You may be very excited and want to getting your chicken and start raising it right away, but these first steps are the most important, you do not want to spend your money, effort and time and discover that your choice was inaccurate.
What are the different options? What to look for? And what should you avoid?
We will first look at the different options and determine the pros and cons of each option :
You can buy hatching eggs, chicks, started pullets or adult birds.
- Financially, the cheapest option is the chicks. Pullets will cost you more because of the care, feed and time expended to raise the bird. Adult hens in their prime are the most expensive. Rescue and ex-battery hens are usually cheaper than pullets but more expensive than chicks.
Hatching Eggs: These are fertilized eggs that you need to incubate. If you are new to chickens, I don’t recommend that you get hatching eggs unless you really know what you are doing.
- Chicks: This is the most used and wise choice for novices. You can select which breed(s) you want and when you want them. You typically get chicks at one day old.
- Pullets: Pullets are birds aged between four to six months. The chicks have been reared to adulthood and are usually sold at point of lay, meaning the pullet is about to lay her first egg anytime soon!
- Adults: Adult hens are more difficult to come by as breeders like to move birds out before they get too old since they eat more.
How many Chickens should you get ?
If your birds are for eggs only, so this depends on how many eggs do you use in a week currently.
Think about how many eggs you use each week, and you will be able to determine how many chickens you need.
One hen will average four to five eggs a week. For example if you want 16 eggs a week you would need 4 hens .
But in general, whatever number you want to buy, remember this advice : • Plan ahead. Remember that chicks grow very quickly. Don’t buy too many chicks at once because you may not have room for all of them. Make sure you have a big enough brooder for them to stay in for up to 6 weeks.
This article helps you determine the sufficient space for the well-being of your chickens.
Where Do you Get your Chicks?
The best place for beginners to buy their chickens from is a local farmer, hatchery or farm supply stores.
Be careful when buying chickens from someone you don’t personally know. You might end up getting a diseased bird or a bird with some health issues, or an older hen that is past her productive years.
These are important questions that you should ask the chicken breeder before Buying your chicken :
How old are the Chicks? it gives you an idea of how long it will be until your first egg.
What Sort of Personality Does the Breed Have? As an example, Rhode Island Reds can be very pushy birds, so might not do well with Orpingtons or other placid birds for instance.
Are the Chicks Vaccinated? If so, what vaccines have been given and you will need a copy of certification.
Are there any Climate Restrictions/Recommendations? Birds with feathered feet such as Brahmas, require extra care for their feet if you have wet or muddy ground… Some birds don’t do well in extremes heat or cold, so make sure you take your local weather into consideration.
Expected Egg Production? How many eggs can you expect from your pullet and for how many years will they lay eggs consistently? What color eggs do they lay? White, brown, blue or varied?
What Should you Look Out For ?
- All birds should :
- have clear, bright eyes.
- be curious about their environment and you.
- Feathers or fluff should look clean with good coloring.
Avoid buying the bird if it exhibits these signs :
- Sleepy, lethargic
- Hunched into a ball
- Sitting by itself
- Reluctant to move
- Any nasal/eye discharge
- Blocked vent
Here’s another tip, if you finally choose to buy chicks as a starter: many people just plop their chicks in the take-home box and head out the store door, this is not a good start with your chicks. Bring a baggy of wood chips or ask the store personnel to add some wood chips to the bottom of the box before they add your chicks. This makes the box warmer and it helps keep the chicks from slipping on the cardboard surface. Plus it keeps them cleaner since the wood chips will absorb any poop . Also, it’s a good idea to get your car warm so you can pop right out the store door and into a comfortable climate for the chicks.