Starting a flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Circe, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. Circe

    Circe Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 2, 2011
    Griffin, GA
    Dh and I are just getting in to this, and we are researching before starting our flock. We have space for 8 hens, but decided that 4 or 5 would be more manageable for us. We are upcycling our old dog house and run into a coop/run.

    Now, how should we go about starting our flock. Should we start with chicks? Pullets? Hens?

    If we buy locally, what should we look for in a healthy bird?

    Is it ok to buy off Craigslist or would the local feed/seed store be better?

    How do we introduce our kids to them (ages 6, 2, and 7mos)?

    What else do I need to know or where to look?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 28, 2011
    I personally like raising from chicks. The upside is they tend to be friendlier and easier to handle. I have 8 lap chickens. I picked them up everyday since the day they were brought home. The downside is you have to wait longer for eggs(well worth the wait) and the mortality rate is higher. Research your breeds and buy the more docile breeds.

    We planned for a year. Got our coop plans ready and calculated costs of feed, coup/run building and straw. Nothing turned out as planned. Instead of 2 chicks, we have 8. We use pine shavings instead of straw. We buy a lot of extras like DE, probiotics, vitamins, and some medicines on hand in case of an emergency.

    The whole chicken experience is much better then I expected. Oh, we bought our chicks from the farm store. They were shipped from different hatcheries. I prefer to pick out my own chicks. Our farm store sells chicks all year and if I wanted a certain breed, they would try their best to order it.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  3. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010

    you go....I suggest chicks also...they become used to you and make great pets.
    Where do you live? Can you even have a rooster? Chances are you will end up with one no matter what you pick up...
    Craigslist? Maybe, I always go through the local feed stores, or an online hatchery...there is a thread about them on the home page here
    You can introduce your older ones...just be right there, let them hold them and help take care of them...but supervise! A tiny neck can be snapped very easily!

    Keep posting, and reading the threads here, we are all learning as we go and willing to answer ANY question..NONE is stupid!
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Hi Gena,

    welcome.... evaluate all the pros and cons as you research, and decide what will work best for your needs....

    My advice to anyone new to chickens is to get either hens or started pullets. (that isn't so easy, I think the demand exceeds the supply). Most people don't want to let go of their laying hens or POL pullets.

    Chicks are cute and cuddly and need a lot of care. If you are only getting 4, it is a little difficult to get just 4 chicks. .

    From hatching to 6-months or so of age you won't get any eggs. It is very exciting to get your first eggs, but six months would probably seem like a long time to your children. (If getting fresh eggs is one of your objectives). So all the work and no rewards unless you would see them as purely pets.

    Some of the sellers on Criags list are expert chicken raisers and you can get good birds that way. I would suggest a started pullet that is approaching point of lay (POL) or a young hen that is already producing eggs. You would probably do well to get most or all of your birds from the same source, and near the same age.

    Conversely some of the sellers are trying to dump birds, or the birds are not well cared for and you can get problems. But raising chicks can also present problems.

    If you take the raising chicks approach, you may be required to get more than you want, and then who knows, you could become a person on craigs list....selling chickens. ;O)

    I got chickens from Craigs list, 1 hen who is amazing and two pullets who were within a month of laying. I don't think the seller realized that there were some health problems with the chickens, but I believe that i have those all cleared up now. If I had bought from a breeder who advertised on craigs list, I would have probably not had any health problems with the chickens..

    Bottom line is that chickens are easy to take care of and make good pets. Some are very docile and friendly, and yes raising the chicks does contribute to that, but it isn't the only route. My birds think I am the walking grocery store and come running to meet me when ever they can---or just mosey over now and then to see if any treats will be forth coming.

    let us know what you decide and how it turns out.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  5. chickenbottom

    chickenbottom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2008
    hollister, florida
    most of my birds are from a hatchery i raised them from babies and they turned out to be great. personally i dont suggest getting them from somewhere local like a farm or fair. you may see healthy birds in front of you but they could be carriers of horrible diseases. now with such a low amount of birds not to many hatcheries will sell just 4 or 5 ( sells i think three at the lowest. a breeder is also a good place to look you may pay a little more but usually i find them to be just as well taken care of as mine. glad your getting into chickens were all fanatics here lol i do think its best to start out with pullets where they are about to lay or hens who are already laying they may be a little less friendly but they will eventually warm up to you.
  6. chicken_noob

    chicken_noob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2011
    Chehalis WA.
    We have 22 chickens, 3 white rocks that we got from a breeder were 4+months and very loving as pets go. 2 mille fleurs anx a black giant hen that are a few months old when we got them, they aren't as friendly but we're working on them. (they missed out on a lot of one on one before we got them) We also have 3 frizzled cochins and a white crested blue polish that follow us all over the place. Then we have 12 lil chicks..rir, bangam rir's, blk and blue giants..and a few others. Love the chicks but it makes for a long wait. We didn't know much about chickens when we started, make that we knew nothing. So we looked on craigslist and found a local breeder, turns out the one we found also works at a feed store that only carries chicks 3mo/yr. There are 2 that work there that are huge into chickens and seem to know soo much about them. If you go to the feed store it wouldn't hurt to ask to talk to the local chi ken "expert" and they may have or could point you in the right direction for stuff you need and want. Just my 2cents.
  7. cubalaya

    cubalaya Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 19, 2008
    central virginia
    hatchery birds can have health problems, mt. healthy, superior. hatchery birds will probably lay good for a couple years and lay themselves out. local breeders are the best place to buy birds from. they usually are more what the breed is supposed to be. they may lay for 5 or 6 years.
  8. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    with all that said, if you decide on chicks, go to a feed store that buys from a reputable hatchery, I did this..and hand picked what I wanted...babes are more work, but the joy of watching them gorw and change is worth it...

    You have to decide how much you want to invest, time and patience!

    Good luck to you and let us know what you decide...there are a lot of good links and how tos on this site...
  9. ChicKat

    ChicKat Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Hey Gena,

    I guess no one has systematically addressed your questions.

    One thing you should do is get a good book on chickens. Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens is the one that I refer to the most of the several books I have.

    Local birds would probably be best suited to your climate and perhaps give you a contact person should you need questions answered from someone locally. A healthy bird will be active, curious, have bright eyes and hold head and tail high, it will be looking around for something to eat and want to investigate you...most likely. (talking more the adult or near adult than the chick) On a pullet or young hen the leg scales will be smooth and small....

    Our feed stores only occaisionally have birds, and they are always chicks. Adorable as they are, I don't have chick-raising facilities -- brooder, enclosed space for them, and time to check the temperatures etc. Also just starting out, there are chick mortalaties and that is hard to face. Somewhere I read to get double the number of chicks to the chickens you want to end up with. (because chicks will die)

    Children and chickens or chicks, of course you want them to be gentle with the critters, as you would have them be with any baby. Your youngest may be a little young for chickens right now, the two year old may need careful supervision and the 6 year old will probably become a chicken expert before you know it.

    I'm sure there are others on the forum with much more chicken experience---and children + chicken advice.
  10. Peeps38655

    Peeps38655 Out Of The Brooder

    May 25, 2011
    Oxford, MS
    If you only want to order a few I got my Black Copper Marans from you can order as few as three, the shipping is higher, but you don't end up with having to order more chickens then you want & you can mix breeds if you choose.

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