A newbie without a clue

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nikki1, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. nikki1

    nikki1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2011
    Eatonville, WA

    Hello, everyone! I'm really excited...we recently bought our first house, and this spring we're starting the Chicken Thing. My husband's family had three chickens when he was a kid, but I've never had one before, and I'm really looking forward to it. A few questions to throw out there to see what you experts have to say.

    First, my husband and I have been looking at all kinds of plans and ideas, including all the small coops on this site. We want to go with simple, secure (the woods are filled with carnivores...), and possibly a little quirky. We want to go with a large, sturdy, covered run (the skies are full of carnivores, too...) and a glorified, vented big ol' raised box for the indoor area. Any specific pitfalls to avoid or cool features to add would be appreciated.

    Next, we have an 8 year old boy and a 4 year old girl, so choosing mellow, friendly chicken breeds is a must. A local feed store carries a wide variety of chicks all summer long, so availability isn't a problem provided we don't want to go TOO exotic! I thought maybe a barred rock, a buff orpington, an easter egger or 2, and maybe a light brahman or an australorp. Am I on the right track? The hatchery websites seem to think these breeds are friendly, but they're trying to sell chickens so they might be biased. YOU would know.

    Thank you so much in advance.

    --Nikki in Washington state
  2. hcppam

    hcppam Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG] Hello Nikki, from the Big Bear mountains of Ca. Glad you found us. [​IMG] [​IMG] check out chickens 101 here on BYC
  3. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    Hey and Welcome!! Guess my advice would be to read, read and then read some more. You came to the right place. Check out the education pages.

    Chicken Wire is a misnomer, not a good choice for coops or runs if you live in the woods!!
  4. BrattishTaz

    BrattishTaz Roo Magnet

    Jan 8, 2011
    Tampa Area, Florida
    [​IMG] and [​IMG] from FL!

    Ok, I will give you my two cents here. I'm sure there will be a variety of opinions posted. Pick and choose to fit your situation.

    I was using an old wooden playhouse as a coop for about a year. The entryway is about 5 feet tall with beams at the same height. It didn't take long for me to hate it! Either I cracked my head going in or standing up under a beam or I stayed in agony from stooping over while cleaning it. Chickenkeeping became a chore instead of an enjoyable hobby. I now have a very large walk-in coop. I am much happier with it.

    I would suggest building a walk-in coop and run that you can easily clean (chickens poop a lot). Only you know what you have room for. You will most likely end up with more birds than you are planning on so bigger is usually better. The extra space is also good when you have to close them in during the day due to weather.

    Breed plays some role in how friendly a bird is but it is not the only factor. A lot of it has to do how you socialize them. I will share what I have noticed in my flock.

    My Orpingtons (I have 4) are the dumbest birds I have ever seen. They are the ones that run into fences and trip over things. They are also always hungry. On a positive note, they seem to enjoy interacting with people more than the others. They are more curious than afraid. They are also to funniest things to sit back and watch. Mine earn their keep in entertainment value alone. [​IMG]

    Australorps are similar to Orpingtons in looks. They are beautiful big sturdy chickens once they reach a year or so old. The feathers are gorgeous with their sheen. They seem to be less friendly than the orps. The hens are egg laying machines! We get an egg almost everyday.

    My EEs......are weird creatures. I have one that lived in the house for several months after an injury. She was used to being around people but was less than thrilled with non-food related attention. She is jumpier than the others. New things freak her out. She is the only one I have that grooms all of the other birds. She makes introducing new ones much easier. She is our peacekeeper. Her green eggs (about 4 a week) are very pretty. My other is a silkie/EE mix who is jumpy but friendly. She is much smaller than the rest but definately holds her own. She just started laying little cream colored eggs at a rate of 3 a week.

    I have a few other mixed birds but they are all roos. [​IMG]

    My next chickens will be Black Copper Marans. They are another sturdy, large breed known for their large chocolate colored eggs. I have a BCM mix roo who is like a puppy. He demands his attention and is definately our favorite.

    I will stop here and give someone else a chance to chime in. It seems I am in a book writing mood tonight. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  5. wava1vaughn

    wava1vaughn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2011
    Cairo Ga.
    Hi from Ga. Chickens are happy with what ever you provide them so make them safe from predators and weather and have a ball building what makes you happy. Orpingtons seem to be friendlier to children and people in general. What ever you pick enjoy. [​IMG] you might read up on the deep litter method It'll make your chicken experience a lot easier.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  6. TN_BIRD

    TN_BIRD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2011
    Quote:5 or 6 chickens? Hope the 4 of you like eggs or that you have lots of friends n neighbors that do. [​IMG] We have 4 chickens and don't have enough room in the fridge for another one. [​IMG]

    1 buff & 3 barred rocks. No complaints. Our BRs are a little flighty, but other folks say their BRs aren't (go figure). Our buff is super friendly and runs up to anybody looking for a treat.

    Lots of good coop ideas out there. Ours looks sorta like the "playhouse" design.

    As far as quirky goes...paint n garden art can go a long way in sprucing things up (our friend painted her trim in all sorts of different colors...quirky and cute).
  7. emmalynn

    emmalynn Silkies Sebbies OEGBs

    Oct 16, 2008
    Middle TN
    silkies, silkies, silkies!!!!

    All suggestions have been good. Silkies don't lay consistently and love to set an egg more than lay one. But they are cute, fluffy forever and mine are super friendly. Most of mine love to be picked up and will cuddle in your lap.

    Coop- easy for you is the key. Easy as in getting in and out, cleaning (raised edges make cleaning more of a chore), bigger is better- I started with 6 chickens and now have closer to 50, hatching is an addiction but adds another dimension to coop building. Location for feed and water especially in bad weather, does it need electricity might influence placement as will neighbors, be sure you have zoning to have birds.....can't think of more right now.
  8. OneTenthAcreAndAChicken

    OneTenthAcreAndAChicken Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 10, 2011
    San Diego
    Quote:I'll second this. Our space is too small for a walk in coop, but I made one whole side of the raised hen house part a big door for easy cleaning. I also wound up with (can't say I actually planned it this way) the hatch to the nest boxes being wide enough that I can slide the poop board out for cleaning. That makes a daily scrape-off super easy which keeps out little urban coop much fresher.

    Have fun.
  9. yinzerchick

    yinzerchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2011
    I will go along with make it easy to clean. [​IMG] I've found out that sand in a trough on the floor, under the roosts, is much easier to keep up than all pine shavings. (For me anyway) You may be surprised at how much chickens poop. [​IMG] I like to keep the coop pretty clean and as odor free as possible. I found my hens prefer wider roosts, I used 1x4's, and I also put decided to put linoleum on the floor...just the cheap stick on 1'x1' squares from Home Depot. They're like .38 cents a piece. To make it easier to disinfect come spring.
    If you have lots of predators, invest in hardware wire. Chicken wire won't protect them enough! Ventilation and some natural light are important too!
    You'll really enjoy having chickens, and they're really not that hard to keep at all! I love keeping them, they're so much fun to watch! Oh, and [​IMG] from Texas!
  10. hmmcc123

    hmmcc123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    University Place, WA

    [​IMG] I too live in Washington! Nice to have another local here!

    We have an assorted flock of 10 hens. We have 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Black Australorps, 3 Easter Eggers, 2 Red Stars, and 1 Speckled Sussex. 1/2 of the flock we have had since they were just a couple of days old. We used the same methods with all of them as far a socializing. (Holding alot, feeding treats, talking with them, etc.) Of all of them, our Buff Orpingtons are the friendliest/sweetest/easy to catch and hold and our Easter Eggers are friendly/sweet and funny. Our Australorps, Red Stars and Speckled Sussex are nice but don't enjoy being held however they are our best egg layers. I really like our Red Stars, they are egg laying machines and pretty. We got these girls when they were like a month old so that is why they aren't as socialized. I think if bought as chicks with lots of holding and treats, they would be great.

    BTW-you are about to learn about "chicken math" if you don't already know about it. We started with the idea to get 3, then we decided on 5, then 7 and now we have 10. So, that being said, make sure to build the biggest coop you have room for and can afford. Also, make your budget and then double or triple it, seriously NOT a joke. Also, make sure and use hardware wire for the run and coop, not poultry wire as it is not predator proof. The hardware wire and roof will be your biggest cost but the most important because of the security they provide.

    Additionally, not sure what part of WA you are in but we picked up most our baby chicks at Issaquah Grange. They have a website and a "chick schedule". They get their chicks from Privett Hatchery. We got our Black Australorps local on craiglist from Donald Weeks in Orting. His wife breeds chickens and he trains horses/riders. He posts his chicks available on craigslist.com in the farm/garden section. The Red Stars we got from another local breeder in Port Orchard, Pam at Raincreek Pottery & Poultry. (They have a website also.)

    Hope this helps!


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