Hello everyone, first and foremost thank you all. Your guidance has been tremendously helpful. I am very grateful for this site.
I live in S GA where it is unbearably hot and humid and share a home with hubby, 4 dogs, and 2 cats. Being an empty nester was not an option for me. But when our 4 children were young we had 3 horses, 4 dogs, 3 cats, and a parrot. (All but one were rescue.) The following is what I have learned from the extensive information on this site. My chicks are due to arrive in 3 weeks and will be curious to see if I still agree with following a year from now. Please point out flaws and make suggestions.
1-Straight run means...you will have roosters mixed in with the hens! Be prepared for a heartbreak if you don't buy sexed chicks. Hatcheries can sex chicks more readily, farms and breeders may not.
2-I plan on keeping my hens beyond their egg productive years. I will therefore always have the aging and the young. This terribly changed the # of hens in my original flock.
3-Coop design needs to be region/climate specific. My original "need" was a doll house coop with walls, windows, and a flower box. The necessity for ventilation and air flow trumped my doll house given the climate where I will raise my hens.
4- You can not have too much ventilation. Plan on it. If you live in a climate like mine, plan on fans in your coop.
5-The suggested square ft for living/run spaces are guidelines for the minimum needed. One less chick means more space and therefore easier flock health management. Ugh...
6-Site selection- "shade from a wooded area with filtered light does not kill a chicken. Direct sun and heat may" We live on 9 acres and I actually took temp readings on my top two choices and decided on the wooded area. But I will have to prepare extensively for predators.
7- Don't read about predator proofing until you can endure with a couple of days of sleep deprivation.
8- Brooder temps are also guidelines. Look at the chick, if it is panting, they're hot.
9- Avoiding drafts- The difference between a draft and a breeze is the temp of the air. The later is quite beneficial.
10- When planning for predators, keep in mind that there will be times when the power will be down. Your plan B should be hardware cloth on everything Look over every nook and cranny before the chicks arrive. I plan on electrifying everything that I can...can they die from electric magnetic energy
11-Deep litter method can add heat to the coop. Not sure if this will work in my area. Those that share my climate, please advise.
12-Most questions that I have/had have already been asked. Search forum discussions. Every poster will vary in their choice and opinion. Skim and learn...don't make yourself crazy.
13-D.E will help with mite and lice in the coop. Shouldn't it be avoided in the run if you like the chicks to eat the bugs present there? Perma Guard D E is approved in my area when trying to follow guidelines for organic eggs.
14-The eggs you will be enjoying are the by product of the feed. Keep this in mind when making your feed selection.
15-Healthy chickens live in an environment where their health is a priority and not necessarily what looks cute.
16-Someone on this site recommended Azure Standard for organic feed. Just FYI, I will be participating in a drop ship group. I will drive 1 hr and pay $4.15 for the delivery of 83 pounds. (Two 40 Lb bags and 3 lbs of organic flax seed.). Looks like I may only need to do this every two months.
I dislike almost everything on the list. My goal is to continue learning. I have now prepared as much as I can and will keep my fingers crossed. I am prepared to lose them at any given time due to mistakes or misfortune, but I intend to love them and respect them for the time that I have the privilege of owning them. Please add any other words of wisdom.
Edited by deek - 5/4/12 at 9:01am