My husband & I have talked about keeping a few hens and a rooster for eggs (and an alarm clock). We have no coop, roosts or perches built yet... just a big backyard. And I'm a little stuck getting started. Does anyone know of any good educational resources for first-timers?

What do I need to have in place before getting the chickens?

Guidance from the community is much appreciated.

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I like the BackYard Chickens website. they have basic info on getting started & a message board for any questions you may have.

Once you're ready to get chickens, the and Feathersite have lots of info on the different breeds. Feathersite also has info on raising chickens.

You don't really need much to get started. Just a brooder box (I used a cardboard box), warmer light, waterer, feed trough, chick starter, & pine shavings. Just add chicks! You will need a coop soon (once they get to be bigger: 6-10 wks old).

The folks at Town & Country Feed on Central east of Tramway (almost to Carnuel) are really nice & would be happy to answer any questions & make sure that you have the right supplies. They got me fixed up with everything that I needed except the coop. I'm not sure whether they still have chicks. I know that Farmer's Feed on 4th still has chicks.
You cannot go wrong with Jen's advice and experience, but just to add to it a little I would say that of all the books we purchased on raising urban chickens we love City Chicks the best. That is our "go-to" book. I was out of town during the coop and garden tour this year. My wife was not comfortable putting us on the tour when I was not home; especially since besides the chickens, raised bed gardens, and worms, we also keep bees. However, you are welcome to check out our coop. Believe it or not we live in the NE Heights. The coop I built has worked well for us for almost a full year, and our girls seem to be pretty happy with it too. Our home number is 275-9012.
Bob and Vicki
Thanks everybody! I will follow your links. Thanks also for the invitation to see your setup, Bob. It would be educational, so we might just take you up on that. :o]

Any thoughts on starting with adult hens vs. chicks?
I have heard that its better to get chicks in the spring so that they have time to grow when its warm rather than when its cold - makes for a more sturdy chicken. Therefore at this time of year its probably better to start with laying hens.
Personally I think its better to start with chicks because if you've never had chickens before. You sort of grow with them. Also if you have chicks the more time you hang out with them the tamer your chickens will be (unless they're stubborn French Marans) - and thats especially true for roosters. If you're buying laying hens you don't know how skiddish they're going to be. But maybe none of this is relevent if you're going to have a rooster, because - as with our rooster - he wont like for you to touch the ladies anyway.
I agree with everything Jennifer said. This is my first year with chickens. I started with chicks & it was fun to watch them grow up. They're not friendly in the way of dogs, but they do run up to greet me when I come in the yard (checking to see if I have treats). The chicks do require a bit more work. Since our weather is more temperate than some places, I think that if you got chicks now, they would be big enough to do OK outside before it gets really cold.

A good option for older hens might be from a 4-H-er. There was another post from a family with extra hens for sale. I would assume that these should be more "tame" since the kids have handled them regularly as part of the 4-H process.
Hi Candy~ As a new urban chicken farmer I would suggest to take Bob up on his offer ASAP!
We recently went on the ABQ Chicken Coop/Garden tour and it was extremely helpful as well as inspirational! Just seeing so many set-ups and happy chickens was a huge boon to our endeavors.

We have a small space and found a design to modify. Plus our 2 girls were adopted juveniles
(16-18 weeks-a week before the tour) because we just did not have the time to nurture baby chicks. Our girls just started laying, a happy shock, we did not expect this until spring. They are very personable and love to know what were up to. You are also welcome to check out our coop and set-up. We live in Barelas, by the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 385-9392.
Good Luck!!!! ~ julianna & ryan
I got some books from the library and talked to friends in town who have coops (a neighbor, the minister at our church) before getting hens. After getting chicks, we transformed a kids play house into a hen house and built a coop. We went on the coop tour and it reaffirmed what I was learning on my own. I went to the 40H sale and bought two new hens, and the kids I bought them for still have some for sale.

Hope that helps.

Lisa Johnson
Just a quick point- Roosters aren't necessary for egg production, although many people are under the impression that they are. Hens will keep laying whether there is a rooster around or not. The only thing a rooster does is provide fertile eggs, which doesn't really matter unless you want chicks at some point.

They do make excellent alarm clocks, though.
Yeah...we had hens for a long time without a rooster...but I have to say now that we have one I am completely charmed by him.


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