrats. on the chicks! Yeh you need chick starter and if you can get it starter grit works well. Just don't give them too much as they will ingest the grit instead of their food. I just sprinkled the grit on their food. I switched my chicks over to layer pellets when they were about 7-8 weeks old. What I did for roosts, my hubby had an old ladder that was no good so he cut it in half and screwed it to the walls in the coop with hinges [so you can lift it when cleaning] and it works really well. There's usually a pecking order on the roost too! The alpha Roos and chick on top with the lesser chicks on the bottom rungs. I know you'll enjoy having them as they're so much fun!!
  10. jill

    jill Hatching

    Jan 24, 2007
    Congrats! I started with buff orpingtons and they are very sweet birds.

    I have a question as you were talking about feed for the chicks. I ordered some (getting next week) from McMurray and got the vaccinations, but the Coccidiosis vaccination is void if you use medicated feed. So I went to my feed store and told him I wanted chick starter without medication - he sold me "meat bird starter". When I talked to the gal at McMurray she wanted me to check the protein level, which I didn't do last night. Last year I started them with "water fowl starter". This is so confusing. I have a new feed store and don't really trust what he's telling me, even though I did purchase the feed.

    This is the first time I ordered the birds from McMurray - so I'm wondering how that's going to work. I order the Miniature's World along with the special ones I really wanted, so I'm hoping I don't end up with ugly birds! They said a "nice" assortment...this chicken thing is VERY addictive!!

    The layer feed I purchased was $9.35 and I got the most expensive he had there. Yes! They are little garbage disposals!

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