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Why You Need a {Small} Flock of Chickens

Updated on May 29, 2013

What's So Great About Having Chickens?

You're probably thinking that the only thing a flock of chickens, even a SMALL flock, could possibly add to your life, would be more WORK.

Well, I'm writing this lens to prove to you how wrong you would be in making that assumption.

Not only is having your own flock not going to be that much work on your part, but your chickens are going to provide you with the most delicious eggs you've ever eaten in your entire life, not to mention they have some entertainment value also. The chickens that is, not the eggs.

So let me try to persuade you to have your own small flock of chickens.

Photo, above: That's our hen "Red", and the red roo who was supposed to be a hen also. Red roo has passed on. He was mean. Very, very mean. 'Nuf said. Oh, and that's Midge's butt behind them.

Why Did I Get Chickens?

Because I know you're dying to find out.

My reasons were simple. We live on 27 acres, so we have room. We had an old coop. It would have worked just fine, until the hubby burned off our pastures in the spring of '09 and severely torched the coop in the process. Luckily, we didn't have the chickens yet.

(The only casualty was Barack, our black cat - he lost his whiskers and he was crunchy when I petted him. Just a few singed hairs ~trust me, he was fine. Our barn cats would hang out in the coop back then - not anymore!)

I wanted fresh eggs. I had heard so many good things about having your own chickens, and getting fresh eggs from them, how superior they are to supermarket eggs, yada, yada, yada.

I wanted to be a REAL country girl, dang-it.

And so finally, in the fall of 2011, we purchased our first chicks at the local Orscheln's. I only wanted hens, but then caved and got one rooster. So I picked out my "pullets" (I say "pullet" loosely - you'll find out why later...) 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Buff Orpingtons, 1 Ameraucana, 1 Barred Rock and 1 Barred Rock rooster.

Some of the Best Chicken Books - I love Amazon.

In fact, I love Amazon so much that I bought a subscription to Amazon Prime this year. Because I have a Kindle Fire and I want books to read. Ok, who am I kidding.... I'm a glutton for shopping on Amazon, and I want my stuff delivered as fast as possible!

But I digress. If you've been thinking about getting your own chickens, here are some great starter books. I have Storey's Guide, and it's a good-sized book chock-full of info. It's the kind of book you'll dig out of the bookcase time and time again. I highly recommend it.

Basic Chicken Knowledge

A "pullet" is a hen under a year old, while a "cockerel" is a rooster under a year old.

My Chicken Breeds

Or, why did I pick them?

I did lots of research on chicken breeds before I picked mine. I also had Australorp and Dorking on my list, but my local store didn't have either of these breeds when I purchased my chicks.

The characteristics of the following breeds will help you understand the reasons I decided to include them in my flock.

Rhode Island Red: Considered a dual-purpose bird, good for meat and eggs. Popular for backyard flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness. Friendly chickens, often good as pets for children, except for the roosters, which can become aggressive when annoyed. (amen to that!) Hens will lay more than average hens (+200 eggs/year) if fed a quality feed and/or free ranged. Our hen, Red, is a bit stand-offish but she's a good layer.

(see photo in intro, above)

Buff Orpington: Perfect backyard, homestead chickens. Large (7-10 lbs) and easily tamed. Hens make great mothers. Excellent layers with good meat quality. This breed does well in very cold climates. We started with two pullets and ended up with a hen and a rooster. Sally is skittish but tolerates being removed from the nesting box quite well. Foghorn, the rooster, needs to stop trying to assert his dominance over me and my husband, else he will end up in the same place as the red roo did.



Barred Rock: Also known as Plymouth Rock. This is a cold-hardy, dual-purpose chicken and a great addition to the backyard flock. Both hens and roosters are evenly tempered, and usually get along well with people and other animals. Hens are good mothers, and good layers. We have two - Roxanne (aka the bitch) and Chickie, who adores my husband.




Ameraucana: Most Ameraucanas are actually "mutt" Easter Eggers. They have the blue egg-laying gene, but do not meet any of the Ameraucana breed descriptions found in the American Poultry Association's standards. Regardless, we love our "mutt" Midge, both for her blue eggs and for her unique feather coloring and her sweet face.

Bottom line: the breeds I picked were generally known for being calm, relatively docile and friendly, climate-hardy, and good egg layers.




Photo note: The photos shown are of my own flock. Please do not copy or use these photos on other websites without proper credit to Oz Girl.

May 2013, additional side note -- I agonized over re-uploading these photos when I noticed at some point that they were no longer here. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I cannot seem to upload them in a larger resolution so that they are not so pixelated. I have spent well over 2 hours trying to figure this out and I think I finally give up.

A Rule of Thumb

One Rooster to Every 10 Hens

That's if you don't want cock fights in your coop. I didn't, so my plan was to buy all pullets, and avoid the rooster issue all together.

Ah, the best laid plans....

As mentioned above, I ended up buying all pullets and then changed my mind and bought one rooster - a "pan-fry" special. The girl at the store assured me that meant "rooster". So we left the store with 8 chicks total.

My "pan-fry" special was a barred rock rooster. Sadly, as the chicks matured, we discovered that two of the other pullets were actually roosters in disguise. So I had paid more for pullets and still ended up with roosters!

One of the buff orpingtons was a rooster and one of the rhode island reds was a rooster. Sigh.... such a dilemma. Way too many roosters for our small flock.

As they grew, they started to fight. It was inevitable. My "pan-fry" special, the barred rock roo, was picked on mercilessly, and of all the roosters, he seemed to have the best temperament. Whether he got sick, or the other two roosters hurt him, we'll never know. But he became rather inert and listless, so I brought him into the house in a dog crate and kept him on the back porch, trying to nurse him back to health. Alas, I woke up one Saturday morning, went to check on him, and he was dead. I was oh-so-sad.

The rhode island red rooster was proving to be extremely aggressive and mean, so hubby dispatched him one sunny day.

The buff orpington rooster seemed to be fine. But lately he has also become aggressive, so he may eventually go the way of the Red Roo.

Aggressive roosters are no laughing matter and can inflict considerable injury and damage to a human. I've already had my run-in with our golden roo, and now when I need to go into the chicken pen or coop, I ensure that I am adequately protected in case he decides to assert his male dominance. Follow this link to read my tongue-in-cheek blog post about my adventures with our angry rooster.

What can you learn from this? It's probably best to spend the few extra dollars for pullets if you don't want roosters, but just bear in mind that sexing chicks is a difficult job, and it's not always guaranteed. You may STILL end up with a rooster. Or two. Or three....

A Flock Rule

Use a ratio of one rooster for every 10 hens, to avoid cock fights.

Feeders for Your Chickens - What You're Gonna Need

You'll need a feeder (or two) for your chickens, and a few waterers too. If you don't get yours at Amazon, you can usually get them at your local Tractor Supply, Orscheln's, Atwood's, etc. You'll want to be sure you get the right size of feeder for the number of chickens you have - you don't want any fighting, or any of the chickens being crowded out and not being able to eat!

Whether you've had chickens in the past, or you have them now. Whether you like them, or not. I want to know whatever you want to tell me about chickens.

Or, if you want, you can just tell me that you enjoyed my lens. :-)

Let's Hear Your Chicken Comments - Love 'em or hate 'em - I want to know!

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    • GrannyA profile image

      GrannyA 4 years ago

      I have 4 buff orpingtons and one red, I love them all. All five are hens, but lately the red has decided she is a rooster and has become the leader of the pack. If she starts crowing this could be a problem. Yes, she is a hen, she lays an egg for me every day. My husband had a co-worker (who also raises chickens) tell him that if you don't have a rooster one of the hens will do this.

    • Thrinsdream profile image

      Thrinsdream 5 years ago

      I used to keep chickens when we lived in Scotland but alas cannot where I live now as I am out and about too much! Really loved this article it made me smile. With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      I am loving all of your lenses on chickens and fresh eggs. Now I'm off to your next lens! Very informative. Thakns so much for sharing. WIth food prices going up, not to mention the problems of hormones in our livestock, this is an idea lots of people need to be thinking about!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very interesting idea - never really thought about having my own chickens, but it certainly seems like a useful idea!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      We had chickens when I was a kid. You are right about the eggs tasting so great. Ours were free-range chickens which means sometimes they would perch in the trees at night and we'd have a hard time getting them into the henhouse. We had to worry about coyotes, so they weren't allowed to stay out at night.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the lens it gave me a good laugh, my sisters name is Roxanne so that was even funnier, when are you going to get geese, now they are really something else, if you were having problems with the rooster try geese, I had one who thought I was her mother, she was like a shadow and couldn't understand why she couldn't come inside. Like I said well done it was a great read

    • Doggitude profile image

      Doggitude 5 years ago

      I love our chickens! I think we have about 20 right now, the same kinds as you. One of our "pullets" ended up being a rooster too, but he's been nice so far so he's still around. Nothing beats the taste of fresh eggs...everyone we introduce our eggs to wants to buy them, haha. One of my favorite things to do is to go into the coop at night when the hens are roosting because at that time I can pick them up and hold them and they are so docile. Very soft and beautiful creatures really!

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Chickens are fun to watch.

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

      Well. . . I love fresh eggs Ba-gooock! I really 'liked' this lens and got 100% on the pole!

    • DeannaDiaz profile image

      DeannaDiaz 5 years ago

      I often take care of my uncles chickens when he is out of town, I hate how they pick on each other!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Always fun to stop by. So sorry to hear about your sweet guy passing on. It's never the mean ones. When I was a child, I was afraid of the roosters. Well, and the geese, too. They could really get you when you least expected it. Of course, my aunt was also known to "dispatch" when necessary. I'm hoping to get my first pullets this spring. No roosters for me (keep your fingers crossed).

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Wow! One rooster to every 10 hens? Busy guy!

    • profile image

      GetSillyProduct 5 years ago

      Chickens can be cute :)

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I enjoyed your chicken lens. We had 6 chickens and some people laughed at us. They became our pets but they did supply more than enough eggs for two families besides ours. They all died a natural death and have a burial spot in our pasture.

      Angel blessed.

    • OzGirl LM profile image
      Author

      OzGirl LM 5 years ago

      @Steph Tietjen: You are absolutely right, they are voracious bug-eaters, another benefit of having chickens. We also have guineas - they help keep the yard free of ticks and fleas, which is really excellent where our dogs are concerned. Thanks for visiting!

    • OzGirl LM profile image
      Author

      OzGirl LM 5 years ago

      @Terrie_Schultz: I'm so sad that out of 8 chicks bought, 3 ended up being roos! The one that was nice, died, we're not sure why... and the two that were left obviously have domination issues. Ok, so the one that is left... since we already dispatched the other mean one.

    • OzGirl LM profile image
      Author

      OzGirl LM 5 years ago

      @favored: Yes, I saw the lens about having a chicken as a housepet - that made me chuckle. I think I will draw the line at the back door. They have their own marvelously redesigned and almost-new chicken coop!

    • OzGirl LM profile image
      Author

      OzGirl LM 5 years ago

      @CatJGB: I love the names for your bantams! So imaginative. :-) I think you will have loads of fun with your small flock.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I have kept chickens in the past, sold my flock 2 years ago because I planned to move. I didn't move, and will be getting some hens this spring to fill the empty chicken house. I like Ameraucanas for their friendly nature and pretty eggs--they're good bug eaters, too. Your lens has good information. Thanks

    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 5 years ago

      I LOVE your chicken lenses! Really well done!

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      Very nice lens. We've had chickens for many years and really enjoy them. The most we had at one time was 9, and now we only have three. We've never had a rooster, though.

    • profile image

      josephpowell519 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, really worth the read and very informative. I've given this page a like.

      I have a few lenses but the poetry and massage chair one have seemed to be the most popular... http://www.squidoo.com/poetry17

      http://www.squidoo.com/massage-chairs4

    • domain19 profile image

      domain19 5 years ago

      nice... i really enjoyed read your lens... thanks for share... :D

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      Your chickens are lovely (did I say that about a chicken?) I've been reading a lot about chickens here lately, and even found a lens on them as house pets. You guys are very good at convincing people that everyone should have at least one chicken (that's not human) in their life. Thanks for the info. Enjoyed it.

    • mary lighthouse15 profile image

      mary lighthouse15 5 years ago

      I grew up in a small farm and we raised chicken and other animals...This is a nice lens!

    • profile image

      CatJGB 5 years ago

      We gave our boys four bantam chooks for Christmas last year. They are great entertainment and funny little birds. Have been assured they are girls and can bring back any that turn out to be roos. Their names are Dangermouse, Penfold, Anakin Skywalker and Shuttle. So if they turn out to be roos at least they have appropriate names lol. We've hand no eggs yet as they are only about 12-14 weeks old as of now.