New to Chickens and Thrilled!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by LowerBamaMama, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. LowerBamaMama

    LowerBamaMama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm a mom and wife living on an acre in southeastern Alabama where I am trying my darnedest to be as self sufficient as possible through my gardening efforts. I have a 60'x40' veggie garden and a 20'x20' herb/tea garden, 90' of blackberry hedge, and several strawberry patches, plus a couple scattered rows for tomatoes to keep my crop rotation going. I'm my research toward living independent of grocery stores, I have continually read about keeping duel purpose breed chicken! We eat eggs about as fast as my chicken keeping friend can give them to us and I can never afford to keep my freezer stocked with the free range antibiotic free chicken my husband prefers over any other meat I buy.
    So I have decided I want chickens =]
    I have been talking my husband into chickens all through the winter and FINALLY he's on board mostly I think because he realizes I'm not going to stop asking lol

    We found a friend with a TON of termite damaged wood that we got for free and I have spent the last few weeks researching, designing and building my chicken house and seperate run area. I'm close to finished on the construction front. We just need to cover the run in chicken wire and wall up the coop with the free scrap tin we were given. So far my cost is $0. I'm going to have to buy the chicken wire which costs about $30 per roll. I'll need two so my cost should be right at $60 for a 15sq ft hen house and 55sq ft run! I'm so excited about that!!

    Since I'm close to having my outdoor setup ready, and since my friend let me tag along to a "lamb day" at a local farm where there were supposed to be chicks for sale, I bought my chick supplies I.e. Chick Feeder, waterer, food, bedding, and a rubbermade tub for them to stay in. Cost = $35.

    Sadly, the chicks all sold before we arived at the farm, but the chicken man was still there and had lists of the breeds he sold. Over the weekend I have researched and pondered over what breed I would get. I had decided on his black austrolorps at $8/females and $5/males. I figured I could get 4 females and a rooster and they'd fit happily in my coop/run. The chicken man disagreed on my breed choice AND on how many birds my housing could accomidate... He recommended his Bielefelders! He talked passionately about what wonderful duel purpose birds they were!!! When I told him that his price of $15/females and $10/males was out of my budget he said he'd bring the price down to the price of the Black Austros I had intended on getting!! I have read up on these chickens all morning and apparently this is a huge discount from what everyone else is paying! He recommended I get three females and one rooster and said he could have them for me the first week in April.

    I have so many questions!! I want my hens to be like pets and I plan on hatching out about a dozen at a time to raise for meat. I've had pretty much every kind of livestock you could imagine EXCEPT chickens! I'm so excited and ready to learn! If anyone can give me advice on anything I'm posted here that I need to change or consider I am eager to listen!
    Thanks in advance y'all!!!
     
  2. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    Hello and welcome to BYC! Feel free to ask any questions you may have! I'm glad you're enjoying your chickys. But watch out those babys grow up fast! :)
     
  3. LowerBamaMama

    LowerBamaMama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read that they eat and eat when they're growing out.. Any idea what I should expect per week lb wise for 4? I bought a 3 lb bag but from what I read that won't last long?
     
  4. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided join to our flock. My first piece of advice is to use hardware cloth on your run instead of chicken wire. There are too many predators that can either tear through chicken wire, or squeeze through the openings in the mesh and kill your chickens. Using hardware cloth will be more expensive than using chicken wire, but it will be cheaper than replacing your flock. Hardware cloth has saved many chicken owners a lot of tears. My second piece of advice is to either get more hens to go with that rooster or else skip getting the rooster. The recommended ratio of roosters to hens is 1 rooster for every 10 hens. As they mature, too many roosters will become very hard physically on your hens; over-breeding them, biting and plucking the feathers from their necks and backs, battering them, and potentially, seriously injuring them. The only reason you really need a rooster is to fertilize eggs for hatching and 1 rooster can easily handle 10 hens in this regard. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck in getting your coop built.
     
  5. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us!
     
  6. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]I'm glad you joined our "flock".

    X2 on Michael OShay. Chicken wire might not be a good choice, as it is relatively flimsy and easy for predators to destroy. Hardware cloth is a much better option. You may do fine with only four hens for one rooster, but often times that is too few and you'll end up with unhappy hens.
     
  7. LowerBamaMama

    LowerBamaMama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do want to be able to breed for an occasional flock for meat. I'm planning on building a separate run for my meat birds.

    All that to say, I want a rooster. If I need 10 hens per rooster, how much space do I need for a happy flock? I build my hen house to have 15sq ft and is 5' from floor to the center of the roof peak. My detachable run is 5x5x3. I feel now like I should have made it much bigger. I had the lumber =[
     
  8. leilanio

    leilanio Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to the best resource for all things chicken! [​IMG]
    I find I can literally spend hours on this site hopping around and reading how to do better for the girls.


    There is a section under the learning center that covers spacing/square footage etc... as there are a number of variables unique to each person's situation. Will you free range? Will you keep them in the run only? There are general rules of thumb located there... but I would say you should have more square footage for 10 hens.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! There is a great article in the Learning Center on figuring out how much space you need for the birds you want https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need Generally they recommend about 4 square feet in the coop and 10 outside for standard birds... more in the coop is better, especially if your birds will have to be inside a lot in the winter. If you are going to have two or more small coops, you could keep the roo separate from the hens part of the time if he starts over breeding them rather than getting a lot more hens if you don't want that many.
     
  10. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    X2 on Kelsie's advice. Even with just hens (no roosters) overcrowding can quickly lead to aggression, fights, biting and feather plucking, and even cannibalism. You can't build too big, but you can definitely build too small.
     

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