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Author Topic: wanting to get started with chickens  (Read 6993 times)
catfishbill
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« on: January 08, 2009, 02:42:52 PM »

hello everyone,i am wanting to get started with some chickens,but would like some info first.i have a 10x10 dog pen that i will make a coop with.how many birds do you usually start with?can you put the coop in the woods or do they need to be in the open?what breeds are the best to start with for eggs?thanks    bill
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2009, 02:47:55 PM »

I have heard Rhode Island Reds for eggs. They are large eggs and the hens don't get broody and stop laying.

I just turn mine loose during the day.
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 03:21:37 PM »

Go to the library (or bookstore) and pick up "Storey's Guide to Chickens". By far the best one-stop resource.

You'll need something for them to get out of the rain and somewhere to lay eggs. A 10x10 yard will "comfortably" handle only 5-6 hens if it's stationary. You could add a couple more if you're planning on moving the pen every day or two to provide fresh ground. Put the pen wherever you want, but a bit of sunlight is a good idea.

If it's eggs you want, go for a brown or black sex-link for brown eggs or leghorns or a commercial white egg layer. Rhode-Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rock, Buff Orphingtons, all make good dual-purpose breeds and are easy to get ahold of.

J-
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danno
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2009, 03:39:34 PM »

Hubbard Isa Browns are the breed that I have had for a few years now.  You wont be sorry with these.  They lay more than any other bird that I have had and I have had many.  They are never broody.  They are medium size so eat less but the eggs are so big that they have to hurt.  Ex-large brown most of the time.  For the first year many will lay 2 eggs aday.  My best day with 50 birds was 70 eggs and every day average was somewhere in the high 50's
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catfishbill
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2009, 11:45:30 AM »

thanks for the info,that puts me heading in the right direction.thanks   bill
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Jessaboo
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2009, 12:18:34 PM »

I, too, am going to start chickens this year! I am planning to start with 3 and wanted Aucuranas but those Isa Brown's sound great!

I just bought an eglu (yeah, the yuppie way to "farm") and can't wait to get those little chicks!

I agree the Storey book is fab. So is the Rodale book Chickens in Your Backyard is good, too.

My big question is about feeding and I can't seem to find a good source/list of acceptable table scraps and/or weeds. I have read that you shouldn't give them potato peels but other than that it seems like they can eat anything?!

I also like the backyard chickens forum that folks here directed me to and recommend that if you haven't checked it out.

- Jess

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danno
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2009, 12:51:56 PM »

My birds get everything except raw potato skins and fish. 
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2009, 01:01:33 PM »

What is wrong with potato skins?
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Natalie
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2009, 01:12:57 PM »

If you go the backyard chickens forums and do a search there are several pages put together of what is acceptable for chickens to eat and what is not.
You have to be careful when you feed them weeds, only because there have been cases of a chicken choking on them.
They usually only break a piece at a time off when they are out foraging but when you throw them big long pieces sometimes they keep on eating it down and they get these big long pieces stuck in their throats or it causes their crops to get bound up.
Anytime you feed them table food you must give them access to a bowl of grit to help them grind the food up in their crops.
There is also some foods that can cause the eggs to taste funny so you have to be careful of anything to strong.
I tend to keep the girls on their food, which is the Purina Layena crumbles and then let them roam around the yard.
I keep the scraps to the very minimum.I want to make sure they are getting the vitamins and minerals meant for them in the chicken feed.
I do give the yogurt plain or vanilla a couple of days a week to keep their digestive system healthy. Its very good for them.

Chickens also need to have oyster shell available( I mix it in with their food) so they have nice strong egg shells.

The only trouble with those sexlink types, and I do have some and they are great, is that they tend to burn out sooner since they are born with all the stores of eggs they will ever lay and they develop reproductive problems, usually prolapse and getting egg bound.

The usual standard for housing to birds ratio is 4 square feet per bird unless  you raise bantams and then you can get away with 3 square feet.
They also all need enough room on the roost/perch, they will all need to roost at night.
They do need room to go out in forage so either a run or a place to free range is needed.

The breeds that were mentioned are nice, I have them all. If you like the colored eggs I suggest a marans breed, the most common and most affordable is the cuckoo marans and they lay a very dark speckled egg.
The black copper marans lay the darkest eggs but they are extremely expensive right now.
The blue egg layers are the auracaunas and the ameraucanas but most people have a mutt of the mix called easter eggers and they just don't realize it. They are very hard to tell apart sometimes and if you buy them from a hatchery you will absolutely be getting an easter egger, they advertise the pure breeds but they don't really have them.
The two pure breeds I mentioned should only lay blue eggs, but many times people purchase these and then the hen will lay a green egg or a pink "ish" egg.
Its still possible that you can get one that lays a blue egg as well but I just wanted to make you aware that you could end up with a green or pink egg layer.
The easter eggers are usually much prettier since they have a wide variety of colors compared to the basic pure breeds.
The green eggs are still very pretty and quite large. I have a couple, one lays green eggs and one lays a bluish egg not as robins egg blue as the ameraucanas lay. Mine lay every day and are sweet girls.
Both of these girls were sold to me as "ameraucanas" which they are obviously not by the color of their eggs.

I have golden lakenvelders that lay a white egg every day, smaller than the standared layers but nice and consistent.
I had leghorns and couldn't wait to sell em off, which I did as soon as I could, they were very high strung which I have now heard  is their nature.

Well hope some of that helped, good luck with everyone who is just starting out with the chickens.
You will love having them.
We went away for an overnight stay and my 6 year old son was upset because he missed our chickens. You get attached to them .
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Natalie
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2009, 01:18:17 PM »

What is wrong with potato skins?

The uncooked potato skins have a poisonous alkaloid in it called solanine.
I know that its considered a nightshade plant just like tomatoes, you aren't suppose to eat the stems or leaves on a tomato plant either.
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Melilem
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2009, 01:38:41 PM »

I have a totally different environment up here, so my advice wont do you any good. I have a couple very helpful links though. The first, hendersons chicken chart, is a quick reference chart to many popular breeds, and has info like heat tolerance, egg laying, temperment...you'll like this site:
http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
and the second is the backyard chicken forum. you'll get more advice than you ever wanted here (and not all of it good), but that is the common man's chicken forum:
www.backyardchickens.com/forum/index.php

also, the coop:
http://www.the-coop.org/cgi-bin/UBB/ultimatebb.cgi
this is more ..um, scholarly, like the bee-L.

oh wait! Feathersite has a page on every single breed known to man.
http://www.feathersite.com/
(check out the Cemani)
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2009, 02:27:03 PM »

According to this cooking does nothing to change it.

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/steroid.html
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Natalie
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2009, 04:25:48 PM »

Hmm, don't know much about it, but its strange since potato skins (loaded with cheese and sourcream bacon, yum now I am hungry) is actually an acceptable dish.
Then there is roasted potatoes that the skin remains on.

According to that article growers or anyone producing a new variety of potato are not allowed to produce potatoes unless the alkaloids remain under the acceptable level of solanine. Exposing them to the sun makes the risk worse as well.

It appeas what they are saying is that you just never should eat them raw or expose them to the sun and not cook any that appear to have the green tint to them.
So cooking them and eating them are safe because growers have to keep them within a level that is safe, again as long as you haven't left them in the sun.

I know that when I was making potatoes on Christmas this year I got a couple in the bag that were clearly green so I threw them away. I don't like to take any chances.
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reinbeau
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2009, 06:06:08 PM »

Potato skins in and of themselves are not poisonous, it's when they're exposed to light and turn green, then they're a problem for all of us, not just chickens.  If there's a bit of green on the potato I'll cut it out, if it's green through to the center, I toss it.  I grow potatoes every year and the tubers that are near the soil surface can be green, those get replanted to produce a second crop!
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Shawn
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2009, 09:38:48 PM »

Check out this link. It describes the most of the chickens, goods and bads.
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poka-bee
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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2009, 10:23:32 PM »

Avocado is not good for most animals either, skin & pits too. J
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Natalie
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2009, 10:33:47 PM »

Forgot to mention that I give them all the guts of the pumpkins I carve out because the seeds are a natural dewormer and its a good preventative. They love that stuff.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2009, 10:35:59 PM »

Avocado is not good for most animals either, skin & pits too. J

The Alligator pear makes nice compost.  You let the seed sprout and in composts quicker, and dies at the 1st frost. 
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BRIANCJ
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2009, 08:47:30 AM »

If you want good layer's of brown eggs and something unique to see-consider turken's (aka naked necks).ugly as sin to some people but  very good layer's,hardy,not highstrung and big enough to be table fare.
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Shawn
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2009, 01:03:15 PM »

Woops! shocked Forgot to put the link in. Sorry!

http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
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