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Hello! Totally new to chickens and my wife is wanting me to possibly bring in chickens once things are in order. Is there a good how to guide from start to finish for chicks. I have checked the general information sticky, but it's all seeming pretty intermediate/advanced. Not so basic.

By basic, I mean like coop capacity and sizes, etc. How many chicks to start with? Wife is thinking 10 because that's what she had when she was a kid (but not responsible for the care). How the eggs are produced, how often, etc.? Should you have a rooster? Brown vs white eggs?

Thanks, I know these are probably very basic questions to you guys, but we are just starting out and quite honestly, I have never liked birds so this will be completely new to me!
Thanks for the help
 

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Coop size is determined by the number of chickens you want (always build bigger than you think). There are different types of coops for different budgets and preferences. Build your own coop, or use an out building or shed that you already have. Those prebuilt coops at TSC and places are expensive and only hold a few birds.

Eggs produced will depend on the breed of chicken, age, and whether they are hatchery or breeder stock. Most hatchery stock is bred for laying eggs and will average 4-7 eggs per week during peak laying season, per pullet/hen.

Having a Cock around is personal preference and not needed for eggs. To start off you should stick to the layers until you get things figured out. A lot of hatchery males are Man Aggressive. Not something you are going to want to deal with at first.

Brown vs white eggs is also a personal decision. There are also blue eggs. You could get some pullets of different breeds and have different colored eggs. Having different breeds to start would also help you find a breed that you may like better than others. Then you can add more of that breed.

Baby chicks will need a brooder and heat lamp to stay warm and a crumble feed of around 18-20% protein. They can stay on that feed until about 16 weeks, then they can be switched to a layer feed.

There really isn't a How To Guide to chickens. Chickens just are and it's best to jump in with both feet. Don't over think things. Think of chickens as an outdoor cat. They'll take care of themselves for the most part.

Chicken needs:
Basic shelter (needs to be predator proof)
clean water
food
nesting boxes when old enough
 

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Wood Nymph / Toxophilite
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Full Disclosure: I have not watched this video. However - I have watched lots of their other videos and found them to be good solid sources for information.

 

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Coop size depends on how many you have, and if you will let them out, if the coop is just for sleeping in then it doesn't need to be so big. you want about 1 ft of perch space per bird minimum. also 1 nest box per 3 birds. I keep 7 hens in a coop around 10ft by 5ft, with two perches each 4ft long. they have an outside run of around 300ft and then they freerange outside of that most evenings, that size run in my climate is JUST big enough to stay grassed. If you are just two people and do not intend to sell eggs I would sugest 2-3 hybrid layers no more, that will give you 12-20 eggs a week, if you go for older breeds you can go up to 4 and still be pulling in 16-20 eggs a week. 10 will give you 60-65 eggs from hybrids! I have found that hybrids continue laying all year (I live at 57degrees north so very little light in winter) but only manage 18months usefull lifespan, whereas my traditional breeds do not lay between november and march, but some are turning 3 and still giving 4-5 eggs a week.
colour of eggs is all personal, I have three brown, two chocolate a white and a blue, they all taste the same.
 

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Build plenty of pen and coop space. Options are good. I always did well with a coop that opened to a pen that could be opened to the outside. Lot's of options that way. Remember, if it has a floor, you will need to be able to fit your body in there to shovel poop at some point. If it is built on the premise of not having a floor, so you don't have to shovel poop, you will have to move it. Unless you are a bodybuilder or something, there are certain limitations at play with that plan. If you are like most people, you will want more chickens than you start out with, and you might end up raising babies out of your very own chickens. Sometimes a small area for raising young chickens and a larger area for keeping adult egg layers works better than trying to integrate everything. Then you can use the small area to grow meat birds if you decide to, or use it for a quarantine pen for new birds, or any number of things. You can always convert a coop into a tool shed and use the pen for vegetables or flowers if you don't like chickens. But if you get the chicken bug you can run out of appropriate housing arrangements quick.
 
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HOW do they DO that?
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Keeping chickens can be pretty easy...once you've learn the plethora of little details that will make it easy. So many little details that 'basic' doesn't cover it.

Doing a lot of research, it will make your head spin, but best to learn first to avoid the many noob mistakes.
Books and videos are all missing something and often have misinformation, they can be a good place to start tho. The library can be a good place to get books rather than buying them(not many I've seen are worth the price).
There are many different approaches that can work, can be hard to sort those from the 'just bad' info.

Use multiple sources of info until you start seeing the constants that meet your goals, take notes in a word doc(so you can easily edit) save good links. I spent a good 9 months reading voraciously(hours a day) here and at BYC and other sites and planning my coop, saved me much woe once I started to build.

Build plenty of pen and coop space. Options are good. I always did well with a coop that opened to a pen that could be opened to the outside. Lot's of options that way.
Very good stuff here^^^^. Probably the most important aspect is adequate Space and Ventilation, too little space in coop and run is often the most common noob mistake. A walk in coop with separate room for storage of feed and supplies and separate room for brooding and integrating new birds is most advantageous.

Being able to build your own coop, or outfit and existing building, is a huge advantage.
Not much out there 'ready to roll' that's worth the money, and most are of poor design, too small and made from inferior materials. Beware of basic chicken advice from places selling equipment, especially in regards to population capacities.
 

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My day-job is in IT. I say that because there are TONS of IT books out there in TONS of sub-fields of IT. I always laughed and scoffed when I saw people buy the 'for Dummies' books. My first and only 'for Dummies' book is the one on raising chickens. Its still on the bookshelf beside me and I would recommend it.

I also like the Storey's Guides, and have those for about everything else I have on the farm, and for other stuff that I wish was on the farm.
 

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Hello! Totally new to chickens and my wife is wanting me to possibly bring in chickens once things are in order. Is there a good how to guide from start to finish for chicks. I have checked the general information sticky, but it's all seeming pretty intermediate/advanced. Not so basic.
I have the "Backwoods Home Magazine" book "Chickens, a beginners Handbook. 63 pages, if you want it, send me a PM with your address and I will drop it in the mail.

Dave
 

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In addition to advice given - make sure your coop is large enough to get in there and collect eggs, if that is your goal. It helps to have extra room if you need to convince a brood hen that you are taking those eggs. :) I'm not sure what your climate is - if you're South, build that coop with LOTS of ventilation. Birds need to stay cool, and they generate an awful lot of heat. If you're North (like me), ventilate up top, but plan for those January days when it drops to below zero. Birds can and will survive (mine do) but they need protection from the extreme elements. On super cold or snowy days they stay in the coop at all times, because they are bird brains, and will freeze their feet. Otherwise we open the door and they free range.

Chickens will return to their coop if they are trained to know it as "home." We lock our new chicks/pullets up for 3 days in the coop, then let them loose, and haven't had any problems with wandering birds.

Know your area predators, and try to figure out how to make your coop predator proof. Which you really can't, but you can take precautions. We have weasels, raccoons, possums, coyotes, wood chucks, rats, and neighborhood dogs. We dug down about 18 inches below our coop, put down .25 inch hardware clothe that came up about 1 foot above the bottom of the structure, filled in the foundation with crushed concrete, and stapled the hardware clothe to the side of the coop. We have drop down windows facing south for warmth, and a small, high window on the E and W side for summer ventilation. We also have ventilation under the roof - and we caught a raccoon that climbed onto the roof, then went under and into the coop, and was killing hens at night. So predator awareness is important when designing your set up.
 

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HOW do they DO that?
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BYC has some good info in the archives, but over the years has degenerated into a chicken cuddling resource. Gotta be Lavender or an Orpington to get a reply at this point.
True Dat! Gotten worse since the platform change, old hands lost, lots of newbies with massive texting and 'liking skills'. Still some good info and good people there, but really gotta dig for it as there's lots of crap to wade thru.
 
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