Where do I Start?


In the Brooder
Jun 1, 2022
Hello BYC World...

A few months ago, I got pissed off. Pissed off, just enough. Pissed off enough to make the decision that I needed to detox and figure out how to gradually move away from the system. I decided that I needed to stop trolling the medial and start searching for venues that might offer solutions and help me become less dependent on the dysfunctional, broken system that we all know is facing an impending worldwide collapse...To date, I've rebuilt and replenished my raised beds after twenty years and learned about soil. Hmmm, that was eye opening.... I put into practice a lot of what I learned and the results, so far, have been amazing.

That's the condensed version of how I ended up here. It's been along, arduous journey since COVID began. Looking back, I guess it did offer something positive.

So, I've been reading, watching and listening a lot about raising laying hens and I think I'm ready to jump in.

First, I'd like to know if there is anyone out there I can contact with, who lives in MD. or Northern VA.

Next, where do I start? What are the best breeds for my location? I don't want chicks, so where do I get hens? What type of shelter should I plan for?
Coop or tractor? What is the best way to protect my birds from predators? What time of year is best to begin? And it goes on and on (as I'm certain you know).
But, it is time to get the answers and make some decisions.

Anyone out there care to chime in and help point me in the right direction?

Thank you BYC World,
Welcome to BYC.

The Maryland State Thread is HERE
Virginia is HERE

You may find some additional options for obtaining adult birds HERE

Advice on Coops? Lots of Coop Builds.

and I'll be the curmudgeonly old guy on the Feed and Water forums telling you not to try a home made feed recipe, and that you almost certainly can't grow everything you need for your chickens to thrive. Or I'll be on Zoning, helping you make sense of things.

When the need arises, and eventually it does, Emergencies/Diseases/Injury has some excellent, well experienced, active posters to help out. (I am not one of them). Help them with a useful title. I recommend something like "3yr old hen, possible waterbelly?", "Are these Fowl Mites?" or "Is this Fowlpox". It helps us help you.

and on that subject, if you click on your user name at the upper right, then "Account Details" on the menu, you can scroll down and add your location with as much, or as little, specificity as you want. Many answers are location/climate dependent. Again, helps us help you.


Again, Welcome to BYC! May you find this resource as useful and informative as I have. Good luck on your chicken journey.
Welcome from the other end of the country. I love this site! I started at both one-day old chicks shipping and six-week old pullets shipping. It's crazy to know they ship them through the mail. But, the above suggestion of adopting hens that need to be rehomed is a great idea. Don't waste your $ on a prefab. A local contractor can build one for that price. Check online sales for children play swing sets.
Lastly, I am older and live alone in a small town. I love my girls and they make me laugh every single day. Keep us informed with your progress!
Tractors are difficult during the winter, so a coop is the better option if you are doing one or the other. The difficulty is the light weight needed to be able to move them isn't compatible with the sturdiness needed for snow loads among other things.

The best way to protect against predators is to enclose their space with a combination of solid walls/roofs/windows and openings covered with securely attached hardware cloth for ventilation (minimum of 1 square foot per bird - that is a really lot for people used to measuring it in inches. Also hardware cloth either down 12" or 2' for so laid on the ground out from the walls and fence of their space - either is to keep predators from digging under the fence. Or an electric fence. Or both. That will keep predators other than bears and people out of the coop. It would keep them out of the run also but most people accept a higher risk in the run and don't put hardware cloth all the way up the fence or across the top; I'm not sure about the pros and cons of the options for the run or even what the reasonable options are for the run.

Your climate allows the most choices of breeds, (basically any breed) if you have a well-designed coop - spacious and airy. So, pick a breed based on your goals. The usual goals are good egg production combined with good looks, better egg production combined with longevity, best (as in most efficient) egg production, any of these combined with reactivity (better at free ranging) or nonreactivity (likely more tame), most efficient meat production, good meat production combined with better at free ranging, etc.

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