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Some questions about chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kalley, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Kalley

    Kalley Hatching

    Oct 21, 2008
    QC Canada
    Hello All,

    I dont have any chickens yet...I just have a lot of questions from all the research ive been doing!

    Thinking about starting with 2-4 chickens:

    How stinky can they get, how often do you have to clean the coop?
    How bad can the flys get?
    What is the most friendliest breed (gonna keep em as pets)?
    Can they live in my basement for the winter?
    Are chickens easy to raise compared to other animals like rabbits?
    How durable are chickens? do they get sick a lot?
    How loud can 2-4 chickens get?

    Your advice and answers will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Hi Kalley and welcome to BYC!
    If you research hasn't turned it up for you yet, here's a great chart for researching the different breeds. It'll tell you a little about their personalities too:


    How smelly can they get? Smellier than your average cat or dog without proper upkeep. Do a search about the deep litter method and a natural product called DE (diatomaceous earth) here on BYC. Both help with the smell and I've noticed that with generous applications of the DE the flies aren't real bad either.
    They could live in your basement for the winter, but why? They wouldn't get much in the way of fresh air and sunshine there and you would have a problem with smell down there.
    Once you get your chicken care system up and running, you can literally care for them in 10 minutes a day; but you'll find yourself wanting to spend a whole lot more time with them.
    Provide them with the right feed and care and they are hardier than alot of people give them credit for.
    Differences in the loudness factor varies by breed and individual chicken. Even my quiet brahmas make a pretty big fuss with their I JUST LAID AN EGG song.
    Hope this has helped to answer some of your questions. I'm sure others will stop by to chime in as well.
  3. Nemo

    Nemo Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    N'rn Wisconsin
    First off... [​IMG] !!!

    We have sixteen chickens, and they don't really smell that much. They are layers... We had twenty-five meat birds, and they were stinky, but they were pigs and would just eat and poop.

    We clean the coop about every-other week. They do get to go outside, so that takes care of a bit of the poop, but not too much.

    We have Buff Orpingtons. Besides being beautiful, they are mostly very sweet birds. Of course, individuals will very... We have one that is pecky, and she will come over to us to peck.

    Chickens are pretty easy... Check their food and water twice a day. Collect eggs while you're there. Give them treats on occasion. Clean the coop when it needs it. We do spend a bit of time each day just watching them... Their pretty funny when we give them treats.

    Ours are about 6 months old, and we haven't had any illness yet. Healthy animals are less likely to get sick than unhealthy ones.

    If you wind up with a rooster, they can be very loud. Otherwise, our Orps do make a bit of noise. They're about 100 feet from the backyard, and we'll occasionally hear one clucking or honking, or a squabble between two. Some breeds make more noise, others less.

    As for wintering them in the basement, I have no idea. We had the chicks in the basement the first couple weeks, but put them out in the coop as soon as it was ready. I would think they might smell a bit more in a basement, without good ventilation.
  4. FarmerDenise

    FarmerDenise Songster

    Apr 21, 2007
    Sonoma County
    Welcome to the group.
    I have rarely had a problem with the smell. Sometimes in a very rainy week, when everything gets very damp the smell gets a bit strong. I just clean out the perches and boards and add more wood shavings on the floor. In the winter I don't use alfalfa as bedding, because it gets damp and holds the stink. I usually do a simple cleaning of the perches etc about once a week. I also use wood ashes in the winter and occasionally DE. We also add the trimmings from many of our herbs to the bedding and the litter.
    People often coment on the lack of smell, when they visit. Our hens also have a goodsize run and get to run around in the field for a few hours a day. I rake the outside pen about every other week. I just rake everything up into a pile. The chickens scratch it all down again, finding all sorts of goodies to eat. We feed them unspoiled household scraps, weeds, garden waste and home grown feed beside commercial feed. In the fall we take this composted material and put it in the garden.
    Our chickens are so much fun we cannot imagine not having any. They are a little more work than a rabbit, but so much more entertaining and cuddly too.
  5. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    I have 26 chickens in a 8 x 12 coop

    Stink = not a problem. I use pine shavings and clean it completely out three times a year.

    Flies = not really

    Basement = advice against it

    Ease = easier than a dog IMHO. It takes five minutes in the morning to open the coop, give fresh water and make sure feeder is full and another five minutes in the evening to close up and collect the eggs. Now, I spend way more time than that with them, chickens are addictive.

    Noise = I have one small rooster and he is not very vocal or loud and I have a couple of hens out of the 26 that are very vocal after they lay an egg for 5 or 10 minutes but other than that I don't hear much out of them.

    Illness = occasionally but any illiness/death I have is usually old age related.

    The most important thing is predator protection. They need a very secure coop and it must be locked up each and every night or you won't have them long. Check the pest and predator index, each and every day people post about loses to predators, some the peoples fault some unavoidable.
    Again, I can't stress predator protection enough.
  6. Kalley

    Kalley Hatching

    Oct 21, 2008
    QC Canada
    Thank You for your answers. They are very informative. It sounds like you all love your chickens!

    The reason why I ask about keeping them in the basement for the winter is because I live in canada and the winters are very cold. Plus the wolves come closer to the houses after the deer. Do you think a heat lamp would be enough or do we have the do that plus a heater to keep them outside?

    Can chicks stay with big hens in the coop or should they be separated?

    Once again thanks!
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:LOTS AND LOTS of people keep chickens here in Canada, they do not need to be brought into the house or anything like that unless you are super far north. How cold does it get where you are?

    You may not even need a heat lamp, especially if you pick suitable breeds. You just need a draft-free (but ventilated!) coop, probably insulated, with lots of good dry bedding, a reasonably wide roost, and something to keep your waterer from freezing. Chickens produce a considerable amount of body heat, plus they are more cold-hardy than you may think (especially well-feathered larger breeds with pea or cushion combs).

    Obviously the coop needs to be predator-proof too, but that is true all year round not just in winter [​IMG]

    Can chicks stay with big hens in the coop or should they be separated?

    If they've been hatched by a broody hen sitting on them, they can usually stay with momma (but separated from the rest of the flock) (although some mommas turn out not to be good mommas). If the chicks are ones you have bought or hatched yourself, though, they need to be kept separate until they are pretty fully grown, or the other hens are likely to attack, hurt, maybe even kill them.

    Good luck and have fun,


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