Author Topic: Talk to Me About Chickens!  (Read 2452 times)

Offline MissMandy

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Talk to Me About Chickens!
« on: November 16, 2013, 08:20:54 AM »
We've decided to bite the bullet and get ourselves a few ladies for the backyard!  I Googled what kind of chickens would be best for our area based on climate/hardiness, how much they lay, etc., but I know the BEST advice will come from you wonderful ladies.  A few things that might help:

*Our temps range between 20's (Farenheit) to 90's usually
*We want chickens primarily for eggs and pets, not meat or breeding
*We are on just over an acre of land, but still in somewhat of a neighborhood, so nothing too loud or skittish
* We will be building their housing, so we can customize it fairly easily


My questions are:

*What breeds should we be looking for?
*How many should we get (hopefully 1-2 total eggs daily)?
*How much should we expect to pay?
*What do they eat (in addition to pecking around in the yard)?
*What kind of housing/warmth/cooling/setup will they need?
*What else should we consider before bringing them home?

Thank you so much for any advice you can offer!
M :)
Mandy, wife to Jean, furmama to Irish Wolfhound Grimmauld (Grimm), living in the mountains of Virginia.  Childless by circumstance and loving it! ♥

Offline jrejhkids

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2013, 09:46:38 AM »
We have found for us that the Golden Sex Links are the best layers.  They start laying between 4 and 5 months.  We generally get an egg most days from each.  When we don't have a pig, we feed our kitchen compost to our chickens in addition to the feed we buy.  We also give them oyster shell.

We insulated our hen house, but we can get down to 20 below.  You want to be able to close up in the winter, but yet some air in during the summer time.  You will want some roosts and nesting boxes.

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2013, 09:50:24 AM »
I'm happy for you! :)  I love my ladies! ;D

We have several breeds - Rhode Island Red, barred rock, red stars, wyandottes, sussex, buff orpington, black australorp, 1 BB Red bantam, and 2 Silkies.

All of mine are great layers.  I have a total of 10 hens that are laying age.  The bantams are still too young.  They have slowed down their egg laying for the winter but I've got 64 eggs so far for November, which is plenty for us. 

We can't let ours free range because of the predators - hawks, neighborhood dogs, coyotes, etc.  I do let mine out every afternoon as long as someone can be outside with them. 

As far as how much to pay, I can't really help you there.  All of ours were given to us by 3 different people!  Ours eat scratch grains and laying mash.  I also give them black oil sunflower seeds for a treat.  They really like those. :) 

We set up one corner of our barn for the chickens.  They have a coop and a run attached to it.  If you can, I would fence their area with hardware cloth instead of chicken wire.  It's much sturdier.  The pen ours have now has a roof since it's the corner of the barn, but I would use netting to cover the top of their run if yours are outside. 

I think as long as they have adequate shelter in the winter and shade in the summer they will be fine.  Mine like to wade in pans of water in the summer!  I've also misted them with a sprinkler if the temps were very high. 

I hope this answers some questions for you.  Chickens are easier than people think.  Oh, and they are social animals.  Always have more than one so they are not lonesome. ;)
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 04:50:56 PM »
We love (and have) many breeds, but I'd second the Golden Sex-link suggestion, as well as Red or Black Sex-links (ours have been very prolific) and Easter Eggers.  White Leghorns are also great layers but not quite as tame, in our experience.  Black Australorps are sweet and lay well, too.  Can you tell it's hard to narrow it down?  :D

As to cost, it really depends on what age you get.  A young chick will cost less (probably $3 or less) but also take a lot more care and it will be several months till she starts laying.  You might check craigslist for older pullets if you don't want to wait so long.  But, a 4-5 month pullet might go for $15 or so around here.

As for food, I don't know if GMO-free is important to you or not.  If not, any feed store or TSC should have appropriate feed.  We don't want our girls eating that, so we have had to look around a little more to find acceptable food.  I would think your area might be a little bit better for finding safer feed, possibly.

My suggestion would be to get at least 3.  That way, if something were to happen to one, the other two still have each other.  In their prime (and depending on breed), you may end up with 3 eggs some days, but it's not hard to give away fresh yummy eggs.  Plus, once you taste them, you may be using more eggs per week anyway.  ;)

Offline MissMandy

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 05:55:59 PM »
Thank you, thank you, everyone! Keep the advice coming; I love it!

M :)
Mandy, wife to Jean, furmama to Irish Wolfhound Grimmauld (Grimm), living in the mountains of Virginia.  Childless by circumstance and loving it! ♥

Offline mooremama

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2013, 06:51:24 AM »
Let the fun begin  :D  I love my chickens.

We have had Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Dominiques, White Brahmas, and a mixed breed that comes when you have a rooster in the flock with different breeds of hens.  ;)  I have loved them all. 

I would second the fact that they're social animals; they enjoy being in a flock with other hens and they also enjoy human company.  I would recommend getting 4-6 hens.  LIke Catherine said, once you taste and use fresh eggs, you will want more than a dozen a week.   :D

I buy layer pellets at Tractor Supply (TSC).  I find that we don't use as much food if I feed them pellets instead of crumbles.  Since I don't confine my hens and they have free range of our 3 acres, I don't use grit or calcium.  I feed them crumbled eggshells and I never have trouble with soft shells. Also I don't feed them chicken feed in the spring and summer.  With free ranging they prefer the bugs, worms and grasses instead of feed.  I will throw out scratch for them just to keep them use to coming to the coop. 

Sam built a coop with an enclosed front portion and an open/fenced in back part.  They will come to the coop to roost at night and to lay eggs.  We have nest boxes in the front portion.

Aaron bought some Barred Rock pullets not too long ago for $5 apiece.  They were about 3 months old.  Most of our hens have been given to us or hatched out here by us or broody hens. 

HTH,
Beth   

Beth
Beth in western NC
Wife of Sam for 27 years,
Mother of Aaron (26) and Caylon (24)
MIL to Bo
Nan to Lainey Beth (7), Stephen Holden (3) and Samuel Evan (2)
Furmama to Bonnie and Jake
Barnyard Mama to 2 goats, 3 turkeys and oodles of chickens.

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2013, 02:04:49 PM »
Just adding that we absolutely love or have loved our Buff Orps, Rhode Island Reds, Salmon Faverolles, and Barred Rock as well.  They just didn't lay quite as prolifically as the other breeds I mentioned. 

Offline luv2bmom

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2013, 03:43:05 PM »
We so enjoy our hens!  Our first hens were Golden Comets, the sex-linked as spoken above.  Very good layers!

Our next 3 hens we've had going on 2 years now, 1 buff orpington and 2 white brahma's, lovely brown egg layers and physically large!  Living in Ohio the larger breeds are a bit more tolerant of the cold climate we have here.

We paid $2 each for our 3 day old buffs, when we got our pair of white brahmas they were 20 weeks old and cost us $30 for the pair.  We were desperate as 1 of our buffs was taken by a predator.  An awful mistake as I thought dh and closed the coop and he thought I did....:(  Our buff was so agitated we had to find friends for her asap.  Chickens are social as others have mentioned!

We started our girls on growing mash, then when we got the first eggs I switched to laying mash, our farmers equity grinds it all up with the oyster shell and grit in it so I don't supplement those. 

I use the shaved bedding in the coop, our roost post was from our woods.  we have 3 laying boxes but they only use 1.  we use a  red heat light inside during the winter but it's over the top of the waterer and gives the coop some heat. 

We will always have chickens we enjoy them so much!  Ours free range all day and go into their coop at night, unless i'm gone all day and we let them out in their confined area.  Dh built a tractor which is lovely b/c it doesn't take long for 3 chickens do away with grass.  Moving them every other day keeps your yard from getting tore up.  Let us know when you get them!!
Pixie, wife to Coby
mother to Megan, Amanda
and to our beloved late son Braden
Baboo to Mont, Ada, Brinly and Brielle
mil to Warren and Marcus

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2013, 07:19:29 AM »
I've been thinking more on this and I just wanted to add if you are primarily wanting good layers, then I would go with the Golden Comets or Red Stars.  I'm not really sure of the differences.  We have 2 Red Stars and they are the best layers.  One is almost always on the nest at daybreak and both of them lay every day.  I like all of our hens, but these two beat out the others for eggs. :)
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline Andrea G

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 07:44:59 AM »
You will love having chickens.  I would get a couple of red stars for sure and maybe two to four more of different breeds. Barred rocks, buff orps, australorps or ameraucanas are all good layers, though not quite as good as the red stars.  But I like to have colourful chickens. :) You will get more than one or two eggs per day (except in the middle of winter probably) but you will find that your friends and family will happily take any extra eggs off your hands.  If you like cute and fluffy, get a silkie.  They are bantams but even though they are smaller they can all live peacefully together, especially if they were raised together.  Chickens are so much fun to have around!
Loving life in southern Ontario
Wife to David, Mom to Kate, Paul, Matt and Julianne

Offline Shelly

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2014, 02:25:58 PM »
We're thinking about chickens too.  Our city just lifted the ban on backyard chickens a couple weeks ago.  So excited about that.  Anyway, Are chickens happy in their runs or do they need to roam about to be happy?  I ask because we have our yard only fenced on 3 sides and I'd worry about them roaming off.  I see some of our neighbors have let their chickens (kept illegally) roam about and I've seen them bopping down the sidewalk.  That feels unsafe to me.

I do plan to be out in the yard a lot this summer, so that may help as I've seen some of you let your chickens out when you are.  Are they difficult to get back into the coop/run when you need to go back inside?  This is all so new to me, I'm so afraid of making mistakes.  ;D


ETA: Another city-girl question here  ;D What do chickens do in the winter?  Do they stay in their coop all the time, or do they venture out?  We get heaps of snow here, would I need to worry about that...can they get "stuck" if it's too deep?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 02:32:31 PM by Shelly »
Wife to Trevor for 16 years and SAHM to Maisie (4) Liam (4) Aedric (1) Harold (1)

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2014, 03:02:33 PM »
Our chickens like to roam when we turn them out.  They've been known to wander down to the neighbors and watch their penned up chickens. :D. All it takes to get them back is for me to stand on the front porch calling "chickie,chickie, chickie!"   They'll run right to me.

We live out in the boonies so I'm not too embarrassed about someone hearing me call my girls.

If I ever have trouble getting them up, I can get a piece of bread and show it to them.  They'll do anything for bread.   :)

In the winter ours stay in more.  We rarely get much snow so I'm no help there.  Ours don't seem to like wind at all.  It's very windy here today and they're pretty much staying inside.
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline Shelly

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2014, 03:18:44 PM »
What time of day do chickens lay their eggs?  Would they ever lay while out roaming or do they go back to the coop?
Wife to Trevor for 16 years and SAHM to Maisie (4) Liam (4) Aedric (1) Harold (1)

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2014, 03:38:21 PM »
Mine must not have a set time to lay because sometimes there will be an egg in the nest when I let them out of their coop at 6:30 am and I just had one lay a few minute ago (4:30ish pm).    I've occasionally found an egg lying on the ground but they usually go back to the coop to lay.
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline Rooney

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Re: Talk to Me About Chickens!
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2015, 12:40:32 PM »
We've decided to bite the bullet and get ourselves a few ladies for the backyard!  I Googled what kind of chickens would be best for our area based on climate/hardiness, how much they lay, etc., but I know the BEST advice will come from you wonderful ladies.  A few things that might help:

*Our temps range between 20's (Farenheit) to 90's usually
*We want chickens primarily for eggs and pets, not meat or breeding
*We are on just over an acre of land, but still in somewhat of a neighborhood, so nothing too loud or skittish
* We will be building their housing, so we can customize it fairly easily


My questions are:

*What breeds should we be looking for?
*How many should we get (hopefully 1-2 total eggs daily)?
*How much should we expect to pay?
*What do they eat (in addition to pecking around in the yard)?
*What kind of housing/warmth/cooling/setup will they need?
*What else should we consider before bringing them home?

Thank you so much for any advice you can offer!
M :)

So I am curious, did you ever get to do this, Mandy?  If you did, I have loads of questions.  There has been much talk around here lately about starting with our own chickens (for the eggs only.) We also think the chicken manure would make an awesome compost activator for greenhouse use. We have figured out where to put the chicken area.  An Amish family around here actually builds and sells the coops where you access the eggs from the back.  So, to save time, since we have so many other projects in the works, we are thinking of getting 2 of those and I am not 100% sure, but I think you can get the chickens from them also.  If we do decide to do this, we will probably just spend the summer and fall getting the area completely ready for use and then start...when?  When do you start something like this?  Like, what is the proper time of year? 
Also a question for any of you who have chickens?  What is the ummmm....yuck factor, with it all?  Like is it really a mess to keep it cleaned up?  I grew up a "farm girl," but we only had horses, crops and the occasional beef cow.  So, this is a new subject for me.  In fact, hubby and I were in a debate about whether or not you HAD to have a rooster? LOL ???