Beginner questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DadandJB, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. DadandJB

    DadandJB Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 11, 2012
    I hope this is in the right place...


    My wife, daughter and I have decided to try our hand at raising chickens. We are going to start with Cornish Cross meat chickens and if all goes well, move into egg layers; probably Leghorns. We would like to get our chicks in the spring, which gives us plenty of time to prepare.

    Some questions we have so far are:

    1. How large of a coop would 12 Cornish X require? I have an old shed on the property that measures 8x10. I can stand up inside it. It needs some work such as a new floor and maybe a roof. Would this be big enough and would treated plywood be acceptable as a floor?

    2. How large of a run would they require? I have 2 acres in the country, but free ranging is out of the question due to predators, mostly dogs, but also fox, coons, coyotes, hawks, cats…grandchildren.

    3. How high would I want the roosts in the coop to be?

    4. Are nesting boxes required?

    At this point, we could use all the advice we can get.

    Thanks folks!
     
  2. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2008
    Osteen, FL
    Cornish cross are not "normal" chickens so they don't need "normal" chicken habitats. Here are my suggestions:

    1. Don't put down a wood floor. Just use pine shavings, and LOTS of them, on the dirt. These birds poop a lot and they are messy with their water.
    2. Your space is fine
    3. They will not go far from the coop. I let mine all day and they never wonder more than 30 feet from the coop. A large dog run will be plenty, but keep in mind they WILL MAKE A MESS of it. The poop a lot!
    4. Nesting boxes are NOT required because you will butcher them LONG before they lay eggs
    5. Roots are not necessary. The birds can NOT fly. If you do want something, just put a log or something similar on the ground so they can jump on. But, they will make a mess of it. They poop a lot
    6. They will need to be in a protected place under a warm/hot light for a couple weeks, depending on your highs and lows. I live in Central Florida and try moving my birds from their garage quarters (a large Rubbermaid tub) into the coop by the end of the second week. I run an extension cord and plug in heat lamp for about another week.
     
  3. DadandJB

    DadandJB Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 11, 2012
    Awesome, thanks for the info! Meat chickens will be a lot cheaper start-up than I thought. The shed already has a floor in it, but it's in bad shape. I guess I could just cut the existing floor out and remove the joists. Once I move the shed closer to the barn I can run electric to it for heat. We are looking at an April start and temps can still get pretty cold. We have a very large garden so I am looking forward to supplementing the compost pile. I hear these birds poop a lot ;)
     
  4. Island Roo

    Island Roo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 14, 2012
    Duncan, BC
    If it was me starting out and not wanting to make the same mistakes I already made, I would consider this:
    - Save the old shed for your layers.
    - build a simple "tractor" for the meaties

    Personally I would not put effort into a fixed structure for cornish X. They make a mess of a coop. With a tractor, it is easy to move around as the birds grow. Then you can spread that fertilizer (poo) around.

    I might use the shed as a draft-free brooder for the first couple of weeks before going to the tractor.

    My coop has a wood floor but I'm wondering now if dirt would be better if I want to use the deep litter method (search the forum for deep litter if your interested int that)
     
  5. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2008
    Osteen, FL
    When I first started with meat birds, I went with x-rocks. But after several batches, I got tired of their messiness so I went with Freedom Rangers. Finding the FR's to far less efficient at feed conversion (i.e. much more expensive to raise), I just switched back to x-rocks. For me, the secret is having LOTS of pine bedding and mix it often. In my small coop, I'm putting down 5 bags of compressed pine shavings. That will give me probably a 1 foot deep layer. I will mix it often to keep it cleaner and less smelly. I may need to add more shavings during their last week.

    They are a mess, but I'm hopeful this method will make them cleaner and less messy. Time will tell....
     
  6. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    So your saying they are fertilizer machines along with meat making machines?
     
  7. Firefighter Chick

    Firefighter Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2011
    Southeast Minnesota
    If you're planning on getting meaties first, try to keep a few things in mind. CornishX are not your typical chicken. They seem like a different breed altogether than the layers. They eat tons, they poop everywhere, they're lazy and messy. And, boy, do they SMELL! If you're going to keep them in an enclosed environment, prepare to spend more money on floor shavings and scooping up the mess. We have had about 30 cornish cross inside half the coop, separated from the egg layers. This fall we got 100 cornish X, brooded them in that same half of the coop, but moved them outside to my fenced off garden and my husband made a shelter for them. This keeps the poop outside and into the garden earth. Also, you will be filling water buckets CONSTANTLY. They drink sooo much water. I ended up making a 55 gallon waterer out of a drum, pan, and float valve, but we're still filling it up every two to three days. They do require quite a bit of attention. And they are more fragile and will die off easier than most egg layers. We ended up getting buff orpingtons for eggs first and moved to meat chickens later on. Just remember that cornish cross chickens and egg layers are two completely different things.
     
  8. DadandJB

    DadandJB Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 11, 2012
    Thanks for all of the advice folks! I'm actually looking forward to all the poop. I lost both of my cow manure suppliers. One bought a new manure spreader so he is spreading it all on his hay fields and the other got rid of all of his dairy cows.[​IMG] I can still get horse manure, but it's heavily polluted with sawdust and I just cannot get enough nitrogen mixed into it to break it down as hot and fast as I like. I even went to the extreme of have a couple of landscaping contractors bring all of their grass clippings to me. At the time I had about 10 tons of horse manure and bedding. For those that understand composting and the C:N ratio, you can see that I would need better than 20 tons of grass clippings (which are approx 15:1). With poultry manure coming in at about 10:1, I would need a fraction of that to obtain the same results. I'll never have 10 tons of horse manure brought in again, but I still need all of the Nitrogen I can get. So, in all honesty, I'm hoping they poop like mad! It's like hitting the garden lottery. Lots of N for the compost piles and fresh chicken for the table!
     

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