Noob Here-Should I?

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by SharonaZamboni, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. SharonaZamboni

    SharonaZamboni New Member

    I've been wanting chickens for years. My dad had some, but I don't remember much about their care.

    Proper flock size...for some eggs and cuteness. Not planning on a rooster. We'll see if I can bring myself to raise eating birds:).

    How far will they wander? Must I round them up at night, or do they generally head in, so they can be secured? I have about 3/4 acre open, with wooded areas, making 1.3 acres.

    What is required for wintering re: heating? Will I need to shovel snow for room to run? Or how big a coop will suffice for 5-6 hens during winter?
  2. Apyl

    Apyl New Member

    Hi and Welcome. :)
    If your only wanting eggs and cuteness I would get at least 1 chicken per family member. Your 1.3 acres is quit sufficient for them to free range. Yes your chickens will head to the coop on their own unless they find a tree they like, then you either get them down or leave them there lol. I currently have 4 hens that really love my Red Pine I have in the yard. As soon as its dusty dark they go up high, sometimes I throw a football in the tree and thew all jump out and head to the coop and sometimes they dont and just stay in the tree all night. As for the winter, sure you could heat them but its not needed as long as you get cold hardy birds. I'm in wisconsin and have no plan to heat our coop. I will keep a shovel near it so I can shovel out a path for them to get out but thats about it. I believe the general rule of thumb is 4 sq feet per bird if they need to spend extended time in the coop closed up, but really you can do what works for you. I have a 10x10 A frame that houses 7 standard pullets, 4 silkies, 7 mallard ducks, and 2 large ducks. So far everyone has plenty of room and roost space.

  3. Marengoite

    Marengoite Junior Member

    Be very wary of "chicken math." It goes something like this: "I'll just start with three hens." and then you start looking at breeds. "I like Wyandotts and Orpingtons, but Australorps are good layers. Maybe I'll just get one of each. And maybe a Polish or Silkie or two just for fun." And then you start researching and, "I can't really decide. I'll get two or three of each of the following breeds..." and then you look at the order form that says a 15 chick minimum and you decide that you HAVE to order that many, but you don't need that many eggs, so maybe a few broilers to fill out the order.

    Pretty soon you're hip deep in chickens.

    Chickens will wander pretty far if you let them, depending on the breed. There was a white Leghorn rooster that has been wandering all over our neighborhood (I'm in the country, so he's been covering over 100 acres of territory the last couple weeks) before running afoul of a neighbor that didn't care for him tearing up the flower beds. If your 1.3 acres is fenced in, you should have more than enough room.

    And no, you won't have to round them up at night UNLESS they decide to roost someplace you don't want them. I use a 10' x 14' A-frame tractor and whenever I move it, I have to round them up after dark and put them in it for a couple nights before they learn where to go.
  4. thespiralandthelotus

    thespiralandthelotus New Member

    About the rounding them up at night. Some chickens need to be taught to come to the coop. Mine grew up in a shed without coop and when i bought them and brought them home they where spooked by the sun, the rain, the space the grass and so on. The first few days I had to keep them in the run and they would roost in a random corner on the floor. I always suggest to build a makeshift run for a few days (pallets are great for this because they are free :)) before allowing them full freedom. I know here i would not find that hen alive in the morning if I didnt lock her up.
  5. hockeychick

    hockeychick Junior Member

    Hello, I have 28 hens and 1 roo, all 2.5 years old. They were all hatchery chicks and we raised them from just a few days old. When we first moved them outside, we kept them in the run for a at least 2 weeks so they would learn that it was their new home. We only let them free range if we are around to supervise. Initially, they would wander off to the front yard, or into the woods out back, but after months of chasing them they seemed to get the hint lol. I give them treats at the end of the day and they know to go into the run.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of predators that we have to deal, coyotes, dogs, raccoons, hawks, etc. I cannot stress strongly enough to research coop and run designs, and make sure that there are no 'holes' in which anything can get to your birds. I've heard horror stories about a raccoon getting into a coop at night and killing several birds.

    My coop is not heated in the winter. I have cold hardy breeds. The only issues I have run into in the winter is frostbite on their combs, and their water freezing. We have this 'hot plate' for lack of a better description, that goes under their water and keeps it from freezing. My birds do not like the snow lol, so I do shovel their run when it snows. If I don't they will stay in the coop. Spoiled birds lol!!!
  6. grow_your_brew

    grow_your_brew I sell chicken aprons!

    I think one point people failed to mention BEFORE you get chickens is zoning. Make sure your home allows for chickens! Sounds like you don't have a subdivision. Still, some areas only allow you to have a certain number of chickens and no roosters. Check with your county first. Also, if you have a HOA, you'll need to check with them too.
    Numbers then depend on what you're looking for. If you want cuteness (I like Silkies or Bantams), don't expect a lot of eggs. "Cute" chickens were bred to be cute, not to lay a whole lot of eggs. If you want eggs, you'll usually have to go for a plainer looking chicken like a White Leghorn or Rhode Island Red. Not saying that they can't be neat in personality - they just look like plain ol' chickens!
    I have a bigger flock and have never needed to heat the coop in -40F (even for the naked neck). If you have a smaller flock you might need to heat it.
    I've found that there's not really much point in shoveling snow for them in winter, esp if it's snowing. Of my 80+ chickens, I only have 1 that will bother coming out of the coop in winter. The rest will not come out!