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Need Chicken Advice

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We will be moving soon and after talking to city hall we learned at our new place we can keep a maximum of five hens (no roosters). Before we can get the birds we need a permit, which is understandable. However we have lots of learning to do before we get them.

~Whats the ideal coop you guys like?
~ The attached picture is one style we like (Says it can hold 8 birds)
~ Once we see how much of the yard the coop will take up I want to build a small run for them

~ best feed brand from them
~ chances are we will be going to tractor supply as its our nearest agricultural store

~ how to we help them lay better eggs/ ensure they remain healthy
~ ive heard give them crushed oyster or clam shells
~ best nesting material
~ any other advice would be great

~type of treats we can give them
~ I've heard they love meal worms

~We live in northern pennsylvania so how can i ensure that our birdies will be okay during the winter?
~ what do you guys do

~ Best ways to keep them cool in the hotter months

~what types of feeders and waterers do you recommend

~best age to get chickens at


Any other words of wisdom or advice on proper care would be amazing !!!!


Now onto the birds. Locally where I live I havent seen to many birds for sale recently, but again best age to get chickens?

I found a place called meyers hatchery, my step uncle got his hens from there and loved there quality. Id like a more dual purpose breed, so meat and egg, but also a more personable breed.

Heres the ones I'm looking at:
https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=LAOS

https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=SSXS

https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=GLWS

https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=GLWS

https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=LIBS

https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=BARS


I know that some are rare breeds and that theres more then five. I'm trying to do my research on each. I don't care if they are good mommas as we aren't allowed roosters, so no chicks. Is it best to get different breeds instead of just one? Which of these 6 best in your opinion for a more beginner type? Or what breed what you recommend for a beginner?

~ I don't plan on getting five right off, to start I just want two if possible
~ as I said I want a more of a dual purpose
~cold hardy would be nice, though then would we have issues in summer?
~ I definitely want a more personable breed



I think thats about it, sorry for such a long ramble. If you have any other forms of advice or information please share :).

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Cold hardy breeds handle hot weather quite well, they just withstand cold temperatures better and are more likely to lay eggs through the winter (although not as frequently). Very important for winter is to have a ventilated coop that isn't drafty as well as a constant supply of food and water. Having heated water and feeding some corn during the winter also helps with egg production during the winter.

As to what age to get chicks at, that depends on how soon you want eggs. Also, if you are starting out with only 2 chickens, I would recommend that you don't get day old chicks (you also cannot order only 2 chicks that are a day old from a hatchery, and shipping is going to shock you even if you try to order 5 chicks from Meyer). Young chicks need company, I won't raise less than 4 or 5 chicks at a time (I currently have 26 chicks that are now 4 weeks old, ordered from McMurray hatchery).

If you want to start with 2 chickens, I would recommend that you get pullets that are at least started (at least 6 weeks old). They will not be needing a heat lamp (requiring brooding) at this age. You can buy started pullets from several different hatcheries as options but between the price of the chicken and the shipping, it will be expensive. Check craigslist and facebook, there are actually quite a few of localized Facebook pages that are dedicated to chickens and many that are groups for buying/selling chickens. Most pullets will not start laying eggs until they are at least 4-6 months old, some might take a little longer. Breeds can be mixed together but the tighter the living quarters (crowded) the more likely you will have problems. While chickens may not recognize age differences, they do recognize size differences. For a small coop and run, it is best to keep breeds of similar sizes.

Also, as far as the light brahma breed, they are more of a show or meat bird. While they do lay eggs, they aren't very high producers. Also as they are quite large, they require more room to roost, larger nest boxes and a bigger doorway so they aren't scraping their backs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I only want to start with 2 since I'm so new, I don't want to feel overwhelmed.

What Facebook group would you recommend?
 

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I have Buff Orpingtons and Easter Eggers. The Orpintons are very friendly and good egg layers. The Easter Eggers are a little more skittish, but I love getting all the colorful eggs! One lays green eggs, one lays cream, one looks almost pink, the others are light to medium brown.

Mine live in a dog kennel with a coop (house) inside the kennel. There is a top on the kennel so rain doesn't get in.

I put tarps up around the sides in the winter and hang a heat light inside the kennel. They did fine over the winter, but we have moderate winters. Summer it is just shady so no problem there.

They roost on top of the coop most nights.

They gave me eggs all year because of the heat lamp. If it gets cold they don't lay as much.

I feed mine Purina, no meat or meat by-products. They also get hay and a seed mixture for treats. I pick them grass too and they love that.

I'd let them out but the county does not allow loose chickens. I only have them for the eggs, no way would I eat one of my girls!

Chickens can be aggressive to new additions to a flock, so I would advise you to get all the chickens you want at the same time. They will do better raised together.

Chickens are fun to have! Enjoy
 

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I only want to start with 2 since I'm so new, I don't want to feel overwhelmed.

What Facebook group would you recommend?
Go to Facebook, enter "Pennsylvania chicken" in the search bar, select the category "groups" and join the various chicken related groups. Post in the group/s what you are looking for and you will likely find some nice hens. I would recommend to get hens no older than 2 years old, they typically slow down egg production after the second year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I only want to start with 2 since I'm so new, I don't want to feel overwhelmed.

What Facebook group would you recommend?
Go to Facebook, enter "Pennsylvania chicken" in the search bar, select the category "groups" and join the various chicken related groups. Post in the group/s what you are looking for and you will likely find some nice hens. I would recommend to get hens no older than 2 years old, they typically slow down egg production after the second year.

Thank you ?
 

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My kids have laying hens. For the past 10 years or so we've bought started pullets from Moyers Hatchery and had good luck with them. Moyer's Chicks - Baby Chicks, Broilers, Egg Layers, and Pullets I've tried starting my own chicks but found the started pullets for far easier and just as economical. My only advice is they need dry draft free housing and they can tolerated a lot of cold. In the winter I have a light on a timer to give them 14 hours of light which keeps them laying year around. For water I have a metal 5 gallon fountain and you can buy a heater that it sets on to keep it from freezing. Buy a commercial layer feed as it will have the correct minerals, proper protein level, and enough calcium for strong egg shells. If it doesn't include grit buy shell or limestone chips to keep their gizzards working.
 

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If you're starting with chicks, you'll want to get 6 of them, regardless of the breed. Chickens are notorious for dying, especially when young. If you buy only 2, you may wind up with none.

If you're buying adult birds, I'd start with at least 4. Chicken is on everything's menu, plus while they're very hardy, they're also susceptible to certain upper respiratory infections which can kill them very quickly.

Instead of buying fancy, expensive oyster shells, feed their own eggshells back to them. They're packed with calcium, and my chickens eat them right up. Mine also free range 3 days out of the week, so they don't need separate grit, as they pick it up when they're ranging. I give them a good commercial layer feed, and keep their water full. Other than that, they're pretty self sufficient.

Orpingtons, Sex Links, Rhode Island Reds, Americaunas, Auracanas, Wyandottes, Cochins, Brahmas, and Golden Comets are all dual purpose birds.

I have Orpingtons, Sex Links, Rhodies, Cochins, and Golden Comets, plus one lone Gold Laced Wyandotte. The Orpingtons and Sex Links tend to be the most friendly in my flock, but they're all sweet. All of the birds I have lay light brown to medium brown eggs.
 

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Please do not consider wasting your money on that coop. It's cheaply built, not weather and predator proof, thin and flimsy wood, big enough for 2 adult hens... I could go on. Take that money and build something from scratch or find one on CL.
If you want to end up with 5 hens get all 5 at once. It's the same amount of work to raise five and you won't have integration problems down the road. You've selected a nice group of breeds. Stay away from big floppy single combs that are more prone to frostbite and they will do fine.
I would suggest joining a backyard chicken forum where you can search your individual concerns all long. You'll love the new additions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you're starting with chicks, you'll want to get 6 of them, regardless of the breed. Chickens are notorious for dying, especially when young. If you buy only 2, you may wind up with none.

If you're buying adult birds, I'd start with at least 4. Chicken is on everything's menu, plus while they're very hardy, they're also susceptible to certain upper respiratory infections which can kill them very quickly.

Instead of buying fancy, expensive oyster shells, feed their own eggshells back to them. They're packed with calcium, and my chickens eat them right up. Mine also free range 3 days out of the week, so they don't need separate grit, as they pick it up when they're ranging. I give them a good commercial layer feed, and keep their water full. Other than that, they're pretty self sufficient.

Orpingtons, Sex Links, Rhode Island Reds, Americaunas, Auracanas, Wyandottes, Cochins, Brahmas, and Golden Comets are all dual purpose birds.

I have Orpingtons, Sex Links, Rhodies, Cochins, and Golden Comets, plus one lone Gold Laced Wyandotte. The Orpingtons and Sex Links tend to be the most friendly in my flock, but they're all sweet. All of the birds I have lay light brown to medium brown eggs.
I'd love to let them free roam but sadly we'll be in town and even with a fence around the yard I'm worried they may escape or neighbors complain. I honestly never thought to refeed the shells, when we get a pair I'll try that .
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Please do not consider wasting your money on that coop. It's cheaply built, not weather and predator proof, thin and flimsy wood, big enough for 2 adult hens... I could go on. Take that money and build something from scratch or find one on CL.
If you want to end up with 5 hens get all 5 at once. It's the same amount of work to raise five and you won't have integration problems down the road. You've selected a nice group of breeds. Stay away from big floppy single combs that are more prone to frostbite and they will do fine.
I would suggest joining a backyard chicken forum where you can search your individual concerns all long. You'll love the new additions.
Do you have any forums you'd recommend? I've been searching on my local Craigslist and haven't found a coop, there was one but it looked more like firewood then anything . Though I am still looking. I do plan on going to the Harford Fair this year to talk to folks at the chicken barn and get more ideas.
 

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Chickens need only a few things but they really need them.

1. predator protection. Without this you will have no chickens very quickly. Hawks, coyotes, raccoons, possums, skunks, weasels, foxes, cats (will take chicks but not full-sized standard adults), and DOGS. Think this through all the way. I've kept poultry for 25 years. Their night coop is on a concrete slab (many predators dig), the wire is aviary netting (anything larger, a raccoon can get its hand through).

By the way chicken feed will attract rats unless kept in metal bins. No feed left out at night for same reason.

2. room to roam. Chickens (like horses!) move around looking for food all day long. The more you can give them this experience, the less trouble you will have keeping them sane and healthy. My hens run loose inside a half acre fence all day. I have dogs to protect them.

Chickens will destroy gardens in minutes, so there's that.

3. clean water and a variety of foods. They eat pretty much anything. Lay pellets for layers (any brand), oyster shell for layers.

Any of the coops you show, if the chickens are supposed to stay in there all the time, are maybe good for two or three bantams. No more.

Get a good book on raising chickens in your backyard, it will answer the majority of your questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Once I get an idea on coop size I am heavily considering building an enclosed chicken run for them. This way no one gets eaten and they can run around like mad
 
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Gus, you can also buy a chicken tractor. It's basically a heavy, wire enclosure on wheels. Some come with a coop, while others don't. That way, you can move it around and the chickens can be on different patches of grass each day. They WILL destroy any vegetation if they only have one small area in which to roam, so any fixed enclosure you make, however big, will eventually be nothing but dirt.


My girls and roo are in a very large coop. It's 10' X 10', on a concrete slab overlaid with wood flooring. I didn't buy it, it came with my property and I just repurposed it for chickens by adding nest boxes, perches, and a wire door made out of an old window screen frame.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The property we'll be going to has an old tool shed on it, kind of like what you'd seen at lowes. If I beg my father to help would that be a possible to make a good coop?
 

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I will second getting all 5 at once. You might loose one or two to illness or predators and even if you buy only 2 and they both live you will have a hard time adding more later if you have a small coop. Because, honestly, chickens are cannibals and will pick on newer birds that you later add to the flock.

I have a fairly good sized chicken run and I will occasionally add new birds but I always buy them in "gangs" of about 5 or 6 because there will be some tension until the gangs work things out. Being that you can only have 5 and will have a smaller coop, it's just better to buy a single "gang" all at once. :wink:

Chickens are a blast and I love mine! I currently have about a dozen. I've been keeping chickens since I was a child and even so, I will occasionally loose a chicken to a predator or have a baby chick die (even though I feel very confident caring for them) so just plan that you might have a loss or two and count yourself lucky if you end up with 5 laying hens.

Speaking of which, you definitely don't want to go "straight run" or you will end up with 50% roosters. Buy "pullets." Sometimes a rooster accidentally get mixed in with the pullets too, so you might have to give one away if it becomes apparent you got a rooster at some point, but basically, pullets are sorted to all be girls, so pullets are what you want.

This time of year my Tractor Supply has baby chicks and later in the spring/summer they won't. But if they have them still when you are ready for them, you can buy your pullets at Tractor Supply and they will help you with what you need to start off with chicks. Like a feeder, waterer, chick starter, etc. Probably a heat lamp too, depending on if you get young chicks or not. But the babies have to be kept warm. I think that is probably the #1 think you can do to ensure the survival of baby chicks is to make sure they are warm.

Good luck and have fun! Chickens are a blast. If you handle them a lot growing up they can be very tame and have fun personalities. :smile:
 

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The property we'll be going to has an old tool shed on it, kind of like what you'd seen at lowes. If I beg my father to help would that be a possible to make a good coop?
Yes, a shed would make an excellent coop. You basically want something that will kept predators out at night and keep them from getting frost bite in the winter. I would much rather pick a shed over the "fancy" coops at places like Tractor Supply. Just build a little fenced yard off your shed and that should work great. Make sure things like raccoons can't get in and you will want to close the door at night to keep the predators out. And if it's big enough, a shed gives them a place to walk around in the winter out of the snow. My chickens hate snow and don't like walking in it.
 

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It could make an excellent coop. Anything over 4X4 will do the job. You will want to add windows for natural sunlight and ventilation. You can walk around in it which makes cleaning and feeding easier. You will have better air quality and less moisture build up too. Waterproof the floor with a scrap of linoleum. A roost and a nesting box or two and you're in business. The only thing to build now is a run.
 
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