When I discovered our city was zoned for chickens, much to my husband’s dismay, I began my backyard flock. Growing up, we had a cat, dogs, birds, fish and even a snake. I had my heart set on raising some chickens but I knew NOTHING.
So my quest began to find “pretty” chickens. I had no clue where to buy them, what they needed to eat, what size hen house was appropriate, the different breeds, or even which kinds to buy. There are so many choices- There are brown egg layers, white, colored, dark brown, then there were broiler/meat chickens, dual purpose breeds, rare chicken breeds, standard old English game hens, bantams, polish, crested, etc… Then I needed to decide if I wanted day old baby chicks or pullets (which are teenagers).
I knew I wanted baby chicks, because why not, they are soooo cute. And I did know roosters were a no-go. Our city regulations do not allow males. So, purchasing “straight run” was out of the question. This is when you get a mixed bag of unsexed chicks. We needed females only. Next up, I knew 6 should be the limit. This was due to coop size and not needing more than 18-20 eggs a week. I didn’t care about egg color and egg production wasn’t even a thought in my mind at the time.
I didn’t know where to buy local, so I turned to an online hatchery which would ship 6 female day old chicks. I found these adorable bantams that seemed perfect. They met my few requirements; “pretty”, known to make good pets and they laid eggs.
My chicks arrived surprisingly alive after trekking half way across the US via the postal service. They were sent Next Day Air but were really in the box for 2.5 days. Had I realized, I would have never bought them this way. Such torture. Anyway within a week 3 of them had perished. Apparently, it is well known that you should double your order as about half don’t survive. I had no idea, nor did it even dawn on me this could happen, I was blinded with excitement. I now buy from a local feed shop.
Anyway, raising day old chicks was fun but I’ll never do it again. I now buy pullets. I am super happy with our current flock. We have 4 hens which produce more than enough eggs for our family. Around the winter holidays I do supplement with store bought due to the reduction in egg production (less daylight). My husband doesn’t know it yet, but once our kids get a little older and have more of an appetite, we will be adding 2 more to our backyard flock.
Bearded Silkie Bantum
Asian origin, docile and make great pets. They are a smaller bird, hence the name bantam, have black skin, 5 toes and feathers which cover their entire body. This breed has been the sweetest I’ve encountered. Con: small eggs & can be broody. Additionally, due to the small size of a one day old chick, many hatcheries do not vaccinate for Marek’s Disease (Sadly, we eventually lost our entire first flock (the ones which survived the trip) of bantams to Marek’s disease). Marek’s is quite common in our state.
American breed from the 1870s. A popular & confident show bird which may have strong personalities. Calm, friendly and dependable egg layers (light brown) These are my prettiest chickens. We have a golden-laced, a columbian and a sliver-laced (pictured). Con: can be very bossy & noisy
Australian origin, excellent layers of large eggs (light brown). They are calm & friendly. Most popular color and only recognized color in the U.S. is black. My best egg layer of the flock. Con: none that I have experienced
Read more here for reasons why to raise backyard chickens.