7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing Chicks


In conjunction with Tractor Supply Company Chick Days, I'll be appearing at various stores during this spring's events, helping people pick out their chicks, teaching them how to raise them and answering any questions they have. Early education really is the key to a successful, healthy flock, so I'm really excited to be involved in this event as part of being an Ambassador for the company, and be able to get even more people started out raising their chickens naturally for the best start in life.

The chicken catalogs are starting to arrive in the mail, and everyone gets all excited about all the breeds of chicks available. I will be adding a few new breeds to my flock myself this spring, as I normally do, and I know how hard it is for me to narrow down my selections, so I thought I would share some of the questions to ask yourself as you are choosing breeds - either to start a brand new flock or to add to your existing flock.

I've tried to list the questions in order of importance, although what might be a deciding factor for one person, might not matter to another. There really is no 'best' breed, it's such a personal decision based on your family's wants and needs. Although I always recommend a flock comprised of as many different breeds as you can for a more interesting flock and egg basket. But each question is still an important one to pose before you even approach at TSC or feed store selling chicks, because trust me, once you get within peeping distance, all your resolve will fly right out the window. So take a look and think about the questions.

And if you live in Maine, scroll down to the bottom to check out the list of stores I'll be at, and the dates and times for each location. I would love to say hello, even if you're not in the market for chicks this spring!

Space? 

Larger breeds require more space, while bantams require less. Going by the rule of thumb of 3-5 square feet of coop floor space and 10 square feet of run space per hen, realize that you may be able to fit in a few more if you raise bantams and a few fewer if you settle on Jersey Giants!

Purpose

Why you want chickens will dictate which breeds would be appropriate and narrow your list down considerably. If you are looking for really great layers, you will want to stick with production breeds, leghorns or other high-yield breeds.  If you want the chickens for meat, then the Cornish Cross or other meat breeds would be best. But also consider dual purpose breeds or heritage breeds. They are good for both eggs and meat. Many people who raise chickens for meat and eggs will keep the females as layers and use the roosters for meat - just like old-time farmers used to.

Hens Only?

Some areas only allow hens. So that's an easy question to answer for some. But just because you are allowed a rooster, doesn't mean you should have one. You don't need a rooster for hens to lay eggs - they'll lay just as well without one, but the eggs won't be fertile and will never hatch. Roosters aren't really any match for a predator like a coyote or fox, and despite common belief, roosters don't just crow at sunrise - they crow all day long. Roosters are rough on the hens and tear them up 'treading' their backs while mating. And if you have small children, consider what would happen if an aggressive rooster decided to attack one of them?

Climate

Most chickens are naturally cold-hardy, so in the northern states, you don't need to worry much about choosing a breed that can't handle the cold, although the Mediterranean breeds, with their large combs and slight bodies, don't do well in the cold. However, they are perfectly suited for the warm southern climates, since they expel their body heat through those combs in the summer to stay cool. Becoming familiar with some of the cold-hardy and heat-tolerant breeds is a good idea if you live in either of the extreme climates.

Temperament

Temperament in chickens really does vary quick remarkably by breed. From the super docile Faverolles, Buffs, Cochins and Australorps to the more skittish Marans, Wyandottes, Ameraucanas and Leghorns, if you want "lap chickens", you'll want to choose your chicks carefully from the more docile breeds. If you have children especially, the docile breeds will become family pets, enjoying being petted and snuggled and even pushed around in doll carriages or pulled in wagons.

Egg Color

Eggs come in a wide variety of colors from white or pale cream to pink, light tan to brown or even dark chocolate brown, green and blue. Doing some research into which breeds lay which color eggs will result in a colorful egg basket, if that's your goal. 

Appearance

The appearance of the chicken itself is another consideration. Some people love the Ameraucanas with their cheek muffs, others prefer a "cleaner" face. There are frizzle chickens who always look like a stiff wind is blowing. There are feather-legged breeds, such as Cochins and Brahmas, and those without feathers. Other breeds, like Faverolles and Marans, have feathered feet. There are larger breeds and smaller. Hefty-bodied and more sleek-bodied.



Once you've narrowed down some breeds based on your answers to these questions, you'll be better prepared to head out to choose some chicks to bring home with you. And have a better chance of ending up with the perfect flock for your family.
__________________________________

Chicks and ducklings will first start arriving in Tractor Supply stores between Feb 15 and the week of March 7, depending what part of the country you live in. If you want to know exactly when chicks are arriving at your store, you can message TSC on Facebook, or type “Tractor Supply” and your store’s location into the FB search bar and check out your local store info page, which will have the date listed. Breed availability will vary by store. 

Visit the following central Maine Tractor Supply locations during Chick Days to meet me in person - and I'll even help you choose the perfect chicks for you! I'll be answering questions, taking photos for the Tractor Supply #chickdays photo contest on Instagram and Twitter AND two lucky people at each location will win a $25 TSC Gift Card!



Saturday 10-12

Bangor, ME - 3/12          Waterville, ME - 3/19          Ellsworth, ME - 3/26       Skowhegan, ME - 4/2
  1161 Broadway                   10 JFK Plaza                     461 High Street            381 Madison Avenue

Sunday, 10-12

 Dover-Foxcroft, ME - 4/3
1073 West Main Street

Hope to see you there!

Be social..
©2016 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment

 photo subscribe-banner-700_zpsn8yjeogq.jpg