On first buying chickens.

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Bodger

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On first buying chickens.
« on: June 20, 2008, 11:05 »
Lots and lots of people are starting to keep chickens which IMO, should only be good news for the people who keep them and for the chickens that they keep.
In starting this thread, I'm hoping that other poultry keepers will add their advice to it and in doing so, help create some sort of guide for the novice chicken keeper.
For what it’s worth, here's my ten pence worth.

I think that the best advice that I can offer is patience. Don't impulse buy. Chickens are not something that you can throw into the back of the wardrobe and forget about if you make a mistake. Think long and hard before you make your initial purchase. Why do you want to keep chickens ? Keeping them is not all that time consuming in itself but you are committed to attending to them morning and night, if only for a few minutes, 365 days a year. Before taking the plunge read as much about the subject as you can and even better still, try and talk to somebody who actually keeps or who has kept chickens. In other words, try and get as much advice as you can and by preference, this advice should not be coming from the person who is trying to sell the chickens to you.

The next thing, is don't be tempted to get too many chickens. Most people start to keep them for their eggs and you should be aware that two or three good laying birds will provide more than enough eggs for the average family.

Housing

Long before you buy the chickens, you need to have looked at what housing there is available on the market. This can be a bit of a nightmare for the beginner, with highly priced housing with fancy sounding names, that are on occasion designed with catching the poultry keeper rather than the hen’s welfare in mind. My advice would always be to get housing that makes tending the birds a pleasure for you and not an arduous task. Make sure that they are going to be easy for you to clean out. Doorways should be broad and situated in such a way that you don’t have to crawl in on hands and knees to extract eggs and chicken poo. If through poor design looking after your chickens becomes a real chore, then you are far less likely to look after them properly.
The security of your chickens from both four footed and two footed predators should always be born in mind and whilst big isn't always beautiful, I'd always go for as big a coop and run as possible. The more space that your birds have, the happier they will be.

Choice of chickens

There are all sorts of breeds of chickens and I don't intend to go through them but the one thing I'd like to do, is to state the obvious and say that an unhealthy chicken eats as much as a healthy one and that it certainly costs you more in the form of medicine and worry. In other words you should always buy the healthiest looking and active birds as possible.

This means being meticulous in selecting your birds. Don't buy the fluffed up chicken that keeps closing its eyes, don't buy the shitty a***d ones, don't buy the dirty bald ones, don't buy the runty one , don't buy the scaly legged ones. Don't buy old chickens, somebody else will have had the best from them. Buying healthy point of lay birds is by far the best bet for a trouble free entry for the new comer to poultry keeping.

Try and find a truly reputable breeder, HARDEN YOUR HEART and don't become an easy touch. Go back to the start of this post, be patient. :D

On Mixing Chickens

It’s obvious that at times, poultry keepers will add to their stock and through lack of housing have to attempt to mix them. This is when serious grief and trouble can come to your bird keeping hobby. My advice would be to try and avoid having to do this if you can. Life will be much easier for you if, whenever possible, you keep each batch separate. Why ? Well, if you can resist having one from here and one from there. You will drastically reduce the likelihood of bringing disease into to your flock. Secondly, by adding to flocks you increase the tension within, as each new bird has to fight to assert its place within the pecking order. This can lead to bullying and nasty injuries.

Very tricky to do this I know, but when you see a new colour of chicken that you fancy, try and resist. :roll:

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What to Look for When Buying a Chicken

A chicken should have:

  • Bright beady eyes,
  • There should be no discharge from eyes or nose,
  • It should be active and interested in what’s going on,
  • Leg scales should feel smooth and not lifting,
  • Feet should not be deformed,
  • When you pick up the chicken it should feel plump and firm but not flabby or fat,
  • The chicken's vent should be clean, moist and white with no crustiness, lumps or bleeding,
  • Point of lay chickens will have a small pale comb and wattles and yellow legs.  When she comes into lay her comb and wattles will become larger firm and bright red and her legs will become pale (almost white),
  • Look through the feathers. There should be no sign of lice on the bird - look especially around the vent for lice eggs. Look Here for a picture,
  • Don’t buy a bird that has diarrhoea, if you can see them do a poo so much the better.

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daz

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2008, 11:24 »
im new to this myself but feel i have a little to add

if you in an area like me then hours of searching the net will bring up no local poultry supplier at all even tho i live in an area that i know damn well has 100's of farms

anyway how i finally found loads of local suppliers on trusty old ebay there are loads of local supplier of hatching eggs (obviously they cant post a chicken to you) but a simple email to them asking if they sell day old pullets pol etc does the world of good as i ended up finding about 20 poultry aupplier within 30 miles and not a single one anywhere else on the net

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Lost in France

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2008, 11:24 »
What great advice Bodger! The same advice could be given before getting any animal but too often people just buy on impulse. We see lots of dogs seeking new homes over here, as people get them seeing it as part of living in the country...then they realise they don't just look after themselves and the poor things are on the move to new homes...if they can be found.

I'm sure most people on this forum love their birds too much to impulse buy...although maybe Babe comes to mind, :roll:  but then her birds must surely be the best cared for birds on the Forum, if not wider!! :wink:

Judi :wink:

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Bodger

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2008, 11:27 »
daz
There may very well be loads of farms but only a few will be geared up to produce poultry for sale to the public.

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blossom1044

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2008, 11:42 »
Here Here!

Read read read and talk talk talk is my best advice.

I didn't look at websites like this when I had my first set.  I had a book and did some research, but never joined a forum until recently.

To all those lurkers and new to the chook world - this place is great as you get good advice and real experienced help.  Take what you need to know and use it to how it best fits you.

I'm learning something new every day and it's nice to talk to someone who has chickens too.

less than 24 hours and our new birds will be home :o
new to hens
Thanks
T

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daz

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2008, 18:12 »
Quote from: "Bodger"
daz
There may very well be loads of farms but only a few will be geared up to produce poultry for sale to the public.


thats just the thing i knew there must be some that did but didnt advertise very well but as i said luckily loads of them happened to be on ebay or id still be looking for somewhere local to buy my chickens

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bockhamptoners

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2008, 21:42 »
thanks for that bodger. my hubbie is building our chicken house as we speak, when we get the girls i will post some piccys. not quite sure what to go with yet, were still deciding  :)
Kevin & Kate
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Us + 4 boyz + 2 dogs + 2 cats + 2 Guinea pigs + 4 chickens + horse (animal insurance is more than the cars!)

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FCG

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2008, 22:13 »
Thanks bodger, your words are full again with wisdom. Especially with the bits about how to select the chickens being bought i never thought about that part of my chicken owning experience so thank you.

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Wayne@Wolverley

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2008, 15:12 »
Hello all :) just joined and reading with great interest,I'm converting the kids old playhouse at the moment which is 6X6 and hope to make the run abt 9x9 to include room under the henhouse. Any extra advice  re' chose
of bird for kids and good layers will be of great help. Friends reckon Black Rocks or Sussex to start with.....

Cheers all Wayne..

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FCG

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2008, 19:09 »
Quick question about that bodger, my 3 different hybrids (Amberlink, Black comet and Golden rocket where all together in one pen when i bought them. Admittedly they where with 20-30 more birds, but will a pecking order be well established?

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Bodger

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2008, 22:24 »
Probably Mike, they may well have been brought up together or failing that, someone else has already done the hard work and integrated them.

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treacleminer

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2008, 09:38 »
I agree with Bodger about finding out as much as possible before buying.

I was lucky enough to have someone running a basic chicken keeping course near me which I went on before getting mine - It gave me a lot more confidence than just a book especially when it came to handling them - It also gives you a chance to decide whether chickens really are for you or not if you have any doubts at all.
The people I went to are www.aysidepoultryarks.co.uk

If you don't have anything near you, or it costs too much, try and visit a friend with chickens so you can be shown how to handle them etc.  the more contact you have before you get them the better!

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chookoz

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Sex and Age
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2008, 01:48 »
Hi Bodger and all, almost finished building my coop and ready to buy birds.
How can I determine the sex of a chick and what age is best to buy. Do I have to rely on the seller's honesty.
Also I was thinking of getting a duckling will they co-exist with chickens ok.

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Vember

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2008, 09:44 »
Hi Chookoz

Welcome to the forums


Congrats on doing your own coop, would love to see photos :)

If you get birds at point of lay then you will get eggs alot sooner, if you buy chicks it's a lottery unless you can get a colour linked chick ie certain breeds females come out diffrent colour to males so you can tell very early on.

Ducks well I'd say get 3 that way they can tootle off and do their own thing. They will get on fine with hens just so long as they have plenty of room :)

Hope that helps a bit

Vember :)

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jimroden

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On first buying chickens.
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2008, 21:29 »
I have just finished my coop and run and will be buying in the next two weeks. luckily there is a game dealers just up the road from me and they sell chooks as well. The only problem I have is what birds to choose for the table as this is what I intend to do as well as to have some layers but again this opens a can of worms as the good side of me say's to get x bat hens but I do not mean to offend anyone but I would not waist vet bills on a chicken I would rather neck it then get another.  I understand that some people keep them as pets and will spend loads on them and that is good but I only intend to  have them for egg production ( Not bothered how many they lay ) as I only intend to have a few eggs per week. I have read up loads on this forum and have a good idea of what to do.

Jim
Dont tell lies you get in trouble



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