What's Your First Piece of Advice for Newbies?


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Dec 14, 2018
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
What's the main thing you always have to tell new chicken keepers? What do you want them all to know at once?

For me - it's convincing people about how much space chickens need to be happy. Newbies set up these tiny 2-bird coops from TSC and stick 15 chicks into it without thinking that they will grow up and need a lot more space!

What do you always end up telling advice seekers? What do you see messed up the most?
I wouldn't say this is messed up at all, but rather a very common misconception.
I wish newbies would understand that you are not going to save money by raising your own chickens for eggs.

Who thinks this will become a featured thread? Me!

OMG Yess!! I've seen the math on making a profit through egg sales and it's a hard road. For me, it would take all the fun out of it. But, mine are pets and everyone is in a different situation.
It takes more chickens than you think to consistently have enough eggs for your family. Pullets can take a long time to start to lay, birds can quit laying or slow down considerably for winter, birds quit laying during molt, birds quit laying when broody, birds quit laying when sick or stressed, birds slow down or quit laying when old. They just don't all lay all the time which equals less eggs than you expect.
Since most of the new people are on here live in cities, the advice I give out most frequently ends up being specific to those backgrounds and environments.

Don't get chickens if you're not prepared for the reality behind the cuteness. Chickens get sick, injured, or die, and eventually you're going to have choices to make that you don't want to. They're classed as livestock for a reason—they aren't like, say, dogs, where a few vaccines will keep you almost entirely out of trouble. I'm not saying they shouldn't be kept as pets, but rather that it's not in their nature and so they still behave like barnyard animals, even when humans try to prevent it.

Start with good birds. Feed them right. Have a plan for when one inevitably needs to be put down. Last, but not least, GIVE THEM SPACE. I can't tell you how many postage stamp coops I've seen. 4 square feet of space in the coop and 10 in the run is still a minimum, IMO, and your birds will be far happier if they have more. They're ranging creatures by nature. Ever seen a chicken take off as fast as it can and just run and flap for the sheer joy of it until it becomes airborne? Doesn't make me much inclined to pen them.

If you want a good, productive flock from which you hatch your own replacements, there are a few more things. Ideally, you should keep only the top 10 or 20 percent of your birds. That means you buy a hundred chicks and butcher all but a dozen or so. I think most people would benefit simply by culling 20 percent. Don't keep sick birds, don't breed sick birds, and don't sell sick birds. Worm resistance, louse resistance, and feather quality vary bird-to-bird, so if you select for these things, or for anything else you prioritize, you'll get it. In the long run, you'll end up with a flock that takes much less maintenance if you don't waver in breeder selection.
Most hatchery stock isn't bad in the aforementioned departments. But you'll still end up with a few that outshine the rest. Keep them. Breed them.
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My peice of advice would be... and I don’t mean this Rudely... Don’t get chickens until you know TONS about them, and don’t pretend you know more than you do, don’t ingore good advice because it’s takes time, money, or effort, don’t expect chickens to be free, don’t say you just want to figure things out yourself just because you don’t want to know what to do (ignorance is bliss), and above all, Don’t protray yourself as something your not! (Such as calling yourself a crazy chicken lady, but speeding stupid lies about chicken care, neglecting your birds, and actually not giving a rip about them.) sorry, this is kinda a rant, but they are all things I’ve experienced with chicken newbies (and experienced owners as well)

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