After chickens for 30 years, this year the foxes finally hit that last nerve. Last year they ate over 40 chickens, that was with a second restock. This year they wiped out another 30+ in less than 3 months. I assume it was foxes because we killed some. Was odd, there was never any feathers indicating a fight though. I have seen a few bald eagles roosting in the big pecan trees mext door too. Anyway I am out of the chicken business. If you are doing it for any other reason that the good taste of fresh yard eggs, don't do it. Jumbo's store boughts are cheaper and less involved that yard eggs, seriously!
I gathered every day, rain or shine, hurricanes or hail, you must be consistant if you plan on getting eggs.
Set up a yard, they will pick it clean to the dirt. BUT they are better than a pig trough for getting rid of scraps. No composting required. What comes out will make the biggest sweetest strawberrys ever seen or tasted at the state fair.
I suggest you start low and slow, make sure its for you first before jumping off head first in the shallow end. I suggest an easily mobile tractor. Nearly always one for free in the wanted section of the paper. Thats should tell you something.
Make sure you have some old shoes/boots the yard will be messy. Ewwww.......
Make sure you have plenty of friends, I have no idea how many eggs we gave away, 2 doz a day for 25+ years is a bunch.
Poultry pellets (laying pellets), make a difference and crack your own corn!
Use a large pan for water, chickens know that turning over the automatic waterer makes you mad, you make them mad they retaliate! Good place to reread about boots above.
Check and buy birds for your location and check their Production rate, egg size, disposition, enviroment recommentations (confined or free range), etc etc.
I live in the south, I still have a heat light above the roost if its a cold winter night.
Check the local feed & seed to start, they usually have carry overs (the buy in bulk and sell how ever many you want) they may be close to laying or not. The older they are the more expensive they get. A .25 bulk chick at 3 months costs 10.00
Mites and fleas must be dealt with I always use Sevin dust in the nests and a flower pot for them to roll in.
Everyone has their favorites but...... contact Meyer Hatchery in Polk Ohio and get a master poultry catalog. They are my favorite. I am sure there is much more I am forgetting, but its not brain science. Buy a hardy breed w/ a good disposition, visit 'em daily water and feed, gather eggs, LOL.. oh and get your neighbor involved too. When you have to go to the grand babies for the week someone has to take care of 'em. But start small and don't cuss me, I warned you.
I highly recommend a yard/pen instead of free range. Chickens are dumber than possums and coons about cars. LOL.. about most anything.
Look for an easily Mobile Tractor to start.
LOL.. we always had some Aracondas, people get a big kick out of the naturally green egg color. I also like the golden buffs, if I ever start again they are my first choice. Excellant disposition, they will follow you around and get mad if you ignore one. Good production if they are good for your area.
Edited by Foamheart - 5/17/13 at 11:31pm