Newbie with questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Patoot, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Hi there. I'm not sure which forum was the best place for my questions. Hopefully this fits here. I've been thinking about getting some chickens, but I wanted to find out a lot more first. I've found out quite a bit, but I wanted to get some info from people who actually have some. [​IMG]

    I live in Albuquerque, NM so we have hot summers and mild winters, but it does get very chilly at night in the winter and occasionally it snows. I was thinking about getting 4 chickens and converting a little play structure I have into a coop. I think I would just need to make sure there were no drafts and put in nest boxes. I would remove the bottom board to be able to slide a board/plastic sheet/whatever in and out to clean out the poop (like in bird cages). Then they would have free range of the yard. It's small, but plenty big for 4 chickens. It's almost all grass and then I have a small flower garden and vegetable garden. The rest is a large porch. I would probably keep them off the porch to avoid poop all over it, but if it washes off easy, I don't really care. We don't have any predators. I haven't seen hawks, but just in case I wouldn't put babies out there. The yard is completely fenced with 5ft or higher fencing all around. Does it sound like it would be a good set up for them?

    I also have some other questions...

    1. How much time do you spend caring for them daily/weekly?
    2. Will they eat all my grass?
    3. Do they eat flowers and vegetable gardens? (I think they do so I would block that off)
    4. Is it better to get babies or adults? I saw an ad on craigslist for laying hens from a chicken range that does not use hormones or antibiotics. Each hen is $20. Babies are cute, but it would be nice to start getting eggs quickly.
    5. The poop is good for the lawn right?
    6. Will 4 hens produce enough eggs for 2 people?
    7. Are they low maintenance enough that it would be easy for a friend to care for them when we go on vacations?

    I currently buy eggs for $2.50 a dozen from a woman with free range chickens which isn't bad, but she has so many customers now, that she doesn't always have enough and I eat a lot of eggs. It's $3.50-4 for others on Craigslist which is crazy because we eat a lot of them.

    Any feedback you can give me will be great. I want to make sure I learn enough so I can make sure I'm able and willing to give them what they need to be happy and healthy and produce good eggs. Thanks everyone.

    Bree
     
  2. trishamonks

    trishamonks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 8, 2010
    hi bree
    [​IMG] this site is great im too a newby only 8 weeks into my first flock but ive 18 chicks and 2 hens and 6 ducks and a roo named randy {name and nature}
    i dunno if my ans wer is right im only sayin wot we done so i hope its ok we got 2point of lay hens to keep while the young are young but to answer your q ill try the house seems ok for them but i would try keep them off the ground keeps out any cold and try get them nesting boxes with st
    straw /hay/ sawdust /chippings something dry and warm

    1... ours take about 1 hour a week to clean check and feed but i spend hours watchin them they are addictive
    2...yes they love grass and weeds
    3....yes block off your flowers you dont want them them eating
    4....we were stuck with this dilemma too we got 2 point of lay to keep us going
    5....yes the poop is good mostly for the flower bed you dont really want chicken poop in your grdn do ya???
    6... yes 4 hens at laying stage should produce 4 egg daily unless there is something wrong
    7....if your friend doesnt mind looking after them there shouldnt be a prob so long as they have plenty water food and somewhere to rest they pretty much look after themselves

    i hope this helps somehow good luck
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010
  3. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Thank you for your reply. I should have specified about the grass...what I mean is, they won't eat all the grass down to nubs will they?

    I just got off the phone with the chicken ranch guy and he said they have 3 1/2 mos olds ready to go for $16 a piece. He anticipates they will start laying eggs by the end of Sept. He has RI Reds and a few other kinds so I know I could get RI Reds which I read are good layers.

    Thanks again for your reply and I hope to hear from some veterans too.

    Bree
     
  4. trishamonks

    trishamonks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hi bree
    yeah they will make the grass bare well fairly bare maybe a run would be better for them i was also thinking how about looking in the for sale section in here its in the index page for ppl selling their hens /chicks i think you should get a better place we bought our 2 rireds hens flymo and gingy for 5 euro each but were in ireland so i dont know how that would compare to where you are
     
  5. mommyofthreewithchicks

    mommyofthreewithchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 25, 2010
    Minnesota
    1. How much time do you spend caring for them daily/weekly? I have been spending 1/2-1 hour in the morning feeding/watering and checking on them. Course this is with the new baby ducklings as well... When We didn't have the ducklings it was about 15 min -45min. When the chicks were in their first two weeks I would check them every 2hours and refill water/feed
    2. Will they eat all my grass? Still to new at this for that question. I have not been brave enough to let them free range yet.
    3. Do they eat flowers and vegetable gardens? (I think they do so I would block that off) I would guess so.
    4. Is it better to get babies or adults? I saw an ad on craigslist for laying hens from a chicken range that does not use hormones or antibiotics. Each hen is $20. Babies are cute, but it would be nice to start getting eggs quickly. I went with babies and so am still waiting for eggs. To start your flock $20/hen seems high unless it is show quality. I have seen a lot of people around here offer 5-10/bird
    5. The poop is good for the lawn right? Yes unless you get too much in one spot
    6. Will 4 hens produce enough eggs for 2 people? I would think that depends on how many eggs you eat.
    7. Are they low maintenance enough that it would be easy for a friend to care for them when we go on vacations? Since I am still new at this, I have not had someone else come and feed the birds but... For us yes feed birds type A food, give them water in their dish and put out scratch, Ducks get type B food with water.

    I have had my birds since June so take my thoughts for what they are (granted I have picked on my Dad's and Grandpa's brains both of whom have raised chickens--- Grandpa asked me if I ordered 500 chicks like he used to [​IMG] Umm No [​IMG] Anyway they would be the expert panel I have ran to with questions )
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I have had both baby chicks and adults. I think are adults are better when you are just getting started, because it is easy for a chick to die. They are a bit tricky to raise, but it can be done, if you want to do it that way. However, going into winter, I think I would really prefer the red star chickens. They are going to be sturdier, well feathered and ready for winter. They are going to be laying pretty quickly.

    4 hens will be more than enough to provide eggs for a family of two, unless you use a very large amount of eggs. I had 5 last winter, and often had a dozen of eggs to give away to a friend or a co worker. They are well received gifts. This summer, I had two of my hens go broody, which they sit on the nest, and do not lay a daily eggs, but wait for their chicks to hatch, so only 3 layers, The layers are red stars, and my family of 3, 2 men and me, have not run out of eggs.

    I let mine free range, and if you don't have your gardens, either flower or vegetable fenced out, the chickens will get in there and eat bugs, and plants and dust bath. A lot of people I know, let their chickens in their gardens after the hard freeze. The chickens will eat up bugs, bug eggs, and weed seed, plus add fertilizer to the garden soil.

    If you want to use the poop as fertilizer, sweep it up with the bedding and compost it. I put it in my vegetable garden last fall where I planned to put onions this spring, as onions are big nitrogen uses, and poultry manure is high in nitrogen.

    l think that I would section off a corner so that you can use the fence you currently have, as part of a run, and build another two sides to make a run. You may not have predators, (but lots of things like to eat chicken, including family or neighbor dogs) Sometimes, it is nice to leave them locked up where you know that they will be safe. Especially if you are gone, and have someone else take care of them.

    Time varies, most days 10 minutes morning and night, gather eggs, fresh feed, and fresh water. Every two weeks or so, more deeper cleaning of any piles of poo in the coop. maybe half an hour. Once every two months or so, haul out old hay (I have that on hand, so I use the old stuff for bedding) and in new stuff, maybe an hour.

    Welcome on board, hope you get eggs quick! Mrs.K
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010
  7. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks guys. I'll have to take a picture of the backyard so you can see it. There is no way any animal (except for other birds) can get in the yard. I've seen lizards, but that's about it. [​IMG] The back wall is concrete and 5+ft high (covered in ivy), and the sides are wood fence that have no openings. Then it ends at my house so there's no dogs getting in. I do have a lab, but I know she will be fine. I've had ferrets and sugar gliders and birds (cockatiel) and she played with the ferrets and let the birds crawl all over her. I wouldn't let her alone with them anyway. She doesn't like to be outside by herself. [​IMG]

    It seems that they are pretty low maintenance or at least lower than I would have guessed. I'm still researching but I think my only lingering issue is related to the landscape/lawn. Some information I have read indicates they are good for the lawn as long as they aren't kept in one spot. Others say they completely destroyed the whole thing. Not sure how to figure it out. Maybe it depends on how many birds and the breed and personality?

    I don't mind paying more for adults. It would be $64 for all 4. I'm okay with losing that money too if I decide this is not for me and give them away. I plan to make an informed decision, but sometimes you don't know how it is until you are in the situation.

    Is there any worry about diseases spread to humans? I read that in some places, but that seems silly. I really appreciate the help in making this decision!

    Bree
     
  8. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    You need to frequently move the chickens so they don't eat all of the grass in the area you have them, given enough time confined in one spot they will reduce that area to bare ground and then dig dust bath depressions in the ground.

    You need to write off the area around the coop and any run you provide.
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Yes there are some diseases that will spread from flocks to humans.

    If you have a run, and just let them free range a couple hours a day,, your grass will probably be ok. However, the grass in the run will be gone. I actually put old hay in my run, and my coop. Kind of absorbs any poo, and you don't track it in the house so much.
     
  10. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Quote:What about if they are free range in the whole yard? Or are you saying I have to confine them and then move them? I was hoping they could have the whole yard as their "run". I do know that the area around the coop will be lost. I just don't want an entire yard of dirt/dead grass. [​IMG]

    Bree
     

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