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(New here) Raising Chickens for Eggs Expand / Collapse
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Posted 8/20/2013 9:12:56 AM
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Don't know if I'm over my head here.  Family and I are more than thinking about raising some chickens.  We have already built an enclosed coop which is a 8x16.  The hen house is a 4x4x3. We thought about starting out at around 6-8 hens for egg laying. Does this seem like too many hens?  We were thinking about doing a few Rhode Island and a few Barred Plymouth Rock.  Would they get along together?  When is the best time to start out with chicks the fall or spring?
Post #30726
Posted 8/20/2013 9:57:10 AM
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Last Login: 9/14/2013 7:17:48 AM
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We love our barred rocks! They are good, dependable layers of big brown eggs. They are also pretty hardy and only seem to take a break from laying during the middle part of August when it is horribly hot here in East Texas. I do not know if you have thought of this but baby chicks are a lot of work and it takes a awhile for them to start laying. You may want to look around your area and see if someone has juvenile chicks for sale and start there. The juveniles are abit hardier than day old chicks and not as long to wait before they start laying.
Post #30727
Posted 8/20/2013 4:49:04 PM


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That is a pretty small coop. Will they also have a larger yard? We have 9 hens in a 20'x30' welded wire fenced yard with a 6'x6' coop. We have some metal laying boxes in their yard. We could maybe have 12 in there, but definitely not more. We keep wood shavings in the coop floor and use deep bedding methods (keep adding more shavings on the floor during the winter so the droppings are covered, but retain heat.) It has to be cleaned a couple of times in the summer because otherwise it is pretty smelly.

We started with chicks (in a big watering tank in the basement) and put them in the coop when they got too big to get through the welded wire. Once they were about 8 months old we started letting them free range for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Once they've finished laying all the eggs, we let them out to free range the front yard (around 3:00 in the afternoon) and they put themselves back in the coop around dusk. We just go lock them up for the night and let them back into the fenced chicken yard the next morning.

Chicks are a pain, but might be worth it. Depending on your weather, you want them to be at least a few months old before it gets really cold. In extreme cold (less than ~25 degrees) we use a red heat lamp in the coop. If you buy chickens, I would get them all about the same age/size. They will naturally fight until a pecking order is established, but it usually isn't a big deal unless there is a big age discrepancy.

Good luck! We love our girls and the yummy eggs they give us...

M. and D.
Post #30729
Posted 8/20/2013 5:55:53 PM


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The combination of barred rocks and RR will be fine. Most people that have chickens seem to mix and match varieties with no problems. I prefer not to deal with chicks because they are such a pain to raise and most of the time you don't know if you have hens or roosters. I try to get pullets because they will be laying in a few weeks and are usually much hardier than chicks. I have a 8' by 6' coop with 6 nest boxes built on the side that houses 12 chickens and a 20' by 16' enclosed run. The run is shared with 9 guinea fowl. Now, the coop is small for that many chickens and the run is small for 20 birds, but they only sleep there. First thing in the morning the run door is opened and the charge to the pasture begins. Near dark they return to roost for the night. I keep their feed and water in the run for when they return to lay eggs and grab a snack. If you are going to keep the birds penned, then the coop and run really should be larger. Small areas breed disease and lead to territory disputes. I'm sure you heard of the saying "pecking order". You will understand when the chickens start to show who's the boss of the flock. As far as egg production, what are you looking for? Are the eggs for personal use or sale? Rhode Island reds usually lay an egg a day. I'm not that familiar with the barred rocks but understand they also are good layers.

Ken

Deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Post #30730
Posted 8/21/2013 6:34:03 AM
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Through the years of our son rasing RIRs, if you are getting them as day old chicks, keep an eye out on them they will bulley the other breeds from day one. Had to pull out the 6 RIR's that just bought for our son and put them in the brooder by themself. They were beating up the Americana(s) that we got him.

The upside to RIRs is that they are good watchdogs when it comes to hawks and owls.

But I rather my Barred any day.

Post #30732
Posted 8/21/2013 8:07:53 AM
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Like any baby animal, chicks are a lot o work. The usual description is 'add two pounds of feed and clean up three pounds of poop.'

The upside to caring for messy, molting, poopers is the same as all animal babies: bonding, the fun of caring for them, pets that know you're thir source of food, etc.

Go to mypetchicken.com (or other sites that compre behaviors and othr important factors) and use their breed selection tool. Meyer hatchery can ship as few as three chicks and feed stores can sell one or two (you need more than one, as you want a flock). See how a few wok with you and the space provided and get more when you and they are comfortable and can add more.
Post #30733
Posted 8/23/2013 7:34:26 PM
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I started with 8 hens, in my own wooden BROODER that I built in MARCH, I purchased mine in late march, ( MICHIGAN ) @ started building the coop while they grew, from my chocolate lab dogs old coop & built a 5ft wide x 14 ft long x 7ft high coop ( 490 sq ft ) , run included, cause we can not let them run loose in our town , we had chickens when I was in 5th grade, no I decided to get back into it now that Im 45 yrs old, IT S BEEN A FUN CHALLENGE SO FAR !! I say do your research on the web & talked to other chicken owners !!
Post #30743
Posted 3/25/2014 5:12:21 AM


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They should all get along fine as long as you purchase the chicks all at the same time. Barred Plymouth Rock and Rhode Island Reds are a good choice for a backyard flock and I like both. In my experience Plymouth Rocks are good layers and very broody; a couple of mine regularly set and hatched some chicks. The Rhode Island Reds are also good layers but are generally not interested in brooding. I like to get my chicks in the spring as they are easiest to find at that time, but that's just me. Also remember that if you want 6-8 hens you should probably purchase twice that number as half of them are bound to be roosters. Your coop sounds a bit small but if you give them a nice size run or let them free range in the daytime I think you'll probably be okay. I wish you luck!
Post #31423
Posted 4/1/2014 1:47:22 PM
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Good luck with your hens & coop~you will love it~ ! My chickens are mixed and get along fine. The first egg~ is the absolute best!
Post #31459
Posted 4/2/2014 4:52:17 PM
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I've heard RIR males can be aggressive and Rocks can be jealous of other chicken breeds.

6-8 sounds like a bit much for a beginner. I'd say start with half that and introduce the other half when you can handle chickens.

I recommend Wyandottes, Australorps, Austra Whites, Welsummers, Marans, and Orpingtons.

The first three are known to sit on laps and be petted like cats, and lay regular-sized eggs, but often (the Austra's lay the most). If handled at a young age, they'll all be very human-friendly. Except for the Whites, they all lay brown eggs (Welsummer's lay speckled ones and Marans lay dark brown).

Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, Ameracuanas, and Auracana's lay pink, white, blue, green, or brown eggs and can be friendly too, though it's hard to get a true pure breed of the last two.

Those are the breeds I know; there are other friendly ones out there.
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