opinions on getting more chickens next year?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by patandchickens, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Having gotten 3 red sex-links this spring, intended just as a practical way of getting happy-chicken eggs, I am really really taken with how personable and interesting they are, and have decided that we definitely need More Chickens around here [​IMG] But, I don't know what would be the best way to go, so I am hoping for advice and suggestions.

    Background: we're currently getting slightly more eggs than we can use, but I seem to have plenty of people to give away eggs to. I *think* I could live with a rooster(s) around; at the very least, we are out in the country enough that neighbors should not be a problem. Winter housing could be adapted from chainlink dog runs inside an insulated concrete-floored building used as a kennel by previous owners of the property; for summer, I could build a large hoop-style tractor and coon-proof it with electric fencing, and/or build a permanent run attached to the kennel building. Oh, and if it matters, we are in southern Canada where it gets down to about minus 30C and snows a LOT for 4+ months of the year. Aside from keeping 3 started pullets alive and happy for the past 5 months, I have zero preexisting chicken experience, although I have generally been successful in keeping lots of cats and horses alive over the years and can more or less follow directions.

    Goal: having interesting chickens to watch and mess around with [​IMG]

    So.

    Options I am currently mulling over:

    1) see if there's anywhere around that will custom process small quantities of birds (don't want to do more than a couple myself, and anyhow husband would have major freak-out), and if so, raise maybe two dozen meat birds from day old chicks, started in kennel building and finished in a large tractor. I'd have to buy a chest freezer [​IMG] but it would give me a chance to try raising chicks without having to carry adult birds onward.

    2) get a couple dozen day old chicks of a single breed, probably something that lays well and is friendly but is a little bit 'off the beaten path' at least for this area. When they are well grown, cull down to maybe 5-6 hens plus a roo (either eat the surplus ones, see above, or sell them or give them away), then the following year buy a small incubator and try small-time breeding program with the goal of improving the utility qualities of flock for my own use and either eating or selling/gifting extra animals.

    3) get a couple dozen day old chicks of an assortment of plausibly-cold-hardy friendly laying breeds, just whatever I find interesting at that moment (which at the moment would be some colors/patterns of Wyandottes, light or speckled sussex, welsummers, maybe non white chanticlers). When they get to laying age, give away (or eat if neccessary) roos and whatever hens have not endeared themselves to me as much <g> to whittle collection down to maybe 6-8 hens to keep (no roos).

    What do you think? What sounds likely to produce the least disastrous surprises (either short or long term) and the most enjoyment?

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  2. pattycake

    pattycake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I pretty much did your number three option, because though I wanted to do meat birds, my kids were very much against it. Just getting chickens at all has turned one into a vegetarian...

    But I ordered 26 female chicks of various breeds, and got 32. I gave half away when they were a couple weeks old. I ended up with one rooster in the 14 I kept, a nice Buff Orp, and he's lovely. His crowing is still pretty mellow at 16 weeks and though I hadn't planned on keeping a rooster, I love him.

    I have had nothing but FUN so far, so I advocate for #3. [​IMG]

    I say just get yourself set up with a solid, large coop, and play it by ear from there. If you want meat birds, you'd probably want to start in the spring, though. (My fantasy was always to keep the meat birds in a tractor in a pasture not too close to the house -- keep some distance!)
     
  3. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I would do a combination of 1 and 3 to start with. You can adjust the numbers of each, to fit your space.

    Option 1 will give you some really great meals. You can eat dual purpose birds, but you get more meat from birds bred for that purpose, they finish sooner and they are cheaper to raise per pound.

    Option 3 will be the most fun and will give you a chance to find out what breed(s) you really love. Getting only pullets, rather than straight run, is also an option for your layers, if you don't plan on keeping any roosters and you want to sell some. The pullets are easier to sell and go for more money. Once you've had a chance to find out which breeds you really like, you could start breeding.

    Here's a link to Henderson's breed chart, in case you need more inspiration. Or is that enabling??? [​IMG]

    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
     
  4. eggzettera

    eggzettera Chillin' With My Peeps

    I second the 1&3 posting above - ordering all pullets makes the most sense, because you will probably end up with a rooster or 2. Sexing at good hatcheries are only 90% accurate so 2 roo's out of 25 sounds about right.
     
  5. valmom

    valmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have to say, I am in sort of the same boat. We acquired 8 hens and 2 roos this summer from a friend who had to get rid of her chickens. Since then we have lost two- one to ? and one to a fox.

    I have been looking at the links on this board for companies to buy day old chicks from and drooling. We have 6 hens who produce as many eggs as we can possibly use and we give away the odd dozen to my co-workers who love them.

    But I want more! What would I do with more eggs?? No- I should NOT be thinking this. But I want chickies.[​IMG]

    (We can't do meat chickens ourselves- SO has decided that chicken is not a meat we will eat since we got the girls. I suppose if I could find a person to butcher them humanely- I can't do it myself- I wouldn't have a problem eating the extra chickens. But my SO would NOT.)

    So, I guess, no help with your decision, just sympathy and commiseration. I need to find some people around me to give chicks away to so I can buy 25 and only keep a few.
     
  6. mamaboyd

    mamaboyd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Pat, where abouts in southern Ontario are you??
    We're trying to figure out what we are going to get in the spring too. Not an easy decision, but I think we are going to start with a small flock of White Rock Meat birds to raise quick for the early spring, than when they are processed, find something different to raise for eggs and meat that can tolerate the hot summers that we get.
     
  7. devora

    devora Chillin' With My Peeps

    We want to expand next year as well. We currently have six standard common breeds (Wyandotte, Leghorn, BR) and are looking into heritage or uncommon breeds.

    We want more birds (they are so fun!) so would like to help the continuation of breeds that are becoming rare.

    Still doing research!
     
  8. horsewishr

    horsewishr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:valmom, you sound like me and my SO [​IMG]

    Not long after we got our girls, SO announced that he wasn't sure he could eat chicken anymore! And there's NO WAY he'd ever eat one of our own.

    As far as getting chicks goes, you can order as few as 3 from Mypetchicken.com or from Meyer hatchery. But my plan is to post an ad at the local feed store, looking for someone to split a chick order with. That'll open up options for different hatcheries. I want some dark-egg layers next year!
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    The suggestions to do some meat birds plus some sexed pullet chicks of various breeds sounds good, and it's a compromise I hadn't thought of. THanks!

    However one wrinkle is that I do not know anywhere in Canada that I can GET sexed day-old chicks of 'interesting' breeds! [​IMG]

    So unless someone knows where to point me, the only way to do what y'all are suggesting would be to order from somewhere in the states that will send vet certificates (e.g. McMurray or Sand Hill), have chicks shipped to a Buffalo post office, then pick them up there and drive them across the border and to where I live. Aside from this costing an extra $60 plus the trip, I am concerned how day-old chicks that've already been shipped from who-knows-where to Buffalo NY would survive a ~4 hour car ride. What do you think?

    Pat
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Hi there! I am just north of Uxbridge, which is maybe 50 minutes from Bowmanville. <waving hello in your general direction>

    Hm, do you by any chance know anywhere to get sexed day old chicks of interesting breeds? Or, wanna split an order from the States? <evil grin>


    Pat
     

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