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Beginner questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Deitrader, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. Deitrader

    Deitrader Just Hatched

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    My GF and I started our flock with 6 Fall peeps just after Labor Day this year. Our (now) pullets have been living in a temporary coop (pic below) in our open air greenhouse for several weeks now. I lined the entire floor of the coop with 1/4 inch hardware cloth and have the whole structure set up on cinder blocks inside the greenhouse. Here's my question: Do I need to close the door to the nest box at night for my pullets? I do still have a heat lamp pointing into the nest box through the ventilation window on the back of the coop. I set this up when I first moved the chicks to the greenhouse and it has been there ever since. I live in NW WA state and from what I've read, the heat lamp probably isn't really even necessary now that my birds are +/- 10 weeks old and it really doesn't generally get below freezing here. But should I still close them up in the nest box at night? Or should I leave it open and allow them to come and go?

    For reference, all of my birds seem happy and healthy and they move in and out of the nest box on their own without any prompting from me. I'm just curious about what other folks do with this kind of a set up. Thank you in advance for any and all feedback. I really appreciate everyone from this site who has been so helpful as I work to figure out the do's and don'ts of my first flock. Thanks!

    - Matt



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  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    To be honest, I'd be more worried about them being overheated on a sunny day in there, than them getting too cold. How hot does it get in that GH during the day? No heat lamp. They don't need it at all. As for closing them in at night, you know your set up, and if you are convinced that it is predator proof, you could leave it open.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Deitrader

    Deitrader Just Hatched

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    Thank you, that's kind of what I've been thinking as well. The greenhouse is open to the air and it doesn't get much above 60 in there during the day. I also have them outside free ranging quite a bit during the day when I'm working outside. Regarding the heat lamp - Ween them off of it or just take it away? Replace it with a basic light bulb or just allow it to be dark in the nest box all the time?

    Thank you again!!
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I just take the heat away, no weaning. At 10 weeks, they're quite well able to withstand pretty much anything thrown at them, as long as they are out of the wind and wet.

    I don't confine my birds to the coop, they're free to go in and out to the run at will. If your run is predator proof and you're comfortable with it, I see no reason to lock them in at night. I'm basically lazy and that's just one more thing I'd have to do on a schedule....no thanks!
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I would not lock 6 birds up in that tiny box....it's too small and has no ventilation.
    Sorry to be so blunt......can I balance it out?.... by saying Welcome to BYC!

    Good articles on Space and Ventilation linked in my signature.
     
  6. Deitrader

    Deitrader Just Hatched

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    I'm ok with blunt - Less time spent reading and more time to take action. :) Also, I have broad shoulders and recognize the fact that I have a lot to learn so I'm not offended. In my defense, I will tell you that I spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that my birds have adequate ventilation. I altered the store bought coop to ensure they wouldn't be overwhelmed by ammonia fumes, etc. I'm a work from home guy and have been spending lots of hours with my birds daily. Like I said in my post, they all seem happy and healthy and they move freely in and out of the nest box portion of the coop with no prompting from me. I also recognize that I have a lot to learn. That's the biggest reason that I found myself on BYC in the first place. While I'm learning, I am paying very close attention to my girls (and guy) constantly looking for any signs of distress and I really haven't seen any. Thanks for the reply and the welcome to BYC. I appreciate your feedback!

    - Matt
     
    3 people like this.
  7. Deitrader

    Deitrader Just Hatched

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    donrea - Thank you for your reply as well. I can appreciate where you're coming from about being "lazy". I am working to strike the right balance between giving them everything they need while not creating a pile of unnecessary work for me. Thanks again!
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    When you say the nest box, are you referring to the enclosed loft area, or are you referring to the nest box within that loft? Are they sleeping in the loft, or are they sleeping in the nest box in the loft? If they are sleeping in the nest box, that's a habit you want to stop immediately. I assume there is a perch in the loft. If you block off the nest box, they will then sleep on the perch. Pullets who sleep in nest boxes like that cozy little space, and it becomes a nasty habit with a nest box full of poop. Not a good situation when they start to lay. So, close off the nest box until you see their faces start to redden up, and other signs that laying is getting close, or until they are about 16 weeks old, then open the nest box back up.
     
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  9. Deitrader

    Deitrader Just Hatched

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    Lazy Gardener - That is extremely useful advice. I appreciate it immensely. Thank you!
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I pretty much agree with what the others have said, at 10 weeks they do not need any supplemental heat at all, they haven’t for a month. Whether or not you lock them in a certain area at night depends on how comfortable you feel about your predator situation. I see that you have that elevated on blocks. That opens them up a lot for ventilation. As long as the greenhouse blocks wind where they are that should not be problem at all.

    Nomenclature could be causing some confusion. It often does on here, we don’t always call things by the same name. I’d call the part enclosed in wire the run, the part enclosed up at the top the coop, and the nests where they are intended to lay eggs. Like LG seems to think, I believe you may be calling the part we normally call the coop the nest boxes. Where exactly are they sleeping?

    Photos of the inside of the coop section showing roosts and nests could help. Also what are the physical dimensions of your coop section and the run, in feet? You are likely to get a lot of different opinions as to how adequate that is. You can follow the link in my signature to get some general thoughts about why you might need more or less space than the magic numbers in space requirements often seen on here. With a flock all the same age and all pullets you can get by with less square feet per bird but that will affect how you manage them. If you ever intend to integrate new birds alter all that changes. You might notice most of what I have to say about space in my article has more to do with your comfort and convenience than the chickens. I also believe in making my life as easy and stress-free are reasonable.

    By open greenhouse I assume it is open at the top but you have sides that block the wind. How big is that greenhouse by the way? How predator proof is it? Do you plan to take that coop/run outside of the greenhouse? You have too many different management options for me to talk much about that now. If you plan to let the chickens have the greenhouse to live in that can become their run, probably a pretty predator safe area. But if you plan to move them outside that changes things. How exposed that coop/run is to predators could change my opinion on it.

    I see that you are calling that a temporary coop. When do you plan on moving them to the permanent coop? You may not even have true nests in that temporary coop or even need them. Or if you are moving them before they start to lay it may not matter where they sleep now. A little bit on your permanent plans for what you will build or provide and a bit on how you plan to manage them could let us offer suggestions, though we are likely to overwhelm you with different opinions. That’s another problem you’ll have on here. We’ll all have different opinions on about anything. That’s generally because there are so many different things that work that it’s not a right versus wrong but more of what works in your specific situation. One of my opinions is that it is always good to have a separate facility to give you a lot more flexibility in how you manage them in case of issues.

    I’m not sure how dark it actually is in that coop section during the day. They need enough light to be able to see what they are doing but don’t need it bright light. As long as they can see well enough in there to go to bed I’d just remove the light, not wean them at all. I think I’ve answered all your specific questions. Good luck!
     

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