Starting a flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by emalin, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. emalin

    emalin Out Of The Brooder

    Total newbie question: is it best to start a flock with babies or to get a few docile adult hens to show the chicks the ropes? I've been hesitant about getting adults because a friend had her flock wiped out after getting several rescue chickens. Thanks!
  2. gamebirdsonly

    gamebirdsonly Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 5, 2007
    I would go with chicks[​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  3. steny03

    steny03 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2013
    I started with 'started pullets', that I got from a hatchery. They were between 10-16 weeks old when I got them. A bit pricey, but I wasn't sure if I had the time to give to chicks. They were scared of me at first, but it didn't take them long to figure out I equaled food and treats...and now the cute little vultures follow me all around the yard....

    If I had to do it all over again, I would start with chicks, just to have that experience. But if you aren't sure about chicks, look into the started pullets option. :)

    Good luck!
  4. NicChicks2013

    NicChicks2013 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 1, 2013
    Galloway, NJ
    I started with pullets. I have had them for 5 months now, totally bonded with them. We got them from poultry farm, about 20 bucks a pullet. This spring we are adding to the flock, chicks this time. I am slightly nervous, yet my little tot wants babies. Have to get some research done. I am glad I started with pullets and wouldn't mind at all adding with pullets. Happy flock starting :)
  5. cluckcluckluke

    cluckcluckluke Overrun With Chickens

    I too started with pullets from a reputable breeder or my local feed store.
    It's ok to get adult chickens as long as you know they come from a trusted source.

    "Rescue" chickens are not the way to go for most beginners.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    It is a long 5-7 months waiting for eggs if you start with chicks. And chicks are fragile, it is not uncommon for some to die. There will be people on this website that will say they have never lost a new chick, but plenty have, me included. However, With a box, a heat lamp, a chick feeder and waterer, you are pretty much set up, and they will grow. If you are raising the chicks you will need a heat source of a couple of weeks.

    Another question you need to look at, is what kind of set up do you have for when the birds are full grown. One does want to make sure that it is predator proof, and usually people, (me included) find out the hard way, that it is not quite as predator proof as one thought.

    If I could find someone with even a bit older hens, that is where I would start. Then each year, add chicks..... that is called chicken math, and you will think you are immune, until..... spring comes, and there are chicks.

    Older hens, unless in a rescue situation, or obviously sick with runny noses, or lice or mites,...... DON't take anything that does not look healthy..... if you think it looks unhealthy, it probably is.... but anyway, older hens are a bit more sturdy to start out with, and you get eggs right away which is always fun. However, if you start with chicks, it is fun too.

    Either way will work, it is a fun hobby, but we all have had a wreck or two, it is not fool proof. And as Ridgerunner often mentions, they are living animals, and there is no 100% answer. I have learned a lot here on this website, and some trial and error.

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
    4 people like this.
  7. chicksurreal

    chicksurreal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 3, 2013
    This is a great answer.

    You have pretty much described our journey as new chicken owners. we started with chicks, but have had to learn numerous things the hard way. I love my chickens and am so glad we got them, but it's not been all fun and games. I am so glad to have found this website, it's been more help than any other source of information and the people here are so helpful and friendly. [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Last fall I got my mixed mutt starter flock of 5 laying hens, 1 rooster and 4 chicks(4 months old)....all for $20.
    Someone really needed to split their flock and they liked me and the coop I had built.
    It allowed me to test my facility against predators and for management without sinking bucks into expensive chickens.....the coop was expensive to build.

    It was great way to get some experience and have eggs right now to reward my 3 month coop building adventure.
    They all got along OK, the rooster is a sweetheart, the hens kind of picked on the chicks, so I learned to deal with that by putting up another roost.
    The chicks wanted to roost in the nests, so I learned to deal with that by getting them out of the nests and onto the new roost after dark.
    Then blocking the nests a few nights, then just being there at dusk to remind them where they needed to be.

    One of the chicks became a cockerel, so I learned to deal with that by putting him in the partitioned part of the coop (that I had already built) once he started to harass all the hens. Jr. Rooster is slated for the pot and all the hens are now laying.

    I have since hatched some chicks for someone else with their incubator, built a brooder, then a bigger brooder and then they went to their new home at 3 weeks.
    So I learned that I will need more room to raise chicks, and they will go outside at 3 weeks - the dust is insane (and I am NOT a clean freak, far from it).
    Plan on a February hatch, out to the garage for cold acclimation at 3 weeks, and then into the coop partition as soon as no water heater is needed.
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    And you are right, it is not (at least for me) get 10 head, and have them forever.... you are always adding and unfortunately subtracting from the flock
  10. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2014
    I will add from my experience is to be wary of rescue chickens if you're new to chickens as they often come with issues. Eyes should be clear, no runny nose/beak, have good weight, if missing feathers ask why; it could be molting or something serious, wobbles/combs should be bright...just to name a few off the top of my head.

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