A few general hen-raising questions?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by RooRat, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. RooRat

    RooRat New Egg

    Apr 10, 2012
    Hello! I'm new to this site (joined today, as a matter of fact), so if this post doesn't belong in this place, I'm so sorry!

    I started to think this morning that it would be really awesome to raise hens and use their eggs, but I really know next to nothing about chickens. I'm a huge animal lover and especially enjoy having unconventional pets/companions (my ratties can attest to that!). I've been browsing around this site all day (when I really should have been paying attention in class - oops). I checked my county ordinances and am allowed to have between 4 and 6 hens, no roosters. I believe I have a structure in my backyard that I can convert into a coop. I was thinking about going with 3-4. Even with all the reading I've done, I still have a few specific questions that I either couldn't find answers to or wasn't clear on the answer I found. I hope this is the right place! I'm also asking for a couple relatively specific answers before I run this idea by my mom (still live with my parents for a bit longer) - she tends to say no to anything right off the bat unless I provide her with compelling evidence!

    1) A couple of chicken questions.... I was looking at the plymoth rock breed mostly (just from my one day of research...haha). I haven't had a chance to read through all the breeds on here, so I was wondering if there are any particular breeds that are good for beginners?

    2) As far as coops go, I think I have a pretty good idea of where to build and how to build it. I noticed there was something that said you could use sand for the "bedding" (river's best, but playground sand would work). If I was to use sand for bedding, how often would I need to do a complete bedding change? I figure that I'd probably need to scoop up waste daily, which would be no problem, but I couldn't find anything that talked about how often it's necessary to do complete coop cleans.

    3) Kind of on the same vein, I'm not going to be able to give them any free-range time. In fact, I'm not even sure it's allowed where I am. Even if it was allowed, I wouldn't feel comfortable - I live right next to woods so we have an atypical amount of hawks, snakes, and the occasional coyote and fox. I read a bit about supplements, but wasn't sure exactly what supplements they were referring to...

    4) About how long do chickens live? How long do hens produce eggs? These two are mostly just curiosity questions. Haha..

    Again, if this is in the wrong place, I apologize! I didn't see any rules about specific places to post threads...
  2. glucke

    glucke Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 14, 2011
    welcome on byc!

    1) my first chickens ever were production reds and production blacks. they are easy to get and already sexed. they are very productive and also lay throughout the winter. but i'm sure different people have different opinion's.

    2) if you use sand as bedding, you only have to rake out the droppings once a day (it only takes a couple of minutes) and fill it up a little. other than that i'd change it once a year.

    3) my chickens are confined however they have access to an outside run which is predator proof. as far as supplements for laying hens i provide crushed oyster shells for calcium i don't feed any other supplements unless they have a cold or blood in the egg. other than that they get fresh vegetables as a treat about 2 or 3 times a week.

    4) it's common for a hen in a backyard setting to live 8-10 years, but chickens can as well live as many as 20 years! the older they get, the fewer eggs they lay the first two years being the most productive.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  3. RooRat

    RooRat New Egg

    Apr 10, 2012
    Thanks for the response! I've been doing more research and keep going back and forth between being sure I want to raise hens and questioning this idea. >.< I feel like it would be so awesome to raise them and have fresh eggs (I've never had fresh eggs, but I keep hearing they're really good?). I took a couple pictures of the old swing set structure I'm planning to use - my dad built it for me when I was little and we planned to do something with the lower level and never did: now's my chance! I'm going to try to draw a mock-up of what I'm thinking about doing, but my art skills are somewhat...lacking. [​IMG] I figure the more evidence and planning I have done before I ask Mom if I can put chickens in her yard, the better.
  4. ladychicken&Ducklover

    ladychicken&Ducklover Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 21, 2011
    Champion, Michigan
    Hi and :welcome..

    There is a thread called " Raising Baby Chicks ", that is an excellent source of info for newbies on up to long time chicken owners, although this thread is great as well.

    Just a little warning..kind of..dont be surprised or alarmed if at any moment, your topic gets moved to another thread...

    The moderator is the one who does that and it is absolutely nothing personal, so no worries..

    So, where are you located ?

    Im a 48 yr old woman who , at this time last year, couldnt even build a little box, but by studying, asking questions and looking at tons of pics of coops, I am now building my 3rd 12x20 coop, insulated and the one that houses my 3 ducks and " Their 2 Barred Rock hens " , theres a little kiddie pool that I dug a hole for to make it level with the ground for the ducks ease of getting in and out of..:caf

    My first chickens were Barred Rocks. They are extremely easy to care for and very gentle ..if you handle and cuddle them from day 1..
    Mine fly over to me and one lands on my right shoulder and the other lands on either my head or back if Im bending over at the time..They are so much fun..I highly recommend them, especially if you live in very cold climates as they are VERY hardy.

    All my species of chickens are cold hardy as I live where " H - - L REALLY does freeze over ". Its not unheard of to have 30 below temps, and they did just fine..Better than the ducks , actually..:confused:... Go figure..lol.

    I also have Silver Laced Wydotte hen...a beauty , hardy and super sweet girl.
    Others in this flock are a Jersey Giant ( although Im beginning to doubt she is ), either way, she is also adorable , sweet and hardy.
    Theres the White Leghorn, who is an excellent layer, although a bit skittish..Oh , and an Escape Artist , that I took care of.

    They are cared for by my very STRESSED OUT, hyper, aggressive, White Crested Black Polish Roo..
    I am the one who raised him from an egg, but I am the one he Hates ME, and has " Spurred " me a few times.

    Ive " pinned him " several times and carried him around several times, to get him to calm down, but to no avail..

    Its ok though, because he is a Fantastic Roo , protector , and a great bug finder , for his girls, so I just let him be a rooster..I would Never get rid of a rooster by culling, just because he is doing what is genetically programmed to do..I guess Im just a real big softy..:/

    I have Silkies, Easter Eggers and Buff Orpingtons, all of which are gentle birds, next week, so I cant comment on them.

    Sorry for being long winded, but I just wanted to help if I could..

    Again, Welcome to the BEST place for all things Feathered..lol..
  5. RooRat

    RooRat New Egg

    Apr 10, 2012
    I'm in NC - our weather is pretty stable and we only get occasional snow in the winter.

    I finally broached the subject to my parents - my dad reacted favorably (even said he'd thought about it before!) but mom thinks I'm nuts. This is her usual reaction to my ideas, but sometimes she'll come around given time and the ability to research (I sent her to this site, so hopefully that'll help). I'm still going ahead and designing my coop (dad gave me permission to use the swing set). I'd like to be prepared.

    One thing that concerns my dad are the downsides to owning hens. I think we're prepared for the waste they'll produce, so that's not a concern. Are there any big downsides that you've come across while owning hens?
  6. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    Downside: someone has to take care of them. You can spend an inordinate amount of time watching their antics.

    On the other hand, they will eat all the leftovers.

  7. Hawkeye95

    Hawkeye95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have Barred Rocks-- they were the first breed out of my others to start laying. They are a very gentle and calm bird. I love mine. :) Chickens are really easy to raise, and it won't be a big deal to keep them confined in a pen/outdoor run (so long as it's large enough for them) all the time. My Silver Laced Wyandottes were next up on my "great" layers. Can't think of any downside. Be sure their pen drains well so they don't stink. What I mean is, that outside, after a rain, you don't want their pen to fill up with water and cause a smell. You can simply add sand in your outdoor run to keep it well drained and dry. It's also really easy to clean out. I use Pine Chips/bedding inside my coop. It's really easy and does not stink. I use the DLM (deep litter method) and my chips have been in there for about 6 months now-- and they still don't smell. It works well if you don't have any leaks in your coop and your coop is large enough for the number of chickens you have. Word of warning, when you first put in your pine chip bedding inside the coop, it will smell for the first week or so as it starts getting worked in. I'm not sure why that is... but after that, it won't smell any more. It should stay dry and my chickens scratch it up and turn it over regularly. But it's not like you'll spend a lot of time doing that.

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