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Author Topic: Questions For You Chickenpeople  (Read 10136 times)
JP
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« on: November 05, 2009, 05:18:24 AM »

I believe I am ready to acquire a few layers. Been looking on craigslist and local classifieds for chickens but need some direction from you chicken pros.

Here are a few questions: what type? What not to get? Age? Fair pricing? Tips?

Only looking for two. Any words of advice greatly appreciated.

Thanks


...JP
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 07:28:22 AM »

Hey JP (my initials too)  grin

I am assuming you want a couple of hens for eggs. I have Buff Orpingtons, but I wouldn't recommend them for a small flock, as they are part Cochin, and can become quite broody (a desire to sit on eggs hoping to hatch them). I am thinking of going to Barred Rocks next. For me they are winter hardy, which surely isn't a concern for you  Wink, they don't get broody, and lay a good number of brown eggs, even in the winter. I can't tell you how many eggs have been wasted by hens that sit on them for 20 of the 21 days needed to hatch.

I think $3 to $5 per hen, if they are at least 6 months old. They start molting at 1.5 years and don't lay when molting. Their egg production is best from 6 months to the first molt. I am a softy and some of my hens are 5 years old. Right now I am only getting an egg a day from 12 hens, many of which are molting. At some point they need to become stew hens. But......

Most of the time, the chickens are penned up, but in the spring and fall I let them range through the gardens to eat cutworms and other bugs.

HTH,

Jay
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2009, 08:25:23 AM »

Hey JP,

I have about 40 Rhode Island Reds right now and am very happy with this breed.  In the past I have had Buckeye's, Red Sex-link's, Delaware's, and Black Sex-links.  The Rhode Island Reds (RIRs) are very good foragers, aren't broody, and are great egg layers.

Sometimes you can get good deals on hens that are 1.5 years old and are molting.  Generally, a lot of growers only keep hens for one season, replacing their flock each year.  Expect to pay about $5-$8 each for these type of hens.  I would not buy a hen that has already layed for 2 seasons as her production will have dropped off a lot; however like skflyfish, I might keep them longer than 2 years if I am attached to them.

My recommendation would be to get birds that are around 6 months old, but expect to pay about $12-$15 for them.  Why so much?  At 25 weeks, they will have eaten about 25lbs of food.  So if chicks cost maybe $2 each, plus $5 food, plus cost of brooding, shelter, etc., someone might want $15 each to cover their cost and make a dollar of profit Smiley.

Finally, consider getting more than 2.  6 chickens are really no more work than 2 and you will find that having farm fresh eggs can't be beat.

...Tim
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2009, 08:35:12 AM »

I'm more of a guinea hen person,  but have been happy with the barred rocks I have.  Nice brown eggs,  winter hardy, and they get along with others (guineas, dogs, cats).  Some have gotten to be quite personable and follow you around all day.
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JP
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2009, 10:05:02 AM »

Thanks for the feedback. Had this idea in my head that hens layed more years than what I'm hearing. So I guess I'll need to find a good supplier to replenish my stock after two-three years.

Just really looking for a few though right now as I'm keeping them in the city. Guess I need to be prepared for that same code guy that gave me a hassle about bees to be snooping around on the chickens. We will see. Killer chickens?


...JP
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2009, 10:07:16 AM »

We have barred rocks and Rhode Island Reds, and prefer the reds, hands down.  They seem to be calmer, not as broody, and great layers of nice, tasty brown eggs.  Ya, you need to get more than two.  Six is a good number.  Don't forget to get a rooster, too.  They're great for annoying pesky neighbors.... grin
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lakeman
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2009, 11:26:20 AM »

Thanks for the feedback. Had this idea in my head that hens layed more years than what I'm hearing. So I guess I'll need to find a good supplier to replenish my stock after two-three years.

Just really looking for a few though right now as I'm keeping them in the city. Guess I need to be prepared for that same code guy that gave me a hassle about bees to be snooping around on the chickens. We will see. Killer chickens?


...JP

If you live within a city limits, I doubt very much if you will be allowed to have a chicken. Noisey biteing child killing dog, pesky cat, but no chicken. I was born in a free country, but I do not live in one now, our liberal society of today mainly supports only immoral, and criminal behavior in their quest for more freedom.
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JP
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2009, 11:54:03 AM »

Ok, I see y'all are recommending more than two. Please say why. On a side note, there is a large park approx 500 yards from my home that is over run with ducks, geese, egrets, Heron, rabbits, nutria, squirrel, and quite a few varieties of chickens, all different sized too. Some fancy in the mix also from what I have observed. Lots of people and children visit this park on a daily basis and feed the animals as well.


...JP
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annette
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2009, 12:15:33 PM »

JP

Wait to hear from Cindi also. She is one great chicken expert and I am sure she will want to give you some input. 

Wow, sounds exciting.

Annette
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tshnc01
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2009, 01:01:37 PM »

JP,

My reason for having a few more chickens (6 vs. 2) is that they will take almost exactly the same amount of work.  Plus, on your very best weeks (in the months of March, April, and May usually), you might get one dozen eggs with 2 chickens.  This time of year you are more likely to get 1/2 that or less.  I don't know how many eggs you (and your family) eat, but a max of one dozen a week doesn't seem like a lot.

...Tim
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2009, 02:56:04 PM »

not a pro here. have had various breeds. leghorns, rhodes, barred, mutts, bantams and watered down versions of jungle fowl. Liked the rhode island red very much for eggs. Had to experiment a little with egg booster mesh. In doing so, was able to get an average of 2 eggs per day from three hens in the city. Kept as many as 5 in a 4ft wide 6ft high by 8ft pen, 3 seemed better to me mess wise. they're pretty quiet.

Eventfully they would become egg bound, then landed on the stove and were replaced. haven't done that in long time though.

With One inch and half chicken wire every wild bird in the neighborhood that fits through will eat what they can.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 03:07:13 PM by wd » Logged
JP
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Location: Metairie, Louisiana

I like doing cut-outs, but I love catching swarms!


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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2009, 10:45:35 PM »

Thanks for the feedback everyone. BTW, Tim, a dozen eggs a week is fine by me.


...JP
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"Good friends are as sweet as honey" Winne the Pooh

My pictures can be viewed at http://picasaweb.google.com/pyxicephalus
and
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My Youtube videos can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=JPthebeeman&aq=f

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Cindi
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2009, 11:32:30 PM »

JP, oh no!!!  First swarm catching, now chicken catching, smiling.  Annette, you make me blush, I am by far not near to being as great a chicken keeper as I am a garden digger, smiling.

Anyways, JP, this needs lots of thought on your part.  What you want to do, how many you want to keep, how will you get rid of excess eggs, how much work do you want to do, how much fun do you want to have.  (I can't find Whoppo, so I can't send you down a nasty Muscovy drake, smiling that big smile).

I have been collecting breeds all summer, incubating eggs, getting day old chicks, raising them up and I now have a great clan here.  I have eight breeds of birds. They are all heritage breeds, some on the endangered list, some on the recovering list, but these are all beautiful purebreeds.

My favourite of all the breeds I have would have to be.......nope, can't do it.  I love each one so much, they each have such beautiful attributes, I cannot chose, that is why I have so many breeds now.  I would imagine that you want chickens for egg laying purposes.  There are many breeds that lay well.

Think of what colour of chicken you would like.  Think of what type of comb you would like to see on a chicken (there is a single comb, pea comb, rose comb and a few others).  Think of what colour of egg you would like, there are many different colours of eggs, including blue and shades of blue/green.  Think if you want a big bird, or a smaller type bird, what size of egg. 

JP, think of every thing that you would like to see in a chicken at your place and then you can make a good choice.  I think you have seen quite a few pictures of some of my birds, maybe you haven't. 

Natalie will also be a great guide for you, she is very involved in chickeney stuff, as is Brian Bray, you will have helpers here, just ask more questions.

 BTW, this is what I have for my breeding stock (too far to send you any chicks).  All my chickens are standard sized, I don't like the bantam (small) breeds.  All my chickens lay brown eggs, varying shades, except the Easter Egger, which lays kind of bluey/green.

Light Brahma
Blue Cochin
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Gold Laced Wyandotte
Rhode Island Red
Barred Plymouth Rock
Buff Orpington
Easter Egger

I have 15 eggs in my table top incubator, due to hatch on Tuesday night

I also have a Blue Cochin sitting on 14 eggs.

Want me to send you a bunch of chicks through cyberspace?  Not onto your dinner plate and ready to eat though, if you please.  Smiling.  Friend, have that wonderful day, love our life, with greatest of health.  Cindi

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JP
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2009, 11:42:48 PM »

Cindi, just want a few layers for eggs. Doesn't matter what the chickens or their eggs look like. Thanks Rock Lady. Kiss


...JP Wink
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"Good friends are as sweet as honey" Winne the Pooh

My pictures can be viewed at http://picasaweb.google.com/pyxicephalus
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Cindi
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2009, 11:47:29 PM »

Ah, JP, your teasing is still cute, still callin' me the Rock Lady eh?  Smiling that big smile.

If all you want is just a few plain ol' chickens for layin' eggs, I would suggest then one of the regular brown egg layers, smiling, brown eggs are nice.

There are many easy to come by breeds of good laying styles.  I am kind of hooked on purebred chickens, I would personally suggest one that is called the Rhode Island Red.  They are a nice bird and lay well.  But there are also hybrids that are massive egg laying machines, like the Hyline or Isa Browns.  You need to find out what is available in your area, this where you have to do what is good for you, smiling.  Friend, have that great and most awesome day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2009, 09:38:43 PM »

Guess it's time for the old homesteader to chime in with is thoughts.  When it comes to chickens 20 is as easy to keep as 2 are, with maybe the exception of cleaning the chicken house more often.  I use a 3 year rotation on my chickens.  I band them with a different color for each year, this year is blue, last year was yellow, the year before and next year was/is orange, and a chicken banded with green means a natural hatch from a broody hen.  I kill my 3rd year hens in the fall just before they moult.  By the fall of the 3rd year they are still laying but the eggs have started to become more irregular and they will usually lay out during the 4th year though I've know some chickens to lay into year 5. 

The 1st year a hen will lay 5 eggs a week, the 2nd year 2 eggs every 3 days, and the 3rd year 1 egg every 2-3 days, after that they will drop down to about 1 egg every week to 10 days if they are still laying.  At 3 years of age the egg cost to feed cost is still a positive but at 4 years old they are no longer worth the cost of feeding them.  In one of my other posts I mentioned butchering a batch of chickens, those were the 3 yr olds.
Look at it this way, if you and your wife each want 1 egg per day for breakfast, you need at least 4 hens.  If you have more people in your family or you, her, or both want 2 eggs with breakfast you need 6-8 hens. That should give enough to bake a cake once a week besides.  A rooster is nice to have as it keeps the hens calmer and the eggs fertile, which adds nutrients. 

A March hatched chicken, heavy breed, will start laying around 5-6 months old, Mediterranean (Medium sized) will start laying as early as 4 months.  So you don't start getting eggs until mid to late summer and with Jersey Giants, it takes up to 10 months before they start laying so with the advent of winter they may not actually start laying until a year old.  Te breed I'd recommend for the small back yard flock are Wynidottes, with silver or gold laced.  They are very calm chickens, very pleasing to the eye, and good layers of medium to large brown eggs.  They also seem to lay less double yoke-rs than other heavy breeds.
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2009, 10:11:51 PM »

Ah, Brian, as is usual, some very great words of wisdom.  I am in love with the looks and attitude of my Silver and Gold Laced Wyandottes, they are indeed a sight for the eyes, and lay a very nicely sized egg.  I am patiently awaiting my incubator hatched GLW to begin to lay, they are 22 weeks now, and hopefully in the next few weeks.  Got kick the butt of that cockeral of that breed though, man is he slow to mature, but when he does, watch out!!!

JP doesn't know what he is in for.  He thinks he's addicted to beekeeping, well, he ain't seen nuthin' yet, that chicken world is even more interesting than the bee world, he's gonna get stuck there. Have a great, most wonderful day, with that health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2009, 10:53:36 PM »

Ah, Brian, as is usual, some very great words of wisdom.  I am in love with the looks and attitude of my Silver and Gold Laced Wyandottes, they are indeed a sight for the eyes, and lay a very nicely sized egg.  I am patiently awaiting my incubator hatched GLW to begin to lay, they are 22 weeks now, and hopefully in the next few weeks.  Got kick the butt of that cockeral of that breed though, man is he slow to mature, but when he does, watch out!!!

JP doesn't know what he is in for.  He thinks he's addicted to beekeeping, well, he ain't seen nuthin' yet, that chicken world is even more interesting than the bee world, he's gonna get stuck there. Have a great, most wonderful day, with that health.  Cindi


I'm addicted to so many activity things I don't have time for TV or other city or sedentry addictions.  The only things I watch on TV are: Heroes, Castle, and Jay Leno, everything else is pretty much a rehash of all the other programs.  There are so many versions of CIS, Law & Order, Hospital this or that or the travesties they call Reality TV that it's just rediculous.  My addictions include, but are not limited to: gardening, beekeeping, pigeon racing, raising chickens and turkeys, sheep, goats, orchard, along with the by products there of.
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Cindi
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2009, 10:57:20 PM »

Hm, Brian, think you sound like my twin too, I have a couple of them I am finding out.  My only differences are I don't have as much livestock as you, smiling.  And of course TV shows, the only thing I watch is House, 24, sometimes Discovery channel, that's about it, TV is boring, unless it is a good movie Ken and I watch together, and wintertime is the only time of year that we watch movies.  Have that great day, to love and live, health wishes.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2009, 08:36:42 PM »

JP, I haven't posted in forever, but here's what I think you should consider. If I remember right, you're in Louisiana.

Chickens and heat don't mix, so look for a breed that does well in the deep south. Storey Publishing has a great book on raising chickens. It has a breed selection chart. There are also some good web resources. http://www.amazon.com/Storeys-Guide-Raising-Chickens-Facilities/dp/158017325X

Up here in the frozen north, we found a heritage breed, the Chantecler, developed in Quebec, they lay through the winter with no extra light, are good for meat and eggs, and have short stocky bodies and virtually no comb, which means they won't get frostbite.

Also as with bees, be careful who you buy from, you don't want to start with diseased chickens.

kev
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