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Thread: new to chickens
02-01-2012, 04:46 PM #1
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new to chickens
Ok, we are moved in to our new/rented house.....The previous renters had kept chickens at one time or another......we have a 10 stall barn that they have one stall set up for chickens......My first question....the stall is about 12 x 12 and about 10ft tall has perches and roosting boxes(i think thats what they are called)......is this a big enough area for 4 to 6 chickens....no roosters. Next, if this is enough space....how or when do I let them outside? Then, do I get baby chicks or older ones? What do I feed them, what do they need for heat - lamp? one or more? I guess I just need the basics....also what is the best beginner breed...Oh, I live about 1/2 hr away from Nashville TN - I believe we are considered zone 6 for growing....just an idea of the weather here.....
- 02-01-2012, 09:03 PM #2
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Hi - As someone who had chickens for many years, I would say the space is ample for 4-6 hens. We had more than that in a smaller coop.
You can start with chicks but it will be a while before you get eggs, obviously. Try looking on Craigslist for older hens.
You feed them chicken feed or mash, it is a complete food. You can supplement with table scraps (they eat anything, even meat), greens, day old bread or whatever. You shouldn't need heat as long as they are inside, they will fluff up their feathers and cozy up on cold nights.
Any laying breed should be good but you don't want meat birds.
Depending on predators in the area, you can let them roam free in the day or make a pen for them outdoors. We always had a fenced area for ours, too many wild critters trying to eat them.02-01-2012, 09:17 PM #3
Your space is plenty big enough. 6 birds sounds good to start. If you want eggs now, you would be better getting started pullets. Depending on price, maybe a few hens that are a year old.
Younger the better, but probably not chicks as it will be at least 6 months till you see eggs.
Check with a feed store near you. They can tell you what you need. Hens need laying crumbles, and we feed ours a scratch grain which is corn and wheat. They also get sunflower seeds as treats. Stuff from the kitchen and bread. You should not need a heat lamp unless you end up with chicks. Keep plenty of water in front of them.
Lots of good breeds to choose from. Maybe your local store has a bulletin board where farmers can post some ads. Or check your local craigslist.
Make sure you protect them from predators.02-04-2012, 11:25 AM #4
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Hi! I purchased year old pullets at a small animal livestock auction. Ask around your local feed store and at your grain elevator. You didn't mention a pen to let them out? Sometimes pets that haven't been around poultry can be a problem too. Chickens don't lay very well during the winter months. The short days effect their laying ability.Only getting 1 egg out of ten hens right now. Some people leave lights on for part of the night to help with this. I would spend the extra money for metal feed bucket and water bucket. You can also purchase a heated base for your water bucket to set on. Makes it easier in winter as water doesn't freeze. Found out the hard way! Pulled handle off top of bucket trying to get it apart! Also it helps to have hay in laying boxes. It sure keeps the eggs cleaner. Be sure to wash the eggs and let them dry before you put them in the frig. Hope this is helpful.02-07-2012, 01:41 AM #5
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I've had Black Austra Lorps (an austrailian breed)for years now, their good dosile, weather and desease hardy birds, I keep them for laying purposes only, they are good for meat but are champion egg layers averaging 364 eggs per year for hens and cock's being champion weight birds at 10-12 pounds per bird at 6 months old!
My neighbor has Austra Lorps, hers are 11 years old and still laying eggs! You cant beat that! (most breeds will slow egg production at 2-4 years)
For meat I keep Plymouth barred rock, these are good egg layers but better meat makers!
You should feed a scratch grain outside, a complete layer pellet or crumble inside where they are to lay. Kitchen scraps are excellent for them, I do not feed them meat but do add meat grease to their food as it is good for their coats.
Keep diatomatious earth (a powder) fresh in their nests once a month with fresh straw to keep out lice, mites, tic's and other bugs.
add table salt to their layer crumble once a week to avoid salt shortage they will pick one another for salt in the blood if their shorted salt in their diet.
for boosted laying in the winter months do keep a heat lamp where they lay at. Your egg production will dwindle in the winter months when they are cold and the summer months when they are hot.
The egg production will also decrease when they are molting, chickens generally molt twice a year loosing many of their feathers.
Collect your eggs regularly, I feed scratch and layer in the early afternoon and pick up eggs at that time, leaving the eggs may cause them to eat them, once a chicken starts eating the eggs it will not stop and must be rehomed or killed. (I butcher the egg eaters)
Do not try to make hard boiled eggs from fresh eggs until they are at least 7-10 days old, they dont hard boil well until after that time.02-07-2012, 09:54 AM #6
Was talking to a lady yesterday who has a flock of about 30 birds and is replacing them with about 50 started pullets very soon. She also wants about 10 chicks for her grandkids. I was surprised the number of tips I could give her that she did not know.
For baby chicks, ask for a special order for pullets only. Unless you are willing to do in extra roosters. We like the feed from countrymax better than what we got from TSC stores. And the price is lower at countrymax.
She asked me what kind of layer type birds I like. I told her we have buff & white orpingtons, delawares, and red sex links. They are all winter hardy and lay nice good size brown eggs. My oldest girls have 2 seasons of laying and are still doing good.
We have tried hay , shredded newspaper and sawdust in their nest boxes. We like the sawdust best in the boxes and on the floor. I usually have one plastic glove in my pocket and will use that when I am trying to pick the poo out of the nest boxes. It's a quick clean and gets dropped on the floor under the roost area. When he cleans the floor, all that goes out on the garden.
My chickens only molt once a year. I have never seen any that molt 2x a year. The better the feed going into them, the quicker the molt.
I ground up meat scraps from the venison last fall and made one pound hamburger bags for the freezer. In the winter, I thaw one bag at a time, add some bread crumbs, mix it all together, and treat the birds. Think raw meat loaf crumbles. They love it. They need extra protein to help them through a molt. Because my birds were born at different times, I only have some in molt, while others are laying strong.
We don't feed any grain outside. They have one hanging feeder just for crumbles. One long trough in the other room for their scratch grain, and the sunflowers seeds. You don't want the grain getting wet as it will mold, and moldy feed will kill your birds. We also have a few other food dishes so everyone gets their share.
Metal water dishes. NOT. I bought a real nice pricey one and it is now history. I use the heavy rubber dishes like you would use for horses. We don't use a heater for the water. They have some flex to them to get the ice out, and do not break. The bigger dish I have, I can put my boot in it, if I have to, to break the ice. Chickens need fresh water every day. Do not let them run out of water. That will disrupt their laying.
Heat lamp, we will use one hanging but only if the temperatures are severe. We been lucky this winter to have a mild winter. Only had to use the heat lamp a few times. That and we have more birds and that helps also. Group heat
I usually have to wait 2 weeks for these eggs before I dare hard boil them. All my egg cartons are dated as date of being laid. If I only need 6 eggs for hard boil, I only boil the 6. Unless I plan on using the balance in the pot for something else in a day or two. Once you boil them, you speed up their keeping ability.
Dirty eggs are not real common here. The sawdust keeps them basically clean. If there is poo on a egg, I wipe it off with a wet paper towel. If I have to wash it, that egg is dated and goes into my egg carton for this household so I use it up quicker. I won't sell a stained egg to a customer. If you wash eggs, it removes the natural coating on the outside. The natural coating is the best. Eggs are porus.
I am currently getting 2 dz eggs a day from 42 girls. About half are under a year, 1/4 are less than 2 yrs, and the oldest girls are just under 3 yrs. The older they get, the less eggs they lay. Our senior orpingtons are laying HUGE eggs...extra large, and jumbo.
We use no chemicals here of any kind on our property. Nor do we treat the birds for any diseases. We raise our own replacement birds. I do not go to auctions to buy birds. That is a good way to bring home diseases. If you are buying, find someone with a small flock and ask them questions before you even go to their place.
I sell eggs at market in the summer and also have year round customers. I am slowly building up my customer base. I don't want more customers than what eggs I can produce. And unless I build a second coop, we are at max for what birds we can have. Summer is no problem, but winter feed bills are high. My birds get free ranged from middle of afternoon till they put themselves back in the coop when it gets dark. Then they get locked in. Door opens in morning, so they can get out in their fenced in run. They will be standing at the gate about 2ish waiting for the human to come let them out. Rinse, lather, and repeat
Last edited by ladytoysdream; 02-07-2012 at 10:04 AM.02-08-2012, 08:57 AM #7
I want to add some more information to what I posted yesterday. I was doing a search for definition of organic eggs because I wanted to know what I needed to do to be able to call my eggs organic. Translation higher asking price.
If I buy organic laying crumbles and organic scratch grain, then I can. Which means a higher grain cost. Everything else I am in compliance. Translation, my chickens are pampered pets.
So in the reading, I come across the term forced molting. Which I have never heard before. But then again, I have not visited big chicken farms/egg factories. So in order to keep production at high levels, yes a good number of these huge egg producers do a forced molt on their birds. Hence a second molt in one year.
One molt a year is natural. If you want to do more reading.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_molting"]Forced molting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
This is the link for organic eggs definition.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_egg_production"]Organic egg production - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
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