Newbie! Considering Chickens, How many to start off with?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by hokankai, May 18, 2010.

  1. hokankai

    hokankai Songster

    May 18, 2010
    SW WA
    Hello! My family is moving onto 5 acres this summer and we are considering getting some chickens for laying that will be good-natured and friendly as well. How many hens is a good number to start off with? Any breeds that are particularly good for pet/egg purposes? I've heard a lot of good things about Rhode Island Reds so far.


  2. justtoni44

    justtoni44 Songster

    Mar 13, 2010
    I think breed is really a personal choice.................
    I love my barred rocks for personality.calm, I can pick them up, nice layers.
    There are lots of clam breeds..there is a list of all breeds and what to expect for laying and disposition.
    I think it is just under brreds on the first page.

    Good luck
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    As many chickens as you can build a coop to house. The ratio of square foot to chicken is 4 sq ft inside the coop, and 10 sq feet per chicken for the secured run when they aren't free ranging.

    Plymouth Rock - Barred (aka: Barred Rocks) are the "standard" for great layers, and mine is very friendly. Black Australorps are also great layers and quite friendly.
  4. MotherJean

    MotherJean Songster

    How many chickens to start with? It really depends on how many eggs you'd probably use each week, unless you're thinking of selling/giving extras to family/friends/neighbors. If you expect 3-4 eggs per week per hen, you probably won't be disappointed and you may get more than that. If this is your first experience with chickens, you might want to start out buying a few hens that are already laying. There's several up-sides to that. First, full grown hens don't require the special care and attention that chicks do. Second, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor immediately - namely eggs. The average wait from chick to laying hen is 6 months. Third, with laying hens, you find out pretty quickly whether or not you really want the responsibilities of feeding, watering, and cleaning up chicken poo on a daily basis. If you enjoy your small flock of hens (and you probably will), then you might plan to brood some chicks next spring, either as an expansion of your flock or as replacement layers. Last, but not least, if you start out with several different breeds of layers you'll be able to decide which breeds you like best and want more of. Chicks are so darn cute, it's hard to resist starting out with those little fuzzy butts. Just be aware that you'll put in at least six months of care and feeding before you get rewarded with that first egg. Just something to think about...
  5. sonjab314

    sonjab314 Constant State of Confusion

    May 15, 2010
    BEWARE!! This is my first time getting chickens too. I originally wanted 8 layers and that has now turned into 20 chicks [​IMG] I think several people on here have experienced this obsession. I have Cinnamon Queens, Easter Eggers and Polish (just because they are pretty). My Easter Eggers are pretty docile and are good with my young kids. My Cinnamon Queens are a little more conservative but they allow us to love on them. The polish are not known as layers from my understandings of them but I can't say for sure. Mine are still small. Good luck to you.
  6. DTRM30

    DTRM30 Songster

    May 25, 2009
    I have mixed breeds - my favorites are my golden comets from TSC (aka red sexlinks - commercial laying hybrids) - and my silkies. My comets are extremely calm - can be picked up - follow you around like dogs and talk to me asking for treats [​IMG] ... the rest are all not very friendly (except the silkies). Could be where you get them from as well. Temperment is also somewhat a genetic trait passed on from what I read anyway - and chickens from breeders / better stock seem to have better attitudes. All except the silkies were raised from chicks in my garage and all received lots of attention when growing up. Why the difference in attitude I do not know for sure. [​IMG]

    I have:

    5 comets who are laying machines (had six - one disappeared while on vacation due to suspected neighboring kids being curious and one escaping the run never to be seen again - which is why the run is now locked when we are away).

    1 White Rock - a HUGE girl - nice looking but keeps her distance.
    1 Barred Rock - a bit small for a BR - not friendly - came from local feed store
    1 Brown Leghorn - typical leghorn personality - flighty
    1 Black Austrolorp (sp?) - the bottom of the pecking order - poor girl.
    2 EE (one is gray and one looks like a brown leghorn) - fairly friendly - especially the gray.
    1 RIR - A bit small for a RIR - came from the same feed store with the BR.
    3 White Silkies - love them!. VERY broody - cute - and pretty calm. Hard to catch, but can be washed and blow dried [​IMG] without making a peep.

    My run needs expanding this summer if I have a successful hatch in a few weeks [​IMG] - hadn't planned on quite this many, but they're addicting. (I have 6 hatching eggs due to arrive today for my broody silkie [​IMG] SHHH - don't tell DH - he doesn't know and would KILL me) But they do free range whenever possible so that helps. If you use the deep litter method - it's much easier for maintenance - you only need to top off the bedding now and then - and do a complete change once every 4-6 months.

    I'm putting gravel in my run hopefully this week to take care of mud - I just can't take that anymore. Should have added it from the get go, but ..... just kept putting it off. Anyway ...

    I find chickens to be the easiest - lowest maintenance "pet" we have - (dog, parakeets, cockatiels, fish and of course chickens)
    We give most of our eggs away to family and friends - and when we get over run with eggs, I just boil and mash them and use them as treats for the girls - shells and all - it's good for them.

    I suggest building your coop and run larger than needed for the number you intend to house - this way when you become addicted, you have room to add more;)
  7. DTRM30

    DTRM30 Songster

    May 25, 2009
    Oh, and don't go with LESS than 2 - they need company to be happy.

  8. What breed to get? That's like asking what is the best song on the radio! [​IMG] Everyone will have their own preference. One good site to look at to help come up with breeds that might suit you is My Pet Chicken (no, I've never ordered from them, but they do have an interesting site). Their breed selector asks questions like is egg production important to you? Does the chicken need to be cold hardy? Friendly? etc. Then it narrows your choice down to several breeds, which you then look through to see egg size, personality traits etc that would work for you and your family. It's just fun to play around with [​IMG] I would start with at least 5-6...of course, I started with 3, added 7 more three weeks later, then another 5 within 2 weeks! You will "average" 4 eggs or so a week per hen, so the eggs could add up quickly. On my 13 hens, average 10 eggs a day, much more than my family of 4 will eat! I also run a home child care, so I have clients who gladly take extra eggs.
  9. zDoc

    zDoc Songster

    Apr 7, 2010
    Farmington NM

    Like another member said on here, 5 or 6 is good to start, but build your coop for 20 because it's way fun and addicting. [​IMG]
  10. clothdiaperingmom

    clothdiaperingmom Songster

    Feb 7, 2010
    Sweetwater, TX
    Ahhhh, a few. Like others have said, I was planning on and got 12 to start with. That quickly changed, and I started hatching! So now I have somewhere around 50 ish (and more eggs in the bator).

    I did the breed search on mypetchicken and looked for docile, gentle, friendly birds that were good layers. I went with those suggestions. And have expanded from there. Here is my rundown:

    Black Australorps-mine really do not like human interaction

    Buff Orpingtons-1 of the 3 is always the 1st to me

    Crested Polish-sold as they really really didnt like human interaction (and there ended up being a boy who tolerated it even less. Dont want my kids to get hurt as they are a part of the chickens)

    RIR's-1 ended up a roo, he is calm but cautious around us, the female doesnt come up to us (but RIR's are supposed to be awesome layers of about 5 eggs/wk)

    Bantam cochins-very calm, tolerate interaction just fine

    Barred Rocks-(they were sent as packing peanuts with my silkies, all but 1 is a boy) they are curious, calm, gentle, tolerate interaction (holding) very well. I LOVE them and we didnt handle them much when they were little as we knew we were keeping all those boys. They always come out to see me when I walk up to the pen and they dont mind me picking them up.

    Speckled Sussex- mine seem skittish. Only had nearly a week and they werent day olds when I got them.

    EE's-hatched 3. They are in the very afraid and skittish stage.

    Silkies- we handled them alot when little and up till a week ago, they were still very skittish and afraid when we walked up. They have gotten better this week.

    I have a couple welsummers of different ages and 2 mystery chicks. They dont seem to be too afraid. I hatched some leghorn mixes for someone. They were flighty, very very skittish and pecked your hand in an aggressive, mean way rather then a curious way. (I had some of them till they were over a month old)

    We also have 1 duck (with deformed foot that TSC sent home with us) and 1 goose that I hatched. By far, the duck and goose are more sweet, less skittish and less afraid then any of the chickens!!

    My all time favorites are the Barred Rocks!! And I know of quite a few other ppl, even in real life, that say their BR's are the sweetest and still their best layers after 3 yrs.

    I hear some of the hybrids/crosses are awesome layers and calm and docile. I believe gold comets are docile.
    Out of my original batch, I got a couple of each breed that fit my requirements.
    Good luck!!!
    Last edited: May 19, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by