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Location: Hardiness Zone 7, Memphis, Tennesee

Good strategy for first timer raising chickens

I might have chickens at some point. I know that a hen being very protective of the eggs is broody and things like that.

If I do get chickens at some point I would start with a few full grown hens. Once I get comfortable with the hens and the hens get comfortable with me, I would get 1, just 1 rooster so that I don't have many aggression issues.

Is this a good strategy for a first timer. If it is, great. If it isn't, what is a better strategy because I don't really want to start with day old chicks, fertile eggs and an incubator, or a pullet only order since all of these have risks of being mostly or only roosters and that will lead to aggression issues with me and the other chickens. I am not sure if I would remember to turn the eggs until day 18 or if any would hatch. The chicks would need to be checked on periodically to see how they are growing, if any are dehydrated etc. and I would probably be very tired.

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Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

If you don't want to deal with chicks then a rooster may not be necessary. Roosters can be aggressive and territorial all on their own (toward you!). Then there's the issue with the crowing which can disturb not only you but neighbors.

What is the purpose of your chicken growing, the eggs?

What is your local area like in terms of raccoons, foxes, and coyotes? Are you going to build an outdoor coop for them?

Will the chickens be free ranging in your entire yard or will you build a fence to keep them enclosed?

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Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

Predator barrier is a nice touch. Also, racoons can open latches on a coop.

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

I thought you did not need a rooster if you just want to eat the eggs. The hens will still lay, the eggs will not be fertile. Roosters make a lot of noise and they roam. Hens without roosters don't go far. You will probably need to fence them in for protection but also because if you have a vegetable garden, they love seedlings and lettuce and they eat and poop at the same time. Chicken tractors are good. That is what the permaculture people use.

My uncle used to have Rhode Island Reds and he bought the chicks from a hatchery so he did not need an incubator. They were supposed to be sexed but every once in a while there would be a rooster in the bunch.

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Location: central Ohio

My grandma raised lots of chickens, she usually got about 100 a year as day old chicks. She got unsexed chicks and we ate the roosters. They were kept in a good strong building at night and allowed into a fenced yard during the day. We fed them vegetable scraps and weeds from the garden. Their little set-up covered almost an acre because we had a farm and grandma was the neighborhood egg lady.

The pen was regular fence that everyone used around their yard in that era, holes were too narrow for the chickens to slip through and it was at least 4 feet high with several inches buried in the ground. Both chickens and predators will dig, chickens to make dust bath bowls and predators trying to get in. A permanent set-up has to have secure fencing, chicken wire is not fencing. The building had a concrete floor with block a couple feet up the sides. The windows were glass with ventilation at the top (the tops tipped out). We never left the chickens out after dusk, there was a light inside the coop to encourage them to go inside when it started getting dark.

In areas with little winter sunlight chickens need to have lights on in their coop for 12 to 16 hours a day or they will stop laying. They need a high protein diet such as layer pellets or crumbles. In areas with low soil calcium they need extra calcium which can be provided with crushed oyster shells or their own broken egg shells (by crushing the shells they never learn to associate the whole eggs with the shells). Fruit and vegetable scraps are a good addition to their daily feed, and some people add black hull sunflower seeds. I don't believe in a vegetarian diet for chickens. By nature they are omnivores and dearly love insects and worms. They'll also eat meat if given the opportunity. I know of people who have scooped up road killed raccoons to feed to their chickens.

If you want friendly hens you need to start with younger chickens, not full grown and not babies. You'll have to spend a lot of time with them, offering them treats and such. You don't need a rooster to get eggs, some studies have shown hens lay better without a rooster around.

One last word of warning, make sure you are allowed to have chickens in your neighborhood. Many people have failed to take that step and been heartbroken when a neighbor complains and they have to get rid of their chickens. Making friends with neighbors might be good but won't save your flock if anyone complains, and anyone can complain, from the electric meter reader to someone just passing through. Also, don't let your chickens be the neighborhood problem. I was involved in a local situation where one family was keeping chickens illegally but threatened all the neighbors that if any of their free range chickens were harmed they would retaliate. Needless to say, the chickens didn't last long.

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Location: York, ND (Zone 3b)

The only thing I have to add is that whether you go small chick or adult hen, try to get them all from the same place. Sometimes chickens can be fine but are carriers and then infect with a disease, the other chickens you got from somewhere else. Try to get them all from the same place. I would not get adult chickens that are 2 or more years old. If you do expect them to lay about half as much as a younger hen. Also older hens may quit laying for you until they get use to the place, they also seem to molt when you want the eggs the most.

Susan W
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Location: Memphis, TN

And caters is back....As you say you are in Memphis, check the ordinances for chickens. County could be different from city. Yes, one can have chickens with limitations, even in town.

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Location: Pacific Northwest, Zone 8, 48" annual rainfall, dry summers.

Consider ordering sex-link pullets from a hatchery. They can sex the chicks by color, so no surprise roosters. I've had black and red sex-link and they are both good layers.

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