Originally Posted by Seatrout00
Not yet got chickens - we're in the planning stage right now.
We live in Melbourne Florida and are zoned where we can keep up to four hens - so here's my concern - since I've never farmed anything outside of water (all my experience is with fish) - what kind of coup or run works best?
My plans are to have four "tamer" hens that the kids can interact with and that I can also let roam around the fenced in yard regularly (under supervision) - but the coup/shelter area has me completely in the dark - not so much as for what the hens need, but what would work for our hot/humid environment.
A bit about our yard - the entire yard is organic and full of native plans, oaks and fruit trees - back and side yard are fenced (where I plan to put the coup) and mostly shaded.
Any advice would be helpful - we were looking at some local farms stock and see that red rocks and barred rocks are popular - and that was what we were going to go with for hens. (we are looking for easy going, gentle birds who can handle the Florida heat and give us some eggs).
I live in Boise, ID but my Dad lived in FL for a while and I know how muggy it can be, plus the fact that it rains like clockwork almost every day in Summer. SO, that being said, you can indeed make a chicken coop out of a lot of different things....a couple bookcases, an old shed, ask around your neighbors for some old wood, go to the thrift stores and look for stuff if you want. They do sell do-it-yourself coop kits for about 4-500$. I only spent 120$ on my hen house (the red one) because my uncle is a contractor. If you know someone who's handy, you may be able to pay them to do it for you. You're getting 4? I keep 5 in the house above, but I wouldn't go more than that in that house. There are a couple considerations for cleaning purposes that are in my design that I want to highly recommend for you:
A small gauge welded wire floor with a pull-out poop drawer underneath makes changing the litter SUPER easy and it makes great compost
A ramp door that can be closed and latched (although I have never closed mine yet)
PLENTY of ventilation, especially where you are located
A walk-in chainlink run is awesome and waaaay worth it, you do not want to have to crouch down, I had a short run at the beginning and it was a PAIN
As far as bird-types and tameness....I have a variety in my flock but I can say that the Barred Rocks are great birds, they are usually calm, nonflighty and friendly. My Rhode Island Red is the stinker of my hens, so I personally wouldn't recommend them but she is agood layer and other people on here love them. My Silver Laced Wyandotte is a BEAUTIFUL bird and also quite calm. I also highly recommend Americaunas or Easter Eggers, they have great personalities, are boisterous and tough but extremely gentle, mine is a super friendly bird and she lays green eggs! Another great egg layer is the Leghorn and they are super hardy in hot climates because they have thinner bodies and large combs. I have A Leghorn and she is a sweet girl, she is high on the pecking order and doesn' take crap, but she's a friendly chicken. A lot of people have trouble with Leghorns being flighty and or mean, but I haven't seen this in mine and my suspicion is that it's because I only own one....they tend to seem nastier in groups. I recommend them, they are great layers of white eggs but they can be noisy....my other breeds are fairly quiet. All of these breeds are egg-laying machines so if that is your purpose they are great. I also picked them because they all lay different colors of eggs and I wanted variety.
Lastly, this site is CHOCK FULL of info in the learning center about coop designs, what to feed, types of chickens and their best purposes, illnesses and injuries and even listings on where to purchase birds....I highly recommend you check these sources, chickens are a lot of fun and the work load is minimal once you get set up. Good luck! And....