What should a newbie start with?

joydix

Songster
Mar 20, 2015
399
200
142
West Sonoma County
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'.
build to hold more than you intend to get....seriously, will save you time and money later! chicken math a real thing! i like to get chicks because all 30 of mine are pets. i have a handful that want my attention and WANT to be held and to sit on my lap when i am out with them..which is often weather permitting ...even in rain i go out and hang a couple times a day....i have some who tolerate my attentions and some that eat our of my hand but want NO physical contact! also i use nipple waterers i get from PREMIER 1 (online) that have tight fitting lids and the bottom recessed so you can set it down while filling. it keeps the water pristine. i clean them about once a month. the water is never icky, no algae, no dirt. so i teach them to use it as chicks tho they would get it watching the others when they get bigger anyway. moms will teach babies. if in a brooder then i teach them. they have little ones on the sight i use for babies to teach them. i do leave a 5 gal water container in hot weather so they are sure to drink a lot...just to be sure. i have 4 buckets for 30 girls. 4 nipples on each. that way i never fear they will be without...hope this helps...
 

joydix

Songster
Mar 20, 2015
399
200
142
West Sonoma County
Welcome!
I was really intimidated and did tons of research before I started! BYC has been a great resource over the last 3 years I have kept chickens.
If you have time and space to dedicate to chicks, I would say start with them. I got 7 chicks of mixed breed knowing that I would give 2 away (due to city regulations) if they all survived once they got to pullet age. It was fun, a little messy, and surprisingly noisy to start with day old chicks but not as scary or hard as I anticipated. It was great to watch them grow and develop personalities. The only issue was one turned out to be a roo and I had to get rid of him. Know that no matter the breed, no matter the love, no matter the environment, some chickens will die unexpectedly. Thankfully, you will always find wonderful new breeds that you will want to take home. I am hoping to add some new chickens to my flock this year, and due to time/space limitations, I will go with pullets for this round.
Whatever route you decide, I hope you have great experience and lots of fun!
a couple years ago i got a heating PLATE for babies. you can read about them. they go under it like a mother hen. they then have to run out to eat and drink then they go back under. but the best thing is they get used to day and night. so they sleep at night. quiet! i was amazed. uses less energy as well. there are different sizes. i got a medium. says will hold a certain amt of chicks but as they grow it gets more crowded. you heat it up the night before. the brooder does not get warm. only under the plate.
 

jspeese

Chirping
Apr 26, 2019
81
226
61
Hi Charjeanne! I think there are pluses and minuses to all ways. I generally start with day-old chicks. They are available from many reliable, NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Plan) member hatcheries (even places like Tractor Supply and feed stores get their day-old chicks from these hatcheries) and can be shipped anywhere. NPIP member hatcheries take measures to ensure that their breeding stock and chicks are as disease-free as possible. In my opinion, this is also the cheapest option. The disadvantages are that you'll have to have brooding equipment (really no big deal, a heat lamp works great, but be sure to get one designed for this purpose and hang it securely), it takes most hens 23 weeks, give or take, before they start producing eggs, and most hatcheries have a minimum order size of 15 to 25 chicks. Those that do offer small orders charge an exorbitant small order fee. An advantage of feed stores or Tractor Supply is that you can get as few as you want, but bear in mind that they have/will have been moved twice - from the shipping boxes to whatever the store is brooding them in and then to your brooding facilities - and each move brings stress. I've gotten chicks from our local feed store and never had a problem, but it is something to bear in mind. Pullets and hens have the advantage of not having to wait as long for eggs, but again in my humble opinion, they are very expensive and the breed selection may be somewhat limited. Also, be sure to know the source/conditions under which they were raised. 4 week old chicks are another option, as they don't need brooding at that age, but again they are very expensive and not all hatcheries have them. As for how many, what is the weather like in your area? A standard size chicken needs about 3-4 sq ft of coop space, which in my opinion is OK in areas with mild weather but if you have a lot of bad weather, especially constant rain, in your area your birds may want to spend a lot more time in the coop. Cold doesn't bother most breeds but chickens aren't ducks and can't be forced to stay out and get soaked by rain. Same for run space. 10 sq ft per bird is the recommended minimum but if you get a lot of rain and mud in your area, you may want more. If you don't have a lot of bad weather, 8 or 10 sounds about right. Bantams are another option. They require less space and the ones that are miniature versions of standard breeds aren't bad layers and the eggs, though smallish, aren't bad. The main disadvantage of bantams in my opinion is that as chicks, they are generally sold straight run (unsexed) only and you will end up with a lot of roosters.
 

joydix

Songster
Mar 20, 2015
399
200
142
West Sonoma County
i never get bantams from hatcheries..too many fatalities...its a very hard trip for bantams. easier to hatch AND more fun...you still get roosters some. i have gotten all girls in a hatch ONCE! i get eggs on eBay and get from closest source i can find. i am CA so i won't get shipped from FL for instance....also you can get bantams from feed store so at least they get to deal with fatalities ....i love love love the bantams and silkies and cochins (my faves, best moms!) make great brooders. nothing more fun than watching mom teach them the ropes!!!
 

Albertan

Songster
Feb 3, 2018
312
453
177
Alberta, Canada
I have started with both chicks and pullets. This year I am buying hens. It's really up to you and the time and energy you have available. I love starting with chicks as you can handle them more and raise them accustomed to be handled. You will have to catch them for examinations for pests and injuries. Either way you pick, you will enjoy them immensely and find it a rewarding hobby. You will be just fine and BYC has alot of friends to help you out from my experience!:frow:thumbsup:highfive:
 

Steve2saint

Hatching
Jan 20, 2020
3
3
5
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'.
Sickies are good, like to be touched. Our first were buff Orpingtons and make great pets. Ours lay really large eggs. Can't close the lid on the egg cartons sometimes. Your coop sounds ok, but to me, your run sounds a bit small. We do let our chickens out to run free on our acre plus yard. We only let them out four at a time so we can keep an eye on them. We keep them in our yard and over time they are pretty good about staying in our yard. They'd sit on the swing with us and sometimes on our laps. Ours follow my wife around like puppy dogs. She digs up worms and bugs for them. What ever type you get, I hope you enjoy them. We enjoy ours. One thing I can't prepare you for is when one of your birds die, and you will experience that. It hurts, we cry, but we still love them. You will too.
 

Onyxflock

In the Brooder
Jan 25, 2020
6
37
25
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'm also new to Chickens and my advice is to Check the full grown size of the breed you are looking at. I bought the pre-fab house, which is roughly 4 x 4 with side nest boxes and supposed to house 4 chickens. I bought 3, 4 week old chicks that I really liked - which turned out to be Brahmas - one of the larger breeds there are. 1 Chick turned out to be a Rooster. Now at 16 weeks (4 mos) they take up moist of the house and probably room for only 1 more hen. The other houses I saw would never accommodate these birds. We also had to expand the run from 10 x 10 to 10 x 20.
 

Charjeanne

In the Brooder
Dec 7, 2019
6
23
18
Sickies are good, like to be touched. Our first were buff Orpingtons and make great pets. Ours lay really large eggs. Can't close the lid on the egg cartons sometimes. Your coop sounds ok, but to me, your run sounds a bit small. We do let our chickens out to run free on our acre plus yard. We only let them out four at a time so we can keep an eye on them. We keep them in our yard and over time they are pretty good about staying in our yard. They'd sit on the swing with us and sometimes on our laps. Ours follow my wife around like puppy dogs. She digs up worms and bugs for them. What ever type you get, I hope you enjoy them. We enjoy ours. One thing I can't prepare you for is when one of your birds die, and you will experience that. It hurts, we cry, but we still love them. You will too.
i will have a fenced area 40 'x30' for them to free range in when i can be out with them. I do know that feeling of loss. i've been in animal rescue, mainly dogs & cats, for the last 20 years. I'm getting too old to handle stubborn dogs and had to retire from it. i just hope chickens are easier. lol
 

Steve2saint

Hatching
Jan 20, 2020
3
3
5
i will have a fenced area 40 'x30' for them to free range in when i can be out with them. I do know that feeling of loss. i've been in animal rescue, mainly dogs & cats, for the last 20 years. I'm getting too old to handle stubborn dogs and had to retire from it. i just hope chickens are easier. lol
I hate autocorrect sometimes. I wanted this post to say silkies, but it was changed to sickies...so NOT right! 49 x 30 is about the size of my area they stay in. Oh, don't forget to put string or rope across the top of your fence. We had an eagle try and make lunch out of our buff Orpingtons. Fortunately they all got into their small 3'x4' coop (the first one). The eagle was too big to get into the coop. There were feathers all over the place. When the eagles and vultures see the string or rope, they look to find a quick way out. If they can't see a quick way out, they don't venture in. Works well.
 
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