Grit Blogs > Gardening with Vickie

Raising Chickens: What I Don't Know

A photo of Vickie MorganIf everything goes alright and the city I live in passes a chicken ordinance, I could have chickens by the spring. I’m excited at that prospect, but lately just a little nagging question has crept in to my thoughts and keeping me up at night, repeating itself over and over again, What on earth do I know about raising chickens? Then the answer comes just a bit more softly but not by much, Not a thing, absolutely nothing. I’m a city girl who wants to raise chickens so I can have fresh eggs, and frankly I don’t know a thing about how to raise them. Spring will be here sooner than I think and I’d better get some answers quick.

A chicken that Vickie might someday ownSo, what are the questions I want to know the answers to? Since I first started writing this I found out the answers to a few but still there are a lot. Well here they are (try not to laugh too hard):

How many eggs do they lay a day? Well, that was easy look up on the Internet most places said one a day, but one site said something about resting here and there and you might get 5 eggs a week from one hen. What do they need to rest for? Oh no, another question.

Are they loud? Another look on the Internet, and I found out that roosters are the ones that are loud, but apparently chickens just cluck and make louder noises when bothered. Okay, what or who is going to bother my chickens. Sheesh, another question.

What kind of coop do I need and how much will it cost? At first a portable one seemed like the answer until I considered our harsh winters and then decided a more permanent one will be the best choice. The price of chicken coops can be sky high but I’m looking for a cheap chicken coop now on craigslist – I’m just holding off until I make sure the ordinance passes.

A chicken coop

A portable one still sounds appealing for the summer months, maybe my husband Bat can figure out how to make us one later this spring.

A possible portable chicken coopMore questions racing through my head included:

What kind of chicken do I want? Which leads to the question, do I want brown or white eggs?

At what age do they lay their eggs?

Will I get any eggs in the winter?

How long will an egg stay good in the nest?

How long are eggs good once they are in the refrigerator? (Mine come stamped with the date on the carton.)

What on earth do you feed them? This apparently is one loaded question – everyone has different ideas.

Do they need shots?

So many questions, but I have a few months – hopefully I’ll know the basics by the time the chicken ordinance is passed.

vickie
2/2/2010 2:29:46 PM

Rodeo, While I'm waiting on the city council -I've been reading all I can about chicken raising -these comments have helped. Did someone make the chicken coop? I don't want to get ahead of myself and do anything quite yet but it is good to research while I have the time. Oh we have a grandson too -who is fast asleep right now-(he is 4 months)- he will probably be fascinated by the chickens when they come. I think goats would be fun too but I guess we don't really have the room. I have heard some wonderful goat stories. vickie


rodeo princess
2/2/2010 1:24:41 PM

Vickie: I would work on your husband with the goat thing- they add a certain touch of chaos to a farm that lightens things up now and then. Just watch your back and carry a spray bottle of water! I have the coop that you show with the laying box on the side with the hinged lid now, but for years, we just had a two tiered laying box in one of the stalls in the barn, and we did alright. The coop came because the youngest grandson got into chickens and he said they needed a 'clubhouse'. I think it needs wheels. That would be very cool, but I wonder if my chickens would really do anything different if the house moved - they wander all over anyway. Keep us posted about your progress and of course, send us pictures of chicks. I can not get enough of chicks!


vickie
1/19/2010 10:50:30 AM

Susan, Living in such a beautiful country place like you do you need to have chickens for sure! Thanks for stopping by. vickie


oz girl
1/19/2010 9:19:35 AM

Vickie ~ thanks so much for stopping by my very first Grit post! :-) I'm so happy to be part of the Grit blogging community. This is something I've pondered -- we already have a chicken coop on our property, although NOW it needs a few repairs after hubby's 2009 pasture burn... well, that's another Grit blog post. {teehee} Quite a few of my internet bloggy friends have chickens and I always enjoy reading of their adventures - and all the different types of chickens they have! Some are absolutely beautiful with their feather colors. I loved reading everyone's comments here and I look forward to following your adventures with chickens. Perhaps eventually I will be compelled to get a few myself - I would love to have my own eggs! But of course, after we repair the coop. And then there's all the coyotes out here... *sigh* Susan City Gal Moves to Oz Land


vickie
1/13/2010 8:03:00 AM

Shannon, Your right people have been so nice with giving all this information. It will definetly help a lot of people wanting to start raising chickens. I know it will me as soon as the chicken ordinance passes. vickie


s.m.r. saia
1/13/2010 6:32:23 AM

Vickie, thanks so much for this post, which has generated so much great information!!!!


vickie
1/12/2010 9:34:08 AM

Andrew, Thanks for the encouragement-I can't wait to find out when I get those chickens. I found the book at the local library that colleen was talking about and reserved it hopefully I will know more when I read it. I don't think it's too hard -I'm just a little nervous! Trying though to take it one day at a time like your post said. vickie


vickie
1/12/2010 9:30:09 AM

Andrew, Thanks for the encouragement-I can't wait to find out when I get those chickens. I found the book at the local library that colleen was talking about and reserved it hopefully I will know more when I read it. I don't think it's too hard -I'm just a little nervous! Trying though to take it one day at a time like your post said. vickie


anotherkindofdrew
1/12/2010 9:06:10 AM

When I started raising chickens I worried myself sick with the same questions you are exploring. In fact, there are days (especially now that my region is facing unheard of freezing temperatures) when I just want to bring 'em inside and let 'em do whatever they want whether that involves laying eggs or not. I think the first question that has to be asked though is "why do I want to raise chickens?" Once you do that you can set out some goals and guidelines as to your expectations and milestones. I can guarantee this though. Once you gather that first egg or you hear that first cluck, your life will never be the same! I am so excited for you. Keep us posted! -Drew anotherkindofdrew.com


anotherkindofdrew
1/12/2010 9:01:37 AM

When I started raising chickens I worried myself sick with the same questions you are exploring. In fact, there are days (especially now that my region is facing unheard of freezing temperatures) when I just want to bring 'em inside and let 'em do whatever they want whether that involves laying eggs or not. I think the first question that has to be asked though is "why do I want to raise chickens?" Once you do that you can set out some goals and guidelines as to your expectations and milestones. I can guarantee this though. Once you gather that first egg or you hear that first cluck, your life will never be the same! I am so excited for you. Keep us posted! -Drew anotherkindofdrew.com


anotherkindofdrew
1/12/2010 8:59:36 AM

When I started raising chickens I worried myself sick with the same questions you are exploring. In fact, there are days (especially now that my region is facing unheard of freezing temperatures) when I just want to bring 'em inside and let 'em do whatever they want whether that involves laying eggs or not. I think the first question that has to be asked though is "why do I want to raise chickens?" Once you do that you can set out some goals and guidelines as to your expectations and milestones. I can guarantee this though. Once you gather that first egg or you hear that first cluck, your life will never be the same! I am so excited for you. Keep us posted! -Drew anotherkindofdrew.com


anotherkindofdrew
1/12/2010 8:58:13 AM

When I started raising chickens I worried myself sick with the same questions you are exploring. In fact, there are days (especially now that my region is facing unheard of freezing temperatures) when I just want to bring 'em inside and let 'em do whatever they want whether that involves laying eggs or not. I think the first question that has to be asked though is "why do I want to raise chickens?" Once you do that you can set out some goals and guidelines as to your expectations and milestones. I can guarantee this though. Once you gather that first egg or you hear that first cluck, your life will never be the same! I am so excited for you. Keep us posted! -Drew anotherkindofdrew.com


vickie
1/11/2010 8:39:24 PM

Colleen, I can't wait to see if the library has that book -if not I might have to break loose and buy it. I've read quite a few but this one sounds like the one I need. Thanks for the info and I'm glad there is someone else like me-who needs all the answers before we do something! vickie


coleenm
1/11/2010 7:36:22 PM

Vickie, I just began raising my first chickens last spring. It's wonderful. I also had the same questions as you in the begining. So, me-being-me, and not doing ANYTHING until I read up on it, I got my hands on the book: Storeys Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow. It answered all my questions and will answer yours as well. Why do I want to raise chickens? What breed? What's a breed? What about food, housing, noise? What will I do with all those eggs? How many eggs? ....And a lot more! This book was a huge help to me. Grit has it for sale but you can also look for it at your library. You might get lucky. This is the book that gave me the confidence to dive right in. Give it a shot. Chickens are great!


vickie
1/9/2010 7:13:43 PM

Rodeo, You are a joy to read! Thanks for the good information and I'll try not to get too overwhelmed about it. I'm so glad I picked the right farm animal to start with-I need something easy! Plus my husband said no goats. vickie


rodeo princess
1/9/2010 5:42:08 PM

Okay - It's Rodeo from over on that other blog on grit. This is what I know about chickens: people over complicate raising them. They are feathered guppies. We've had them at the farm, free range, for twenty five years. In those twenty five years I have had horses colic, sheep require emergency baby aid, goats tear off their horns, dogs eat any number of toxic substances and cats that swallowed balls of string. I can't think of one chicken generated emergency. They are, in my opinion, better if kept with a little benign neglect. As to breeds, we have had everything from Austrolorpes to Orpingtons to exotic French banties and they are all just as hardy and happy as the next breed. In fact, when they get to co-mingling, you get a lot of really hardy funny looking chickens which provide endless amusement in addition to eggs. Ours eat chicken food, but they also eat dead mice they find, bugs, all manner of kitchen scraps and this year, my Halloween pumpkin. Fun chicken fact: if you have all hens, someone will turn into a rooster eventually. At least, a hen that looks and acts like a rooster. TRUTH - it's happened here. We always always have enough eggs. If you want to see happy chickens, look at the chickens in Key West. No houses at all, no feed at all, just scraps and being a chicken. THAT is what makes chickens happy. Some live to be seven, some die as chicks. I don't know why. I say, just enjoy them and don't over think it!!


vickie
1/9/2010 10:26:05 AM

Thanks Cindy -hope you are enjoying the snow and the cold! Have a great weekend vickie


cindy murphy
1/9/2010 9:37:39 AM

Good luck, Vickie. Looking forward to reading how things turn out once you get your backyard chicken coop up and running.


vickie
1/9/2010 4:49:33 AM

Randy, Oh my goodness thank you so much for taking the time to write all that. I love the idea of the chicken coop and all your information was great- its apparently not that hard! I'm going to save your page so I can come back to it often. Thanks again. vickie


randy_2
1/8/2010 10:08:31 PM

Hi, Not sure if it's helpful but I have tried to deal with a lot of your questions at http://eavesdroppingonmyself.blogspot.com/2010/01/chickens-its-apparently-not-that-hard.html. Let me know if you have other questions. Randy Mace