so many chickens... need advice

mama of 4 girls

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 27, 2014
32
0
70
I'm a mother to 4 young daughters ages 8,5,3,1. We live on 5 wooded acres in rural NE ohio. We've been considering getting a small flock of chickens for eggs only. The girls become VERY attached to animals and would never consider eating what would become their pets. So we would like a chicken who would/could lay for many years. I've been reading this forum for a while and it seems like barred rocks, golden comets and australorps are good layers and good with kids. Any recommendations? As I newbie I have many questions and worries. Will they be ok with outdoor cats? We would let them free range. What about hawks? How do we ensure thay we get only hens? Do we need a roo to protect the girls? I have many more questions. Hubby is reluctant to try this project. He thinks it is going to be a costly hobby at a time when we are living on a tight budget. I'm hoping it will eventually pay off with eggs. And it will be a great experience for kids. I need a friend to give me some good advice!
 

Mattsiewrt94

Chirping
6 Years
Nov 5, 2013
223
6
71
Chickens are not expensive at all you are gonna need a coop so at night there save and the cats they would need to get to know eachother I would exspect because I had a wild cat around my yard and it are 5 of my chickens in a weeks time free ranging, barred rocks are not the best layers, to me there more for the looks but the others are good Rhode Island reds are really good to is get 2 a day from my hen. Also you don't technically need a rooster to protect the flock but it'd be good they just crow a lot, and even when you don't have one a hen ends up being the head hen. I don't know if I answered all your questions but feel free to ask I can let you know what I know.
 

Biologrady

Chirping
7 Years
Apr 12, 2012
177
14
93
Mypetchicken.com has a great deal of info, and being from NE PA I was especially happy they have a cold-hardy breed section. We have an assortment of hens; our most prolific layer is an Easter-egger, but my favorite personality is maybe the barred rock or the Jersey giants. I'm pretty sure our girls cost us more than they save us in $, but the place has a lot more personality with them in the yard. I've ordered small batches of day-old sexed chicks, since I didn't want the kids getting attached to a rooster, and we can't have roosters where I live. They do charge a lot for shipping like that though...
If you are interested in saving some cash, it's helpful to convert an existing shed (need lots of predator-proof ventilation) or look at some of the pallet coops, lots of plans on this site.
Good luck!
 

TwoCrows

A Native Raven
Staff member
Premium member
9 Years
Mar 21, 2011
41,064
62,447
1,492
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop


Welcome to BYC!

Australorps are great with kids. They tolerate being carried around and are very docile. My girls are great layers, very hardy and huge on lap sitting! They are love hounds and I can't sit anywhere without an Australorp wanting on my lap. They follow me around like drooling puppies looking for goodies. They are a very good breed to keep around children.

I would not recommend keeping a rooster around children. Some roosters can be aggressive and hurt kids. Roosters are great to keep if you want fertile eggs and for good flock dynamics, but I wouldn't keep one if you are only interested in pets and eggs. Roosters do not guarantee safe hens while our free ranging. I can't let my birds out because of the predators that lurk and fly. If you free range, you do take your chances with loosing a few birds.

Here is a couple of nice breeds pages on all the breeds and their attributes. There are other very nice, docile, friendly breeds out there...

http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html

http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/chickenbreedcomparison.pdf

Stop by our learning center as well for lots of great reads on all the aspects of keeping poultry....

https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

This should get you started. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Welcome to our flock!
 

Kelsie2290

Free Ranging
Premium member
8 Years
Feb 18, 2011
36,683
4,863
556
Ohio
Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC!
You might also like to check out the BYC Learning Center, lots of good articles on all aspects of chicken keeping. https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center There are several articles on the benefits of having chickens.

With very young children it is usually recommended to avoid roosters, they can be dangerous.
Cats can be a danger to chickens, especially feral cats ... usually pet cats won't really bother adult standard chickens but would take chicks.
Hawks can be a problem, a covered run is the best protection, if you have dogs they are often good at keeping hawks away, nice thread on dealing with hawks https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/741631/hawks-and-how-to-stop-them

It is amazing how many spouses do come to like chickens once they are there, if it isn't the cute chicks and how personable chickens are and how much the kids like them, the fresh eggs are usually a winner.

Here are a couple of links to some nice chicken breed comparison charts you might like http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html and http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/chickenbreedcomparison.pdf when you have narrowed down your choices, don't forget to check the BYC Reviews section for member reviews on the different breeds.
For pets,especially for children, Cochins are a popular breeds, they are not very good egg layers but are very friendly and often go broody if you would want to hatch eggs.
So far as more layer breeds go, for egg numbers alone, the Red Sex Links like your Golden Comet are probably the best brown egg layers around, But, they are bred for high production early and are often short lived and prone to reproductive problems.
If you want breeds that don't lay quite as well but will lay for a longer time, Australorps and the Plymouth Rocks you mention are two good choices, some other popular ones are Orpingtons (lots of people really like these, great pets though broody), Sussex, Delaware and Wyandottes are breeds that are usually pretty easy to get along with, they all lay different shades of brown eggs. The Easter Egger, often sold as Ameraucana by hatcheries, are a fun breed because they usually lay green/blue eggs, kids usually find them neat, and they tend to be very nice birds, and then there are the Welsummer and Marans for dark brown eggs.

You might also like to check out your state/country thread to see what people in your area have or what would be available https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/12049/ohio-come-on-buckeyes-let-me-know-your-out-there
 
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