What should a newbie start with?

Charjeanne

In the Brooder
Dec 7, 2019
6
23
18
I did a lot of reading but with so much information out there i just seem to get more confused instead of informed. My question is: should i start with chicks, pullets or adult hens? These will be pets and egg layers. Next question is how many (I originally was thinking 8-10) My coop, being built now, will be 4'x8' and the run 8'x20'.
 

ChocolateMouse

Crowing
6 Years
Jul 29, 2013
2,758
5,701
387
Cleveland OH
If they're pets don't go more than 8 in that space. 6 might even be better if you're in a place where winters are bad or snow falls a lot.
If they're pets choose hardy breeds. Generally speaking good production =/= a long life. Go for heritage breeds and ones with robust and healthy track records.

Chicks - pros; you get to have chicks. They're delightful to experience, they're wonderful to hold, they will bond to you better. They will produce or live for longer as well. Cons; chicks die easy sometimes. Some of them might be roosters even if you get sexed chicks (chick sexing is only around 90-95% accurate).
Pullets - pros; guaranteed sex, long production life, already hardy. Cons; they tend to be a little harder to bond with. Expensive.
Older hens - pros; doing a good deed giving retired hens a safe life. Inexpensive. Established personalities. A little calmer and wiser. Cons, fewer years of eggs, shorter lifespan, health issues come on sooner.
 
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Beaglegal

Songster
Sep 8, 2019
483
1,167
151
Western Washington
I did a lot of reading but with so much information out there i just seem to get more confused instead of informed. My question is: should i start with chicks, pullets or adult hens? These will be pets and egg layers. Next question is how many (I originally was thinking 8-10) My coop, being built now, will be 4'x8' and the run 8'x20'.
I started with 17 adult chickens(2 roosters), 3 adult ducks, 3 ducklings, they came with the farm. With in the first 2 weeks we had 21 chicks and 2 ducklings hatch and I bought four chicks I ended up brooding myself. I liked having chickens laying from the start. I was overwhelmed with the sheer number and different experiences I had, but I learned a ton. Chicks are a lot for the first few weeks and my 6 month old pullets are just now starting to lay. But it’s nice to have a wide range of ages.
 

Building Bridges

Songster
Premium member
Jan 11, 2020
713
4,132
216
Ohio
First of all Welcome to BYC!! This is a great place to find answers. There are tons of people here with a depth of knowledge who are willing to come alongside and make suggestions and give advice. I am planning for my first flock also....so I've been here a few months just reading and learning and preparing. Everyone has different goals, different limitations, and different weather, facilities, etc to deal with. Consequently, you have to make decisions about what feels right to you after reading and studying. Personally, I've decided to start with chicks because of the bonding experience and the economy. Generally you want a minimum of 4 sq feet per bird in the coop (more is better especially if you live where there are harsh winters)....and 10 sq feet of run outside (more if you are not going to free range). It's very exciting to choose breeds and order birds....I hope you enjoy every minute of it! Again...we are very happy you joined us! :welcome
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,392
7,282
536
western South Dakota
Since you asked I would go with pullet to hens the first year, and I would not fill the coop with the maximum number of birds, especially in a pet situation. I think a multi-generational flock is best where you add a few birds each year.

Do be aware, that chickens are often times not real long lived animals. Many will die a natural death around 3-4 years of age. Some live longer, and some not so long. I mention this because people come on here, so upset and feeling guilty needlessly. Good quality feed, clean water, dry bedding and a wind block is what you can do. Genetics plays a big part, predators can get you or other wrecks, it happens. I keep a flock, the birds come into and go out of the flock.

There are pros and cons to chicks, pullets or hens. I would go with just some hatchery chicks, and I would get a mix. I cannot count the times, whereas I was sure this would be the perfect breed, and it didn't quite work out that way. Get your feet wet, see what works for you, and have fun.

As for skittish birds if you sit quietly in the run, and throw scratch out, and sit quietly again, in a week, the most skittish bird will be approaching. Don't try and grab them, wait, be patient, and they will come to you.

Mrs k
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
6,227
11,614
642
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I would not fill the coop with the maximum number of birds, especially in a pet situation. I think a multi-generational flock is best where you add a few birds each year.
This, for sure. If you're thinking 8 birds total, there's no reason to get 8 at once, especially as a hen's laying prime is only the first two years.

My coop was built for 12 but I only have 7 birds so far, staggered 2 years apart. My plan is to slowly built up to 12 by adding chicks every 2 to 3 years, which should be enough to keep up a steady, yet manageable, amount of egg production.

The downside to growing a flock gradually is you'll need to figure out how to handle integration, which unfortunately can be an issue in a smaller set up.
 

BDutch

Crowing
May 19, 2015
589
1,326
257
the Netherlands
My Coop
My Coop
I started with 6 weeks old chicks in summer. So I didn't need a heating pad anymore. I loved the little ones. Nice to start with. But it was not as easy as a newbie as I thought it would be.

I had a small coop and started with 4 small bantams. The seller told me it where pullets. If he was wrong I could swap them for pullets. 2 died (coccidiosis?) and I bought 3 more. I ended with 3 cockerels and 2 pullets.
When I went back to swap the roosters for pullets, he had no pullets of the same age anymore. He gave me 4 chicks 🐥 of 6 weeks old. One escaped (never found again) one died and one was a cockerel which I kept untill spring. Then I got my own offspring. Kept the pullets. The cocks I gave away. And I made the coop a bit bigger.

Space is very important to keep healthy and happy chickens. A small coop with a safe run, partly covered. In combination with more or less supervised free ranging works great for me.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
72,622
76,511
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I did a lot of reading but with so much information out there i just seem to get more confused instead of informed. My question is: should i start with chicks, pullets or adult hens? These will be pets and egg layers. Next question is how many (I originally was thinking 8-10) My coop, being built now, will be 4'x8' and the run 8'x20'.
Yep, it's like getting a sip of water out of a fire hose!
You're gonna get soaked!
There's a lot of differing techniques that can all work, and there's a lot of 'bad' advice too.
It's hard to choose when you're just learning.
Take some deep breaths and start to keep some notes....I used a word doc so I could search it and edit....heading like coop, roosts, nests, feeders, etc can help organize your info.

I started with a mixed age and gendered flock.....they came with pests(lice and scaly leg mites) and disease(mild respiratory). We all survived, and I got eggs right away, but it's something to keep in mind.

Chicks will need heat, but are 'clean'(if from a reputable hatchery/farm store) and a lot of fun to watch grow.

The 4x8 coop will limit your population.......depending on your run configuration and your climate.

Oh, and...Welcome to BYC! @Charjeanne
Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, (laptop version shown), then it's always there!
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