newbie from wisconsin

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by baldinal, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. baldinal

    baldinal New Egg

    3
    0
    7
    Mar 3, 2015
    Hey everyone! This site has been so informative and I am so grateful to have found it! I look forward to learning even more as my Chicken Adventure continues JI have some questions that I am hoping to get answered-I appreciate anyone’s response! For starters, here is a bit of background. My husband and I have been toying around with the idea of getting chickens for quite some time. We just closed on our new house in Madison, WI and thought now is as good of time as any! Madison allows us to keep 4 chickens in our backyard. We have about ½ acre fenced in backyard and are planning to build a coop with attached run this spring. Now comes to my questions

    1.      Breeds-I am looking for chickens that are nice/good personalities and good egg layers but also good in the cold weather. I am in love with so many breeds that I am having a hard time narrowing this down to which I should get. Can I have 4 different breeds? If so, I have narrowed this down to wanting for sure Barred Rock, Rhode Island red, Buff orphington. Is it ok to have one of each? I also love the silkies, and would adore having one as my 4thbird. Would this combo be ok? Would the silkie get picked on being so different and smaller? Any other suggestions?

    2.      We cannot build our coop until it obviously warms up. Is it jumping the gun too much to want to get the chicks now since I will be raising from indoors in the brooder? Or should I just be patient and wait?

    3.      Keep in mind I will have a coop with attached covered run, do I need to close the door to the run each night of is ok to leave it open so they can come and go? The Coop will be perfectly secure. What is the purpose of closing them in at night?

    4.      Any suggestions as to where to purchase my chicks in southern WI?

    I think this will cover my questions for now. I appreciate everything! I look forward to hearing from all of you and gaining from your expertise!!!!!

     
     
  2. farnorth

    farnorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    362
    34
    103
    Jul 6, 2013
    Upper Michigan
    Good Breeds for cold climate Australorps, Gold Star aka Gold Buff aka Gold Comet, California White, Buff Orpington, Plymouth Rocks, Easter Eggers, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds. Your choice of 3 breeds is good and yes you can have one of each.

    They really only are small for a couple of weeks and will outgrow a brooder and the need for heat lamps by 5 to 6 weeks. Unless you are gonna start building the coop now I wouldn't get too impatient.

    Yes always close the coop at night. Chickens don't go in and out at night. They become almost helpless once they are roosted for the night and in the dark. Predators such as cats, coons etc will go into your run and coop at night and kill the chickens while they sit their in a stupor.

    Feed stores down your way should have chicks in stock all the way into May. Those 3 breeds should be easy to find.

    Welcome to the forum and welcome to the world of chickens !
     
  3. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

    107
    61
    96
    Dec 31, 2014
    Hi and welcome,

    I am pretty new too but I am going to weigh in and I am sure the real experts will correct me if I am wrong.

    1. Mixing Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Red is fine, even just 1 of each. I used to ride horses at a farm where they ha those very breeds and added some silkies as well. They seemed to do fine, but they had a whole farm to range on. I think they would be fine though.

    2. Depending on the size of your brooder, you are going to probably need a coop within at least 6-8 weeks of getting chicks, I would think. My first chicks are a week to 2 weeks old right now (different ages) and I am already worrying about making sure they have enough space until we put them in the coop, which is almost finished.

    3. As I understand it, the chickens will not "come and go" at night. They can't see well in the dark so wherever they are when dark falls, they just hunker down. In addition to keeping predators out, closing the coop up also keeps it warmer during the cold and free from drafts. I think making things completely predator proof is easier said than done, but I will be curious what others say about leaving the door to the run open, at least during wam months.

    4. No idea! I ordered online from ohio and half of mine died in transit. It was 0 degrees f when i picked them up at the post office. Then I found out my local farm choice had the same breeds at a good price. Wish I knew that all along.

    Like I said, this is my first time with chickens too but based on my reading and research these are my best guesses. Let's see what the real pros say.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
  4. baldinal

    baldinal New Egg

    3
    0
    7
    Mar 3, 2015
    Thank you for your responses. I just want to clarify...so it would be OK to add a silkie into the flock? Also the only one I am unsure of is the Rhode Island red. I see a lot of mixed opinions on them and while I understand their personality will be based on several factors would anyone suggest a different breed? Thanks you again.
     
  5. farnorth

    farnorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    362
    34
    103
    Jul 6, 2013
    Upper Michigan
    I don't know anything about Silkies.

    I don't like RIRs because they seemed to be bullies when I had them. And the Buff Orpington will most likely be their target as Orpingtons are less aggressive than most.

    Orpingtons also go broody a lot and stop laying. If you are planning to get her eggs to hatch that would be a plus....if you have no interest in hatching eggs it can mean a loss of production and a broody hen to deal with. Australorps also go broody but mine hasn't been nearly as broody as an Orpington. I also have read that Silkies are very broody hens.

    If it was me, I'd choose from Barred Rock, White Rock, Black Australorp, Red Sex Link, Black sex link, Easter Eggers and Wyandottes ....They all seem to have middle of the road type personalities without a lot of aggression. If possible I would also suggest buying your chicks locally if you can avoid mail order. Small orders are expensive, hard on the chicks and sometimes do not make it. So your choice of breeds may depend on what is available at local feed stores or farms.
     
  6. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    9,279
    727
    321
    Apr 11, 2011
    Tn
    I wouldn't add a Silkie to that flock. A lot of people keep them in a mixed flock, but I'm not one of them. I've kept and bred them for years now, and they've never done well with larger, more aggressive breeds. Even when they've grown up together, the larger birds still ended up picking on them heavily. Mine always ended up at the bottom of the pecking order with larger breeds, and would get abused by every flock member above them in the pecking order. Silkies are known for being docile and if you end up with Silkies that have large crests, they don't see well. That can cause issues at the feeder and problems when they need to get away from a bully.

    I've never had an issue mixing breeds of the same size, with the same characteristics. Or even breeds of different sizes, as long as they were similar to the larger birds they lived with. I think all of the standard sized breeds you've picked out would do well together. I have 2 black Spanish turkeys, a bantam Phoenix and a bantam white Japanese all living in the same coop. They do well together, but those bantams can see. I'd never mix my Silkies into that group. That coop will also soon be home to some Easter Egger, partridge Chantechlers, Anconas and cuckoo Marans. I don't anticipate any problems with that flock either, but I have a plan in place and a separate coop if one should arise.
    I know its difficult to feel everything out when you're new to the whole chicken thing, but if you stick with breeds that act somewhat alike and provide them with plenty of space, you usually don't encounter any problems.

    Best of luck to you :)
     
  7. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

    913
    196
    181
    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    I wouldn't keep a silkie in a mixed flock of heavy, dual-purpose hens, especially considering they would be confined to the coop and run much of the time.

    I've had mixed flocks with Rhode Island red, buff orpington, barred rock, Easter egger, welsummer, black australorp, golden-laced wyandotte, and dominique. One of my Rhode Island reds was people-aggressive, but I've trained her to stop being aggressive. However, she doesn't "play nice with others" . . . she harasses some of the lower-ranking hens in the flock. The other RIR was tame, smart, sweet and curious. Of my 4 barred rocks, 2 were bullies to other flock members. One so much so that I culled her. On the positive side, RIR and barred rocks are GREAT egg layers. Just be aware that EACH hen of EACH breed has its own unique personality.

    I've found that my hatchery buff orpington's lay well for the first two years, after which their egg production plummets. They can also go broody, during which time they don't lay eggs. Think carefully about what you plan to do with hens as they age and become unproductive. All of my hens are "working pets". They're treated well, allowed to free-range, and given names. But when production goes way down, they go to the stew pot after being humanely culled.

    If you're looking for birds that are a bit smaller than RIR and BO, you may want to consider Easter Eggers and Dominique. Both are VERY cold hardy and tend to be good egg layers. I'm also very fond of black australorp. Good luck with choosing breeds! There are so many it's hard to decide, but I think you'll really enjoy having a mixed flock!

    I've had good luck ordering from Meyer Hatchery in Ohio. They have a wide assortment of breeds and will ship small quantities. I've ordered as few as 3 chicks at a time from them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  8. baldinal

    baldinal New Egg

    3
    0
    7
    Mar 3, 2015
    Ok everyone I need a little more advise. I am going to get one buff orphington one barred rock and one black astralorp. For my last 2 birds I am debating golden laced wyandotte, Columbian wyandotte, light brahma, and speckled sussex. We will have more than enough eggs either way we go. I am most interested in getting the nicest most docile birds. I'm worried about how all the reviews state the wyandotte are noisey. I live in the city so they may not be the best fit. Thanks
     
  9. lereg15

    lereg15 Out Of The Brooder

    81
    12
    48
    Mar 11, 2015
    Crossville, Tn
    If it was me, I'd choose from Barred Rock, White Rock, Black Australorp, Red Sex Link, Black sex link, Easter Eggers and Wyandottes ....They all seem to have middle of the road type personalities without a lot of aggression. If possible I would also suggest buying your chicks locally if you can avoid mail order. Small orders are expensive, hard on the chicks and sometimes do not make it. So your choice of breeds may depend on what is available at local feed stores or farms.


    I've read that the Black Sex Links are pretty loud, is that true? I'd like to get a couple, but don't think my neighbors would like the noise.
     
  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    7,724
    2,233
    416
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! I wouldn't get a Silkie with this group; she will not do well. Consider Speckled Sussex; my hens have been wonderful people- friendly birds, the best. Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, Wyandottes, Either Easter Eggers or Ameracaunas, all good choices. Chanteclers are very nice and cold hardy too. So many choices! I have found RIRs, New Hamps,, and the sex-linked layers to be pushier in the flock, and no longer have them. Salmon Favorelles are also very nice, and can be too gentle to do well with pushy flock mates. Have fun! Mary
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by