Newbie Help... Lots of questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by StarBop, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. StarBop

    StarBop Out Of The Brooder

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    Okay so I'm ready to dive into the chicken world. I've been researching breeds and coops but I'm stuck on how many to start with. Let me tell you what I'm working with and wanting out of our future flock. These will be true backyard chickens.
    I'm thinking of a permanent coop and run but letting them free range while we are outside with them, our yard is completely fenced with a 6ft privacy fence.
    Eggs are important, then temperament and looks is a bonus
    We are in southern ohio so winter hardy is a plus and I have kids so Id rather stay away from breeds that are known to be nervous or flighty.
    The breeds I'm interested in are blue laced red wyandotte, barred rock, buff orpington, and black australorp. Do you suggest having at least 2 of each breed or is 5 birds all different ok?
    I'm thinking of having 3-5 chickens? I'm wondering if I should start with 3 and then add 2 or 3 more in 6 months to a year so their ages are staggered?
    I am completely open to any suggestions on chickens or my plans on managing them.
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It's best to start with as many chickens as you are allowed or have space for. Adding to an existing flock is usually difficult. 3 is an absolute minimum because chickens die and if one is left alone as flock animals they won't prosper.
    One should have at least 2 chickens per family member. Once you have fresh delicious eggs in your own backyard, you'll eat more eggs than you currently do. They'll molt their second autumn and each thereafter during which time they won't lay eggs. It's a bummer to go through all the trouble, expense and work and still have to buy store eggs.
    For looks, I like a mixed flock and your choices sound good. Most dual purpose breeds have fairly good temperaments.
    Keep in mind that hot weather is harder on most breeds of chickens than cold.


    I like this breed selection chart.
    http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/chickenbreedcomparison.pdf
    Choose for climate tolerance first and then your egg, temperament and color needs.
    Good luck
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  3. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All are good breeds for temperament, I don't know about cold so I can't advise you that way. I suggest to start with 2 of each breed because it is true, birds of a feather do flock together. Some might turn out to be roosters then you have to determine what to do with them. I have several roosters with my flock and they work out great with each other, but that doesn't happen in all flocks. If you are looking for eggs and eat a lot of them then you want to have double the amount of hens that you want eggs a day for. Hens take breaks for winter, molting, and depending on breed 1-4 days a week. Production breeds will be on the low side for time of breaks where as pretty breeds seem to be on the high side. Adding to a flock can be tricky, the more mild mannered your flock the easier it will be. If you ever have too many extra eggs (good production times) you can sell them, give them away, or crack them open in an ice cube tray and freeze them until needed to cover the low periods.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Those should be good breeds. Smaller combs and wattles are less likely to get frostbitten, but if you build a coop that is large enough to be well ventilted, that should not be a problem. I would recommend getting as many as you think you will want all at once, rather than add some later. Introducing new chickens to an existing flock is always traumatic.

    How friendly they are depends at least as much on hoe they are handled as chicks as on the breed. The RIR and production reds that hatcheries produce seem to be prone to being "eman," but otherwise, the more common breeds should be OK. They are individuals and you can get a very friendly one or an "attack chicken" in any breed. When they are new chicks, rather than chasong them to pick them up, lay your hand on the floor of the brooder, palm up, with a little feed or moistened feed. Be patient and let them gradually explore. Eventually they will climb on your hand, and in time, will accept being pciked up as well. Remember that anything coming from right above sets off their instinct to avoid flying predators such as hawks, so they will run and hide if they can. Try to bring your hand in from the side as much as possible.

    Probably what is ideal is to build the coop first, wire it, and raise thie chicks in the coop with a eat lamp. It is not really recommended to brood in one's home, although plenty of peole have done it, including myself at one time (never again.) They put out a whole lot of dust, dander and even aereated dried poop for your family to breathe.

    Here are a couple of links about coops for your climate and brooding chicks outdoors in your climate, even in cold weather -- and a classis article on ventilation.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-coop-temperatures

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/735392/redneck-fungshui-brooding-17-degree-temperatures/0_20

    And one of the many threads here about winter and chickens:

    Good luck

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/822765/winter-is-coming-checklists-tips-advice-for-a-newbie/0_20
     
  5. StarBop

    StarBop Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2014
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    Thanks for the information. Do you suggest ordering chicks from a hatchery where you can order all female or from someone local who loves and cares for their chickens but only has straight runs? I found someone local who has the blue laced red Wyandottes (trying not to be swayed by looks ... Haha). I also found a hatchery meyer? That is only 3 hours from me so shipping should be relatively quick. Oh! what do you do with any roosters you may get? I'm thinking I would try to sell them via craigslist or facebook group.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Personal choice. I eat all extra roosters.
    Unless it is a rare breed or breed in demand, craigslist is usually for giving roosters away to be a meal.
     
  7. StarBop

    StarBop Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2014
    Stonelick Township, Ohio
    Eating them is an option I've considered. Do you butcher your own or take them to be butchered?
     
  8. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can sell them, eat them, or raise them so you can have fertilized eggs and hatch out some chicks. I keep 3 roosters for breeding, they all get to mate because they are completely different sizes. Any extras beyond that I eat. You can also sell or rehome them on craigs list. I have had both hatchery and local chicks, there are pros and cons to each. With hatchery chicks you can have them sexed (90% accurate), know that they have no illnesses, and have them vaccinated if you choose. The down side is that they and their parent flock don't get handled much, broodiness tends to be bred out of them, and shipping causes stress (the shorter time shipping the better). Local people have chicks that are used to being handled, if getting a broody type breed they still have it in them, you know where they came from, and no shipping stress. The downside is if they had any illnesses you do too now and it is hard to sex chicks. I have a few people locally that are NPIP certified and have a closed flock that I buy from. It takes most of the risk out for me because I don't care if I end up with extra roosters. Not all local people will allow you to see their chicken yard because of bio-security, those that do may ask you to wear shoe covers for their flocks protection.
     
  9. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Easy to butcher your own.
     
  10. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Yup. You might want to look over the tutorials in our meat Birds section. The first one you do will take you a lot longer than the second one, and so forth, but really it's the work of a few minutes, and you need no special tools at all. Most people find the killing itself the most difficult thing, at first, anyway. There are several ways to do it so it's instantaneous for the bird -- chop off the head, or killing cone and throat slit are probably the most popular. It's very difficult to find someone who will butcher for you in most areas, and honestly, I find the cost silly, even if it's a reasonable price. If you don't eat the skin, it's even easier to skin than pluck them. Butchering your own extras is definitely the simplest solution; the world is full of extra roosters, obviously. Around 12-18 weeks they may be a bit small but are tender and tasty -- and it's usually obvious by then who the males are. An old saying: when they crow, they go.

    If you feel reasonably certain there is no disease in that Blue Laced Red Wyandotte flock, that may be the way to go. Notice especially any eye or nose discharge, coughing or sneezing. If you can get close to them, look for mites/lice at the base of their tail feathers and raised leg scales. Also do look for general cleanliness -- no ammonia smell buildup, no poop buildup on the ground, etc.
     

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