Beginner info needed.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by seafood, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. seafood

    seafood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2008
    Well…I have been lurking on this forum for a while and finally decided to join so that I could ask a few questions and also for future considerations. Seems like a good group here, very friendly and knowledgeable….maybe a bit too PETA oriented but that’s ok. [​IMG]

    A bit of background.

    Anyway. I have been thinking about keeping chickens for a few years now. I thought it would be great for our two kids to have for learning responsibility, checking eggs, cleaning out barn, possible showing in 4-H etc etc. One neighbor (and even my wife) were VERY leary of this idea. Finally a few weeks ago..another neighbor who has a barn and 3 acres adjacent to our house told us they were going to be getting a few goats to keep. We then started talking birds. We were pretty set on Guineas until we found out how noisy they were. I loved their VERY low maintenance personalities, tick eating and consumption and no damage to grass and shrubs policy. Once the wife and other objectionable neighbors found out the level of noise they make…guineas were out. So it was back to chickens….which is fine by me.

    So, we have an area of the neighbors barn set aside for chickens. It is about 6 x 12 (approx 75 sq ft) The goats will inhabit the other 75 sq ft. The floor is concrete and is somewhat draft free. We have some wall patching to do but it will be very dry for the goats and birds. I have plans on installing 5 nest boxes and a small roosting area. Chickens will have access to the outside via one of the snazzy chicken ladders that are seen in a lot of coops. The outside area is fenced in and is approx 400 sq/ft that both chickens and goats will share. I have done lots of searches and research in this forum and its archieves and feel like our “coop” setup will be just fine.

    I am thinking about 8 chickens. Maybe reduce to six but the numbers should stay around 6 to 9. I am almost 100% decided on Meyers Hatchery. They allow for small numbers of birds in their shipments and also a variety for any order. Right now I plan on the following that will give us both white and brown egg layers. A couple Barred Rocks, Buff Orps, and Brown Leghorns. I also plan on a Jersey Giant.

    Questions

    1. Should we keep a layer of hay down in the barn all the time? How about wood chips? What do you all do for ground cover? Do you do nothing at all? Should we just leave the concrete exposed? What is easiest to clean?
    2. Also looking at Speckled Sussex. Are their eggs closer to white or brown?
    3. Any thoughts/feedback on Meyers Hatchery?
    4. Plan on moving chicks outside around 4 or 5 weeks. Sorry, but my house is for my wife and kids, and maybe a dog someday. A month with chickens in the basement is going to be plenty. Will be moving them outside in mid April. Nightime temps should not dip below 40. Any issues?
    5. Anything I can do to ensure success and enjoyment for the kids with the chickens?

    Thanks for any pointers. A few people I work with have chickens so they have been very helpful and will be loaning me equipment to get chicks headed in right direction.
     
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I'm about as far away from PETA as you can get...unless PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals!! [​IMG]

    Welcome to the forum.....it's a fun group of people.
     
  3. hypnofrogstevie

    hypnofrogstevie chick magnet

    Jul 12, 2007
    Newton NJ
    I am an animal lover but not as far as they "PE**" is and they are way way way out there. Welcome to the forum and hope you like it here
     
  4. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    Those night time temps are a little too low for babies that have not feathered out.

    WELCOME!!!
     
  5. hsm5grls

    hsm5grls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm about as far away from PETA as you can get...unless PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals!!

    Welcome to the forum.....it's a fun group of people.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] funny Katy


    As for your questions seafood I can only answer a few.
    I keep straw down in the coop and run. Not sure you have to but it makes raking the poo easier and is great for my garden.
    The chick's need to be kept warm until they are fully feathered. I put mine outside at 5 weeks but I live in AZ, and it is pretty warm here.
    I ordered my chicks from Ideal hatchery. They were priced well and I didn't have to order 25. They came healthy and active. Also Ideal hatchery is a sponsor of this sight.
    As far as the kids go. I let each of the kids think a certain hen is there's (they are all mine LOL) They are also responsible for helping with the chicken chores. We love our birds soo much though that no one minds the work. It just means we are playing with are chickens.
    I am not sure if you have ever owned chickens before. If not I think you will be surprised at what good pets they are. They sit in my kids laps and love a good pet and a few treats.
    Probably the only thing I would have done differantly is I would have ordered a good variety of chicks so I could have a good mixed flock.​
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:You will want to patch holes or put up draft barriers so that it is *genuinely* draft free, esp. when your chickens are only a couple months old. Ventilation good; drafts bad.

    I have plans on installing 5 nest boxes and a small roosting area.

    If you only want 6-9 chickens, you will not need that many nest boxes, maybe 3 at most.

    Chickens will have access to the outside via one of the snazzy chicken ladders that are seen in a lot of coops. The outside area is fenced in and is approx 400 sq/ft that both chickens and goats will share.

    Make sure the goats cannot get into the chicken food to snarf it all up [​IMG]

    Also unless you want to be feeding all the local raccoons etcetera, you may need to predator-proof the chickens' indoor accommodations and lock them up every night (you may know this already [​IMG]).

    I am almost 100% decided on Meyers Hatchery. They allow for small numbers of birds in their shipments and also a variety for any order.

    I believe Meyers will put in extra roo chicks on small orders like that, as 'packing peanuts' to keep your chicks warm - unless someone wants to correct me on this, you need to be prepared for what you're going to do with the extra roos.

    1. Should we keep a layer of hay down in the barn all the time? How about wood chips? What do you all do for ground cover? Do you do nothing at all? Should we just leave the concrete exposed? What is easiest to clean?

    Don't leave concrete exposed, it is just asking for leg/foot problems among other things. Most common bedding is softwood shavings, sold at feed store for like $5/bag. That's my preference for price, cleanliness, non matting, ease of cleaning, etc. Some people use chopped straw, pine straw, or other things. Some people use hay, but personally I would not, since some have had problems with impacted crops and besides good hay is not any cheaper than straw and bad hay will have mold spores that can give your chickens respiratory problems.

    4. Plan on moving chicks outside around 4 or 5 weeks. Sorry, but my house is for my wife and kids, and maybe a dog someday. A month with chickens in the basement is going to be plenty. Will be moving them outside in mid April. Nightime temps should not dip below 40. Any issues?

    I don't have experience with this myself but I think you may need to give them a lamp to huddle under on cold nights for another month or so. Doesn't mean they can't be outside though.

    Hope this helps, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  7. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Welcome aboard!

    We use wood shavings in our coop on the floor. I'm not sure how a bare floor would work but, with the shavings it makes keeping things clean easy.

    If your going to put the chicks out that early you will need to have a brooder setup for them. Meaning a small space and a heat source.

    As far as the children go. Mine have helped from day one and continue to like the chickens. When our weather is warm and they are outside they actually fight over who gets to go and collect eggs, feed treats, etc.

    Good luck!
     
  8. seafood

    seafood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks to all who replied...your info was very helpful.

    Couple thoughts.

    Ideal is in TX...I am in PA. Meyers is in OH and might be a better choice for me. Has anyone dealt with them before?

    How often do you "change out" the softwood chips and put in fresh?

    Really looking forward to placing my order and seeing my girls face as we open up the box!
     
  9. airmom1c05

    airmom1c05 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 3, 2008
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    it makes raking the poo easier and is great for my garden.

    I have been using premium Ponderosa pine shavings. When you say raking the poo, do you use an actual rake? Doesn't it remove the straw at the same time? I have been using a flat shovel and scooping the poo out daily. With only 1 large bird, 2 bantams, and a young Americauna pullet (age undetermined) it's not a horrible chore. I do wish someone would invent something that works like a kitty litter scoop. I deposit the poo into a plastic bucket then carry it far away from the coop and pen to a place near the garden. I read somewhere not to have the chicken droppings compost pile anywhere near the chickens for respiratory health reasons. I think it recommended 100 yards distance! How long does the poo have to compost before it is not too strong to use as fertilizer?​
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2008
  10. karen

    karen Out Of The Brooder

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    I like the website: http://www.seattletilth.org/resources/articles/compostingchickenmanure

    It
    gives some nice simple information on composting- Years ago I used straw bedding-White pine chips weren't that available then-I found it sloppy and it matted down alot.
    Now I use pine chips and am really happy with the results-It works well on the floor and makes for nice clean nests. Wintertime I just add a bale every month, especially when it is going to get really cold- it makes great floor insulation. It does run about 6-7$ a bag in this area.
    I will clean it out for composting in the spring.
     

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