Starting up

evansOctober 9, 2008

I am real excited about keeping a few hens for eggs and have been reading, talking to people, and locating nearby suppliers of feed. I have a small 4 x 8 run and am building a coop based on the dozens of plans I found on the internet. A couple of questions still remain, if anyone would be kind enough to help.

First, southern NJ is not the farm country it was. People order chickens from other states, even TEXAS. iS THIS RECOMMENDED? A few local places say they only get birds in the spring.

Second, there seems to be a 50-50 slit in coop designs in terms of whether it is raised off the ground or not. What is better, assuming the floor will be plywood and sealed from predators? I figured it would be colder up off the ground in the dead of winter.

Thanks for any help in this. I want get this stuff right.


Millville Nj

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Keeping chickens is fun! We have 7 black Austrolorp hens, and they are a stitch! Now, about where to get chicks. Springtime is optimal, no matter where you live. Chicks don't have to adjust to cold weather as well as all the other new things in their lives. You could spend the winter researching breeds and finding a more local source for chicks.Ordering from a reputable poultry supplier is quite feasible--just make sure the post office knows they are coming and ask them to call you when the peeping package arrives. You might also want to consider getting laying hens--a lot less trouble for a beginner and almost instant satisfaction in the egg department.
As for the coop, chickens love dirt--they scratch, they get grit for their crops, they dust bathe and generally have fun. If you can put them on dirt, do so. We dug 18" down around the coop, put in chicken wire weighted with bricks, and then covered the reinforcement with dirt. We've had our ladies since March, and no predation so far (and we listen to coyotes yodeling at night).
Good luck with your chickens, and let us know how it all turns out.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:46PM
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Chicks get everything they need for the first three days of life from the egg yolk just before they hatch, so shipping chicks overnight isn't as bad as it sounds. You are better off to ship quality, healthy chicks than to buy poor chicks locally. I've had great success with shipped chicks.
As far as the coop, do what suits YOU best. As long as it is relitivly safe, the birds will like it. If you will be fanatical about a clean house, then above the ground with a wire floor is the best way. Otherwise, I don't see that it matters.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 5:58PM
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Thank you. Made the coop with a solid floor to keep snakes, possums and other thing out that i have around here!I'm next to the woods.

I will take your advice and order out, I think from IDEAl. They promise 90% hens so I'll order 6 and cross my fingers. I'll receive them Nov 1st and Keep them warm inside with a heat lamp for a few weeks and bring them out like hardening off garden plants in spring...a little outdoors, a little more etc/

RI Reds will be my choice.

Looking forward to spring eggs and a lot of fun ( and a little work)

Thanks again

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 7:00PM
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reba_nc(z 7)

Where are you ordering from? I can't find IDEAI on the web. I've been looking for a place I can order less than 25 from!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Sorry, bad typing, its ideal with an L. Ideal poultry in Texas! They wrote me back email twice same day and were helpful on the phone too. Were recommended from a friend of a friend.
Sorry again.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:29PM
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reba_nc(z 7)

Thanks! Will go check that out right now!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:44PM
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We got our chicks from Ideal--they offer healthy chicks, great service and reasonable prices. Of course, since they are just down the road a piece from us, I got to ride home holding my new friends on my lap (in a box, since chicks aren't potty-trained). Good choice of supplier!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:51PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Enjoy your chicks! :) Be ready, though, all hatcheries will toss in a couple of extra, free chicks 'for warmth'...and guess what sex these extra freebies are? :) On the plus side, the freebies are nearly always some really cool breed birds.

Most hatcheries also don't ship less than 25 birds; again, it's a warmth issue--the chicks NEED that many little buddies in order to survive the arduous shipping process. Steel yourself to possibly losing a few, it happens. Chickens are both amazingly rough, but delicate, at the same time. Be ready for your post office to call at any hour of the day or hight and say, "Come get 'em!". They won't be able to ignore the peeping box. :) Have your brooder box all warmed up and ready to go. I'd also suggest giving them unflavored Pedialyte (at the grocery store, in the baby aisle) to drink--it gives them a needed electrolyte boost to help them recover from the stress of shipping.

I've got a chicken info site here that might help, this is the section on chicks, but I've got more info on chicks scattered throughout the site so I suggest reading the entire thing:

I've also got a link to the folks at My Pet Chicken on the 'Links' page on my site, they will ship as few as three chicks--it's pricier than the large hatcheries, but you don't have to worry about trying to rehome unwanted chicks. Or, team up with someone in your area and split a chick order from Ideal or whoever.

Ideal is one of the oldest hatcheries around and they have a good reputation. :)

Your are very wise to learn about chickens now and plan your coop & run accordingly for your weather & predators. You'll find loads of chicken thread here with great information, so you've got some reading ahead of you. :)

Again, enjoy your birds!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 2:21AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

I got my Cuckoo Marans from Ideal. A friend and I ordered together, a total of 15 pullet chicks. Ideal added about 8 cockerel chicks for warmth. This was mailing to Michigan in June. So if you're ordering six chicks, you should ask them specifically how many "warmer chicks" they'll be adding, and figure out what you're going to do with them.

I was fortunate as my friend agreed to be responsible for the boys. Phew!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 7:10PM
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