New To Chickens.. Need Help Please!!


8 Years
Jan 4, 2012
Hello everyone! Im brand new to chickens and need help! I plan on buying my chicks in Feb. The things Im having a hard time figuring out though is which breed to get and what size coop. Well first, the breeds. I will be keeping them as pets and occasional eggs. I need a very friendly breed, because I have young kids that will want to hold them. Ive done some research on different breeds, I really love Cochins, Salmon Faverolles, and Brahmas. I read that Buff Rocks are the best first time chicken. I would love your expert opinions on which breed you think is best. I live in a bipolar climate (Colorado) but it is usually colder than warm.

Now second, the coop and brooder is confusing. Im planning on keeping 2-4 hens, what size coop and run should they have so they are comfortable? Is there a space ratio per chicken? For example; 4ft per hen. And for the brooder, what is best to lay down? Ive heard news paper, wood chips, or some kind of gravel. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!!
For breeds, Buff Orpingtons are friendly and lay like machines.
My Cochin is very cute. She looks like a walking pillow, but
she only layed about 1 egg per the Orps 2. There are lots of ideas on here for coops in the coop section.

I am sure you will find that you will want more. Build the coop bigger then you planned. Chickens are addicting.
welcome to byc. first i think the rhode island reds and plymouth rocks are the friendlist. just imo. They are really good with kids. they are also hardier breeds. good for your type of climate. as for coops. gosh their so many. you can have one built or build it your self. i have ours insulated. But we also use a heat lamp on super cold nights. thats your choice. We have an outlet installed in the coop.
placement of your coop is key. notice where the sun comes in. hot days. cold days etc. What are you zoned for. can you have chickens legally? just be sure that small stuff is cleared up first.
starting with a small size of 3-4 for the first time is a good start. the bigger the coop size the better. because you end up getting more chickens the following year. oh wait atleast i did. most do.
Use the heatlamp inside your house for atleast 8weeks of your baby chicks life.
start off with the chick medicated starter feed. introduce other scrap foods into the mix after 4 weeks on feed first. handle your chicks often so they get familar with you and handling with your kids when they get bigger (the chicks that is)))) enjoy them!!!!
This is a fantastic website for all your other questions!! use the search button, its your friend here, as sometimes, the same questions get asked over and over etc. and sometimes questions can get lost and not answered. have fun and take lots of pictures...... oooo dont forget hard wire cloth for your run, if you decied to put one in. etc. some people free range only, that has its risks due to predators etc. good luck and have fun!
If you want pets look at silkies or cochins. Very calm and friendly! My piece of advice is realize you need to constantly protect them from predators. When I first got chickens/coop I sorely underestimated the amount of critters that would be trying to kill my new pets on a daily basis..raccoons, fox,opposums, hawks etc....
My lap chickens are an orpington, silkie, d'uccle,and two of my easter eggers. My barred rock is very inquistive and friendly, but usually not a lap chicken. I've read that cochins are quite docile. If your kids are elementary aged, you might consider bantams (silkies, bantam cochins, etc.).

The size of your coop will obviously be determined by the number of birds you get (2, 3, or 4). Because of your area, you will want a minimum of 4 sq.ft per bird in your coop housing. So if you get 4 birds, plan for at least a 4x4 housing. If you can go bigger, then do so. Your run (outdoor space) should allow a minimum of 10 sq.ft per bird, but again, more space is always better. I'd presume your area gets decent snows? If so, you might plan for a covered/roofed run to save on shoveling snow.

A brooder is where you keep the chicks while they're little. Some simply "brood" in the existing coop housing, as long as electricity available for a lamp. Others brood in the house (because it's easier to monitor temps and chicks) and then transfer out to the coop later. I used paper towels for the first two days, then switched over to pine bedding. I also use pine bedding in my coop housing. Sand is great for the run.
Hello and ....

I started out with barred rocks black langshans and easter eggers. My oldest son ( at the start of chickens was around 4) loved the blue and green eggs. langshans aren't really common but do lay a really nice decent colored brown egg. I would definately get a couple ee's!! there are alot of calm natured birds out there. I could go on andon about the different breeds that are a little research and get online to the hatcheries and request free catalogs. the kids might like to see a book with pictures of chickens and their eggs. they will also give info on hardiness and broodiness, tempermant etc..then if you choose to order from hatchery you are set or your homework is done if you choose to get chickens from someone here!! either way you will get a good picture of the different breeds and won't cost you a thing for a catalog..murray mcmurray, welp, cackle and meyer will send free catalogs... Good luck.. My boys have been envolved in the selection of ours and that is how I did it. !! happy hunting!!!
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Thank you all for the advice!!! I do have another question that everyone seems to have a different answer to: what is a good age for the chicks to go outside for 'playtime' and what age for them to start living in the coop? Thanks again!
Welcome to raising chickens. I raise sikies. They are a bantam breed, so they only get about 1 lbs. They are one of the most docile (friendly) breeds ive ever known. If you fool with them they will love you. As for eggs, their eggs are edible but they are small. Silkies have hairlike feathers, so they cant hurt your children when flapping their wings at them. Good luck on your venture!
I raised mine in their coop from day 1 in this fall in Texas. I kept a heat light out there for the first 6 week till they got all their feathers. No need to build a seperate brooder unless it's super cold their in feb, then you might want to brood them in garage or basement. As for outside time I let them out at about 3 weeks for play time when it was warm and sunny and I could be out to watch when they got cold. Good luck and yes build bigger than you need. Mine are only 8 weeks and already I'm thinking about expanding for new chicks this spring

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