Thinking about getting Chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by khable, Mar 16, 2007.

  1. khable

    khable Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 16, 2007
    LaGrangeville, NY
    Hi all,

    I am calling on all you chicken people for advice. We are considering getting some chickens... Small number, say 4. We have never had any chickens before and wanted to make sure we are knowledgable and prepared for what we could be getting into.

    * My questions would be type to get?? I would like them to be good egg layers and good with kids. I have read that Buff Orpingtons may be a good choice?

    * Is it ok to only get 3 or 4? Is there a minimum number one should consider?

    * I have read lots of places that you do not need a rooster, but I keep hearing from people that you do in fact need at least one? What is your take on the need for rooster for egg laying only. (no need for fertilizing)

    * Where to get them?? I only want females at first so I think they would need to be older than chicks. (Starters) Could you please share your sources?

    * Are they loud?

    * Smell?? I hear conflicting stories. Would a small flock of 3 or 4 smell during the summer months?

    * Attracting mice / rodents? Does the feed attract rodents? I have heard horror stories of being over run with mice? Is this true?

    * What are some draw backs (negitives) you see about your chickens.

    * Coops - do you have to build your own? or are there places that sell kits? or already made coops? I would love to get a kit or built one at a reasonable / cheap price... if possible... Hee hee.

    I live in New York... are there any other New Yorkers close to Poughkeepsie?? I would love to come check out your set up.

    I have been reading everything I can get my hands on and have purchased "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens"

    So, if anyone can help us with our backyard chicken quest please let me know!!

    Thanks a bunch,

    Kim

    [email protected]
     
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Hi khable!
    Welcome to the forum.
    Orpingtons are a great bird and would do well in your weather conditions. They are also friendly and make good layers. If you want to be sure to get only hens, the best thing for you to do would be put a post in the Buy-Sell-Trade section of this forum. There is usually somebody or somebody who knows somebody. This community is very small!
    You don't need a rooster. You may have one hen that will act like a rooster, but unless you want to breed, you really don't need one.
    The only time they are loud is after someone lays an egg or is frightened. They do the loud BAKOCK to announce their annoyances to the world! A roo, on the other hand, is loud whenever he feels like it.
    The best way to keep the rats and mice away is to make sure your feed is locked up in a container that they can't get into. I use a large metal trashcan to store food and my husband put a lid on their feeder.
    It's so easy to build a coop, but you can use any old shed, tack room, etc as a starting point. There are also some pre-built things online but you can get away with a lot less money than they are asking for.
    That Storey book you bought is a great source. Everyone that comes on here has that book crammed down their throat! [​IMG]
    The only negative I see with chickens is that I can't have one of every breed. They really are great pets. They are cheap and easy to maintain, they lay fresh eggs, and they provide endless entertainment.
     
  3. Llysse

    Llysse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2007
    Storey's Guide is a great book! It'll help you a lot. Let me try to answer some of your questions.

    * My questions would be type to get?? I would like them to be good egg layers and good with kids. I have read that Buff Orpingtons may be a good choice?


    As a breed, Buff Orpingtons are good layers and they are good pets, too. Individual hens will vary in temperament, but if you go with the Orpingtons, you'll probably do pretty well. This chart is always helpful, if you want to look at some other choices: http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html



    *
    Is it ok to only get 3 or 4? Is there a minimum number one should consider?


    3 or 4 is fine. The minimum you'd want to get would probably be two, just so they could keep each other company. Three or four hens should provide your family with plenty of eggs.



    * I have read lots of places that you do not need a rooster, but I keep hearing from people that you do in fact need at least one? What is your take on the need for rooster for egg laying only. (no need for fertilizing)

    You don't need a rooster for hens to lay.



    * Where to get them?? I only want females at first so I think they would need to be older than chicks. (Starters) Could you please share your sources?

    You could google "hatcheries" to find some good sources. (But maybe someone here has Orp chicks or eggs to sell, too!) If you order from hatcheries, you can get sexed chicks, meaning that you can get chicks that are all females. Sexing poultry is a pretty specialized skill, though, and most "regular folk" can't do it, so that's something you might only be able to get at a hatchery. Some feed stores carry chicks at this time of year, and sometimes those are sexed (sometimes they're not). You might call around locally and see if you can find one selling chicks. The problem with a hatchery is that they can usually only ship 25 or more, so if you only want a few, that makes it difficult. There's a place online called "My Pet Chicken" that claims to be able to ship as few as 3 chicks at a time by putting in some sort of warming pack. I don't know how that's working out, though. Hopefully it works well.



    * Are they loud?

    That depends on the breeds and the individual birds. Roosters can be loud--and they can crow anytime, not just in the morning! However, sometimes if you don't have a rooster, a hen will try to crow and start acting all rooster-y. This doesn't usually happen, though. I think it depends on your definition of loud, too. That Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart link, above, describes some breed of birds as generally quiet and others as loud. If you're concerned about noise, you might want to stick with the quieter breeds.



    * Smell?? I hear conflicting stories. Would a small flock of 3 or 4 smell during the summer months?

    It depends on how clean you keep the coop. If you never clean it, it will probably smell. If you keep it nice and clean, it will just have a mild sort of farmyard smell. Try to keep it dry, with fresh bedding. Small portable chicken coops rarely small at all if they're moved frequently. (More on that below)



    * Attracting mice / rodents? Does the feed attract rodents? I have heard horror stories of being over run with mice? Is this true?

    Mice can be attracted to the feed, that's true. But believe it or not, chickens will eat mice. Some people like to limit the amount of food their chickens get to only what they'll eat in a day. That's more work, though, because you have to be there for feeding time, and you have to make sure that each chicken gets her share, even the ones lowest in the pecking order. To cut down on the possibility of rodents nesting near your coop, you can have the floor of the coop about a foot off the ground so they can't hide underneath it. I think Storey covers this pretty well.


    * What are some draw backs (negitives) you see about your chickens.

    You cry when something happens to them. [​IMG]

    Seriously, though, it is a responsibility. They can get sick and require extra care, and they need protection from predators. You have to feed and water them like you would for any other animal, and you have to give them a healthy place to live. However, since you're the type of person who's already bought a book and is doing research about how to properly care for the chickens before you get them, I'd say you're probably up to the task.



    * Coops - do you have to build your own? or are there places that sell kits? or already made coops? I would love to get a kit or built one at a reasonable / cheap price... if possible... Hee hee.

    There are already made coops, but it's much cheaper to build your own, usually. However, that's a lot of work and it requires know-how! You can google "henhut" or "eglu" to see a couple of popular, small, portable coops for chickens. You could also convert a doghouse. If you have Storey's guide, it should give you some good ideas of what you'll need to do to convert something like that... how much room you'll need, how much perch space, ventilation, light and so forth.


    Those were all very good questions... I hope everyone else chimes in with advice, too!
     
  4. shandea

    shandea Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all this advice. Even though I didn't start this one, it was very helpful to me, another person who is thinking getting chickens. [​IMG]
     
  5. Chickens-246

    Chickens-246 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 12, 2007
    * What are some draw backs (negitives) you see about your chickens.

    No matter how many you get/have you always want more. [​IMG] What ever size you decide to make your coop, make it twice as large (or more).
     
  6. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    Yes! Thank you from another newcomer. You are all so helpful and have really helped educate me in the field of backyard chickens. I love this sight!!
    We're finally buying our very first home, in the country, with over 2 acres of yard. There's already a little barn that we think will work as a great coop. It's always been a dream of mine to have chickens. My poor husband has to drag me out of the poultry barn at the NYS Fair. So I'm going to get my very own just as soon as possible. Thanks again!!
     
  7. MTchick

    MTchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are building our coop right now- it isn't hard, it is just a bit time consuming. Ours is about twice the size you'll need and it is costing us around $100 because we got about half the materials from alleys, dumpsters behind construction sites, friends and our own old project scraps.

    The "playhouse coop" has plans that you can buy and is for 4 hens. I don't know anything about it otherwise, but it is cute and you can see it at https://www.backyardchickens.com/coops/playhouse-coop.html I bet you could easily modify the plans to make it smaller, taller, etc. The Eglu and all those pre-mades all seem very expensive to me.

    You could see if a large pre-made doghouse could be easily converted. I don't know how well that would work, but it might be great. Here is one I found quickly on Petsmart... http://www.petsmart.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524441806642&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302035803&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=2534374302023689&bmUID=1174231661176&itemNo=2&In=Dog&N=2035803&Ne=2

    Good
    luck. I grew up near Poughkeepsie- nice area.

    -MTchick
     
  8. CranberryBirds

    CranberryBirds Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2007
    Welcome to all newbies. That was ME a little over a year ago--I always wanted chickens and the folks at BYC were SOOOOO helpful in helping me plan and giving me the know-how to be a chicken owner.

    1 year and 10 chickens later, here are some of my thoughts related to the questions above and in general.

    1. Chickens as pets for your kids. If your kids are old enough to know how to and remember to wash their hands and old enough to have any other hands-on pet (like a cat), chickens should be fine. HOWEVER, I would NOT get a rooster. Regardless of breed, some roosters are just mean. I had to dispatch mine when he took a chunk out of my leg--higher than my knee. That is, about eye-level of a little kid. Why get a rooster and get attached, and risk having to get rid of it? Hens are friendlier, more tolerant, and quieter. AND they provide eggs. Mine actually INCREASED in egg production after the rooster was gone--they spent less time and energy thwarting his "advances" and more time eating and relaxing. Also note, that hens pecking at food can reallY HURT! When your chickies grow up it might not be advisable to let your kids feed them from their hands--throwing the food on the ground is better.

    2. Housing and smell. I have 7 hens now in a 6 by 6 shed with shavings on the floor. 2 bales to start, then I add a fresh bale every month or two. I stir things up every week or so. I have cleaned out the house completely once, in the fall, and it needs it again because the chickens haven't been able to leave their house for about 2 months because of the weather. All summer it doesn't get very soiled because they are only in there at night--they range during the day. I thought it would take a lot more work to keep the house clean but the shavings work great. If you have someplace to put the "soiled" shavings to compost (compost bin or pile), this works very well. The shavings and poo shouldn't be added directly to plants but if they age they make great compost. Other people have different methods of keeing things clean, including raking or scooping poo every day. Let's just say, I think it is WAAAAY less work than a cat's litter box, doesn't smell as bad, and CAT'S DON'T LAY EGGS!!!

    3. Rodents. I pity the mouse that goes near my chickens. So far they have only killed a mole that I know of but they also nearly killed a snake (it got away in the excitement). I have not seen any increase in mice. As was stated, food security is key. Not throwing out food that they won't eat or won't finish is also important. If I give them kitchen scraps, I stand out there and throw out little bits to be sure they will eat it all. Usually not a problem--they eat most anything!

    4. Learning and Advice. Well, if you've found BYC and you have the Storey book, you're already an advanced student of the chicken way of life! Thanks to all newbies who are taking the time to learn about their new potential pets--this already shows that you will be a responsible chicken owner. Good luck and enjoy your new hobby. Be careful--NO ONE can have just one (flock, breed, etc)!
     
  9. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    Thanks again for all of the advice. Egg-specially about the roosters. The thought of having them was making me a little nervous. I don't want my hens to be nervous and jittery either.
     

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