What was your biggest mistake starting out?

Melontine

In the Brooder
May 26, 2019
27
35
49
Maine
We live and learn, it's sometimes tough figuring out the right way to go about raising chickens. There are a lot of things you don't think of when researching chicken care and getting started with your first flock.
I've made some mistakes along the way. And I worry at times I'll make worse ones in the future. But the important thing is we're doing the best for our birds and that we learn from each mishap. So share your stories and hopefully we can speed along this process by learning from each other.

I raised all my flock from chicks we purchases in feed supply stores. Next year I'm thinking since I have a roo now we'll see how they do raising their own chicks.
My biggest mistake came with my second batch of birds. For keeping them I used a dog crate for easier cleaning. I lined the walls with cardboard so none of them would get caught in the bars and thought that'd be the end of it.
One day I went to check on my chicks, and I found that two of my chicks managed to get between the cardboard and the crate, trapping them. It was horrifying to find, I thought these two chicks were goners with how still they'd become. I got them out, the chick on top turned out perfectly fine. She went back with her friends with no issue. The one under her however wasn't doing too well. Her wings were bruised and her leg was twisted, I put her in a box, moved the healthy chicks to a less dangerous enclosure I scavenged together (I used a plastic tote with a wire top), and took my injured chicky to a vet. She survived this ordeal and went on to be perfectly healthy after being hobbled and given time to heal.
So yeah, when people say don't use wire dog crates, that doesn't mean you can modify the crate and make it safe. Things can always go wrong and maybe it's better to use an enclosure more suited for baby chicks. But also, don't panic and assume the chick is dead, they are resilient little creatures sometimes and can surprise you if you give them the chance.
 

SnapdragonQ

Chirping
Feb 2, 2020
60
124
60
VA
Biggest mistake in terms of cost-
Thinking my new chickens would appreciate the nice and specially designed just for them coop that I hand built from scratch. Pouring blood, sweat, and tears into it....especially blood.....thinking of all their needs and spending crazy amounts of hours reading and researching. Taking into consideration weather conditions through all the season along with the best protection from predators. Stapling hardwarecloth over every square inch top to bottom (lots more blood there) before installing proper weather proof siding and then installing a clear panel in the roof so they could even have a skylight of their own. Mind you, all at the proper pitch for snowloads.
It even had large removable wheels (I mean large, this coop was big!) so I could move it around via tractor.
Yeah....

It just did not compare to the drafty rafters in the barn or being able to hide clutches of eggs behind the nooks and crannies of stall doors instead of the painstakingly built beautiful nest boxes next to a 24/7 supply of food and water.

The fancy coop, after being abandoned by my loving birds, eventually found new life as a momma with chicks house, or as a way to integrate juveniles into the established flock, but sadly I could have figured out a much better solution to those things and kept my wallet much happier. *sigh* I lived and I learned. Now I have the ugliest coop known to man and my girls love it.
 
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SoftSilkie

Crowing
Sep 4, 2019
1,032
5,516
412
Idaho
I can't remember many mistakes I made when I started with chickens, though you can be certain I made a lot. I was young when I started, and it was my parents who always took care of the problems and costs.

One thing I do remember was that I was always over cautious about the "wild" chicken. It was the chicken I had named, Saloon (don't ask me why, I was six!:idunno), who I thought was wild. One time I held her and she panicked and flapped, and from them on I though she was completely wild and untamed. I avoided holding her unless it was necessary, and advised others to do the same. Because of her lack of human contact she grew much more wild (though she wasn't at all wild before) and our relationship faded. When she died a couple years later (animal attack) I felt like I didn't know her very well and regretted not spending more time with her. Those who keep chickens for eggs, pets, or something else might not understand but for me the chickens were my pets (though my parents kept them for eggs) and each one mattered.

Moral: get to know and enjoy your chickens! Don't let a mistake such as a rooster attacking you when you were younger or a flapping chicken stop you from connecting with your flock!
 

MGG

Songster
Feb 7, 2020
922
1,590
140
I messed up by trying to integrate in a new flock of chicks. It didn't work at all. I'm never putting new chicks in with my current flock unless a broody hatches and raises them with the flock. I always would find the chicks in the nest boxes or something and I'd have to go rescue them. They eventually after several months seemed to be doing better when I went out there to feel them all like I do every month and realized the poor things were super skinny. I had to re separate them and I don't think I'll ever put them back in. Live and learn I guess
 

SoftSilkie

Crowing
Sep 4, 2019
1,032
5,516
412
Idaho
Not getting a waterer right away. I watered them from a dish that they kept knocking over. Also skimping on coop cost.
Speaking of waterers, I just thought of another mistake I made last year!

We went to Dunlap Hatchery to get some chicks, but decided to get some ducklings too. The employees said that they ate the same food and everything so I though we would be good. We weren't. I didn't have the chance to do any research, so BYC couldn't help me. The ducklings tipped and spilled and splashed the water everywhere, no matter what we did.
Edit: oops, didn't mean to post yet. Wrong button. Moving on:
I didn't notice how wet the bedding was until one of the chicks payed the price with his/her life. It got so wet and cold that it died. we decided that the ducklings weren't working and found another home for them, saving the rest of the chicks.

Lesson: don't keep chicks and ducklings together, learned by experience. :(
 

BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
Premium member
Mar 5, 2019
3,608
11,583
597
SE Missouri, USA
Moving to a new area and not understanding the climate. I didn't put a foundation under my hen house in SE MO because I hadn't had one, or at least I didn't remember having one in NM. It's way wetter here and now my hen house isn't level. One year ice built up around the door frame and I couldn't shut it. I was out there in the dark and the falling snow, beating the ice off with a hammer. Ugh! Fortunately the building has now settled a little more evenly all around.

We've had chickens here for ten years. The second regret I have now is that I didn't know about BYC a long time ago! I've learned so much since joining. Much of what I've learned I haven't had to use, and hopefully never will - things about caring for a sick or injured bird. But it's great to have access to this vast body of knowledge and network of experienced chicken keepers. Y'all are amazing. Thanks to all who make this site great! :hugs
 
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