The order I would prepare for owning chickens: (1) check zoning rules (2) read and get knowledge from the internet or books about raising chickens (3) purchase or build chicken yard and house (4) become familiar with feed stores for best prices (5) purchase hens.
I would also like to point out that depending on what part of the country you live in, you may also need to keep in mind the safety of the chickens from predators as well as the sturdiness of the house from harsh weather.
The first thing you might want to do is check to make sure your zoning allows you to have chickens. Sometimes, you can get away with hens as pets (especially the fancy breeds) but the crowing of the roosters can be a real nuisance and make your neighbors very angry with you. Roosters don’t just crow at daylight. They crow anytime they feel like it and often. It is 745am and I am listening to probably three of my roosters taking turns crowing. It is like they want to get the last crow in and it just keeeeeps going. There is no real need for a rooster unless you want to hatch out baby chicks. If you just want them as pets and want to enjoy the eggs, don’t get a rooster. They are a lot of trouble and I always feel sorry for the hens. If you have ever seen a rooster and hen mate, you understand.
A very useful website for anyone wanting to own chickens is backyardchickens.com. Go to the message board and there are questions and answers for almost anything. These people are real chicken lovers like myself and have dealt with a lot of the typical problems or situations you could encounter. I must admit though, some of the things I read are unusual. Chickens are EASY to raise and you could feel a little overwhelmed if you read posts some people write. I usually use it as a source for research if I have a question about something going on with my chickens. People post pictures of their chickens, too which I enjoy. There are so many breeds of chickens.
After zoning rules and knowledge of raising chickens, I would say the next thing you would want to do is build a chicken house and perhaps a chicken yard. A would make sure I had a 4×4 area for each chicken. So if you built a 4×4 chicken house for the chickens to roost and lay eggs, you might want to house 4 chickens and have a chicken yard that is 8×8. If you live in a neighborhood, you might consider getting a dog cage (I think they are 8x10x8) and they sell for about $250 dollars. The advantage of this cage is (1) it is ready to put chickens into immediately (2) you can move it (3) you don’t have to build fences so no equipment to buy which includes post hole digger, fencing, tacks, etc (4) tall enough that the chickens can’t fly out & (5) it has a door so you can walk into the yard and stand up straight which means you can clean out the area easier with a rake.
Also, buy a bale of hay and keep the floor area covered. Then you just rake the hay when it get a lot of poop on it and the hay really keeps any odor down. I have big chicken yards but I keep hay down in the chicken house. It really helps.
Next I would check out feed stores and see what prices you will be paying for your hobby. You may want feeders or containers for water though you can just throw the seeds on the ground and just use a large butter container or a gallon bucket to save on money. I give my chickens scraps from the table but they also get chicken scratch, and laying mash or pellets. Occasionally I buy oyster shell or grit but my Florida yard is sandy so I don’t think it is really necessary here. I gave them cracked corn instead of the chicken scratch but they are spoiled now don’t appreciate the cracked corn. In fact, they pick out the seeds and leave the cracked corn behind which ends up being enjoyed by the squirrels. I once went to my chicken yard and saw a squirrel and chicken eating together. Wish I had a camera then.
You will need to decide on the type of chickens you want to have which there are so many. There are fancy breeds and bantams that are probably good for a person who just wants a few. I personally love the Silkies. Their feathers are more like fur and you can barely see their eyes. They are very mild mannered and don’t move too qickly. Their legs and feet are hairy. When I see one of them from the backside while they are pecking on the ground for food, I always think they look like they are in pajamas. As soon as I get batteries in the digital camera, I will add pictures of mine.
I don’t suggest buying chickens from flea markets. The chickens I see there look old and unhealthy. Your flea market may be different. I would suggest you go to Craigslist under your local area and look under Farm and Garden. I have bought healthy chicks/chickens and met really nice people who helped me learn. Seeing their set-ups for their chickens also helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my yards. Chickens start laying eggs around 6 months so I wouldn’t suggest buying hens that are older than a year.
If you buy baby chicks, you have to have heat lamps and a very warm dry environment. They need starter food, too. I wouldn’t suggest buying chicks first. Start off with a couple hens.
I think that is the basics but I will go into much more detail in other posts.