Chicken help

tammynewb(9b Cocoa)June 8, 2008

Hi All! I've been lurking and enjoying this forum for a while. I've been thinking very seriously about getting some chickens and wanted some folks with experience to shed some insight if possible. I was thinking up to about 10 chickens. I have a shed I think I can convert into a coop fairly easily and build a large run. I'd like to let them free-range while I'm outdoors with them. We live on 1 acre in a semi rural neighborhood in Central FL. What breeds are friendliest with kids (7 & 10 yrs)? What about heat tolorance? My main reason for wanting them is for pets/entertainment, however fresh eggs would be nice too. How much does it cost for upkeep of about 10 and can I sell extra eggs or do I need a permit? My DH still needs to be "talked into" the birds so any help with that....lol. He thinks they are very dirty, is this true? I plan on reading as much as possible before commiting. If anyone has time to share some of their experiences (and pics) I sure would appreciate it. Maybe it will help get my DH swayed to my side! Thanks a ton!

Tammy

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fancifowl(5Pa)

Chickens neednt be dirty, no more than any other animal. They only need good management.

I suggest Silkies for those who just want a few eggs and some pets. Most are docile, they are easy keepers and tolerate cold as well as heat. They are a small chicken, broody as all get out but do supple eggs, their skin is dark and some may not find that suitable for a food item.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 12:21PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

As fancifowl says, any animal can be dirty, even humans. :) Depends on how they are kept. A chicken kept in a normal environment is not dirty. They need minimal care and intelligent husbanding.

Silkies are VERY sweet and lovable, and do go broody at the drop of a hat. Cochins are also sweet (and also go broody). Bantams are friendly, comic little guys with plenty of uppity spunk. My 8 year old daughter LOVES to carry around our Belgian d'uccle MilleFleur hen, Millie (Millie loves it, too). Americaunas (the ones with the fluffy facial feathers and beards) and 'Easter Eggers' are standard sized birds with sweet, docile, friendly temperments, and lay eggs in pretty shades of pink, beige, green and blue.

The heavy, fluffy breeds, such as Orpingtons, may have a problem with the heat/humidity of Florida. Avoid Gamebirds (the red 'jungle fowl' looking birds) as they have been bred for aggressiveness and are used in cockfighting. Rhode Island Reds can be dominant and tend to 'pack up' like wolves in groups. Leghorns tend to be skittish and not too bright, and sometimes nervous around kids.

As for cost, you'll have the initial outlay of feed, birds, supplies for the coop, etc. After that the cost is much less than the average dog takes, plus you entertainment, table scrap disposal, weed/bug control...and something a dog CAN'T do--eggs!

I'm in southern California and like you, we have more heat issues than cold here. On really hot days a mister system, plenty of water and shade are a MUST for us. I'll go out every few hours and hose everything down (birds included, they get a light spritzing) with the hose.

But really, chickens are marvelous for kids and adults, and make terrific pets. :)

I've got a chicken site here, including pictures of my flock (in the 'Meet My Flock' section) and descriptions of their personalities, it may help:
http://jackshenhouse.com/

Another great site with lots of breed pics is feathersite:
http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/BRKPoultryPage.html

Good luck! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 3:14PM
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tammynewb(9b Cocoa)

Thank you both! Velvet, I LOVE your website and have already spent time reading your words of wisdom. And your flock is beautiful! I will go back to it often. Thanks for the breed tips. Anyone else have anything to add?
Tammy

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:45AM
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spogarden

this is my first year of chickens and I love them, am surprised that they are so much fun. The dog is a little miffed that they are getting some of her table scraps but she was getting fat anyways. I only have 6, 3 buff orfingtons which are very friendly and 3 black sexlinks which are not. they were all raised together and treated the same, so the different breed personalitys are really showing up.
We build a semi portable chicken tractor, I like that we can move it around. I say semi cause it is bigger than planned and I can only push it, need help if moving it to a completly different area.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 12:49PM
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uptomyeyeballs(8)

I thought I would chime in since I also have children. We currently have 12 hens of several different breeds. We have been keeping chickens for over six years now (we got our first set when our oldest was 3 he's nine now)
As for personalities, I think some of it depends on the breed and some on the individual bird since each one has their own personalities.
The kids did enjoy when we had the silkies, they were so gentle and were great moms. "salt and pepper", they were black and white silkies even jointly raised a set of chicks with no hangups or fighting. Our others will fight over the chicks if we don't separate them. Sadly a raccoon got salt one night and pepper was never the same after that. She also died a couple of months later.
Currently our characters are speckles who is a Plymouth rock. If you are working she is there with you digging in the planting hole and snatching out the worms. And the kids favorite by far is butterfly. She is a Rhode island Red banty cross. She will let the kids carry her everywhere. My daughter (age four) will put her in the basket on her bike with a blanket and drive her around. Butterfly was raised from an egg by one of our hens and was handles often so that probably helps, but part is just personality. Her "sisters" who were hatched at the same time, but are full RIR banties are not nearly as friendly.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 3:17PM
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msjay2u(7)

Velvet I love your site and have bookmarked it. I notice no one above mentioned my breeds. :-(
I have Weyondettes and cochins. I am new and they are still chicks. so far they have been very funny. I picked them because they are cold hardy and supposed to be the friendliest of all (behind silkies). I love the way silkies look and I wanted to get them but as I read on the Intenet you have to keep them enclosed in the winter. not really an option for me.
uptomyeyeballs I love your story about your daughter riding the chickens around that must really be a sight!! Thats what I want to have good stories to tell.
I love this forum!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 9:20AM
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