So, you want to get into raising chickens now do you? Well everyone we know who has chickens love them! Be warned though, as chickens are what we in the industry refer to as "the gateway drug" to other farm animals! What started as cute little chicks at Tractor Supply has resulted in goats, horses, and even alpacas here at Tucker's Coops!
To be honest, I'm not sure anyone knows the exact count. Industry experts have estimated it to be in the hundreds. However, everyone can generally agree that all of the breeds fall into one of the following four categories.
Heritage chickens are natural breeding chickens that have a slow growth rate and live a long, productive, outdoor life. There are many breeds that fall into this category, and they all must conform to the American Poultry Association's standard for that breed.
Breeds like Leghorns and Australorps are good examples of bountiful egg producers. Like the category name implies, these breeds have been bred to produce large quantities of eggs through their short production lifetimes.
For folks who want to have their cake and eat it too, this is the category for you. These chickens are productive in the egg department and also grow large enough to be used as a meat bird later in their life.
I'm sure you can guess what these chickens are bred for. Most backyard enthusiasts avoid these breeds, simply because they are meant for meat and not egg production.
Your first option is to buy fertilized eggs that you will need to incubate. Hobbyists new to chickens should avoid starting with this approach, as there is definitely a developed art to it.
The cheapest and most widely used for beginners, you can select the breeds you'd like and when you want them. Depending on the time of year and breed, you can get them for between $0.25 and $3.00 per chick
Pullets refers to chickens between four to six months in age. These chicks have been raised to adulthood and should start to lay eggs soon after purchase! These typically cost more than chicks but less than adults.
Adult hens in their prime are the most expensive and more difficult to come by. Typically, breeders like to sell their birds before they get too old since they cost more to feed. Make sure to check your local shelters or sanctuaries!
No matter where you decide to buy your coop, make sure to look out for these 7 requirements!
Arguably the most important need of all, your new flock will need a place to get out of the hot summer sun and cold winter winds. Make sure inside the coop is water proof, a wet chicken is a miserable chicken.
Adequate space is another essential requirement, especially to your flock to co-habit peacefully. The more crowded together your birds are, the more likely they are to start picking and pecking each other. All of our coops come with recommendations for how many chickens they should house.
Proper coop ventilation will ensure the coop is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A good air flow keeps the coop at optimal temperatures year round.
There always seems to be more nesting boxes than necessary, usually there is one favorite box they will all squabble over. It's a good idea to have at least one box for every three hens.
Each night the chickens will snuggle up on roosts to sleep. They usually like to all sleep on the same perch/roost, although some occasionally prefer their own.
In addition to the space inside the coop, your chickens will need some outside space. This can either be a contained space, like a run, or free range. Our most popular model, the "Nancy" has both a coop and run, making it a great choice for beginners.
Heavy duty, PVC coated wire should surround the coop/run and be buried around the coop to prevent predators from digging in. Keep the runs covered to prevent larger birds from swooping in, and use a locking mechanism to lock the coop doors at night. Raccoons are notoriously smart animals that can open simply locks and bolts.
Before you buy the most adorable little chicks you have ever seen, make sure you have everything you will need for the chicks in advance. Your local farm store should have a large amount of chicken related items, and of course you can find almost anything online! Below you'll find a brief list of some materials you will want to pick up before you purchase your new feathery friends.