New here, new to chickens, lots of questions! Some may be stupid, bare with me ;)
My hubby and I are going to be starting a coop sometime in the next month. Probably won't be finished until April(ish) because, well it's cold here in Pennsylvania, and the ground is FROZEN! We won't have chickens until after the coop is finished, but that doesn't mean I can't start learning!
So our coop will be somewhere around 10' x 6' or possible 12' x 6' depending on what I can talking him into building. Due to town ordinances the chickens cannot be free ranged, no fowl at large. lol. But I'm thinking of taking our play yard and modifying into a chicken tractor of sorts. We'll see.
Anyway, my primary goal in this is egg production, I only want 4 - 6 chickens, depending on what will fit. I would prefer to have only hens (less likely the neighbors will complain that way), but the ordinance didn't rule them out. So question number 1: Does a flock do better with a rooster, or is it simply unnecessary? All thoughts are welcome.
Question 2: How many chickens would be comfortable in a coop this size, taking into consideration they will be largely stuck there full time.
I used DE (food grade) for my dogs, myself, and multiple purposes around the house, (question 3:) is it safe to mix it with the substrate in the coop to help prevent mites/lice/etc etc etc? I know about the hazards of breathing it in, I've puffed it into my face a couple time *cough**cough*.... ugh. So I don't want to hurt the chickens.
Question 4: What type of chicken would you recommend? My nephew raises Barred Rock (and his coop can even be seen in the small coop section on here :D), so I know I can get some hens from him, but I'm thinking a little variety would be fun?!
All thoughts are welcome on this.
Question 5: What about chickens and compost. I read somewhere that the chickens were GOOD for the compost, turning it, and they enjoyed the bugs and treats they get out of it. I started a compost bin this winter, that I am going to be moving out behind my garden, would it be safe to tractor them over it/to it and let them scratch and dig through it?
Question 6: Cleaning tips, smell reduction techniques, things you wish you knew when you started. What do you do with the poo?
Any other advice for a first timer? Thoughts, tips, suggestions? I will take it all ;)