Jump to content
BC Boards

Resources about chickens


Pippin's person
 Share

Recommended Posts

We are soon to begin our adventures with chickens and are curious about resources that folks find useful--books, catalogs, website, etc. I have ancient experience with the care of backyard chickens but haven't been involved soup to nuts with them before. We have a coop and the basic infrastructure in place; just need to get the birds and the knowledge and experience we need to keep them safe, happy and producing eggs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This question is timely for me too. My brother has started out with 5 young guinnea hens. They free range during the day and are put back in the coop at night. One of them is "hen pecked" by the other four. My father is the primary caretaker and this drives him crazy. He's always trying to protect her but this seems impractical. My suggestion was to cull her. This idea didn't go over well as she has become his little darling.

 

Thanks

Jennifer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An excellent source is The Chicken Healthbook by Gail Damerow, particularly if your vet is not into chickens.

 

I used to breed orpingtons and I received lots of kind support and advice from the "orpington group" discussion list. Lovely people there.

 

Maja

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep, timely for me too, as we are getting chickens too! ;-) As a matter of fact our coop just arrived (ordered one on line) My husband got me 3 pretty good books on chickens (for Christmas) Chickens for Dummies ;-) was one, and then a couple more. I;ve been reading through them, and getting good info. I only plan on getting 6 hens (no roosters) and plan to free range them during the day, and coop at night. I am so excited, I LOVE fresh eggs, and I think I will really enjoy all the other benefits of having chickens around, cant' wait to get my chicks (probably next month)

 

Betty

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is also timely for me, believe it or not. My fiance and I are in the process of buying a house on 5.5 acres of land, which may not sound like a lot to most of the farm-dwelling folks here, but for me, it's a dream come true (as much as I'd like to, we can't afford a farm). One thing I'm very excited about is being able to have my own chickens, but I have absolutely no knowledge about rasing chickens, so I'm not even sure where to start. So, thanks for posting this question, Robin, and I'll be watching this topic with great interest. :)

 

ETA: Hey Betty, where did you order your coop online?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Backyard Chickens Forum is a good site. You can go there and ask questions by category, as well as buy and sell. They have a monthly newsletter you can sign up for too.

 

If possible, try to start with young pullets, unless you really want to go the chick-raising route. Some hatcheries will sell you sexed chicks, but not all breeds (and especially not bantam breeds) are available that way. Chicks require a source of heat and can get messy fast.

 

As for varieties, I always recommend heritage, dual-purpose chickens. Go to the ALBCA website (www.albca-usa.org) and check out the breeds that are considered rare (and heritage). I love my Rhode Island Reds and Dominiques for productivity. If you want colored (blue or green) eggs, you'll need to choose Araucanas, Ameracanas, or Easter Eggers. My Jersey Giants (which are NOT giant) are also pretty prolific layers.

 

Bantams, especially game bantams are the most likely to go broody and raise lots of chicks. You can put full-size eggs under them if you want them to hatch out and raise standard chickens for you. That's not to say that standard hens won't go broody, but I have yet to find anything to top my Old English game hens when it comes to successfully (and repeatedly) hatching out and raising broods of chicks.

 

Not all hatcheries are created equal, and if you just want to dabble to start you can always go to the feed store and see what they have for sale, though you may be getting chicks that are more stressed than they'd be if you just ordered from a hatchery yourself. Some feed stores will custom order for you (i.e., order the breeds and numbers you want, within reason and assuming they're available). Be aware that some rare breeds are hard to come by and must be ordered very early in the year if you hope to get some.

 

As for going to auctions and the like and picking up chickens, the same holds true here as for any other livestock: you have NO IDEA what you're bringing home to your flock. I had a closed flock for years, and bought some chickens from someone local to me and ended up bringing a respiratory illness in that killed some of my chickens. So be careful where you buy. And if ordering from a hatchery, it's probably worth the small extra cost to have them vaccinate the chicks against Marek's disease for you.

 

If all you're interested in is eggs, some of the sex-link hybrids could also be a good choice (golden comets, Sex Sals, red sex links, etc.--sex link just means that gender is associate with color and so chicks can be sexed by color).

 

J.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have 3 sex-link hens and 3 rhode island reds. They all lay almost daily, and are pretty easy keepers. I second Julie's suggestion about the chicken forums, they are very useful :)

 

I also have a pair of what I think are Old English Game bantams, a hen and a rooster (they came from Animal Control). The rooster is like a tame pet and will "step up" on my fingers when asked. He will also go to sleep in my arms if I snuggle him. Best rooster ever. The big hens have very little use for him though.

 

5355763796_ce69234255_z.jpg

 

I am also building the bantams their own house and yard, because this Spring I am getting some frizzle hens, for no other reason than they make me LOL every time I see them!

 

I do not free range my hens as they would be TWooie fodder every time he went out to pee, but I am in the process of building them a much larger yard to roam in. Unfortunately, my land is very boggy and their current yard is nothing but mud (they will eat all your grass and vegetation). Has anyone used river sand for the hen yard? I am thinking it would be great for keeping the mud down and could be raked to remove the poop (which I currently compost, along with the straw from their house, for my garden plot) and would also be a source of grit for them. I am reluctant to use play sand.

 

I have a single heat lamp in the house which is on a timer and runs overnight only. Pretty inexpensive.

 

I got the chickens for eggs, but I am just plain old enjoying having chickens! They are very amusing to watch, and they all come running when I call "ladies!"

 

RDM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have the RIR's and love them. If you want an egg laying machine, go for the leghorns. They use half the feed of the RIR's and lay all year round.

 

I have guineas also, as well as turkey's (they're all Toms and constantly fight). The guineas are just annoying. They love to pick on each other and the chickens just stay out of their way. You should see them come in for the night though. I call the chickens and everyone comes running. Hope will "gather" all the guineas and bring them along. As long as she goes slow enough they just walk, but if she pushes they fly. She's not really needed because they all like to come in and eat, but she enjoys it. It is fun to see her bring in all 30 or so of them though. They do flock and I'll have "waves" of guineas as she pushes from side to side to keep them moving.

 

Anyone passing through SE GA stop by and get some of the guineas if you want. Or the turkeys for that matter! You catch them and you can have them.

Cindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well we got our chicken coop ;-) and it is toooo cute. We ordered it on line, and the price wasn't bad and they had free shipping. I know we could have built one cheaper, but we really had no idea what all a coop needed, plus it would have taken a bit to get it all put together...this way we got it and put it together in an afternoon. I was very pleased with the product, (it's not the heaviest wood ever, I think it's fir) but they did a good job of staining it and making sure all the pieces fit etc...and everything was there (a good thing) and it was pretty simple to put together. Here is the one we got, cute eh? Oh and the hardware cloth you see there, is extra we bought to put across the bottom. We are in deep sand, so it would be very easy for a 'varmit to dig into the coop.

 

179855_1712614008018_1018196186_31884562_8250617_n.jpg

 

and this is where we got it from

 

http://www.cconly.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well we got our chicken coop ;-) and it is toooo cute. We ordered it on line, and the price wasn't bad and they had free shipping. I know we could have built one cheaper, but we really had no idea what all a coop needed, plus it would have taken a bit to get it all put together...this way we got it and put it together in an afternoon. I was very pleased with the product, (it's not the heaviest wood ever, I think it's fir) but they did a good job of staining it and making sure all the pieces fit etc...and everything was there (a good thing) and it was pretty simple to put together. Here is the one we got, cute eh? Oh and the hardware cloth you see there, is extra we bought to put across the bottom. We are in deep sand, so it would be very easy for a 'varmit to dig into the coop.

 

and this is where we got it from

 

http://www.cconly.com/

 

That is a lovely coop, Betty. Your chickens are going to be very happy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love chickens. I raised chickens for many years until I got divorced and moved. I now have chickens again. I hate store bought eggs. There is nothing better than fresh eggs. I currently have 6 hens I bought as chicks last year. They are 2 red rocks, 1 white rock, 2 black sex links and 1 buff orpington. The red rocks are the best egg layers out of this group. My best egg layer ever was a highland 55, which is like a leghorn. I like RIR hens but all the roosters I had could be pretty aggressive. Same with my dominiques. The hens were nice, but the rooster was gone after attacking me.

My chicken coop is definitely not fancy, but it does serve its purpose.

 

IMG_2329.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...