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ashmanra said

Does anyone raise chickens?

We are planning to get some chickens soon, just to raise for eggs and for the enjoyment. We are in the studying and planning stage. Any advice from chicken meisters out there? I think I want Buff Orpingtons and Americaunas, though the Farm Supply store guy is really pushing sexlinked chicks or Barred Rock. We live in the suburbs but can have up to ten hens. I was planning to get four. They will probably live in the storage room addition to our house, in an end we are plan to have sectioned off, with a run attached.

20 Replies

That sounds awesome. I would like to do that some day too!

me too! i have actually researched a bit on it. free range chickens are the best!

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Dustin said

I have had chickens for a few years now. If you want eggs, the sex links are really the way to go. They are little work horses when it comes to laying. Just got rid of a non laying Buff and Americauna. They were both kinda finicky about the weather and laying. If it’s too hot or cold they don’t lay. You also want to pay attention to the different characteristics of each breed before deciding on one. Some get really loud and unhappy when they don’t have a ton of room to roam. Some are really gentle on your plants if you let them play in your yard, while others eat everything in sight. Some don’t get along with other breeds.

Making sure their coop is predator proof is key to keeping them. After that, having a coop that is easy to clean and an auto open/shut door are both high on my must have list.

In my local area we have a Meetup group for chicken keepers and I learned a lot in the beginning that way. Might want to do a search for one in your area for one. They would likely address concerns for your specific area that others might not have.

They are pretty entertaining. I suggest encouraging games of chicken football by feeding the flock grapes one at a time. As long as you don’t have a bird who swallows the grapes whole, they will spend a few minutes chasing each other down for each grape.

wow, that sounds like a lot of fun! hahaha

ashmanra said

Dustin: I got two laying hens and a pullet. The coop is nice and tight and they have a large run. What sort of automatic door did you put in? We really need one by May. I have four eggs so far, so our cost per egg stands at about $125 right now. Ha ha! They better get to laying!

Dustin said

Wow! That’s more expensive than the farmer’s market prices! I always warn my girls that they need to earn their keep. Congrats on the new flock!

My husband rigged something out of an electric drill for an automatic door. I built the door part and he built the electronic components. It lasted about a year and finally gave out. He needs to work on round 2. I have heard of places selling auto doors too. Could probably google chicken coop auto door or something for some results.

ashmanra said

Thank you for the info! We saw one online made with a timer and an automatic drapery closer. Then hubby saw one called something like Ador1 with a photo cell but it is pretty expensive, around $180. The only time we would really need it is when we go on vacation, which is only once a year, but I was afraid my neighbor would be working late shift and not get here to close their door at night until late.

Dustin said

It’s nice to have one even when we are in town. The girls get cranky and let it be known if we don’t let them out early enough in the morning. There has also been many a night that I’m in bed, remember that I didn’t lock them up and have to put on clothes, go down stairs, outside and lock the coop. With the auto door I don’t have to worry about either situation!

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ashmanra said

LOL! Thank you, Dustin! The men in the family are going to have a ball with the football thing!

I was told we really only need two, but two of us are home all day so I do a lot of cooking and baking and we probably eat out less than other people, so I was thinking four would be good. I just saw a site that recommended six, which would give me lots of extras to share but might really be more than we need!

Thanks for the info on the sexlinked chickens. We are pretty conscientious about things I think, so we want our chickens to be “happy” and well cared for. We already have tortoises in our yard and the dog has been taught “leave it” very well, so he doesn’t bother cats or birds or the tortoises.

A Meet up group sounds like a great idea. Right now we are googling and googling and reading and reading…

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Dustin said

Six will be a lot of eggs once they all get going. If you get them as chicks it will take about 6 months for them to start laying. After a couple years they start to slow down and peter out, so you might consider staggering them over the years if you are concerned about six full time egg layers being too much. So start with three and a year or more into it get three more. I have three right now. I don’t do a lot of baking and they seem to be able to keep up with our egg needs (3 egg eaters in the house) fairly well.

It doesn’t take much to make them happy and mine put up with my preschooler tackling them and catching them by their tails. They are pretty forgiving and durable animals. :)

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ashmanra said

Great idea to get three now and three later. We plan to keep the “retired ladies” to the end of their natural life span, so we could potentially end up with a whooooooole lot of chickens!

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I used to help raise chickens when I was a teenager – lived on a farm and my task was feeding chickens and bunnies and cleaning their space. I had a couple Ameraucanas – those are cool chickens with the fun coloured eggs!

I had a friendly and smart black hen that would follow me everywhere and ride on my shoulder!

I miss those fresh eggs. It’s really hard to eat store bought eggs after having really good eggs.

ashmanra said

The cool green eggs are the main reason I wanted some Americaunas! Plus, I thought maybe having chickens who lay different colored eggs would help us know who isn’t laying anymore and who is. There is a chicken “retirement” farm not far away, so if you really just want laying hens they will take your chickens and just let them live on the farm as pets. I am getting excited about my maybe chickens and every couple of hours I ask my hubby if he has built the coop yet…

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Barbara said

Sounds like fun! Good luck with the planning and execution (of the plan, not the chicken!) :-)

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Anyanka said

I have 5, of an original 8, one died as a chick, 2 died recently. They’re all 4+ years old now. I got them from www.mypetchicken.com. They’re not laying much anymore, but they get to live out their days. At the peak, I got about 4-5 eggs a day during the spring/summer/fall. Now I’m lucky to get a few a week. One of them quit laying over a year ago, but she needs a therapist. The nicest and prettiest of the bunch are buff orpingtons, but it’s hard to keep their butts clean and one of them goes broody. (I have buff orpingtons, black australorps, and gold and silver laced wyandottes.)

Given a choice, I wouldn’t do it again, but only because I haven’t been able to allow them to free range, and I feel bad that they’ve lived in an enclosure, even though it is big.

ashmanra said

Thanks for the heads up about the fluffy butts! We did get a Buff Orpington hen and a pullet! They are so sweet, especially the pullet, who wants to sit in our laps or get on our head and shoulders and play with our hair.

We also got what they called a white sexlink, but I think she is more appropriately an amber. Regional names, I guess? She is the most prolific egg layer so far. She is also the biggest mooch, always checking me for food when I go to the run, waiting at the gate bold as brass!

We have a large enclosure for them and will be doubling the size of it soon. I plan to get a few more chickens before long. W can’t free range because we are in a neighborhood with dogs, cats, raccoons, and lots and lots of hawks!

Anyanka said

We live in the woods and have endless predators too, so I understand. I’ve even put hardware cloth across the ceiling of the coop-and thank goodness I did because there was a raccoon up there one morning!

Dustin said

And I thought it was just my Orpinton that had poopy butt problems! They Wyandottes are really pretty birds. I was thinking of getting one of those at one point.

Yeah, raccoons do not do pretty things to chickens!

ashmanra said

Wyandottes were selling for the most money at the auction. I wasn’t really familiar with them so I need to look them up!

We have two species of rescue box turtles who live in a large e closure in our yard. I am pretty sure it was a raccoon who ravaged the baby turtles a few years ago. The turtles have a “ceiling” now, too.

Anyanka said

One of our wyandottes is awesome (she recuperated from an injury in the workshop and has been extra tame and hilariously pushy ever since) and the other one is mentally unstable (she would let the others peck her without a fight so she has her own run now and is decidedly weird). They’re both pretty as can be, but are not prolific layers.

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