Answers please

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jdennysgirl, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. jdennysgirl

    jdennysgirl In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2008
    Hi, I am new to the forum and I hope I can get some answers to my questions. I had written this out to a chicken breeder that never returned a reply. Thanks beforehand.

    Hi, I loved your articles. So informational. I am receiving 3 Rhode Island Red females 2-3 day old chicks the first of July. This will be my first attempt at chicken raising. I am hoping they will be good pets for my husband, myself, and my grandchildren. Also looking forward to some great fresh eggs!

    I think I have down what to do with the chicks when I get them thanks to your articles. My concerns are the housing for them as they mature and when they are fully grown. I am sending a picture of an old pen that I am planning on using for the 3 hens. As you will be able to see, there are 2 separate houses with an open area in the center. The boxes are rectangular with a wind break on the inside of the smaller box. The boxes are insulated wood with tops that lift off. The center has boards with spaces in between them. (They can be completely boarded up so there are no spaces if you feel this needs to be done). The back is screened in. It is all about 3 feet or so off of the ground.

    Also, there is a plank that leads down to the ground. The area is approx. 16' X 10' and is fenced in with chicken wire.

    I was hoping you could give me some tips as to where to make the roosts, where to put food and water, where to put the nesting box, and any other info. you may have to help me along.

    I was also concerned with rats. What is the best way to combat them and make sure they don't overrun the place. If we start seeing them I know my husband will make me get rid of the chickens and I don't want that.

    I have read where some people say that where there are chickens there are rats and some say that is not necessarily true. What is your opinion on this?

    We also raise rabbits and beagles but none of them are caged they are all fenced in. All their feed is put in rubbermaid tubs.

    Is it true that food has to be left out at all times for chickens?

    Please mail me soon and give me your suggestions for my setup. Also, possible suggestions on easy cleanup for my setup would be appreciated.

    My husband is going to cover the fenced in area with more wire also.

    Do you think this fenced in area is big enough for 3 full grown hens? How about the houses? I want them to be healthy and happy girls!

    We are home alot and plan on letting them out in the yard when we are around but putting them in the fenced in area when we leave.








    Last edited: Jun 22, 2008
  2. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator

    Jan 11, 2007
    NE Washington State
    Quote:Welcome to BYC!
  3. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Songster

    Jan 25, 2008
    You have no more a chance of getting rats with chickens, than you do with rabbits or dogs. The rats are attracted to their feed and not them.

    The best way I control rats is to keep tight control of feed. I keep all my feed in tight fitted trashcans.

    I personally do not leave feed out 24/7. Most people use leaving food out all the time, because it is very conveniant and easy. You never had to worry about the chickens "not getting enough food" when it is left out all the time.

    I feed my chickens by setting out a rubber horse feeder(large and flat,not easy to tip over). I fill this container with food and set it out for a controled amount of time.

    If I throw scratch, I only throw enough that I know the chickens will have eaten it all within a couple hours.

    I also leave snap-traps set in the barn for rats. Usually you can find those spring loaded traps(the classic mouse trap) super-sized for rats. Just make sure that the hens can't get at the trap.

    I think the yard is plenty big enough for 3 hens.

    Hopefully, someone else will be along shortly to answer the rest of your questions.

  4. jdennysgirl

    jdennysgirl In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2008
    Thank you both so much! Looks like I am here to stay. I am sure that it will be quite a learning experience for my family!

    On the house, do you think we should put a back wall on it instead of the screen?

    Any other suggestions or ideas would be appreciated after you look at the pictures of my setup. Like I said this is all new to me.

    Also, by the way, we raise beagle hounds and they are all fenced in. We have one shepherd mix that patrols the property, but I think he will get used to them. I will be sure that I am outside with the birds though when I let them out of the enclosure just to make sure!

    We also have rabbits in a fenced in area that we train our dogs to hunt with.

    We keep all our food in big tupperware containers. A while back we had a rat problem when we had feeders in our dog kennel that we kept food in all the time. Now we feed the dogs and what they don't eat gets put up till next feeding time. No problem with rats now, so I will go with the suggestion to feed the chickens at specified times and then put the food up.
    How will I know though, that they are getting enough food to keep them healthy?

    As I said, anyone else with any other ideas please chime in. Thanks.
  5. wren

    wren Songster

    May 27, 2007
    St Augustine, FL
    in response to putting on a back wall instead of a screen?

    Well what kind of weather do you have where you are?
    If it gets below freezing I suppose you should close it up and depend on the door for ventilation.

    I cant remember if your birds are young or not but growing animals need food IMO.

    Cross the rat bridge if you come to it maybe?
  6. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Songster

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    Quote:OK ... we just completed our coop and run .

    the coop is 8x12 and the run is 12x20 . We trenched 1 ft. deep around the complete perimeter of both the coop and run .

    that way the chicken can also go under the coop for shade when its hot or raining .....

    the run has wire across the top so nothing can get in .

    Hubby built a door to enter from the run , a door to thefront of the coop and a SMALL entrance door with ladder for the chickens to get in coop themselves .

    I open their small door and let them OUT in the run early morning . thats when I feed and water them .........

    I also feed and water again around 5:00 PM . I do keep plenty of water inside run and coop at all times , BUT ONLY food in the run .

    Hubby made one side of the coop OPEN with hinges about 1/2 way down and wire above that door , for plenty ventilation .

    the nesting boxes are along one side of the coop and the roosting area are on the opposite side , NOT for them to poop while roosting in the nest boxes .

    We have pine shaving thru out the coop and in nesting boxes . WE MAY have to add something else with the shavings , NOT sure , maybe some sand .

    Anyway , the layers can enter thru their little door when they need to lay , oth rthan that they ALL remain outside in the run , until its about 7:30 PM .

    They seem like happy campers now . LOL

    Remember PLENTY Ventilation is the KEY to healthy chickens , they are very prone to respitory problems from heat .

    Our baby chicks when we got them were caged until they were old enough to go out in run .
    Some ppl say 4 or 5 weeks old . WE COULD NOT get our coop and run finished as soon as we'd like , so they were all released YESTERDAY .

    Chicks need to stay on starter feed until they are about 8 to 10 weeks old . then I switched mine to a mixture of chicken scratch / and pellets ..... I am also giving them scraps from the house , bread , leftover cooked rice , even cabbage . they love it all .....

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