Last spring we got into the chicken business and it has been quite an adventure! I grew up taking care of chickens on the farm and have been wanting to get some of my own for a while now. We went into our local Cal-Ranch and each of my kids picked out their baby chick. I had heard Rhode Island Reds were a good breed and they have proven that to be true. They have been the best little chickens and regularly have eggs for me, even in the winter! They are nice as can be to boot.
The other two chicks we picked out were Ameraucana because I always loved the beautiful greeeny blue eggs they would lay and sometimes they even lay pink eggs....WHAT!!! That's a dream come true..or so I thought. Our reds were laying consistent eggs and still no blue/green eggs and they were feisty (especially one of them) then we were hearing faint crowing ummm yep we got a rooster! A really really feisty rooster that likes to attack my kids and I a lot...but mostly me :/ So we donated him to my Mom, who has a barn and a big run for him to get his wiggles out. We are down to three chickens and only two that lay until..just this last month almost a year later we got a beautiful blue/green egg!!!! Ameraucana's mature later than most like up to 40 weeks but it was worth the wait. Just do a little research before you purchase your chicks to make sure you're getting what you want and be prepared for a rooster, apparently they get thrown into the bunch frequently.
We found a great little coop online for a decent price from Costco, it is a little snug for three chickens and was super snug for three chickens and a huge rooster. If you are looking to have more than three you would need something bigger than this. We had planned on building our own but my husband was booked with work and my kids and I just couldn't wait. We just let them out a lot in the summer and their favorite hangout...the garden. (I'm in love with this pic)
If you are planning to get chicks in the spring, like we did be prepared to either have them inside or under a heat lamp until they get big enough to withstand the cold temps. While you are picking out your chicks make sure and get some chick starter and we also got a two gallon waterer so they wouldn't be falling in and making a mess. Chickens poop a TON so be prepared and get some sort of bedding to keep them clean (we used pine wood shavings). While we are on the subject of poop...umm baby chicks get a condition called poopy butt (ok that's just what we called it). It's for real and it happened to all four of our chicks. This can be serious so be sure you treat them right away if you're noticing anything. Ours were very vocal about, it's like they were chirping MY TUMMY HURTS! We just gave them a little warm bath, my kids actually loved it. They look so cute just standing in their bath just soakin their little bums for a while. And I saved the best for last...you have to wipe them afterwards. YEP super gross but super necessary.
That's about it. We eventually put them on grain and let them roam around the yard in the summer to eat whatever they can find. We have had a lot of fun with them and have really been enjoying all of our farm fresh eggs!