Maybe Getting Chickens! Advice?!

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Well-known member
Mar 19, 2016
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South Africa
Hey all! Long time no post ha, ha :lol:
Any who, this year for my birthday, in June, I'm thinking on getting...chickens! I've thought about it for a couple months now, and its something I really want to pursue! I've done lots of research and talked to people that own chickens, so I know some basic stuff.
I'm not going to get a rooster, as I don't want chicks. I also only want about 2-4 of them, just because of space. I do know they need a friend, as they don't like to be lonely. I basically want them as pets and a way of having fresh eggs! :D
I'm thinking of getting Bantams....would they be good for a first time chicken owner?
Do any of you guys own chickens? Newbie advice would be much appreciated! also I'd love to hear about your chickens!
Thanks so much!
Chickens are fun and not too much work. Two to four hens, no roosters sounds like a good start. I'd suggest four, in case you lose one or two while you are learning.

You need to make decisions about their housing and have everything in place before they arrive. Will they be able to run about in a yard, or will you keep them contained in a pen or "chicken tractor"?

Don't buy a lot of expensive feeders or waterers at first. Any bowl that doesn't tip easily is fine for water. Keep your main supply of feed in a rat-proof bin and just feed them what they will eat in a day.

I do suggest a good chicken forum to get the kind of advice for chickens that you get here for rabbits. I've heard good things about this one:

:chicken: :feedchicken: :chicken:
I had a lot of fun with my bantams (I had dutch and nankin). It took about 3 bantam eggs to make 1 normal egg, though.
we have 6 hens, they are a brown egg laying cross breed. [new hampshire x Rhode Island red ] They lay big red/brown eggs every day, We feed all garden waste, and food scraps to the chickens [and rabbits] ..except avocado , that is toxic to chickens - we get all the eggs we can use , and give some away .
---.. when I had bantams, although beautiful, ..they didn't lay as many eggs, and... most of them could fly as well as any sparrow... so be aware of that...
I've never kept bantams so can't speak to that. Have kept chickens for 17 years or so. Started with 'dual-purpose' breeds recommended for small flocks--RI Reds, Buff Orpington, Black Australorp. But once we were clear that we were after eggs, not meat, from them, we moved to smaller breeds that lay large eggs. Right now we have a couple leghorns, 3 comets, and 3 black sex-links.
I spent some time on backyardchickens when we were getting started but I grew frustrated with the emphasis on commercial feed, commercial brooders, commercial everything--which shouldn't have been surprising since it is sponsored by a feed company.
We don't keep a rooster and have gotten our chicks from commercial hatcheries but then have raised them without 'chick starter' or heat lamp or other things that many will insist are essential. The thing I disliked most about our early flocks was the pecking order and the awful condition of the hen at the bottom of it. Since we moved to natural feed from the start, we haven't had any injuries from being pecked.
I know my ways are contrary to the norm at least here in the U.S. and many would not choose to raise chickens or rabbits in 'old-fashioned' ways. Whatever you decide, I hope it goes well and that you enjoy watching your flock and eating fresh eggs.
Do NOT teach them to jump up and get treats from your fingers when they're young. As adults, you'll have chickens jumping up at your fingers and pockets whenever you get near them.

There's more chicken info than anyone could need at: That's the famous "Henderson's Handy Dandy Chicken Chart" which lists characteristics of loads of different breeds of chickens. The other place would be 'Feather Site', which is linked to the Henderson's chart occasionally in the first column that lists various websites for each chicken breed.

As for which chickens to get, that all depends on what you want the chickens for. Folks who want a pet chicken frequently like bantams, silkies, cochins and other small breeds. We've had some araucanas be particularly friendly. Araucanas lay pretty well, but not as well as a Rhode Island Red or leghorn. Araucanas lay a pretty pale blue or olive green egg, they're sometimes called 'easter eggers' because of the colored eggs. We've had friendly RIRs as well as some opinionated ones so even though they are very good egg layers, you may or may not get a pet chicken out of it. Leghorns also lay a lot of eggs, but they're flighty beasties and generally don't get too happy about folks being their friends unless there's food nearby and even then they really don't wanna get too close.

At the moment we have a halfbred white leghorn hen, her daddy was a feral rooster so she lays like a feral chicken. (Hens lay according to the sire's breed traits) That means she lays seasonally and then proceeds to go broody which, if she were a purebred white leghorn, it would never occur to her to do. Next time she sets, I'm gonna swap out the eggs for some purebred araucana eggs since I can get those easily. Then when she hatches out chicks, they'll be a domestic type chicken that lays more often and doesn't instantly go broody.

If I were going to order chicks, it'd probably be 'production blacks' from Ideal Poultry. Mostly because of their size verses egg production. But, I'm just looking for a couple of hens to live in the yard and lay eggs, not particularly a pet chicken.
from NY had chickens for 20 years mostly had about 15 at a time gave away a lot of eggs [ happy neighbors ] didn`t have a rooster - had brown egg layers BANTAMS were too small for me eggs too small - really enjoyed my girls and i think you will also - good place to get them is MURRY MC MURRY IN IOWA
I feed every bunny/chickie fermented scratch grain with alfalfa pellets added in to boost the protein levels a bit and if I need it higher again, I add chick grower.

All organic.

Never had bantams but I have found that chickens are fun, they eat anything - all our scraps go to the chickens - and if you garden, LOCK THEM UP!!!!

Bulldozers have NOTHING on how much damage one single hen can do! :shock:

I second the get four, they will be happier.

Oh, and do NOT copy coop designs from the internet, look at how people are housing hens in your area. Coop designs are almost all for northern, cooler climates and southern and hot climate chickens will cook in them.

My favorite is a ten by ten chainlink dog kennel with a sheet metal roof - insulated with thick styrofoam sheets on the TOP so the chickens can't reach it - placed in a well shaded area and 2x4 welded wire fence wire run across the floor and about two feet up the walls.

That helps keep out the critters who want to eat them.

Shavings on the floor, nice and deep and I add sulfur and borax to the shavings and so far, it has kept lice and mites and cocci away.

A solid perch along one side and the nest box and water on the other. And seriously, they can eat and drink out of anything :roll: mine eat out of a double sink I found thrown away and drink out of a fridge drawer that, again, I found tossed in the trash.

If you have never had chickens before, you might think of getting four older hens being sold off. People get rid of hens when they start slowing down the egg production but if you are not looking for huge numbers of eggs, four older hens might suit you and the learning curve is easier. :D
Ok, so still thinking about chickens, but also now thinking about getting ducks instead. We were talking to some friends about chickens, and they were saying that ducks are becoming like the new chickens. apparently they're easier, and they lay more eggs.
we have a small pond type thing out in our backyard ( currently empty of water and critters) that we could use for a duck pond as well.
We also know some people that might give us some ducks or ducklings.
Does anybody know anything about ducks? I'll be thinking about the pros and cons of each bird and then deciding which one i might get!
Also does anybody have any name ideas for either animal?
Thanks so much!
Ducks have three redeeming features, they taste great, their eggs taste great and they are funny.

Other than that they are nasty, dirty, disgusting, foul, smelly and all-round awful.
I wasn't going to venture an opinion on this, since I have never had ducks myself, but everything I've heard from others agrees with what GBov said. If you do go for ducks, I think two or three females would be your best bet. I've heard nasty things about the drakes that leads me to believe you probably don't want one--any more than you want a rooster.

How big is the space they would have in your yard? Space is a big factor with messy birds. Can that ornamental pond be cleaned out easily? And are you ready, able, and willing to deal with the duck poop, stench, slime, and general yuckiness of cleaning it?

Since you know someone with ducks, perhaps it would be a good idea to spend a little time there watching the ducks as they go about their business. Really observe -- and look beyond their cuteness to see how they would fit in at your place. Be sure to ask questions if you have the opportunity.

In other words, be sure you are going into this with your eyes open . . . and that applies whatever kind of critter you are thinking of taking on.
Ducks will get a mouthful of dirt, even if they have to walk quite a ways to get it, and then take it all the way back and spit it into the nice, freshly cleaned, water container.

Duck water takes on a smell all its own.

Right now I have a grand total of ONE duck and it has found the dogs water bucket - that is dug into the ground to keep bloody stupid dog from tipping it over - and it now has that special smell. Being dug in, it is a ruddy nightmare to clean.

Waiting on the duck to fatten up but it only has a few weeks left, if it ain't fat by then, it can be duck bone soup.
GBov":skaxx25o said:
Ducks will get a mouthful of dirt, even if they have to walk quite a ways to get it, and then take it all the way back and spit it into the nice, freshly cleaned, water container.

Duck water takes on a smell all its own.

Right now I have a grand total of ONE duck and it has found the dogs water bucket - that is dug into the ground to keep bloody stupid dog from tipping it over - and it now has that special smell. Being dug in, it is a ruddy nightmare to clean.

Waiting on the duck to fatten up but it only has a few weeks left, if it ain't fat by then, it can be duck bone soup.

having had "far too many" ducks.. [at times, several hundred] I agree.................................................

Once upon a time, I had a Hog farm, and a fish farm, 5 acres of catfish ponds, and 5 acres of " pasture and row-crops. I had 300 to 400 ducks in the area with the fish ponds and the "manure pond" [to catch the water from the hog barns that were washed out daily...] The ducks kept it all very tidy and the water very green.
.... and "flappers" are wonderful, any way you cook them...
IMHO ducks are better than chickens. We have 6 Ancona ducks and they are a gas to watch. Yes they can make a mess out of anything but worth the cheap entertainment. We get 6 eggs every day, sometimes 7 or 8. :? Better tasting and fantastic to bake with.

I use a mortar mixing tub for their water and like Gbov said, they come running when I change it and spit dirt in it but they drink it anyway. Dig a hole in the ground and put expanded steel mesh over it to place the water on. It really helps with the mess and just dump the tub in the hole and refill.

I put my ducks' water in an all wire cage with a ramp up to it. That was when I found out they will carry dirt with them. :lol:

M4G, they do taste nice, don't they?