When to start....

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jenilee, Oct 9, 2015.

  1. jenilee

    jenilee Just Hatched

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    I've never owned a chicken before but have wanted to get some for awhile now. I really would love to start right now. I'd love to buy eggs and start from scratch but it's almost winter and I'm not sure if I should. I have a room in the garage that I thought about setting up with an incubator and even the brooder but even then it'll still be winter when they'd be ready to transfer to the coop.
    Does anyone have suggestions or ideas on what to do and where and when to start?
    (I have so many more questions but I'll start here for now [​IMG])
    ***I live in Southern Maryland***
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2015
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    It would help to answer your question if we knew approximately where you are located. What you can do in Southern California is different than what can be done in frosty Minnesota or frigid Wyoming! [​IMG]
     
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  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    I suggest getting some sexed chicks to start with. Cockerels can be handfuls. If you hatch, there are no guarantees that any of the eggs will hatch. Shipped eggs tend to have low hatch rates. And if they do hatch, about half or more may be male. Then you need to figure out what to do with all the boys. If you try to keep them all together with the girls, it will get very stressful for the pullets as those boys mature.
    No matter when you get them, they will need to be kept warm with some kind of heat source for the first month or two of life. They can go outside once they are completely feathered in. If you get chicks in the spring/summer, you can put them out earlier if the weather is warm enough.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    It would be helpful if you put your location in your profile. An incubator needs a stable environment to work successfully. I'd recommend that you read and research this winter, and you'll be ready to hit the floor running in the spring. Get your brooder and coop made and ready for your chicks before you get them. Recommended reading: Learning center: Incubating eggs 101. All the excellent articles about raising chickens, brooding chicks, "Yes, you certainly can brood chicks outdoors!" Fermented feed. Deep litter. Coop design and construction. As you read, you'll want to ask even more questions. You can save a lot of time by typing your question in the search bar at the top of the page. It will open up lots of threads that cover the very topics that you need to know about. Also, check out Henderson's chicken breeds chart. Go to your local library and get some poultry books before buying any. Check out Harvey Ussery's "The small flock poultry keeper". Unless you live where it's warm year round, I recommend starting in the spring. Keeping chickens in the winter brings a whole new set of challenges, and you'll be more comfortable with your management skills if you start in the spring.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Hi! Welcome aboard! Chickens are a very absorbing enterprise. Lots of fun, very fulfilling.

    But you need to begin at the beginning. Do you have a building for them? A shed or portion of a barn? How about a fenced pen that no predators can climb into and hurt the chickens? Will you have electricity to where you'll be keeping the chickens? How about water?

    Are the other people in your household on board with this project? If you're a child, are your parents behind this?

    It's very common for people to get excited about getting chickens and not even have built a coop for them until after they've brought them home. (I'm looking at YOU, Blooie!)

    We are all very excited for you and are very anxious to help! Now we need a lot more information!
     
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  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    [​IMG] But ya gotta admit, @azygous , that I'm a mighty fast learner!

    @jenilee told me that she lives in southern Maryland. So the advice from you and Lazy Gardener and Junebuggena is spot on. Can't even add to it. And I did forget to say

    [​IMG], jenilee!
     
  7. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Spend the fall and winter reading, planning, and pouring over hatchery catalogs. Order day-old pullets (female chicks) in the spring. A variety of dual-purpose breeds is a fun way to start out. Before getting any chickens, think about exactly why you want them. Then, order the chickens that will fill this need.
     
  8. jenilee

    jenilee Just Hatched

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    Thanks so much for all the advice. I am an adult , mommy of 3. I smiled at the question of whether I'm a child or an adult because I was talking to a friend about how I am as impatient and impulsive as my children.
    I suppose I will be waiting out the winter researching and preparing for the spring to come before I get some lil chickies.
    I think I knew what I should do already but I was secretly hoping someone would have ideas on how to start sooner. Waaaah.
     
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Oh, you SO sound like me, as my friend @azygous pointed out, and I'm in my 60s! So I guess we never outgrow it! Last year we were driving home from Cody, the subject of "maybe" looking into getting chickens came up, and that night I ordered 20 of them! Lost a couple from shipping stress, went to a feed store to replace them and came home with 6 more! We had a box in hubby's office, a heat lamp, and a passel of chicks with no idea what we were doing.....but we figured it out. Eventually! That was the end of February (in Northern Wyoming, no less) and we finally got a coop ready enough for them to be evicted when they were just 5.5 weeks old. We got our last snowfall in June. Ah, yes, the good old days! I will never make that mistake again! Well, at least until the next time I make that mistake. <sigh>

    Here's some reading that might help you get started -
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    In the meantime if something pops up that you aren't sure of, or if you're curious about something, we're all here! Just because you don't have chicks in your yard yet doesn't mean you can't have them on your mind.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Jenilee: The idea of starting your chicks by hatching eggs is not out of the question. That's how I started my first flock. (not counting the flocks I had as a child, or during my granola years). But, I went even further back than the egg! I made my own incubator with hubby's assistance. That was a fun project, and gave me 5 healthy chicks from 6 eggs! In the mean time, READ, READ, READ!!!
     

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