Alright...I want to reuse and possibly convert an existing large 2 story building into being a chick

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by missnu01, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So...if I plan on letting the chickens out during the day and housing them in the building in the evening, do I need to build a wire run type area? Or will a ramp leading from the door of the "coop" onto the ground be enough? Also in this "coop" area there are exposed rafters on a low ceiling, but there is also a smaller enclosure within the main area that seems to have a row of nesting boxes in it, and it has it's own latching door. I know nothing about chickens, and therefore I am not totally sure what I am looking at. In the way of coops this will be a massive one, but I see that all coops seem to have areas that are solely made of chicken wire. It seems that the chickens would get rather cold in the scenario I am imagining..so I guess the first question is in fact my true question...can I use the upper deck of a 2 story building as a huge chicken coop, and then our yard and surrounding area as the run? With no chicken wire involved? Or is there somewhere I am supposed to put chicken wire, so it looks like there are chickens there?
    The upper area that I am thinking of, and that appears to have been used for just this purpose is made of wooden slats, while the lower area is made of cinder blocks. The neighbors have said that the man who lived here previously kept chickens, and we have found a few feathers in the upper area of the building, nesting boxes, and a snake skin...But the upper area is also full of old clothes, and 1970s era books. So I can't be sure what was going on in there...what looks like nesting boxes in the smaller enclosure appears to be lined with old clothes. There is no sign of chicken poop, but the man who sold us the property very possibly would have cleaned all that out. Heck I don't know. Anyway anyone with any ideas, or that would be interested in seeing some pictures and helping me hatch a plot to get this all going, just let me know.
     
  2. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would think the large shed should be fine as long as the birds have a safe place to roost.

    I had an uncle that had oodles of chickens (and guineas, and peacocks, and geese) running around his farm and never had a coop--they would roost in the rafters of his barns.

    Whether you need a fenced in run depends on what kind of predators are around, what kind of shelter the birds can retreat to in a "crisis" and how willing you are to accept some loss of birds. Losses can happen with a pen, but chickens running around a farm are a bit more likely to occasionally disappear, or have a mass-extinction if you have a clever stray dog pass by. I don't recall my uncle having any problems with keeping his chicken population up, but I had a friend with a similar situation walk out one morning to 40 dead birds from a dog that hopped out of pick-up parked at an apparently-close-enough-nearby bar.

    ETA: you don't need to worry too much about the space being too big--that's better than too small. Pick your breeds depending on how many eggs you want and your climate. If you let them free range/roost perhaps something like Appenzeller Spitzhauben or something? I wouldn't suggest Brahmas since they can't fly high.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
  3. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pictures please.
    Its possible to have chickens without wire fencing. How well that's going to work depends a lot on where you live and the predators in your area.
     
  4. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok. Thanks. I am not really too worried about predators at all other than hawks. The upper part of the building will be a coop, but no chicken wire will be used, the chickens can come out of the coop during the day, but at night they will be locked in. All the neighbors have chickens and dogs, so all the dogs in the neighborhood are chicken friendly. I figure a rooster can warn of a hawk, or our dogs will keep a hawk from flying too low. I really think this will work out wonderfully, but for real the space I'll be using is huge. All I need is to build a few nest boxes, attach a new door, and patch up a few holes here and there. I am so totally super excited. I think this is going to be great! And with very little coop cost I know that will make my husband happy. I just get so bored here at home. Anyway. Thanks for your guys advice. I will be taking pictures of the area today because it is hard to picture. I have measured and looked and checked, and I think I am going to tear out the smaller interior space inside the upper area. The space within a space if you will. Anyway, I'll take some pictures today so everyone can see what I have tried so hard to describe.
     
  5. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I never did take those pictures I wanted, but we have covered the floor in plastic, I did tear down the space within a space, and we put up all the doors...all that is left now is to take out the windows and cover the resulting holes with chicken wire, and then cut some flaps so I can close and open said not windows...I can wait on the windows though if I have to. I have to go get some straw here in just a bit, and then I get to get my chickens today.

    I am starting with adults.

    1 leghorn hen
    1 Golden Comet, not yet laying
    1 hen and 1 rooster of an unknown breed, but matching.

    I'm pretty excited, but jeez a lot of work to be done before this evening...
    First I need to make some holes in my box. I figure an aple box will work well for bringing the chickens home since they can't open the box.
     
  6. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like a lot of work in a few days!

    I suspect the leghorn will do great in your situation. I've heard good things about comets, but I've never had them. I don't know how well they fly and fend for themselves on a farm--but I bet she'll do fine. With all your space you can collect a bunch of breeds and end up with the breeds that work best for you.

    I have a rubbermaid tub with holes for my chicken-transporter--but boxes work good too as long as it stays dry.

    Good luck getting things ready and getting your birds!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You'll see plenty of horror stories on here about predator losses and they are true. I've had dogs take out a large part of my flock when someone dropped them off in the country for the good life. That "good life" is usually getting torn apart by coyotes, starving to death, or getting shot.

    There have been people raising chickens like you are talking about for thousands of years. Sometimes there are severe predator problems. Sometimes they go years without a loss. I really wish you luck on that one.

    As long as they can breathe that box should work. You might want to put a plastic liner down or such to help keep your vehicle clean. They poop a lot. I'm not sure what kind of apple box you are talking about.

    Expect those chickens to roost on the highest thing they can get to. That's instinctive behavior. That might be your rafters. Many people underestimate just how well a chicken can fly if they are motivated.

    Welcome to the adventure. There will prpbably be some hick-ups along the way but you'll probably enjoy it.
     
  8. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok. I got our first chickens all settles and doing well, but I saw an ad today for a hen and 8 chicks for sale and I want to get her and her babies...would they need their own separate housing? how Do I keep the chicks eating the starter food, and then hen eating the layer food, or do I just give starter food and she will eat that? Do I take the babies, or leave them with mom?
     
  9. sparrker

    sparrker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes they need seperate housing. Reason one: always quarantine new birds before you put them with existing birds. They may be diseased and you don't want to give the existing healthy birds a disease. Number two: They will fight and possibly kill the chicks. When its time to add new birds to existing flock, do it at night. They won't fight as much.
     
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  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    would they need their own separate housing?

    It depends on how much room you have, the personality of your chickens, and to a great extent how the broody handles the situation. There are a couple of different things that can happen when you integrate chickens. First is just pure integration. They are flock animals. They learn to recognize the members of their flock. Sometimes when they see chickens that are not members of their flock they may attack and try to run them out of their territory. You'll notice I said sometimes. Sometimes this is not an issue at all. To help with this I suggest you house them behind a fence where the other chickens can see them but can't get to them for maybe a week. They are living animals. You can't tell for sure what will happen with them but housing them where they can see each other often helps.

    Another advantage of housing them like that is that it teaches the hen and chicks where home is and where to go at night to sleep.

    One big warning here. If you do house them separate make very sure the chicks can't get through the fence to mingle with the big chickens. If the broody cannot protect the chicks the other adults can kill them. There have been several posts on this forum where the hen was locked up but the chicks could get out of the fenced area. Since Mama could not protect them, they died. A broody hen usually has such a bad attitude that she quickly teaches the other hens to leave her babies alone, but if she can't get to then to protect them, they are in danger.

    The other issue is the pecking order. Each chicken needs to know its place in the flock social order. They determine this by pecking and other stuff. If a hen pecks another and the one being pecked runs away, the pecking order is established. If it does not run away, they will probably fight since this is a challenge. Usually these fights very quickly turn into chasing and running away but occasionally they get pretty vicious. Mature chickens will always outrank immature chickens. That's why young chickens practically always form a separate flock that hangs around the edges of the main flock until they mature enough to work their way into the pecking order.

    how Do I keep the chicks eating the starter food, and then hen eating the layer food, or do I just give starter food and she will eat that?

    The way I handle a mixed age flock is to feed them all Grower or starter, depending on the age of the chicks. I feed oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the oyster shell for calcium for their egg shells will eat it and the others won't eat enough to harm themselves.

    Do I take the babies, or leave them with mom?

    Your choice. People do it different ways. I raise some in brooders when I hatch in an incubator, but if I have a broody hen, I let her raise the ones she hatches with the flock. Hens have been raising their chicks with the flock for thousands of years. They are living animals and anything can happen. I think Mama needs enough room to work so if space is really tight it can be a problem, but if she has space she usually does a real good job of protecting her babies. If space is that tight, how do you plan to integrate them after they grow up? You need space to integrate.

    What I'd suggest if you get them is to house them next to the flock for about a week, then just turn them loose. I can't give you any guarantees but it is what I would do in those circumstances. What I'd expect to happen is that the flock will be curious about the newcomers, Mama will probably have to kick butt on a couple of hens, then they will leave her and the chicks alone. She will probably keep her chicks near the other hens but not in the middle of them, just staying on the outskirts where there is not much conflict.
     

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