another baby step... chickens : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have always wanted a lifestyle that tended towards the slower paced, hard working, good ethics found in country living. Someday within the next 5 years or so, we'll be where I want us to be. My wife is not such a big believer in this goal but is coming around year by year. We built a house this past year in a semi rural setting as we both were very tired of city life. So far she has seen the benefits of having a 1/2 acre lot, very large garden and generally more peaceful settings. However, we still grumble a bit when we have to say "hi" to neighbors on both sides... seems like we cannot walk across the back without seeing somebody else who wants to talk. Don't misunderstand me, I'm as friendly as the next person but when I'm on my own property, most times I rather be left alone to focus on the garden or whatever the latest project is. Having said all that, I'll be attempting to introduce the benefits of keeping 2 or 3 chickens on the property as just another baby step in the direction I'd like our lifestyle to take. Hopefully this will continue to convince my family (wife and 2 very young children) that we need a bit bigger place anywhere less crowded than a neighborhood. The wife is definitely supportive of going that direction but is a bit more "skird" of taking large steps too quickly. In the meantime, I content to enjoy my 1500sqrft garden while I let the weeds grow up between mine and my neighbor's house.

Any advice on getting started with chickens? Have already read several articles and have become friends with the local seed store owner who loves to offer advice on anything, but am thinking I need a little help on the pro's and con's of only having 3 chickens (no rooster).

Thanks, Otter

-- otter (, February 01, 2002


Otter, I personally feel the world would be a better place if everyone with any kind of yard at all kept 3 chickens! The magic number is 3, though, let me tell you from experience it is very easy to get carried away and want to try every kind of chicken, ( and believe me, there are many kinds of chickens). I had an unfortunate incident with the neighbors dogs, and got back down to 3 hens instead of 25, and even though it's a bummer to come home and be forced to conduct a mass chicken burial, it was really a blessing in disguise! My two cents about chickens is to get chicks, then train them to go to their pen at night, not get older chickens that have no pattern and end up roosting all over the place, and more importantly, laying eggs all over the place! Also, if your neighbors are as close as they are, definitley, don't get a rooster! You'll get eggs any way, and it's better that there's no chance someone can hide a nest, cause then you'll be in the same boat I was with 25 chickens! Well, I'm sure there is someone with better technical advise than me, but thats my two cents! Best of luck with your chickens and your grand homestead plan- it sounds great! Joy

-- Joy (, February 01, 2002.

If there's a feed store in your area that orders day olds from a hatchery, ask them to order 3 pullets for you along with their next order. This way you can brood them yourself and they'll turn out to be wonderful pets. Bantams would be nice for the area you describe, they they're so tiny as day olds, they can't be sexed so no guaranty they'll be hens. The standard size are sexed at the hatcherys so you're guaranteed to get the hens you request.

My first batch of chickens, i got at several different places and they were all adults. What i didn't realize at the time, is that these chickens had been exposed to all kinds of diseases where they were being kept and all had watery eyes, wet sneezes, wheezing breaths, etc. I basically had a small flock of very unhealthy chickens. They all ended up being killed by a dog and nearly a yr later after disinfecting my coop i ordered day olds & started again. These birds have never been exposed to any birds brought in from the outside & are healthy. i make a point to not bring in other birds which might spread illnessess, so have no problems.

Being that you have a small place and only want 3, you could keep them in a chicken tractor, which would be ideal!

Good luck!

-- Buk (, February 01, 2002.

Otter, sounds like you are taking a step in the right direction! I love having chickens, so I can't think of a "con" about starting with three. Everyone has their favorite breed, you might want to check out some poultry sites to see which ones you like best. Rememeber, you and your family are the ones that will be staring at these birds everyday, so get some that are pleasing to YOUR eyes. You probably already know that some are better layers and some are better for meat. The only problem I see is deciding which breed or breeds to get! There are so many to choose from! Best wishes!

-- cowgirlone in OK (, February 01, 2002.

I got my first chickens this year,, 25 FULL grown hens. Besst thing I habve done. Frsh eggs,, good meat. Didnt take them long to figure out the pen,, just keep them locked in for 2 weeks or so. DOnt have to wrry about rasing the peeps,, keeping them indoors,,ect. Im going ot have to butcher them come late spring,, but that was a plan anyways. If you can,,find some from a freind, 3 - 5, or so,, give your wife a chance to get used to the idea

-- Stan (, February 01, 2002.

Half of the joy of rural life especially the homestead life can be found in the interaction with good neighbors. Sounds like you've got some. Give them a chance. They'll withdraw a bit as soon as the new of the cityslickers wears off. I'd ditch the weeds. It might give the impression that you are a real jerk and you would never want that to happen. Joys shared are twice as joyful and a burden shared is half as heavy. Give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt. You might be surprised at the return.

-- charlie (, February 01, 2002.


I did the idiot thing. I bought the chicks first, and then planned later! Otherwise, though, we wouldn't have them now....

We built a nice size chicken tractor. Takes two to move, and one must be the husband, but it isn't too hard. It was supposed to be smaller, but my husband, the reluctant homesteader at the last minute decided it really SHOULD be bigger for the poor birdies. I call it the "chicken chalet". The usually free range, actually, but when I am going to be gone all day we let them out in the run.

that said, if I were you I would build a small place on stilts off the ground with wire around the bottom, that would be easy to move. We move ours with PVC, but will be adding wheels in the summer....and for 3 you don't need anything as big as ours.

In Wisconsin, you cannot purchase just 3 birds, even at the feed store. Minimum of 6. In case you find it is that way for you too, get 6 banties instead. They are adorable, and the kids like the faerie eggs.....

One last note: My husband fought and fought moving to the country. I tricked him into it eventually (we joke about it it was all a big plot...though it really wasn't too much of a plot), but he loves living out here now, and is gradually getting used to the animals. He was even quite proud of our garden, which I designed, started seeds for, planted, harvested, etc., but it was a riot to watch him show my garden as "OURS" to all the visitors this summer. he loves living in the country now, and every morning goes out for his morning cup of coffee, cigarette and pee break off the back of our hill. No one around to see.....

-- marcee (, February 01, 2002.

I have a friend who lives in the city on a small lot who has two hens. She gets all the eggs she needs and has a chicken tractor to work up her small garden. If you can only buy 6 at a time, raise them and sell three. Sounds like a plan to me.........have fun. Kids should really get a big kick out of it. I prefer a full sized chicken for my eggs. Just a matter of taste I guess, but I use a lot of eggs cooking.

-- diane (, February 01, 2002.

Hey, we started with 3 also. We have about 35 now. They kinda grow on you. Nancy

-- Nancy (, February 01, 2002.

If you are ordering day old pullets for delivery, order more than you plan to raise, as some will be lost due to the stresses of shipping and other things. It is also cheaper to have one or two more/extra than to reorder another order of pullets.

-- BC (, February 01, 2002.

I've read lots of stories of feed store chicks being sold as 100% pullets, but 80% grew up to be roosters :-(. We ordered our chicks "sexed" from a hatchery and got exactly what we wanted. Investigate your options. Local hatcheries sometimes let you buy a couple of chicks if you pick them up or maybe you can find a breeder within driving distance. Handle your chicks a lot and you will have friendlier hens!

3 is a fine number to start and will make care a lot easier. The neighbors may not know you have hens, but it depends on how loud yours are when they lay. You'll go through feed slowly so watch that it doesn't get too old (6 weeks) or spoil.

Best book is Gail Damerow's "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens". Practical and easy to read, she doesn't stint on detail so you are never left in a lurch. Your library may have it or can borrow it.

-- Dash (, February 01, 2002.

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