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An Introduction and a Few Questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GoPups, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. GoPups

    GoPups Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 27, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    Hello! My name is Rachel, and I'm very excited to have found this forum! [​IMG]

    I am new here, but not to chickens. Every Spring I get what I call "chicken fever" and I want chickens again. It has been several years now and I'm finally in a position to get some more of my own. My friend and I are going in together and ordering some from McMurray Hatchery, which brings us to my first question. We want to order five of each of these breeds: Buff Japanese Bantams, Rhode Island Reds, Delawares, Blue Andalusians, Silver Gray Dorkings (my absolute favorite!), and Black Langshans. Will these breeds do well together? More specifically, is mixing banties and standards ok?

    We plan to only keep six hens, so we'll have to find homes for the remaining chicks. We need to sell them, not for a profit, but just for enough money to break even on our investment. We have to order some straight run, and we're hoping that we'll at least get one hen per breed if we order five of each. About how old can you begin to tell the difference between male and female?

    When they get big enough to go live outside, I'm planning to buy the Chick-N-Hutch, Pen, and Nest from McMurray. I'd like to design and build my own tractor, but I don't have the means (or the skills!) necessary, so I think I'll just fork over the extra money for this one. Does anyone have any experience (negative or positive) with the Chick-N-Hutch? How many hens can live comfortably in it?

    And on to my most important question... Dogs. My friend and I have four big dogs (greyhounds) and two little ones (italian greyhounds). The chicks will be in the garage and will not be in contact with the dogs at all until they have grown up enough to live outside. Even then they will always have a barrier between them and will never be left unattended. What is the best way to predator/dog proof our coop and pen? We're thinking of adding a chicken wire floor as well as a chicken wire skirt around their entire home, but for my peace of mind, I want to reinforce it further. Any suggestions?

    Sorry for the long post and thank you all in advance for the advice! Like I said, I'm not new to raising chickens, but there's always room to learn from others. [​IMG]

    -Rachel
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
  2. TheBigWRanch

    TheBigWRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    Wenatchee, Washington
    I mix standards with bantams, and have no problems, especially if they are raised together from a young age. I could tell some of my bantam roosters at 3 and a half weeks, others will develop slower. I would say that by 3 months you should know for sure. I know it is not best to keep chickens on a wire floor.
     
  3. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    Chickenwire is good for keeping chickens in, but nothing else out...Hardware cloth would be better.
    With Greyhounds being sighthounds, I'd be extra cautious with the chicks.
     
  4. GoPups

    GoPups Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 27, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    Quote:Ah, that's a good idea. My Chick-N-Hutch will come with wire already in it. Should we reinforce the outside edges with hardware cloth or the whole thing? I'd rather not have a wire floor myself, but what is another alternative for possible digging predators?

    We'll definitely be extra cautious to protect the little ones. That goes without saying.
     
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Hmm.. 6 hens? That chicken hutch is only 2 by 3.5 feet... That's less than 8 square feet of space.. the reccomended area for one standard sized bird... Maybe you could find someone in your area to build you one cheapily? 6 hens can sleep in there at night and use that nest box but this box will need to be kept in a larger run where they will be safe from the dogs... If for anything other than sleeping 6 hours a night and dropping off an egg, maybe 2 at most can stay in there for an extended time. That is a very small space even for just sleeping in my opinion.
     
  6. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    You know, the housing you are looking at is very nice and looks well build, but as has been mentioned, very small. I don't think more than 2 birds could sleep in there comfortably and if your birds feel crowded they will begin pecking each other until you have a mess. From what I saw, you could probably for not a lot more money buy a storage shed, have it delivered, add a pop hole and roost, then put up a run and have a nice place for your 6 hens.
     
  7. GoPups

    GoPups Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 27, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    Sorry! Should have been more specific. [​IMG] The one hutch + pen would be for the chicks just while they're young and able to fit. When they need more space, we'll buy another to add on, or just get a bigger one altogether. Either way, our babies won't have a lack of space.

    I'm mainly concerned about predator-proofing the house, and would really appreciate some suggestions.

    Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  8. CranberryBirds

    CranberryBirds Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2007
    You can check out the coop section of the forum for LOTS of advice about housing your chicks and older birds.

    As for the wire floor, do you intend on just placing the wire on top of the ground as predator protection, or do you plan on having the wire elevated off the ground as the "floor?"

    Just my two cents, but I'd skip spending the money on this housing option and just go for a larger shed/coop right off. If you're going to add on anyway, then you can save money by "going big" right off the bat.

    And of course, as everyone here will tell you, you will end up with more chickens than you think, because they will be SO CUTE you won't want to let them go! And then next spring will come around, more chickens, and someone will have some hatching eggs you just HAVE to try, more chickens, and someone will be moving and trying to re-home some laying hens, more chickens.......

    Good luck!
     
  9. GoPups

    GoPups Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 27, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    Thanks, CranberryBirds! I'll probably go post another thread about dog-proofing then.

    For the wire floor, it would not be elevated, but rest on the grass. Is that ok? I'd rather not keep my chicks on wire, but at the same time I don't want anything digging underneath them. Burying something is not an option - this coop will be portable. That's also why I don't want to "go big" at first.

    I know what you mean about more chickens... been there, done that! When I was a kid we only had four, and then one spring my father decided to order 25 from McMurray, and from there the addiction took off! [​IMG] I do miss having chickens.

    Thanks much for the advice. [​IMG]
     
  10. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    If you bend out the hardware cloth to a 90 degree angle and bury it underground, you're less likely to having digging predators getting in. I'd do the hardware cloth about halfway up the sides of the coop/hutch.
     

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