Newbies need advice

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Metalman, May 18, 2008.

  1. Metalman

    Metalman Hatching

    May 18, 2008
    We live in the Shenandoah Valley, VA. We are city dwellers with a huge lot, and a completely (6' wooden privacy) fenced yard. We want to have chickens. We have a garden. We need to know: is 3 too few, what is the best calm, friendly egg layer breed, where do folks suggest getting them, are they well acclimated to our climate (it snows here), and can we let them have the afternoons to run free in the yard (how, what to watch for). Thanks!

    Mark & Carol
  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Songster

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    For cold winters, you want to go with a heavy breed of chicken. Rhode Island Reds are good options, so are Black Australorps, but there are many other heavy breeds. There are tons of hatcheries to choose from, I ordered my birds from Murray McMurray, I have heard good things about Cackle and Ideal as well. If your yard is completely fenced in, I don't see a problem with letting them run around in the afternoons, just make sure that predators can't squeeze through the fence. The number of chickens you get depends on the size of your family or how many eggs you want each day, some chickens lay an egg almost every day.
  3. SoccerMomof7

    SoccerMomof7 Songster

    Apr 13, 2008
    Well my husband thought 3 was enough, but I have 10 now. We bought 3 and the more research I did, I realized with us having such a big family that we needed more so a few day later I got 2 more. Finally I convince my hubby that I needed 4 more baby pullets the other day. I would at least have 4. Mine hang out in pairs. Black australorps are very friendly, a good brown egg layers. I have 3 california whites that will lay large white eggs, but I swear they have ZERO personality. Well good luck , I too live in the city but lucky my hubby owns several lots of land where we live.
  4. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    You may consider looking around locally for your birds. There are fewer hassles for the newcomer in this method and you will find a friendly "chicken person" in the bargain that can help you, should you need it.

    You are not living in DC - there are bound to be some local folks who can mentor you. Place a WANTED ad in the penny shopper, ask around at the feed and seed store and check in the regional agricutlrual digest. College extension agents are also a good source of such info. Keep in mind that you are best off with farm birds, though, and not commercial culls and rejects. Be certain of that point.

    Would three be good? I'd say no. 6 is a better number for the back yard flock, in my experience. This allows for a better interplay of flock social dynamics. Plan to clip their wings, too... a six foot fence is little deterrent to a determine clucker.
    Of course you will have to determine if poultry are allowed in your area and whether having a cock is good idea, or not.

    By the sound of it, I'd say no to roosters.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2008
  5. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Quote:I live in Central Va. Howdy, neighbor! [​IMG] Welcome to BYC.

    You can get chickens from anywhere you can find them. Chickens live in far colder climates than ours. You can buy them from someone locally or order them online.

    If 3 will suit your needs get three. If you need more get more. If you are hoping 3 will give you 3 eggs a day -well, they might and they might not. You'll be lucky to get 1 egg from each chicken every day.

    If you want big beautiful chickens that lay large brown eggs and that are very friendly you will find that buff orpingtons will fit your bill, so will wyandottes - I have a big fat white one sitting on a clutch of eggs right now. [​IMG]

    If you want to keep your garden keep the chickens fenced out of it. They will eat everything and dig it up. They won't leave anything for you at all.

    Some people want to start with older chickens but it is my firm believe you are buying someone elses problems unless you know they are a reputable source of laying hens. Too many people are willing to sell problem hens and not tell you they are egg eaters or mean or have had an illness. You are left to find that out on your own.

    Get chicks. Teach them to know you and their home. They will be hand raised and gentle and tend to be more lap a dog than a chicken.

    Even with a privacy fence you will want to make sure you have a secure house and run for them. You never know what will happen if a stray gets in your yard. Also - racoons and possums and other furry critters love chickens for dinner and will not stop until they get them if they are not securely protected.

    Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience.

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