Starting out small

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lorieann212, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. lorieann212

    lorieann212 Hatching

    Jan 9, 2014
    My other half is talking about getting a coop and 2 to 3 chicks. No rooster. I need help with any info and pics from housing to bedding to feed to breed.

    Any help please.

    Thank You,
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    There are as many ways of doing things as there are people who keep chickens - and then some. The key is going to be sorting through all of it to find the pieces that work best for you, your husband, your lives (how much time per day you have for chicken chores) and your plans for your birds.

    I would suggest taking a look here : - the "small" and "tractor" styles would both be options for a flock the size you are considering. However, you do say "starting out small" - are you thinking of growing your flock in the coming years? If so, to avoid having to invest in things twice, I would suggest planning/building for the flock you think you will end up with vs. the one you will start with - chicken math can take hold fairly quickly and that planned group of three can become 10 or more before you know what happened. Are you intending to purchase or build your coop/run? If you are going to purchase, one word of warning is that the pre-fab setups sold grossly overestimate the number of birds it is appropriate for - so cut the quoted number in half when deciding what size coop you need to purchase.

    I would definitely suggest starting with at least three chicks. The fact of the matter is that things can/do go wrong and you can experience losses -- if you start with two and lose one you are left with a lone chick (not good) and may not be able to obtain a suitable replacement at that time. Having three is a little extra protection against this outcome. Additionally, because there is the risk of a mis-sexed chick if you have only two chicks and determine that one is male as they start to grow and develop you are, again, looking at having a lone bird when you make other arrangements for the roo (I know you said no rooster, but when that cute little guy has been the one you've been loving on for the last six weeks the resolve can weaken - even if you are allowed, legally, to keep a rooster in your locale, one roo and one hen in a small setup has the potential of one very stressed, overbred hen) - at least with three birds you are, again, stacking the deck in your favor that hopefully at least two prove to be properly sexed pullets.
    Are you looking to keep them for eggs, for pets or for another reason? This will need to factor into breed suggestions. Do you have preferences on colors, whether or not they have feathered feet, etc? Do you want brown eggs, white eggs or blue/green eggs?

    I prefer to bed with pine shavings. My coop is a large walk-in style coop, and I use a "Deep Litter Method" (DLM) meaning that I don't actually clean out the bedding but once or twice a year, it composts within the coop. I have a poop board under my roost that is lined with PDZ which keeps waste from making it to the floor level and keeps the overall coop much cleaner and makes removal of that waste easier.

    I choose to feed a higher protein grower ration throughout the life of my birds vs. using a layer ration once the hens reach laying age - I simply offer oyster shell to replace the calcium that would be provided by the layer ration. This makes it much easier to feed a mixed flock (mine is mixed ages and stages so not all my birds are currently laying and therefor do not need the extra calcium they would be getting if I fed layer) and it provides a higher protein diet than most layer rations -- the grower is 20%, average layer ration is 16%. Anything other than the commercial feed should be considered "treats" and should make up no more than 10% of their overall daily intake - this is scratch, kitchen scraps, etc.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Good post by OGM. The hardest part about keeping chickens is that so many different things work is that you have too many options. There are extremely few cases of “you have to do it this way”. We are all unique with different climates, different set-ups, different goals, different flock make-ups, urban versus rural, lifestyles, and who knows what else that there is no one right way where every other way is wrong. If anyone, OGM or me included, ever give you the impression that that you have to do something one way or civilization as we know it will forever be changed, get a second opinion. Somebody will have one.

    I do agree it is better to start with a minimum of three rather than two, for the reasons OGM mentioned plus it can be difficult to add new chickens later, especially if your facilities are small. Chickens have a flock mentality and don’t always accept strangers right away. Many people do it all the time quite successfully but it’s something you might want to avoid right when you are starting out.

    I suggest you read in the Learning Center at the top of this page. There is a lot of good advice up there, but remember that is all someone’s opinion. If you see conflicting advice, just remember different things work for different people.

    I also suggest you read these articles before you plan your coop and run. I don’t know where you live (you might want to modify your profile to give us a clue to your climate) but heat kills a lot more chickens than cold and a wet coop or run is a dangerous coop or run from a disease perspective plus a wet coop or run probably smells. The person that wrote these articles lived in a swamp in Ontario.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    You may want to follow the link in my signature to get some ideas why I think more space is better than less. Basically you have fewer behavioral problems to deal with, more flexibility to deal with things that pop up, and you don’t have to work as hard if you give them ample space. I’m all about making my life easier.

    There are a whole lot of different breeds out there that will fit your goals. That’s another challenge, narrowing it down to the ones you want. It can be hard to get just a few too. Many hatcheries have minimums they will ship and many feed stores have rules about minimums too. That’s for the protection of the chicks. You might need to find someone local to sell you chicks or go in with you on a purchase. You can probably find someone near you to split an order or offer local suggestions if you can fine you State or Country thread in the “Where am I” Where are you.” Section of this forum.

    You might use these breed selectors to narrow down your search, then go to Henderson’s Breed Chart to see their traits, then Feathersite for photos. Once again, you have so many options it will make your head spin.

    Breed Selectors

    Henderson’s Breed Chart

    Good luck and welcome to the adventure. We often make it sound a lot harder than it really is.
  4. cabutler13

    cabutler13 In the Brooder

    Feb 14, 2015
    Northern Michigan
    I'm going to stalk this thread for a bit. My husband is building me a coop for our 4 soon to be city-dwelling-chickens. I know how to care for chickens in numbers of 20+ free range but this city stuff is interesting to navigate!
  5. Vian

    Vian Chirping

    Mar 8, 2013
    Instead of building a fancy run that's totally enclosed, I just fenced off a corner of my yard for the chickens. I don't have issues with predators here in the suburbs once the chickens are adults, but right now I have chicks so I used some deer netting over the top of the corner of the yard to offer a little protection so I can let the chicks explore a little *supervised of course* during the day, since we have lots of crows, which will make short work of young chicks. My coop is just an old metal frame we found somewhere, it might have been an old aquarium stand or something? We framed in the sides to form a box and gave it a slanted roof with a metal sheet over the top and cut a hole in the front that's about 8" diameter, just big enough for a chicken. It's got legs that hold it about 18" off the ground, so we put a milk crate under the opening for the chickens to hop up to the coop. The coop is about 48 x 22 inches, but the chickens can come and go as they please and use it only for egg laying and sleeping, so it's ok that it's a little on the small side. If they were going to be "living" in there, as in closed in most of the time and just let out into the run for so much time each day, then my coop would have to be a lot bigger. Because the coop is raised up on legs, it offers a sheltered space underneath it as well, which is where I typically put their food and water. If it's raining they will hang out under there a lot. There's also a long narrow strip down the side of my garage that is mostly covered by the roof awning that they have access to.

    It works for me, since I live in a suburb area and we don't really have any raccoons, foxes, or hawks to bother adult chickens, and only crows and neighborhood cats to bother chicks. I'm raising my chicks right in the coop right now with the doorway blocked off with a board. I put their heat lamp, food and water in there and they're doing great. I'll start letting them have supervised time outside and once they're big enough, I'll remove the board from the opening of the coop so they can go in and out as they please.
  6. csaylorchickens

    csaylorchickens Songster

    Mar 8, 2015
    My Coop
    Research research research!! I have spent months looking into chickens, breeds, how many ect
    I started with 4 chicks if some get sick or mixed sexed that gives 2 I can always add to flock
    I wanted bantum buff orpingtons but they didn't have them and the coop I got is too small for larger fowel. I ended up getting golden comets but I know they are higher risk for health complications. Figure it's a good starter breed. Eventually I want buff orpingtons

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