Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Chicken or the Egg . . .

It's the age old story, which came first.  Well, here's a first for me and I'm looking for advice.  My husband has recently suggested that we consider having our own chickens!  Let's be honest, I don't know a darn thing about raising chickens.  I know a lot of you do, so I'm looking for some advice.

Some of my questions, can chickens be left alone?  For how long . . .
Do chickens travel well?
What are the best and easy going chickens to start with?
What's the lowest number of chickens one should have?
Can they stay outside in the winter?
Does the coop have to be heated?
How long do they live?

Can anyone recommend a good chicken book?  Yikes, so many questions!!!

Thank you for all your advice!

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  1. I have never raised chickens but fed them at my grammies. Good luck with findingyour chicken answers.

  2. Here we have so many wild chickens running around that I can't imagine owning them. Sorry I don't have any advice about keeping chickens :)

  3. Congratulations if you are getting the chicken for your beautiful home.

    I would love to see chicken running around in a nice green garden...but unfortunately my home is too small to have chickens.

    Sorry that I can't give much advices for rearing chicken.

  4. 3 is the minimum. Cold hardy breeds like Orpingtons, Rhode Island reds, Australorps, Silkies, Wyandottes. Come visit us for more answers at

  5. I have chickens and have found so many helpful people online. Go to Terry Golson at The Hen Blog. She has lots of information in her FAQ section.

  6. I don't have any good chicken advice ( other than visiting with Thelma). I suggest you go visit Aimee at the Crafty Farm Girl. She is a chicken expert, is very nice and I am sure will answer all of your questions. Lucky you ~ I wish my hubby would let me have chickens ... or if Bentley would too for that matter!

    Susan and Bentley

  7. I have chickens, as you may remember! I have three hybrids, they lay better and when I bought them they were POL (Point of Lay ~ born in the Spring and bought in August to lay in September). Steer away from Silkies, they don't lay well ~ Rhode Island Reds and Marans are good layers but my hybrid Black Rocks are brilliant at laying eggs and rarely have a day off as some hens do. Hens can live for 8 to 9 years and they do roam in Winter too.....BUT need a warm hut to escape the elements. They need a cosy nesting box and they do travel well but NOT too often as they like routine. My hut and run is NOT heated but I do use lots of cardboard as insulation and straw too. 3 hens will give you about 18 to 21 eggs a week and hybrids will rarely have a day off laying and are not prone to going broody.....hope this helps! if you want to see my hens, go to my website, they are featured many times!
    Karen @ Lavender and Lovage

  8. Alot of information can be found at

    I have seven chickens and I find that to be a good number. Chickens don't like to be alone, so atleast start with three. Chicks are sent in batches of three by most hatcheries. I ordered eight and one didn't make it.

    they are relatively easy to care for. I use pine shavings inside my coop and sand in their outside run, I clean both out weekly. The chicken yard is completely closed in. I do not let my chickens free-roam because there are many predators.

    It's a good idea to get a book because there are lots of things to know about chickens that aren't common knowledge, like what to feed them, what to expect, etc...

    I have found that the black Jersey Giant, Buff Orpington and Silver lace Wyandottes are not only pretty, but docile as well.

    I let my chickens out in the morning, close them in their coop at night... I'm not sure what you mean by left alone. You need to refresh their water daily and make sure their feed is clean and abundant.

    I've read that they don't need heat in winter once they are mature as long as they have a coop to roost in, but I am going to provide a small heat lamp because it's really cold in New England winter.

  9. I have no clue about raising chickens, but I'd think it would all be worth it for a dozen of the freshest eggs!

  10. What nice chicken, when I was a child my grand Mom had chicken I remember the eggs were so nice, xxgloria

  11. oh I REALLY want chickens... just need to sort out the garden and make space for them... and bribe The Viking with goodies... I think you should go for it!

  12. You should talk to Julie at Dog Trot Farm blog. She spoils her chickens.

  13. Oh! How exciting! My only experience with chickens is from a decade ago ... We had Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks ... kept them in the barn through the winter with hay and cardboard up against the walls and a light with a high wattage bulb lit above their perch on the coldest of nights. They need fresh water and when they are laying you need to pick up the eggs or the hens will sometimes poke holes in the competitor's eggs, as they share nesting boxes... that's all I remember ... other than the bird droppings made killer fertizier after it was watered down and diluted and aged!

  14. Definitely go for it! I have no experience but I do know nothing tastes better than a boiled egg collected that morning!

  15. I wish I could have chickens! I'd love having fresh eggs.

    PS: Can you get in touch with Susan of "Beyond My Kitchen Window"? She won the give away on my blog but has not responded to my comments on her blog and I don't have an e-mail address for her. I think she is your friend in "real life"
    Thanks, Mary!

  16. Welcome possibly to the world of chickens!
    Good books: "Keep Chickens! Tending small flocks in cities, suburbs, and other small spaces" by Barbara Kilarski, "The Chicken Health Handbook" by Gail Damerow. Stories of urban chickens: "Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance" Martin Gurdon.
    Great reference websites:, Tilly's Nest!, and Terry Golson's blog

    I have five girls and they are great. Well five and a half. We have a month old chicken in the mix now. :)

  17. I cannot express how much enjoyment and entertainment chickens offer. My suggestion, go to your local library and take out as many books on chicken keeping as they have to offer. Decide how many chickens you would like to start with, I began with ten. Look for breeds that will do well in winter/summer in Maine. I opted on Buffs, Barred Rocks and Americaunas. I purchased them from Paris Farmers Union. The chicks arrive in the spring, usually May and this store offered a free chicken keeping class. The chicks came from Mt. Healthy a reputable hatchery in Ohio. Okay, I could go on, if you would like to e-mail me I would be happy to share my love of chickens, Julie, mother to 12 chickens and one rooster!

  18. Sorry I can't help with your chicken questions! How wonderful it would be to have fresh eggs.

  19. I have several good chicken keeping books. I am just waiting for Steve to get the lead out and build me a sweet little coop of my own. The coop in your post would be perfect. Good luck with your decision.

  20. I have road island reds and they are great layers. I think they live for about 3 yrs and cold weather doesn't bother them. I'm sure they'd love a heated coop but they managed fine with our cold winter last year. However during the real cold weather they didn't lay much. Best of luck with the hens. They are so lovely to have about the house! :)

  21. Boy, you really got some great advice in your comments!! I don't know squat about chicken farming. My FIL had some, but I collected the eggs and never asked a question!

  22. I adore chickens and have them in Ireland. They prefer to live in a flock (wouldn't you?) They're very independent during the day but need to nest at night, inside, safe from harm like wild dogs and such. Rhode Island Reds are a great jumping off point. Lovely brown eggs. But any chickens will do, they're all quite easy. They are the easiest animal (foul) I've ever raised. Build that coop and get going! Oh! And they can take the cold. You may freeze going out to feed and water them, but they will be fine!


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