dopey question re chicks

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seanandde

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dopey question re chicks
« on: May 07, 2010, 11:18 »
Just joined today, hello all :)

We've kept a few hybrid hens in the dim, distant past but this time we're thinking of starting with buying some chicks.  The breed we're interested in - Orpingtons - seem to be horribly expensive and a bit beyond our pocket at anything from 40 (one local supplier with some very nice looking birds quoted me 55) upwards each and we'd like to keep four hens.

Buying hatching eggs, an incubator, heat lamp and associated bits and pieces I've costed out to about the same as four pol birds (at least so it would seem in our neck of the woods!).

So my very dopey question is... there really is no way of knowing whether you have male/female chicks, aside from an auto-sexing breed such as the Cream Legbar?  Although we're rural, we live in a terrace of cottages and keeping a cockerel is out of the question - don't want to upset the nice neighbours, let alone those on the other side who'd complain about the wind blowing if they could :(

Aside from the 'what to do with the male birds' dilemma, is buying some very young chicks a good option for the cash strapped enthusiast?

Many thanks
Dee

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joyfull

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2010, 11:31 »
Hello and welcome.
Sorry but the only way to be sure of getting girls (except for colour or feathr sexed birds) is to buy point of lay - even then one of mine didn't crow until she/he turned 9 months old so make sure the breeder will take them back if they turn out to be boys (very few will). Before you get these birds please also consider the other costs involved such as vet care etc.
If you go down the incubator route then read up before you buy the kit and what will you do if all the eggs hatch as boys? It can and does happen.
Staffies are softer than you think.

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seanandde

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2010, 11:58 »
Thanks, joyfull, that confirms what I thought to be the case.   We've certainly taken all other possible costs into consideration and I think vet fees are just a given when you keep any animal.  It was just the inital cost of pure bred hens that I was taken aback at... as someone who grew up and always lived in a rural community, 50+ for a chicken seemed a little excessive, though could perhaps understand it for someone who wishes to exhibit, etc.


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joyfull

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2010, 12:08 »
Try asking the breeder if they have any that are no good for showing wrong size, poor colour etc - my sablepoot pair are too small to show so I was so lucky and got given those - sshhh don't tell the rest of my birds but they are now my favourites  :lol:

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seanandde

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2010, 12:35 »
Sorry, I've perhaps used the wrong term, saying 'breeder'.  They don't show, but appear to have a large number of birds, pretty much all Orpingtons, and supply the general public who just want anything from a few to a dozen hens to keep for eggs.  I've noted their Black Orpington pol's are 55 and I believe other colours are a little more.  Any other local(ish) suppliers I've contacted either won't have any until summer or those they do have are all reserved.

Apologies if I seem very price focused !  It was never really my intention to come here and grumble about prices, it was just a bit of shock discovering the breed we like and had chosen would cost us 200+ for four hens.


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Chookiechook

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2010, 14:09 »
Sorry but i would not pay that for hens..... I would rather take the risk and buy chicks but get more than you need.

If you then get lots of girls, YOU can sell them!!  If you get lots of boys then you have to deal with them.

Orpies do tend to get rehomed though if they are nice enough as they are so popular :)

To buy all the paraphenalia (sp) to hatch one lot is risky.... they may not hatch at all :(

I dont think its a problem to be price focussed..... I try not to buy eggs, but like to swap them with other forum members...... same with birds..... i have been given some cracking birds by being in the right place at the right time :)

Good luck, they will be all the more lovely if you have raised them yourself :)
I love Pekins, Polands and Seramas :) and eggs!!!

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dizzylizzie

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2010, 14:40 »
Hi and welcome :)
Im not having a go..promise but 1 comment you made about being 'cash strapped' (arnt we all? :wacko:) was a little worrying. Have you priced everything you will need for your girls? Its just a lot of people thing they are 'cheap' pets and get a bit of a shock when it comes to setting up.I personally dont think its too bad, but some people do.....sorry- not having a go honest :)

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Casey76

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2010, 15:11 »
Afternoon :)

I think we need a bit more information :)  With regard to Orpingtons (Orps), are you looking for exhibition stock or utility stock?  Exhibition stock tend to be very big and floofy but they actually lay very few, small eggs per year, becasue they have been specifically bred for the floof.

Utility birds are not half so fluffy, but they will lay more, and more regular sized eggs (though Orp eggs tend to be smaller than your average hybrid layer egg - despite the size of the bird itself).

50 pounds for a POL is a bit much - unless they are exhibition lines.  Depending on the area, you should be able to find a decent Orp POL for between 20 and 30 pounds.

HTH

Oh, and by the way, starting which chicks (which for PBs may start at 5-6 pounds at day old and increase by 1 pound per week to POL) it is often not the most money saving route.  An off heat chick (6-8 weeks) may still cost around about 10 pounds, and of course at that age they are more susceptible to infection and other ailments - you should factor in some kind of attrition.  and (sorry!) Orps are a breed which are difficult to sex, so you may be running on a bunch of cockerals without realising it.  Not that I want to put a dampener on your plans, I just want to make sure you are going in with your eyes open :)

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seanandde

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2010, 16:24 »
Thanks, you're all very helpful and absolutely no offence taken at any comments :)  After deciding to keep a few chickens we bought a nice, big(ish, at 5' x4') house/ coop that we thought suitable for four hens, bought posts and wire and fenced off the barked area of our garden which is 14' x30' for the hens to 'free range' in during the day, bought feeders, etc so we have everything but the hens!  I honestly just hadn't considered when we decided upon pure breed hens just how much they might cost and how difficult it might be to find some.

We've no interest in exhibiting and I'm actually trying to avoid buying from someone who breeds purely for exhibition (and that's not based on cost) but for the reasons casey mentioned here.

Considering all your very helpful viewpoints not sure what to do now.  We really like the look and temperament of the Orps so I guess we'll keep on looking for a few more weeks and, if no luck, we'll have to go for something else.   On the issue of raising chicks and what do with the lads... I've honestly no wish to offend anyone here but I suppose I'm just the product of a very rural upbringing; I'd try to find (free) homes for any cockerels but as a last resort wouldn't have a problem with 'despatching' them.  Was tempted to delete that last line as I'm well aware how it sounds but best to be honest I suppose!


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Aunt Sally

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 16:39 »
No one will be offended by that comment De.

People here are often told that if you are rearing chicks you must be prepared to dispatch as a last resort if you can't keep or rehome the boys. 
Important Advice from the NSALG - frequently updated 
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TeaPots

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 17:33 »
Its much better to cull excess boys, than have them all living together, cramped and fighting, and not happy. Its a fact of life that we all know, but most of us choose to not discuss it, just in case, as you suggest, some people may be offended. Its sad....I have 16 cockerels and as I am getting known for my boys, often people contact me when they are looking for one. I just like to see them get adopted.

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dizzylizzie

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 17:34 »
Lots of people put 'spare cockerels' in the freezer. They will have had a lovely life till the deed is done, far better than the ones you find on the supermarket shelf, AND you know what they have been fed on and where they have come from. Its when people get lots of fluffy chicks, then moan about the surplus boys and not being able to get rid. Its good your thinking ahead and are willing to do the deed if necessary :)

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seanandde

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2010, 17:47 »
Thanks, both of you.. I know that for some people they very much become pets so I do understand that others will feel differently.  Not that the hens I've owned previously weren't spoilt rotten, mind you :)

Don't think I could do the deed myself but that's only because I don't know how and wouldn't 'practice' ... well, you know what I mean.   Fortunately, we've a farmer friend who keeps a flock of his own for meat and eggs; bit of a cop out on my part but there you go!

To the member who very kindly pm'd me - I will reply but have just found that, as a new member, I need to have made 10 posts before replying to pm's.

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Aunt Sally

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 17:53 »
I think you may find you can reply now De  ;)

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Tania

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Re: dopey question re chicks
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 19:47 »
Can I ask if you live in Kent? If you do, I've sent you a pm which may be worth a read. I've also got some Orpi eggs under my broody and if they all hatch I'll happily donate a couple.



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