New to chicken farming, new to forum!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DoubleAFarm, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. DoubleAFarm

    DoubleAFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 21, 2013
    Hi, my name is Tracy! My husband and I have started a small chicken farm (plus 3 cute bunnies) in Jefferson, AR. I have a few question and after many days of searching the internet have found this forum SO very helpful. I have changed to a red light bulb (info found here), have introduced my babies to a stick for roosting (info found here) and have discovered that it is not my fault that my baby mallards are so wet/messy (info found here)! I do know, or at least believe, that my 6 chicks are red pullets (the feed store I got the from did not tell me they would all be hens, found this out at TSC. Guess if I would have understood what "production" meant maybe I would have known. I'm learning!!). I do NOT know their age :( The have feathers on their wings but not their whole body yet. I am getting a trio of silkies from a friend , oh and we have 3 bunnies that all I know is the feed store said "They are just bunnies." when I asked the breed. Have decided not to buy animals there anymore after a visit to TSC and finding out all that I did!
    We have a 20x16 coop with a 1/4 of it sectioned of for my silkies, and we are setting up a large fenced in runner. I learned the difference between and regular chicken and a bantam at TSC yesterday as well!

    OK, so let the questions begin:

    1. How do I keep my chickens from watering down their breed? (for lack of better terms)
    2. Do I wait until my hens are older and by a same age rooster? Does the rooster need to be the same breed?
    3. Can I use shredded paper as litter?
    4. How high up off the ground should my nesting boxes be?
    5. Do nesting boxes have to be flat on the bottom? I found some old horse saddle holders (for lack of a better term) in our barn that the previous owners had. The part that the saddle sat on is pitched like a roof.

    Thanks so much in advice for all the help you can offer to a city girl turned farmer that has a husband that works 4 jobs so I can work one that I love and pretend to know what I am doing with these chickens lol.

    Can't wait for the weather to get better here so I can take my babies outside. [​IMG]
     
  2. SSAcres

    SSAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Tracy and welcome to BYC!! I'm new to this site and to chickens, as well, but our pullets are older than yours and have recently started laying for us. YAY!!

    I can't answer all your questions, but I'll take a stab at a couple of them. And although not a question, just an observation on what you were told your chicks are. Pullets means girls less than a year old, doesn't pertain to their breed and red is pretty generalized. There are Rhode Island Reds or RIRs and Red Sex Link or RSL and more reds for colors of other breeds.

    We use shredded paper in their nesting area and use a milk crate as another source to lay if they choose. They also lay on the floor in a rectangle box of sorts w/ a 2x4 barrier to keep everything contained. They chose this area, not us so we let them keep it and modified it to their liking.

    That's all I got. [​IMG] Hope it was somewhat helpful. More experienced folks will chime in and help w/ the other questions.

    Have a great day!

    L.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. DraigAthar

    DraigAthar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 1, 2011
    Plainfield, NH
    What do you mean by 'watering down their breed'?

    What do you want a rooster for? As in, do you intend to hatch more chicks? Because you do not need a rooster at all if you're just raising the chicks as layers. If you intend to hatch your own eggs, I would say get a rooster roughly the same age, or wait until your hens are adults and then give them an adult rooster of any age. As for breed of the rooster, it only matters if you want to raise a pure breed of chicken. Production reds are already crossbreeds, so it doesn't really matter what sort of roo you put on them, you won't get purebreed chicks out of them anyway.

    Shredded paper isn't as absorbent as other litters, and it does tend to mash down a bit, but if you change it regularly enough it's probably fine. I prefer pine shavings. But either will compost nicely when you scoop out the coop!

    Hens aren't usually picky, they'll lay eggs in any size or shape of next box as long as you put it in a quiet, semi-dark place and fill it with some sort of comfy bedding. :)
     
  4. DoubleAFarm

    DoubleAFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 21, 2013
    Thanks for the info!

    Yes, I want to raise more chicks, just not sure when to get started. I want my girls to grow up and get their egg laying skills figured out before I throw a rooster in the mix. Or does that even matter? I am one mushy farm girl as my husband says.

    Which is easier to sell, pure breeds or muts? (is that even the right term?) I may need to build more coops lol.

    Our goal is to eventually make a little money. We have 21 acres, 11 are still wooded but we have considered expanding the production areas. We will eventually have all kinds of animals and even some produce. Of course all depends on how well and how fast I can figure each section out as I go.

    I clean my brooders out daily. The consist of big plastic totes from Walmart, feeder, water, and a stick to roost on.
     
  5. DraigAthar

    DraigAthar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 1, 2011
    Plainfield, NH
    What is easier to sell depends somewhat on your location and what is in demand near you. But I've noticed a few general trends from my own experience that will probably apply to most places. Started pullets (hens that are close to laying age or have already started laying) will always sell. People want chickens largely as layers, so if you know it's a hen and it's about ready to start laying, people will snap them up no matter what breed they are, pure or mixed. If you want to sell straight run chicks, people tend to be more interested in them if they are pure breeds. Most folks who understand what they're getting into with straight run chicks are more interested in dealing with the roosters if they're looking to keep one or two for their own breeding purposes. It's not universal, of course, and I've sold several straight run mutts, but there always seems to be a bigger demand for pure breeds when it comes to straight run chicks. If you want to breed your own sex-linked chicks, you could sell day old female chicks and get a better price for them, but then you're left having to deal with all the roosters yourself. If you want to sell fertile hatching eggs, people also tend to be more interested in them if they are pure breeds. Again, YMMV based on local demand. We raise Dominiques on a small scale. We keep a select few hens from each year's chicks to use as next year's breeders, one or two roosters for the same reason. The extra pullets always sell, even adult hens that are a year or two old I can sell if the price is right. But no one EVER wants the extra roosters. So we eat them, and I sell the hackle pelts to fly-tyers. That's how we do it! :)
     
  6. DoubleAFarm

    DoubleAFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 21, 2013
    Thanks!!
     

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