Chickens - beginner basics, advice needed

Hello! I’m considering the idea of raising egg-laying chickens, however, I’m a complete novice and would love to hear some advice from those who know what they’re doing. A few questions I have are:

  1. How many to start off with? (I’ve heard 4 is a good amount if you want a little more than a dozen eggs per week.)
  2. What are the best egg-laying breeds that won’t break the bank?
  3. Is it better to start out with chicks or with hens?
  4. Equipment - besides a coop, what are the basics one would need in order to get going?
  5. Feed- best for your buck?
  6. Any other advice for a beginner?

Hi. I just received a dozen day old chicks (female) from a great hatchery. I raised chickens years ago and now have space again to do so at my new property. 1. Cheapest option is to buy chicks at a feed store - they will be breeds that are generic good layers. Rhode Is reds and such. 2. My nicest chickens were always the ones that either I hatched or were hatched by my hens because they were handled a lot by my kids and were used to people. Some breeds are super friendly but might not be the best layers. Some lay more in the winter which is awesome to do some research on a hatchery website. 3. You get what you pay for when purchasing food for all animals - inc humans : ) You can grow some for them and various chicken site will offer all kind of hacks for healthy happy chickens. 4. Depending on your environment you may need a chicken run/yard. They need space! The little caged area under those little coops is NOT enough space for healthy chickens. If they are crowded or bord they will peak at each other and cause illness. 5. Keeping chickens is super easy and fun! If you buy organic cage free eggs you are going to see some money saved here. If you buy cheap low quality eggs you will not be saving by having your own. 6. Downsides to chicks… they don’t lay for about 4 months, they need to be kept warm until it is warm outside, they are messy. 7. I can only free range my chickens when the dogs or a family member is out on the farm because bald eagles, fox etc will spot the in an instant. If you have a rooster he will just be killed trying to save the hens : ( I love having chickens!

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Fantastic advice, thank you so much!

Another complete novice here, hoping to get started this spring! I’ve been reading The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery and finding it really helpful with lots of specific information. I checked it out from the library but am considering purchasing my own copy to keep for future reference.

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Thanks - I’ll be sure to check out that book. :slight_smile:

Sorry, I missed this when it was first posted! Yes, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is excellent!

Common egg laying breeds are, as mentioned above, often available at feed stores. I’ve also had good luck ordering them via mail. Rhode Island Reds are good layers, as are Barred Rock and Buff Orpington. I have Delawares for the first time, though, and I have to say I love them. They’re the quietest, friendliest birds I’ve had!

Cheaper to start with chicks, plus you can handle them to keep them friendlier.

I have a couple of posts that may answer some of your other questions:

Feed: https://www.attainable-sustainable.net/feeding-chickens-cheap/
Gear: https://www.attainable-sustainable.net/chicken-supplies/

You may have already gotten them at this point, but maybe this is helpful!