Starting a new flock - buying adults?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lecobb, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. lecobb

    lecobb Out Of The Brooder

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    I've got about two months before I move into my new house complete with a nice coop. I've done a decent bit of basic reading from the local library, but it's time to go more in depth.

    While I want eggs, i'm really looking for glorified pets, so a variety of breeds and colors interests me. I haven't done a ton of research into where to buy chickens locally, since it's been so far in advance, but it seems like you generally get the option to buy x number of y breed of chicks. Being a first time chicken owner, i'm not sure that I feel comfortable taking on chicks first thing, and i'd rather have a variety.

    I realized the other day that the state fair will be coming through about the time i've gotten settled at the new place. In years past, i've wandered through and admired the chickens and seen some were for sale, but haven't paid much attention beyond that. I like the idea of being able to choose a specific breed, color and sex, but most of my reading has insinuated that adding new chickens to a flock is tough. I assume throwing together numerous unfamiliar hens would be just as crazy. Is this ever done? Is there a better way to go about what i'm hoping for?

    It would seem to me like show birds would be fairly healthy (compared to Joe Shmoe backyard seller) and well handled. Does that tend to be the case?

    Thanks for any and all help! I've obviously still got a lot of learning to do!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    While I want eggs, i'm really looking for glorified pets, so a variety of breeds and colors interests me. I haven't done a ton of research into where to buy chickens locally, since it's been so far in advance, but it seems like you generally get the option to buy x number of y breed of chicks.

    For various looks and colors, you have several options. You could get EE's. They are not a breed but a type. Basically they are crosses that might have the gene for blue eggs, so they might lay blue, green, brown, or various shades of these colors and the chickens themselves come in various colors and patterns. Silkies come in various colors too but I don't think you can get them sexed at the hatchery. Not 100% sure about that.

    Barnyard mutts, crosses of a few different breeds or colors, can come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

    Most hatcheries do require that you buy a certain minimum number of baby chicks so they can keep each other warm during shipping, but there area few that will ship smaller numbers of chicks with special packaging, but that will obviously cost you more per chick. A lot more. But some will let you get one chick of each color or breed if you want. And you can often find someone to split an order with so you can get fewer chicks or maybe more of a variety.

    You can go to the county fair or chicken shows and pick and choose various birds. As long as you get them about the same age and do not get more than one rooster (you don't need a rooster unless you want to hatch your eggs), you can integrate them. There might be excitement or problems, but people integrate chickens all the time, most successfully. That is a topic on its own.

    You can talk to your county extension agent, in the phone book under county government, once you decide how you want to approach this to determine who locally might have what you want and can sell you a few chickens. You need to have an idea of what you want before you call though.

    You can use this forum. Many states have specific threads on here in the "Where Are You, Where Am I" section, so you can find people in your immediate area that raise chickens. Or advertise on here for what you want.

    Being a first time chicken owner, i'm not sure that I feel comfortable taking on chicks first thing, and i'd rather have a variety.

    There are some extra costs and requirements with chicks (brooder, heat source, feeders and waterers for chicks, a place to raise them) but they are not that hard. That is the way most people on here get into keeping chickens. If you want pets, the friendliest are usually the ones you have raised yourself. Don't totally count out raising chicks. It's not a bad way to start.

    I realized the other day that the state fair will be coming through about the time i've gotten settled at the new place. In years past, i've wandered through and admired the chickens and seen some were for sale, but haven't paid much attention beyond that. I like the idea of being able to choose a specific breed, color and sex, but most of my reading has insinuated that adding new chickens to a flock is tough. I assume throwing together numerous unfamiliar hens would be just as crazy. Is this ever done? Is there a better way to go about what i'm hoping for?

    This is very doable. The individual chickens at a fair might be a bit expensive, but talk around and you can often find people who are showing to sell more than to hope to win prizes. There are probably chicken shows in your area where you could do this. Your state thread on this forum or your county extension agent could help you find them. As I mentioned above, people integrate chickens all the time. You are dealing with living animals so no one can honestly tell you how easy or hard it will be in your specific situation, but there are tricks that can improve your odds. There are many threads and articles on here that can help you with that if you decide that is the way to go for you.

    It would seem to me like show birds would be fairly healthy (compared to Joe Shmoe backyard seller) and well handled. Does that tend to be the case?

    It depends on the individual. Yes, many shows require certain vaccinations and testing that can help reduce your chances of getting birds with certain diseases, but many diseases are not tested or vaccinated for. Some unethical people do take sick birds to shows, but most of the time something like this happens, they don't even know their birds are carrying a disease. Some are not obvious and some flocks develop an immunity to certain things. Any flock, no matter how well cared for, can get lice, mites, worms, or diseases. How well they are cared for does make a difference in the odds of getting certain diseases, but is no guarantee. One person I know lost his entire line of show birds because he brought back fowlpox from a chicken show. Many of us Joe Shmoe's on this forum think our flocks are pretty well cared for. Regardless of where you get your chickens, it is a good idea to quarantine the chickens for about a month before you mix chickens from different sources. This does not matter if they are coming from county fairs, chicken swaps, chicken shows, or different farms or flocks.

    Good luck. Hope this helps.
     
  3. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I agree with Ridgerunner. I got my very first three chickens as point-of-lay hens that had had very little human contact and they were skiddish and unfriendly. As I had practically no experience being around chickens up until this point, I'm not going to lie....I was kind of intimidated by them, for months.

    I ended up moving out in the country with my original hens and was gifted with a few more chicks. Where I had initially been weary of raising chicks, I found it was much easier than I thought it would be, I spent a good amount of time handling them and now I have 10 full grown lap chickens. Unlike my original girls, I had watched these chickens grow up, they don't run from me and I feel much more connected with them, understand their wacky chicken behavior better, which makes caring for them much easier. Just my two cents![​IMG]

    ETA: [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Just because chickens were at the state fair does NOT mean they are free of parasites or bacterial/viral disease. Really really. They will on average be healthier than Joe Schmoe's backyard flock *maybe*, depending on exactly which Joe Schmoe you're talking about, but they are adult birds and they quite possibly WILL have some stuff. Anytime you buy adult birds, you are buying whatever microbiological and parasitological wildlife is living in 'em, which with chickens is often nonzero and can be a problem.

    If you don't mind an accelerated learning curve about chicken health issues -- some of which are curable, others are not -- then adult birds might be a reasonable option to consider, and yes, I'd buy them from someone who is relatively more-careful about such things, which includes some (not all) show breeders but also some (not all) just plain backyarders.

    However, if you would rather have as problem-free a flock as possible, buy day-old chicks. I know they SEEM fragile and difficult to care for, but nothing could be further from the truth -- if you buy them from a good source and follow directions they are quite EASY to raise up [​IMG]

    Also, if you care about eggs, be aware that production- or hatchery-type birds are generally much more reliable layers than show birds. (Not that there aren't show-bred chickens that lay well, but many don't, and ON AVERAGE production or hatchery or barnyard stock is a much better bet if # eggs is important to you)

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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