Rookie with ?'s

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chickenrookie, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. chickenrookie

    chickenrookie Hatching

    Jan 17, 2009
    Hi there,

    My name is Peggy and I live in Southeastern Michigan. I just purchased a new home that has a fairly large (10x10) chicken pen in the back yard. It is covered with a wooden roof and the back and part of two sides are wood and the rest is fenced in. I have never owned livestock of any kind before and I like the idea of having chickens for fresh eggs and maybe for food. I was just wondering, due to our very cold winters and fairly hot summers, which breed of chicken would be best for a rookie like me to raise. Let me state also, that the pen is located on the back part of 2 1/2 acres in an area of all pine trees, so it is pretty shaded and protected.

    Also, does anyone have a preference on which breeder is best for getting chicks? Should I use one close to my home or are online breeders OK to use? What is the best time of year to get chicks? I want to keep a fairly small flock(?) at first until I get some experience so how many chicks would be good to order?

    I appreciate any and all input. Thanks, Peggy
  2. birdlover

    birdlover Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    HI and welcome!! [​IMG] Here is a website to go to in order to read about the different breeds. It's pretty darn good and you can also order a smaller amount. Some of the larger hatcheries make you buy a minimum of 25. Be sure and check out the learning pages on the home page. You can a lot about raising chickens by reading there. You are going to have soooo much fun!!!

    LOLOL! Forgot to give you the website!
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2009
  3. morelcabin

    morelcabin Songster

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    If you look up your local feed store in the yellow pages, they will usually put in orders to hatcheries for you. If you are looking for a particular breed however, you might choose to order from a specific hatchery if the feed store doesn't bring them in.
  4. shelleyb1969

    shelleyb1969 Star Bright Farm

    [​IMG] WELCOME! [​IMG]

    I live in the lower thumb, so hello neighbor! You should check out the Michigan thread in "where am i, where are you"...great place to meet your fellow michiganders and I'm sure lots of us could help you out with some chickies! Good luck, and nice to see you here!

    Edited to add: here's the link to the Michigan thread...
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2009
  5. chickenrookie

    chickenrookie Hatching

    Jan 17, 2009
    Thanks so much for the info. Will check out the site right away.
  6. mamaKate

    mamaKate Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    SE MO
    Welcome Peggy!
    I'm starting over after several chickenless years. I'll try to offer a little help while you wait for the experts. I'm not really clear about the configuration of your pen. Chickens need an enclosed structure that is dry and draft free for cold weather. It's usually at least 4 sq. ft. of indoor space and 8 sq. ft. of pen per bird. It's also imperative that the pen be secure froom raccoons, dogs and other predators. For harsh winters, choose full bodied birds with small combs. As for getting the chicks, I would try to find someone close to home if possible. If you have a feed store in your area, they often have chicks in the spring. It will be easier to start your first babies if you wait till the weather is reasonably warm. Spend lots of time hanging out here. The people are great and you'll learn tons more chicken details than you would imagine could ever exist. lol
  7. chickenrookie

    chickenrookie Hatching

    Jan 17, 2009
    Birdlover, Shelly, Morel & Mama,

    Thank you all for replying. I think this is a great website and I'm sure I'll be on it alot to get all the info that I will need. Shelly, not sure where in the lower thumb you are but I'm gonna be in Armada, good to know that there are chicken people all around us.

    Thanks again, Peggy
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Welcome to BYC, Peggy!!

    Here's another resource for choosing breeds:

    After I'd suggested that site a number of times, I was informed that it doesn't have Sex-linked hybrids on the list. It could be that I hadn't noticed because I've never had Sex-links. My brother thinks they are great and a lot of others do also.

    Your shed sounds more like a horse shelter if it only has walls on 50% of the exterior. It may have been converted just for Summer use for the chickens.

    You will need to gain some idea of what your requirements are for eggs and how many chickens you will want. Perhaps you can finish enclosing all of the shed or just build a wall to enclose one-half. A 5' by 10' with an equal sized roofed pen or "sunporch" would be similar to what I have and sufficient for a half dozen, or so, laying hens.

    It may be that the hatcheries will have better birds than your local feed store but don't just assume that. The opinions of some knowledgeable local folks would help. I could drive about 100 miles round trip to a hatchery but then I'd probably be buying the same birds I can get down the road.

    It is good for you to be thinking about your chickens now. You are better able to understand what they might be going thru during cold weather. I go for the frumpy, dumpy laying hen types [​IMG] - Australorps, Barred Rocks, & Buff Orpingtons. They do well in the cold Winters here.

    Steve [​IMG]
  9. estpr13

    estpr13 Songster

    May 18, 2008
    Lexington, Ky
    I would think that you would want something with a small comb and waddles and maybe feathers on their feet and very cold tolerant. The website digitS' gave is very good.

    Check out Chanticleers, Brahma's, and Buckeye's. All have small combs, and are cold tolerant.

    Chanticleers were developed by Canadian Monks. The Brahma's have Feathered feet. and the Buckeye's were developed in Ohio for your type of weather.

    Good Luck.
  10. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Songster

    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    My RIR's have been a great first timer chicken breed for me. It has been biterly cold here in Ohio for the last week, and I've gotten an egg from every hen almost every day. edited to add: The cold hasn't seemed to both them. I have a heat lamp on in case they need to warm up. My roo has a little frostbite on his comb, but I read they can't even feel it. If you have a draft free coop, many breeds will do fine.

    I would like to suggest the way we started. Our local harware store offered day old ckicks or ones that were 17 week old. Being new to chickens, we decided to go with the 17 week olds. I secured an area in my barn for a coop, bought necessary adult chicken feeding/watering equipment, and started saving egg cartons. Within 2 months after getting them, 8 pullets were giving us more eggs than we could eat. For us, going this route seemed to be much easier than starting with chicks. The birds only costed us $5.25 each, so it wasn't that expensive. I have read tons of threads here about losing chicks all the time. With these, you are much more certain of not losing any.

    Now some four months from when we got our 8 pullets and 1 roo, I have 36 eggs in an incubator scheduled to hatch today/tomorrow. All the eggs are from my hens. Now all of a sudden you're not really out much if incubating fails or you lose some of the chicks to whatever reason.

    This path has been very pleasing to me and my family. We have all the eggs we can eat all the time (and extras to sell). I tried my hand w/ Cornishes and have an abundance of meat in the freezer. And hopefully with a successful hatch I can double my layers without buying eggs or chicks, and add to the freezer w/ 16 wk butchered roos.

    My advice, put that 10'x10' coop to work and enjoy the benifets ofwhatever you decide to do w/ it.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2009

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