New to the chicken world

Clay In Iowa

11 Years
Oct 9, 2008
Near Wilton Iowa
Howdy all, I'm new to raising chickens, or actually getting ready to raise chickens and thought this might be a good place to start.

5 years ago my wife and I purchased 10 acres of fallow farm land. We've been busy reforesting about 5 acres of it and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of it. To the point, we're both sick of flavorless antibiotic fill battery eggs and want some good farm fresh eggs that taste like something. And should we desire a fresh chicken from time to time, although that's not our main focus, we have that option. We have the area to do it so why not?

On our property there is a 108 year old farm house and 3 out buildings. One of which we've decided would make a perfect chicken coop. It was in a former life, many many years ago, a hog house. We know this not because someone told us but because we grew up in the Midwest and can sniff out a farms inhabitants long before we can see them. This building has that unmistakable lingering nose of hog. The building is ~20' x 30' with a concrete floor. Currently we're using about 2/3rds of it for storing wood for our wood stove. That leaves a 20' x 10' for our impending flock. My plan is to section it off with wire, add some roosts and nesting boxes and cut a few small doors for 3 separate runs so I can rotate the flock into fresh areas. I'd like to free range them as much as possible but they will have to be confined at night and in the winter. I know there are Fox, Skunk, Mink, Ferrets, Raccoons, Red Tail Hawks, Bald Eagles and Great Northern Owls in our area, we see them frequently. So a comfy secure confinement is critical. I'm also considering a movable range house (aka summer palace). We have an area that is about 300'x60' that we do little with. I was think that if we get a good foraging breed they could find lots of things to eat in an area that large (gotta flavor those eggs
). I'd roll the Range house along one edge (long side) and fence the area off in 60'x30' sections. Moving the fencing about once a week when the chickens have eaten the grass down. I'll most likely get a electrified poultry fence to protect the bird while we're at work and at night. On weekends I plan to let them roam the entire yard/tree lot for forage.

So here's my first question for you all. How many problems can you find in my well laid plans so far? I know this will be a lot of work but I'm it doesn't bother me at all. I grew up in farm country bailing hay, cutting wood, running fences etc so it's not a problem.

Now for breeds. We were originally considering a nice quite, docile breed that would give us enough eggs for our personal needs (ie Buff Orpingtons). BUT I've mentioned to a few friends of mine that we might be getting chickens and would be enjoying fresh eggs when ever we wanted. Out of the walls they came, everyone I've mentioned this to has offered to buy "any extra eggs" we might have. I could easily get rid of 8 dozen a week and only a hand full of my acquaintances even know about this. I'm not looking to start a commercial operation here but I was thinking that if we had a few extra eggs to sell we could at least supplement the cost of feeding our flock. The minimum order , for the hatchery I'm looking at, is 25 chicks. We have the room and I figure raising 10 chickens and raising 25 isn't that much different since we have the room. So now I'm thinking a flock of Rhode Island Reds (25 hens 3 chocks) might work better for us. Good egg producers and docile enough for my kids to deal with. And the real bonus is that they are very good foragers so they will fit into my free range idea very well.

Second question, are the reds the best choice? I'd like to stick with a pure breed and not the sex-linked so that in the future if the bug bits me I could raise a few chicks.

Third question, am I making a mistake looking at breeds that are more prolific egg layers? It was never our intent to sell eggs but like I said I could sell 8+dozen a week and I don't have any chickens right now. And since the set up will be the most expensive part a few extra chickens won't be that expensive to keep. Especially if I can sell a few eggs to off set the cost.

Anyway that's enough for now. I'm sure I'll be back frequently and will have a ton of questions.

Oh sorry one last question, Anyone live near Wilton Iowa? I'd love to stop by and see a small operation in action.

Thanks All


11 Years
Jun 3, 2008
upper peninsula
Hi and
I Have read your questions here are my replies.

The chicken wire fence upright was imbedded in the grass about 5". I peeled back the grass to a depth of 5-6" by 12-14" wide around the whole perimeter of our chickens run. I laid chicken wire fencing in the ditch I just made and I attached that fence to the upright fence securely. That was to protect from any animal that digs to get in.
We put snow fence over the top to stop predators from descending.
I do not know about RIR's. I have heard two sides to wether they are family friendly or not. We chose Buff Orpingtons. We do purchase feed, but they do free range everyday. We have about 35 hens and 14-15 roosters. Since they are so young, we have only gotten 4 eggs. We picked the BO's because they were supposed to be. Good Luck.
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12 Years
Aug 2, 2007
Central CA
I have RIRs and a few other breeds as well. We let the kids choose the chicks from a poster at the feedstore and they got two of almost everything! My middle son loves to take the chickens out and shepherd them around the yard on walks, which the hens also seem to enjoy. He always takes the RIRs plus his favorite white leghorn who is the leader of the entire flock. Anyone else who wants to tag along can, but those three are always in the group. The RIRs are terrific, not snuggly but not flighty either. They lay an egg each almost every day, maybe 6 per week! They do not lay for as long as other breeds who have a slower lay rate, so that may be a factor in your decision.

You are correct in all of your assumptions above, including 25 chicks being as difficult to care for as 10. The brooder would have to be a lot bigger, but since you have the space you may as well go for it!

One more thing, I am not sure the RIRs will brood their own eggs. You may have to take the fertile eggs and put them in an incubator to get chicks in the future.


Born city, Living country
11 Years
Mar 8, 2008
Eaton, Colorado
Welcome Clay! It is so wonderful that you decided to raise chickens and that you came to BYC! You will love it here. I started out with permision from DH to raise 12. I now have 21! Its true what you said its just as easy to have a few more. I have 10 different breeds. 4 are BO and 1 RIR. Both breeds seem equally friendly and withstand our MT weather. I really enjoy my barred rock to but 1 of the 3 is a little nasty! I have a few that are younger and not laying yet, but I am getting a dozen a day right now. Your plans for the run and coop sound great. I hope you can post pictures. We LOVE pictures here at BYC!


11 Years
Sep 15, 2008
Big Sur, CA
You could always get a mix of breeds...most places will let you order 25 divided up into 5's of different kinds for little if any extra charge...then your yard will be more interesting to look at

I like BO (really sweet and good for the kids to love on) but they aren't the most prolific layers...
EEs are cool too most are sweet and they lay pretty blue/green eggs...
SLW were my best layers and they make the cutest quiet little talking sounds
You could even get some fluffy Cochins if you want some to go broody someimes...
I've had red sex-links and they weren't all that about laying, don't know why, but there are plenty of breeds that are better!
I'm glad you want chickens! They will grow on you quickly


Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
15 Years
Nov 18, 2007
My Coop
My Coop
I have RIR's and love them. Mine don't stray very far. I have a very big gardens.I had to fence in a range area. I originally let them free range but they were destroying my gardens, so instead of fencing in my gardens, they got fenced in.
Also, I have a lot of preditors such as cayotes, fox, coons, possums, hawks, owls, etc. which I have seen on my property. My coop and run are moveable. I used 2x2's, 2x4's and chicken wire on the top of my run. I have a fenced in range area with chicken wire for my birds. I have had no problems with preditors as of yet trying to get at my birds. Here is a picture of my coop, run and range area.


Opa-wan Chickenobi
12 Years
May 11, 2008
Howell Michigan
Welcome Clay I'm sure you will find this site enjoyable and informative. You might want to take a real good look at black australorps. They hold the record for egg production and they are a very docile bird that free ranges well. My granddaughter is constantly picking up theirs without any problems.


12 Years
May 24, 2007
I was going to suggest Australorps also. They are a dual purpose breed also.

I have both and love them both but my Australorps are far friendlier than my RIR. She's nice too, she just doesn't come running up to be petted like the Australorps do. We can pick her up though, she just doesn't initiate it.

I think you just need to make up your mind on what breed catches your eye and go for it. You said that you are going to be able to separate your chickens, you may want to try out 1/2 and 1/2 of two different breeds?


11 Years
Aug 6, 2008
central Vermont
It's like a big family here! (We may not ALWAYS agree on everything, but like a family, we all have a say...and have lots of fun.

As to what breed to raise, our family always likes to order a nice variety, so we can try them out for ourselves and see which do better in our setting & we just like the beauty of seeing all those gorgeous colors! Our only "duds" (and others may disagree) have been Red Star (sex-link) and Silver Spangled Hamburgs.



11 Years
Aug 29, 2008
North Texas
Hi Clay, and welcome to BYC. I'm a "newbie" too, so join the crowd, and we won't be for long! I've got barred rock chicks right now, and they're not quite following me around the yard yet, but they do settle down nicely for petting when picked up. I tried to get black australorps, but apparently the hatchery had an identification blip that day! Oh well, get the variety pack of "heavy" breeds and have some fun. Good luck and watch out- the chickies they are addictive!

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