Soon to be new chick owners! Need advice......

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Jpickar, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Jpickar

    Jpickar Hatching

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    We live in MN (North of Minneapolis/St Paul) and are going to start a small flock of chickens this year (our first time raising chickens). We have done alot of research on the chicken coop and how to get the little chicks started....but we have not decided yet on what chickens to get.

    We would like to raise them mainly for eggs and we are starting small to make sure this is something we really want to do (getting about 10 chickens). Does anyone have any advice on what type of chicken would be good?

    The hatchery we planned on getting our chicks from have the following available:
    Americana
    Gold Link
    Production Red
    Barred Rock
    White Rock
    white leghorns
    california white
    Purebred Bantams

    Any help is GREATLY appreciated!

    Thanks
    Julie [​IMG]
     
  2. lotzahenz

    lotzahenz Songster

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    Hi Julie!

    Congrats on getting new chicks. It is so hard to just pick out a few breeds. If you live NORTH of MN, It is surely cold and lots of snow? A forum friend said he lives up that way and has like 80 inches of snow on the ground now and a foot or more on the way? You need snowman chickens! For real, you want to choose some with the tiny combs, that were bred for cold weather. Frost bite is a huge problem that will slow or stop production. Give me a few minutes and I will look up the chicken chart on line and link you to it. I like to go with Heritage breeds when possible, just my choice. I have ONE leghorn hen from our local University. She is a wild, skinny thing. Very skittish, but fends all for herself, roosting wherever she can get high enough. She lays a huge white egg, and she eats next to nothing. I would not want them for children/pets, but a great producer, she is the one who scratches all my gardens up as I can't keep her grounded or in a pen. The rocks and reds all have big combs that may freeze, but a heated coop will help with this. I like the Americaunas as they lay a nice big blue/green egg and lay very well. They are calm and friendly, usually. I'll go find that chart, it is in the archives.

    What does your local farm store carry? Ours has a nice variety of various birds for the next 7 weeks.

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

    HenZ

    ETA: Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart (yipee, I am getting better at the links thing!, yah MAC)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  3. Forever Green

    Forever Green In the Brooder

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    I live in Ohio, and you too are painfully aware the snow has been plentiful this year. My birds will not step foot on the ground if they see snow. So my advice to you is make sure your coop can really accommodate 10 birds through the winter. I'm a crazy animal lover and the folks around me laugh cause I heat my coop with a small 1500 watt heater you can buy at Target for $20. I got through about 2 heaters a year, as they are not really made to last long-term with 24/7 usage. I keep my coop around 45 degrees in winter months. I also use a red light here and there for really cold nights. We insulate the coop around the roof (heat rises) with old comforters and put heavy duty plastic on the windows to eliminate drafts.

    Make sure you get cold weather birds, especially in MN. The Americana from the hatchery probably is more of an Easter Egger. The Americana are very specific color and have distinct rules to qualify. Most everyone will correct you if you post a picture and call the bird Americana and it really is an Easter Egger (mixed green/blue egg layers). I have 4 Easter Eggers and they do very well in the cold. They are flighty, easily frightened chickens, at least mine are, not the kind that will run up to you, will eat from your hands. In the coop, they allow you to pick them up and pet them. I go into my coop every evening and spend at least 30-45 minutes hand feeding, petting because that is when they are the calmest.

    I free range my birds, we live on 40 acres. They stay very close to house compound, never venturing more than 50-75 yards from the house. I have buff orphingtons and also jersey giants, all of which have done excellent in the cold weather. I get just about an egg every day from each hen, egg production slows down when the days get shorter. My Easter Eggers didn't lay for 5 weeks starting November. I actually had to go buy eggs for Christmas baking. Some folks will recommend you illuminate the coop in winter months to keep egg production, however, I have 2 roosters who normally get along well when free ranging, but months in a coop due to snow and longer daylight, gives them a reason to peck at each other. So no egg production or bloody roosters, I chose no egg production.

    The folks on this site and the postings are very very helpful for newbies. We started our coop 2 years ago, we love it! I still come to this site for advise and try to share my experiences as well, where I can.

    Good luck with your new chicken endeavor. If you decide to get a rooster, only have 1 cause you need at least about 10 hens per every roo. Getting sexed day olds from a hatchery is not full proof. I bought six from my hatchery and got 3 hens, 3 roos. Had to run add on craiglist to give up the roos, could only keep one. From your list, I would choose barred rock, of course easter egger (their eggs are the very best).
     
  4. AlienChick

    AlienChick Songster

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  5. SunnyCalifornia

    SunnyCalifornia Songster

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    I can not attest to which breeds are best for MN, but I have Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Silver laced Wyandotte, and Delaware for my layers and I get a good supply of nice light brown eggs, and I have Old English Game Bantams for pets, which give me teeny white eggs. I am at my limit right now, and wouldn't give up any of my chickens, but I'm CRAVING a blue egg layer- like Ameracauna, or Easter Egger, and a chocolate (dark brown) egg layer like a Maran, Barnvelder, or Welsummer. If they hardy in your area, I'd add them on your list too. The more you hang out here, and see pics of all the pretty colored eggs, the more you'll want your own!

    Good luck with your chickens! I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy mine. [​IMG]
     
  6. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Songster

    This question comes up a lot on this site, and BYC members are NOTHING if not opinionated about the "best" breeds of chickens to get, but it's so individual! You need to consider what your priorities are: cold hardiness, of course; docility or friendliness if you want pets; longevity of production (greater, generally speaking, in older dual purpose breeds than maximum production breeds or hybrids); flightiness (sort of the opposite of docility); etc. Some people love a mixed flock (me), some swear by a single breed that meets your needs... My Pet Chicken has a fairly simple tool to use, and McMurray apparently has an iPhone app that you can use. It's all good, though... you learn what you like as you go on, you don't have to make the perfect choice the first year! (I'll just chime in: Buff Orpingtons and Australorps are usually really sweet birds, friendly and hardy, decent layers but big enough to dress out if it comes to that, and beautiful. And EE's are pretty essential for the beautiful color of the eggs, unless you are not so much into the aesthetics, but more interested in production.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

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    I live in northern New Hampshire, we got down to -34 F and just last week had a last ditch effort by old man winter with -12 F. I don't heat the coop, made sure plenty ventilation without air blasting on the chickens and they did great. They will self feather to suit the cold. If you heat your coop they wont go outside. If you don't heat they are frisky and want more space to roam about than the paths I dug for them in the snow to get under the deck.

    I had leghorns this winter and with no heat they still have combs. For such a small bird and large comb I was amazed how well they did and are always first to come out the coop door to feed, last to go in at night. So with that said I'd still go with Production Red or a sex link. I liked the black sex link more than the red. May be bird specific rather than breed cross but my blacks were better tempermant and give me a bigger egg. The leghorns are diggers, they dig deep and many holes as my other birds stick to the two areas they made for dust bathing. Corner of the deck and under ornimental fir shrub. Leghorns...everywhere and not keeping them for fear of starting the garden this spring.
     
  8. RAWR

    RAWR Songster

    May 26, 2009
    who wants to know?
    Well, our first year we started raising Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Silver Laced Wyandotts, Rhoad Island Reds, and Australorps.

    During the winter we heat our coop with a 1500 Watt when temperatures get below freezing. Other then that they don't need anything to warm themselves. In the Summer we take empty 2 liter bottles and freeze them, then lay the bottles in the coop or in their yard and the chickens cuddle up next to them when they're hot. All of the chickens I listed above are heat and cold hardy.
    Make sure the chicks bedding is cleaned at least once a day. And that they have enough room to move around.
    Good luck with your chicks [​IMG] they're lots of fun, but also a lot of work.
     
  9. Jpickar

    Jpickar Hatching

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    Mar 6, 2011
    Thank you so much for your response!

    Also, one other question. We have many wild turkeys that come into our yard, we planned on letting the chickens free range (we have 20 acres & no neighbors). Do you think the wild turkeys would harm the chickens or would the chickens try to follow the wild turkeys?? (might be a really dumb question!!)
     
  10. tcbfan5

    tcbfan5 Songster

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    I dunno what breed would be the best in your area either, but it looks as if you are getting some great advice within this post! We started with silkies & they worked well for us. They are hearty lil birds, & they lay decent sized eggs. Good Luck & have Fun!



    On your other question about the wild turkeys?...i'm no expert & have never dealt with the situation, but i would suggest cooping your chickens. better to be safe than sorry...
     

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