Questions from a Newbie!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by 1cockycop, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. 1cockycop

    1cockycop New Egg

    Aug 19, 2008
    I have LOVED all of the information you guys pass around on this forum! I wanted to fill you in on my goal, and see if you can offer a "plan of attack" to carryout my mission.

    I live in a subdivision, but have a nice sized yard that backs up to a wooded area. I would like to add a small coop to that back area, but am only looking to add enough birds to provide a few eggs for the family, and allow the kids (6 and 8) to get involved with the process of raising and caring for chicks, and bringing them through the egg-bearing process.

    I was thinking 2-3 hens would suffice in doing this. But I was wondering if someone could walk me through the process of what needs to be done at the different stages of chick life.

    How big of an area do I need for 2-3 chick/hens? How much noise do they make? How much "aroma" do they generate? What do they eat? How do they fare in Summer/Winter? What are some common health concerns?

    If you folks could just point me in the direction of a few good books, that may be good too!

    I want to make sure I have all the facts together before I get involved in this. It seems as it could be a very fun and rewarding hobby!
  2. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:If you are that new to chickens, pick up a copy of "Storeys Guide to Raising Chickens." Its a very good beginners book.

    Most of your questions depend on the type of care you give them. If you are diligent about letting your birds out to exercise each day, you can get away with a smaller space. If on the other hand, they will be cooped the majority of the time, you'll need a bigger space.

    The topic of feeding is very broad. There are organic ways of feeding, commercially prepared feed, free range feeding, and so many more. You really can't ask a generalized question like this without first doing at least SOME of your own research and deciding which type of feeding you would like to follow.

    And they will "aromatize" as much as you let them. I also live in the city, but I am diligent about cleaning out my coop once a week, to remove old shavings and droppings. If you don't clean them as often they will smell more, if you clean their coop regularly they will smell less.

    The rest of your questions can all be answered by a book. I encourage you to use the internet, and or a good beginner book like the one suggested to do some preliminary research and learn your basics. Then come back and ask more detailed questions.
  3. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    OH it is SO very fun and rewarding and Chicken TV is GREAT entertainment for the family. We sit out and watch ours for hours.

    So here is what you do....This is what I have learned here on the site and I have done this and it worked for chicks grew to be very nice and very healthy.

    I both ordered from a hatchery (Ideal poultry) and hatched my own chicks (MUCH more rewarding) When you get them home you of course need pine shavings with paper towel over the top of that for the first three days so the chicks do not eat the shavings. Change paper towel every day (for only three chicks you may not have to change it that often) Make sure they have a heat lamp (250 watt red light) can purchase all this stuff at Fleet farm for a reasonable price. Have an extra heat lamp in case you have a burn out. Of course water and food bowls. I did put marbles in the waterer for first week so the chicks didn't drown in the water. Change water A LOT! Chicks/chickens tend to poop in their water and it gets gross fast. I changed mine at least twice a day. Feed them chick crumble ( I used purina chick starter just because it did not have animal byproducts in it) All they need for the first few weeks is the crumble food. I wouldn't feed treats the first week for sure. I know the second week I tried a very thin worm and MAN was that fun to watch! LOL You will find that every chick has it's own personality and some will love to be handled and some will not. I picked mine up ALL the time. From hatch day to present. Keep them under a heat lamp (raising it a bit each week) Temps should be 95 for first week, 90 second week, 85 third week and so on. You can remove heat lamp when chicks are 5 weeks old IF they are totally feathered in. An chicks at 6 weeks can be moved outdoors to a secure hen house. Lock them in each night. The first week after being moved to their hen house they will make a big fuss. I added a night light and then they were fine.
    The main rule of thumb is to have 3-4 sq feet of floor space per chicken IN the hen house. 10 sq feet or more for outside in the run. Nest boxes 18 - 20 inches off ground and roosts...well, mine love the 6 foot hight ones! LOL Although heavier breeds will need lower roosts. 12 inches of roost space per bird. At 18 weeks or when they start to lay switch your chickens over to layer feed and oyster shell to help in laying eggs. When you feel pellet food it's a lot less waste! Putting water up on a small home made table helps in having to change water so often when the chicks kick the pine shavings around! Hanging food also helps with getting pine shaving in it. You will see a large bare ring under the feed bucket when you hang it because the chickens scratch while they eat lol.
    Ummm...trying to think of anything else I have run into. OH be sure to keep a first aid kit handy! Here is a link to that info:

    Seems like a lot of stuff listed but a lot of it is stuff you would normally have laying around anyhow. Another thing...if you use pine shavings in your coop rather then hay or straw it's WAY less smelly! I have 15 chickens in a 8x8 coop and still smells fine! I clean my coop out twice a year...adding new pine shaving every two weeks. Not a lot but just enough to cover with a thin layer.

    Well hope this helps. I'm sure I forgot something and I"m sure others will add more too but it's something to get you started.
  4. toddntiff

    toddntiff Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 10, 2008
    New Mexico
    I will second that advice to get that book. My dh and I ordered it and I saw that he's even highlighting in it now! I've spent a lot of time writing down my questions and then searching this forum for the answers. You will always encounter something as you go along, but this site is a great resource for "newbies!"
  5. EliteTempleton

    EliteTempleton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2008
    SW MI
    I found this site to be wonderfully useful when I first started, and still go back and check things when I need a quick reference. [​IMG]
  6. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    You might want to get the book Your Chickens: A Kid's Guide to Raising and Showing to share with your kids. The same person who wrote the Storey's book wrote that one (Gail Damerow). It might be out of print, but it's possible you could find it in a library.

    Here's the book on I think if you order $25 worth of stuff you get free shipping (so find another chicken book... hee hee).

    I had the Your Chickens... book when I started raising chickens *years* ago (middle school age) and it helped a lot.

    By the way, [​IMG] and see you around the forum!
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I agree with everyone. I still pick up "Storeys Guide to Raising Chickens".
    What an education I've gotten between reading the book and all the good people in this forum. I have asked so many questions and got so many answers and ideas. I was not getting any more animals, but my husband wanted some chickens. He brought home several chicks. I wasn't prepared as he brought them home in a box with a 5lb bag if chick starter. Now I had theses 2 day old chicks and had to makeshift a temporary brooder. Well I succeded and now have lovely hens. my girls are precious. We have had animals most of our lives and also inherited a dog from a daughter. Sadly the dog was recently put to sleep after 15 good years. I thank for the support of all the people on this forum. Everyone has been so supportive. Thankyou!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. 1cockycop

    1cockycop New Egg

    Aug 19, 2008
    I did run out and buy the book. It was heavily recommended, so it must be a good one. I haven't started reading it yet, though. I had to study for a promotional exam (Wish me luck!)

    I'll follow up with more specific questions after reading the book. Much thanks to those who offered advice!
  9. cackle

    cackle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2008
    North Carolina
    Stoery's guide to rasing chickens is a must have. My husband belongs to another board and when one of the members heard we were getting chickens he sent us a copy. I keep it next to the couch and pcik it up often.

    It covers pretty much anything you ever need to know about raising chcikens. The rest you can get from this board..

  10. 1cockycop

    1cockycop New Egg

    Aug 19, 2008
    I have read some of it already. A little overwhelming in some areas, and then some of this seems all too simple! When should I look to get started? I live in central South Carolina, and was told chicks need 14 hours of sunlight early on, and since the days are beginning to get shorter, I may need to wait until spring. Good advice?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by