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Who has experience keeping chickens? I did it while growing up, but that’s been a little while (mid-1800’s it seems). I’m about to set up my coop and pen. I think I can go with about a half dozen good laying hens to meet my egg eating habit. 

I’m learning about what they call sex linked chickens, and also about Barred Rock. The Barred seems like a hardy breed. 

I’m hoping to be able to get them to lay a decent amount year round, so I’m not sure if I’m looking at the right breeds yet, or if it even has anything to do with the breed at all. Could be how they’re kept, I dunno. 

Any experienced advice would be appreciated though. 

Edited by res308
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We've had a small flock for a couple years, they're pretty easy to manage. They're more the wife's hobby, but I seem to get sucked into a lot of the work. 

Different breeds have different traits, depending what your needs are. There are a bunch of different websites that get into it. See what your local co-op recommends. We've had better luck with their chicks than TSC.  If you're going to freerange, they will put a hurting on your landscaping. Winter laying is much lower than summer. Age is a big factor, too. If you're going to get ~6 you could get 2 each of 3 different kinds, and see which suits you best.

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I remember raising chickens from my time on my Grandparent's farms as a kid. They're stupid, noisy, nasty, poop on everything and stink. Plus they tend to attract just about every predator in the area. Everything from house cats to coyotes. 

I've known a bunch of people who've tried raising them. They end up giving away most of the eggs and quitting all together in a short time. 

OTOH, some folks seem to really like it. Just be sure if you want to try. 

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I could probably tell you about anything you want to know.  I currently have barred rocks and some sex links.  Both are good birds if you are wanting layers.  You could also raise your own sex links if you get BR hens and a Rhode Island Red rooster, that would be a black sex link.  Their offspring hens would have solid black heads, while the cockerels are born with white dots on their heads.    Sex links do not breed true because they are hybrids, so if you are interested in sustaining your flock that isn't the way to do it.  

 

I'm not a fan of commercial hatcheries.  I try to buy from local breeders.  Anything bought commercially (TSC and others) was hatched and shipped and spent it's first couple of days in a box.  I had rather my stock come from somewhere where the were hatched and placed into a brooder for those first couple of crucial days.    

 

I've been feeding Amish sourced feed supplemented with catfish food pellets (32% protein) with good results.  I could write all day, if you have specific questions I'm happy to answer. 

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1 hour ago, Grayfox54 said:

I remember raising chickens from my time on my Grandparent's farms as a kid. They're stupid, noisy, nasty, poop on everything and stink. Plus they tend to attract just about every predator in the area. Everything from house cats to coyotes. 

I've known a bunch of people who've tried raising them. They end up giving away most of the eggs and quitting all together in a short time. 

OTOH, some folks seem to really like it. Just be sure if you want to try. 

Yeah, I agree. It's a different world than it was in the 70's and 80's when I grew up. Most people these days don't have the time to mess with many chickens. My brother had some a few years ago and kept them a few years. Every time I went to visit, he would give me a couple dozen eggs. Whether I wanted them or not.

Edited by Quavodus
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I had game chickens for years, just left to run wild here at the farm. I figured maybe it would help with ticks, but didn't really see any effect. 

Last year, my daughter did the 4H chicken project. These were black sex links. Great chickens, they will almost do 1 egg a day each. They are going on a year old and are still laying good. 

If you can keep the predators away, you can't hardly kill a chicken. Predators will ruin your day though, and chickens are pretty low on the food chain. Keep them penned up and you should be fine. 

One more thing, don't buy "pit run" chickens, whatever breed you go with. If you do you'll wind up with about half roosters, and unless you are wanting to hatch some eggs, roosters can be a problem. We have 1 rooster, because my daughter thought we needed one, and it's one too many.  

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On 2/28/2021 at 1:41 PM, Grayfox54 said:

I remember raising chickens from my time on my Grandparent's farms as a kid. They're stupid, noisy, nasty, poop on everything and stink. Plus they tend to attract just about every predator in the area. Everything from house cats to coyotes. 

I've known a bunch of people who've tried raising them. They end up giving away most of the eggs and quitting all together in a short time. 

OTOH, some folks seem to really like it. Just be sure if you want to try. 

Roosters are the only ones that are noisy. I've never had a smell problem, but my pen isn't overcrowded and I keep the coop clean. They do tend to poop on everything and attract predators, but if you keep them in a good pen that isn't a problem.

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I have kept a few in the past, had to give away eggs. Smell was not to bad, just do not ask my wife about it. Kept them pined, to many dogs, cats, and other things that liked chicken flesh. PIA in the winter, water freezing, drafts in the coop is bad for them. I used home made water heaters, cookie tin and light bulb, kept the water from freezing down to 10*F one winter.

I had no place to brood or hatch chicks so after 5 to 6 years the hens stopped laying, time to go, feeding non laying birds was not in the books.

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If you are able, having a pond with a pump in it to move the water around is one of the best improvements you can have with chickens.  Never did freeze over this winter.  I haven't hauled water since I moved here.  The ducks like it too.  

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Kind of an aside, but part of the reason people end up getting rid of their chickens, aside from the work, is that you can only eat so may eggs. In the past, bartering in town or with your neighbor gave you an outlet for the eggs with a return. Now Kroger does not take eggs in payment. Additionally, like a lot of farm animals, chickens are less work and a more productive per head when you have a large flock. There are possibly additional feed costs if there is not enough free range, but having 36 over 6 is very little extra work. Plus if you have a large flock it is safer to free range them. You will lose a few, but if you have 50 and lose one here and there, that is an acceptable loss ratio. If you can stand the noise, adding some ducks or geese will help with predator control. Geese especially are not just going to lie down and get eaten like some chickens. 

I grew up with chickens at pretty much every house I knew. My one grandfather roosted them in a shed he closed at night, but they free ranged all day. The other just free ranged and left them to roost in the trees or barn. His worst issue was skunks getting in the nest and eating the eggs. I have talked about getting chickens, but we do not have room to free range a decent flock. Plus it is a stand off with the wife. She wants cute pet farm animals to name and cuddle like dwarf goats. I tell her if we get into livestock that I am getting chickens. That keeps her from getting pet goats, but keeps me from getting chickens so I don't have to feed goats. Oh and keeps her from letting my son have a miniature horse. That is all I need. lol

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1 hour ago, Ronald_55 said:

Kind of an aside, but part of the reason people end up getting rid of their chickens, aside from the work, is that you can only eat so may eggs. In the past, bartering in town or with your neighbor gave you an outlet for the eggs with a return. Now Kroger does not take eggs in payment. Additionally, like a lot of farm animals, chickens are less work and a more productive per head when you have a large flock. There are possibly additional feed costs if there is not enough free range, but having 36 over 6 is very little extra work. Plus if you have a large flock it is safer to free range them. You will lose a few, but if you have 50 and lose one here and there, that is an acceptable loss ratio. If you can stand the noise, adding some ducks or geese will help with predator control. Geese especially are not just going to lie down and get eaten like some chickens. 

I grew up with chickens at pretty much every house I knew. My one grandfather roosted them in a shed he closed at night, but they free ranged all day. The other just free ranged and left them to roost in the trees or barn. His worst issue was skunks getting in the nest and eating the eggs. I have talked about getting chickens, but we do not have room to free range a decent flock. Plus it is a stand off with the wife. She wants cute pet farm animals to name and cuddle like dwarf goats. I tell her if we get into livestock that I am getting chickens. That keeps her from getting pet goats, but keeps me from getting chickens so I don't have to feed goats. Oh and keeps her from letting my son have a miniature horse. That is all I need. lol

Heh, my wife wants all the farm critters except cows. 

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We have 4 Golden Comets that lay a lot of eggs that are very large. I'd even say that one of them occasionally thinks she's in competition with the turkeys. My wife loves eggs, and they keep her fed plus general cooking needs. We got them at Tractor Supply. We use Edwards scratch feed along with an occasional treat of a hand full of meal worms. Other than feeding and watering them they pretty much so do what they do. We do have them in a 5' chain-link fenced-in area that's considerably large. We did let them free range, but they kept going into the neighbors yard and scratch up their mulch.

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Thanks for all the replies. I’ll keep pursuing it. Should have my pen ready next week. Looking forward to it since I normally eat a minimum of 3-4 eggs a day, plus the occasional times my wife might eat them, plus using them to cook with. For the sake of not being overrun I think I’ll start out with 6-8. Should be able to maintain my egg fix with that amount. 

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1 minute ago, ReeferMac said:

 

kept-refusing-to-take-my-wife-to-the-local-livestock-household-38358853.png

🤣👍

 

You think chicken sh!t everywhere.... Peacocks are a whole different nasty level if memory serves from my Granddad's. Like Turkeys on Ex-lax. lol

 

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We have raised chickens for the past 6 years and they are not that much trouble. You can make it easy or hard. Clean water is a priority, they can last for days without food. I have had 2 batches of red sex links and they are superior layers. I currently have a small flock of Black copper marans and also a flock of Dominic's. Dominic's are considered the oldest breed of chickens in the U.S. As mentioned by others, most critters like chicken. Domestic dogs are the #1killer. Do some reading at backyard chickens they can answer any questions. A 8X8 coop is big enough, the run where they spend the day needs to be big enough that there isn't much fussing and fighting. I have a rooster of each breed and they are gentlemen, it amazes me how they look out for the girls. One thing I have learned to use pine shavings in the coop under the roost and it keeps cleaning up easy, smell down. Don't use cedar shavings as chickens are susceptible to breathing issues with it.  PM me with any questions.

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10 hours ago, Dirtshooter said:

Don't use cedar shavings as chickens are susceptible to breathing issues with it.  PM me with any questions.

I'm glad you brought that up. I didn't know that.

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I had left my number with the local feed mill on Wednesday. He said he'd find me some within a week. Yesterday I got a call from a friend of mine. Turns out he and his lady have several different breeds, and they are just up the road from me. I'll be going over there next Thursday and getting an education. Might come away with some birds too.

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11 hours ago, Dirtshooter said:

.Don't use cedar shavings as chickens are susceptible to breathing issues with it.  PM me with any questions.

Dont know why tgey still sell cedar shavings. I have heardto never used tgem for rabbits or pet rodents either. Not sure what tgey work for. 

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12 hours ago, Dirtshooter said:One thing I have learned to use pine shavings in the coop under the roost and it keeps cleaning up easy, smell down. Don't use cedar shavings as chickens are susceptible to breathing issues with it.  PM me with any questions.

We use Aspen Shavings. Even pine can off gas and bother the chickens when it is hot out. 

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Anyone use sand? We use it in a lot of reptile cages, but not sure if the chickens would just scratch it all out. With it, you could almost just sift and wash it in a wheel barrel, let it dry and add it back,. Obviously you would need a coop with flooring. 

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