Newbie, help purchasing chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by GoodEgg, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Hi all,

    I've been reading the board here for a couple of days, and trying to do my research on other sites as well. I've learned so much, thanks for the great info!

    We finally moved out of the city, and have a nice huge backyard, and are really looking forward to getting set up with some chicks, in the hopes of some good laying hens later.

    Planning to keep the chicks in a closed in pen in the garage at first, with a heat source, etc. and it will have to be pretty secure as we have a cat that lives in there. She's pretty lazy and not much of a hunter, but I'm sure chicks will be TOO much temptation and being so fragile I'm sure I'll have to keep them completely away from her, probably with double walls or a very small mesh.

    We live in NW Florida, so it will soon be warm here.

    My real question is about the chicks. They have sometimes a few feather-plucked sad looking things at the feed store, but nothing in the newspapers and no one knows about anything (although I know lots of folks around here have chickens). I've asked a lady who raises eggs for our store and she orders from MurrayMcMurray.

    I've got their catalog, and found a few more online. Generally, they all sell chicks by 25's, for warmth in shipping. I really had only planned on 4-12 chickens ... 25 sounds like a lot.

    Then I got to looking at the breeds, and ...

    LOL ...

    Silver-laced Wyandottes were my first choice. From the descriptions of breeds I read, I also like Black Australorps and RIR's. And MM's Red Stars and Black Stars both sound good. They all sound like good layers, and getting along in hot/cold weather (it DOES get cold here, for a while, most winters).

    And I do want a rooster or two from what I have read ... partly for ornamental reasons and partly to keep an eye on the hens. I hope that works out ok. I thought of letting my daughter (she's 10) pick out a type of hen, or choose a rooster or two, and raise for 4H or just a homeschool project. She's excited!

    Anyway ... my real problem is that I can't figure out where to buy chicks, except from a hatchery. And I wonder if they ship well, and adjust after shipping? I can be home for almost all of a day or 2 after they arrive, and would be prepared with everything in advance.

    And I wonder if 25 is just too many to start out with? I like the "tractor" idea, but it sounds like I can't build one large enough for so many and be able to move it. I'd thought of PVC and chicken wire, which should be light, but I don't have a tractor and would be moving it by hand with only my daughter to help.

    I really can't afford anything too expensive to build, at least not right now.

    I thought of trying to find someone to split an order with, but no luck so far. And how do I know that I get the chicks I wanted (breeds) if they come all mixed up? The pics of chicks sometimes look far to similar to me.

    Maybe I can just raise them all and sell off some excess as they reach laying age? If there IS an excess ... I don't know what to expect in the way of mortality rates from various sources.

    The fences are low, and I want a garden ... I could fence the garden, and let them roam for much of the day, but there are woods around here and I see hawks flying, and raccoons and possums are commonly hit on the road. We don't have a dog, but I considered getting one to help with predators. I know that dogs in themselves can be a problem, but I DO have a lot of experience with raising and training dogs, so I hope I could manage that part.

    Not sure if this is a question easily answered ... and I'm sorry the post is so long. If anyone can help with any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!!!

    MiBirds likes this.
  2. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Welcome to BYC! I'm not sure I can answer all of your questions. But here is a link to Ideal hatchery which has a minimum order of $25 rather than chicks. I have heard that you can order only 15 chicks so you might want to give them a try. Here is the link:

    You say you have a low fence. How low? I do ok with a 4' fence by clipping the flight feathers on one wing. At least with the heavy breeds like the Wyandottes you mentioned. You will need a secure coop. Allow 3 square feet per adult bird when you plan your coop. You should be able to let them run the yard during the day but you'll want to lock them securely in their coop at night because of the preditors you mentioned. A PVC and chicken wire tractor might be ok as a daytime playpen for the chicks, but remember, chicken wire keeps the birds in but does not keep preditors out. Even a small neighborhood dog could easily get through it and kill your flock. If you choose to get a dog for protection, you'll probably want to get a Livestock Guardian Dog breed like a Great Pyranees and raise it with your chickens so it will bond with them and protect them. But research first. Each breed has it's own drawbacks and advantages.

    I hope I have been of some help.

    Happy chickening!!
    MiBirds likes this.
  3. aznewbe

    aznewbe In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2007
    Hello, I just ordered 15 birds from cackle hatchery and they are going to be here on friday. I also only want 8-10 layers so I got heavy (dual purpose) breeds and will either sell or eat the extras. My wife has been calling my chicken man because I have been reading this forum so much. The ppl here are great and good luck.
    MiBirds likes this.
  4. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    Please keep us posted as to how many chicks arrive. It's my understanding that you will receive at least 25 anyway in order, for the peeps to stay warm.

    I'm sure everyone who would like to only order 15, would be interested also.

    It's hard to ship day old chicks, unless there is enough peeps to keep everyone warm.

    Depends on what part of the country you live, however take in consideration where you live and realize sometimes it's better to wait for warmer weather, because these day old peeps are without heat for up to a couple of days.

    We are all excited about getting our new chicks, let's keep their best interest in mind.

    I ordered one time for April 25 delivery, and while I only lost one later, it was a constant making sure the brooder was warm enough. with temps that would not get over 20 on the outside. It just would have been eaiser waiting another month.

    The main thing is to be prepared for less than ideal weather when ordering early in cold weather zones. I know, it's just like Christmas and being a little kid again.

    MiBirds likes this.
  5. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    I have since found a hatchery that will ship as few as 3, but with a $20 extra charge for the heating pad.

    I too am looking at heavy birds, don't know if they are dual purpose really. I'm not sure my daughter will let us eat them.

    She went through a stage last year of being vegetarian ... not because it's healthier but because she didn't like to think of the animals being killed. If I let her raise baby chicks then try to eat them, I'll never get her to touch meat again, LOL.

    Too bad, cuz I wouldn't mind keeping some rabbits for that purpose ...

    Anyway ... the costs and risks with shipping fewer don't seem worth it. I suppose I'll just get extra hens and HOPE that I can sell them as laying hens when they mature, if I can't manage the space for them.

    I have a lot of room, just not much $$ to build, and I want the coop to be secure.

    Weather isn't too much of an issue here. I'm planning to wait until I have a little more money, and by then it should be fairly warm here in NW Florida. It will probably be mid-March before I can be ready and afford them.

    Our fences are not high ... maybe 4 ft. And the fence I build around the garden ... I'd prefer not to have to build it that high. I'm thinking 2 x 4 frame if I can pick up cheap, and just chicken wire, to keep the hens out once they are wandering the yard. I hope that works. We will need the veggies.

    Thanks so much for the info and suggestions! I'm watching carefully, and others' questions too, and will be trying to learn as much as I can to do the best I can.

    Thanks all!!!
    MiBirds likes this.
  6. edbama2

    edbama2 Songster

    Feb 6, 2007
    Slocomb, Alabama
    I notice that you are in NW Florida. I am in Alabama on the Florida line near Georgia. My freind and I are planning on ordering some chickens here soon. If you are close let me know. I am in the process of building my own tractor now, I will let you know how easy it is to move. I like the pvc idea but, my dogs would like it too. They already want to play with the chickens. Ed [​IMG]
    MiBirds likes this.
  7. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks Ed, but I don't think we are close at all. We're closer to Mobile, AL than to Georgia.

    I'd love to hear about how the tractor goes though.

    I'm still trying to think how it will go. We have a HUGE backyard, and I don't mind the chickens going all over, I think. With the exception of a garden.

    I'm just not sure how safe they would be. We can spend some time outside, probably quite a bit of time outside with them. We homeschool, and if I can keep her attention OFF the chickens and other animals, LOL, I could have some school time out there. I'm just worried about hawks in the daytime. Nighttime is out of the question, I'm sure they will need to be securely locked up as there are all kinds of local predators.

    I wonder how hard they will be to catch and put up if I let them roam in the daytime?

    Then again, I think back to when I was a kid and my grandma kept a chicken yard. There was no top on it, and I don't know that she ever lost any to hawks. Come to think of it, the coop was an open shed, and she lived in the woods in Louisiana. She never talked about losing any chickens. Maybe the hunting dogs tied nearby scared off the raccoons and such?

    Sorry, rambling ... Just wondering how all this will go. My daughter would be heartbroken to lose any. She gets so attached to her pets, and I have a pretty good feeling that's what the chickens will turn into, LOL.
    MiBirds likes this.
  8. pegbo

    pegbo Songster

    Feb 8, 2007
    Hi NY here. My chickens will put themselves to bed when it starts getting dark. If you just make sure they have somewhere safe to run to during the day, where they can be under cover would help too. My chickens see a hawk and start warning each other and run to their coop. We have a lot of predators here but have only lost three to a bobcat two summers ago.
    MiBirds likes this.
  9. Festus

    Festus In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2007
    Good Egg and All
    I myself am a new member and have placed my first order to ship around Feb. 26 so I am excited about that.
    What I wanted to say is if there is any new construction or new housing projects in your area and you don't mind dumpster diving you can probably find all the material you need to build a coop for free. The material is just going to a land fill, so could look at you are recycling.

    Just thought I would pass this along hope it helps someone.
    MiBirds likes this.
  10. NeuseWorks

    NeuseWorks In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2007
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Quote:Festus is right. I have built over 40 small (2-4 bird) coops and rarely buy any lumber. Between new construction debris and the local Habitat For Humanity Reuse Center's $1/piece rack I usually get all the wood I need very cheap or free. I do end up buying hardware (hinges, latches, mesh, etc) and normally shell out for galvanized, stainless or solid brass. I recoup (no pun intended) the costs when I sell the coops.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2007
    MiBirds likes this.

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