New here-which chicks, what kind of coop, how big, how many to buy

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by adock, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. adock

    adock Hatching

    Aug 22, 2008
    Those are all my newbie questions! I want to get some chickens, and have read the info on the main page, but I'm not really sure where to start. I'm thinking Bantams because they're smaller and I read on a thread they they make a little less noise. (suburbanite).

    But, how do I figure out how many to have? I'd like to have about 4 -6 eggs a day eventually. But I've got not idea how to play for that.

    And then how much space would that amount of chickens take up? I like the tractors, but have seen they're not as good for cold climates. But I still like them because they're moveable and the chickens can eat the bugs.


  2. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member 10 Years

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    The most important question for suburban folks is, "Are you zoned to keep chickens?" Find out what your local laws are before you buy or build anything.

    A lot, but not all, hatcheries require a minimum order of chicks. A lot of times it is 25 birds (because the chicks' body heat helps to keep them warm during transport...not really a problem in summer, but I digress). You can also get chicks from your local feed store/Tractor Supply. Call and find out what they offer. You can also get chicks from BYC members (check out the Buy/Sell/Trade area).

    If you pick out the chicks yourself, you may end up with roosters. Your area may not allow you to raise roosters because they can be loud, so you would have to rehome them. Also, if you only have a few hens and a few roosters, the roosters will fight bloody battles over the hens and may "gang-rape" (for the lack of a better term) the hens to death while they try to assert authority over the flock. A hatchery will sex the chicks for you so you get what you want. These are all things to consider when figuring out where to get them.

    You do not need a rooster for the hens to lay eggs. They don't even need one to get things started. They will lay eggs regardless of whether they ever mate or not.

    If you can have a rooster, the rooster will protect the flock to an extent. Roosters often have very interesting personalities and make all kinds of crazy sounds, so they are fun to have around.

    As far as what breeds to get... Bantams are cute, but they lay pretty tiny eggs, so it might be better for you to go with bigger girls if you want "normal" (store-sized) eggs. If you don't mind, then go with bantams. You can still eat their eggs; they're just a lot smaller.

    Of course, bigger girls need more room, so you will have to determine how much space you have for a coop or tractor if you decide to get bigger chickens. You will also have to make a decision based on winter weather if you live in an area where it gets really cold at night. A coop might be better if you live in an area that gets lots and lots of snow.

    There are many, many breeds to choose from. You can pick them based on what color eggs they lay (white, brown, even blue and green!) or pick based on the physical characteristics of the birds, like what feathers or combs they have. You can also pick them based on their behavior. Some birds are more docile and friendly and some are flighty and loud by nature. You may decide you want a flock full of birds of the same breed or you may want birds that are all different from one another.

    How many to get? Hens will only lay one egg per day, so if you want 4-6 eggs per day you probably will want 6-7 hens. Hens will often lay most days of the week and then take a "break" for a day. They won't all take their "break" on the same day. Some will lay every single day.

    I suggest going to your local bookstore and picking up a book about raising chickens once you know it's okay to raise them in your neighborhood. Of course, ask as many questions as you like here, and check out the coop pages for some ideas, too.

    By the way, [​IMG]
  3. adock

    adock Hatching

    Aug 22, 2008
    I haven't been able to figure out if I'm zoned for them or not. My county website and city website didn't turn up info when I typed poultry as a search, and I couldn't figure out which subgroup to look under.

    Just how small are Bantam eggs? Are they smaller than medium eggs from the grocery store?

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