Breeding pen inside coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by smileygreen64, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. smileygreen64

    smileygreen64 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am about to get started building a large coop. The coop will have 7 8x8 individual coops for each of my breeds. I will have one rooster and 5 or more hens in each coop. I want to be able to keep track of which chicks belong to which hen. I was thinking about sectioning off the back two feet for a breeding pen. That would make each coop 6x8 with a 2x8 breeding area. The large coop is inside a 50x50 fenced area that will be the community run. Has anyone done anything similar or do you have any suggestions or concerns. I welcome any advice I can get. Thanks.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I’m not sure how you plan on managing them. You may already know this but I’ll say it anyway just to be sure. I think it is important in making your plans.

    It takes about 25 hours for an egg to make its way through the hen’s internal egg making factory after the yolk is released. That egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Tuesday, Tuesday’s egg is not fertile. Wednesday’s egg may or may not be depending on timing, but don’t count on it. Thursday’s egg should be fertile.

    The last part of the mating act after the rooster hops off is the hen stands up, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake gets the sperm into a special container where it can remain viable for more than three weeks. Most of us count on it only being viable for two weeks as it does vary quite a bit. So this means the rooster only needs to mate with a hen once every two weeks to keep her fertile. This also means the hen has to be separated for at least three weeks from any rooster you do not want to be the father of her chicks.

    Now that that is done, you say you have a common run for all of them. You cannot allow the ones you want to breed to share that common run with other roosters during breeding season. You might consider fencing off portions of that common run so you have a private run for each pen. Chicken wire would work since you are just keeping chickens in or out. When it is not breeding season you can leave gates open so they have use of all of the area.

    I’m not sure how you plan to use that 2x8 area. Are you going to lock one hen and one rooster in there for the breeding season, just keep one hen in there so you can collect her eggs and occasionally give her face time with the rooster, or do you have other plans? Not knowing how you plan to manage them makes it really hard to comment on the set-up.
     
  3. smileygreen64

    smileygreen64 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I see I wasn't very clear about that now. Also, breeding coop probably isn't the best way to describe what I want to do now that I think about it. I have another run that shares a fence with this one that will be where the roosters go when they go out, so hens and roosters will be separated while they are out. I know the rooster will breed all the hens in their coop but I was thinking each evening I would put the one hen I want my eggs from for that week in the 2x8 section to lay. The following morning after I collect the eggs I want to hatch everyone would be back together, and I would just repeat that for a week and then set my eggs. I just had the opportunity to get some chickens that are not common in my area and I wanted to keep them pure. I have seen some other breeding pens that I like but I thought if I did it this way there would never be any seperation of the hens, so they wouldn't have to re-establish a new pecking order when they return to the main flock after breeding season. I have exchequer leghorns, golden laced brahmas, dark brahmas, blue laced red wyandottes, silver laced wyandottes, and speckled sussex. My incubator holds 40 eggs, so one week of eggs would almost fill it up with a new hatch every 3-4 weeks. Hopefully I got what's in my head into words better this time. I am new to all this. I have had chickens about two months, but I tend to jump head first into things. I just wanted to get some advice from people who are more knowledgeable before I start buying materials and building so I don't make any terrible mistakes in coop design or chicken well-being.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I know you read a lot on here about how horrible reestablishing a pecking order is. Things can happen since you are dealing with living animals but especially with hens it’s usually not a big deal as long as you have room. It’s mainly when space is limited that you sometimes have problems. I think you are worrying about it a lot more than you need to. Roosters are more of a problem, but the hens normally are not.

    If you separate the roosters and later put them back together they usually do fight, especially if hens are present. It sounds like you are planning on a bachelor pad type set-up for them which tends to greatly reduce fighting.

    I personally do not use separate breeding pens but I do read a lot on here and other sources. The normal standard time-tested way to do what you want to do is to house the rooster with whichever hens you want to hatch eggs from throughout the breeding season. Normally that’s one rooster with one or two hens. That’s what the professionals that breed grand champion show chickens do. In my opinion, you are trying to reinvent the wheel with an emphasis on something that generally isn’t a problem.

    I see one potential difference in you and those show chicken breeders, at least in the immediate future. You may have pullets and cockerels, not mature hens and roosters. The breeders that use the breeding pens don’t use pullets and cockerels, they normally wait until the chickens have matured so they can tell they really are show-quality/breeding quality. Most of the stories you read on here about over-mated hens, barebacked hens, and such are about cockerels and pullets, not mature chickens. There is a world of difference in their behaviors.

    What you describe should work well. I think it is more complicated and more labor-intensive than it has to be, but it’s you that has to deal with that. I don’t much like the 2x8 configuration, it’s kind of hard to manage. It’s too narrow for you to be in there and do much. Your convenience should count as much or even more than “chicken wellbeing”. Usually if it is good for you it is good for the chickens. The hen won’t need that much room anyway. If I were doing it I’d probably go with something like a 2x4 or at most 3x4. Make sure she has a roost in there so she doesn’t sleep in the nest.

    I don’t know how many chicks you want to hatch or what your plans for those chicks are. You may be totally happy setting about 40 eggs every four weeks. But you might consider getting a second incubator to be used only as a hatcher. You would need at least a full week between starting eggs but you would be more assured of filling that incubator each time with the breeds you might be more interested in hatching. You still have to have brooders for what you hatch but a second incubator gives you a lot more flexibility in how you go about it.

    Good luck!
     
  5. smileygreen64

    smileygreen64 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your comments. I think I will probably change up some of the design to keep it easier on myself. You are probably right about me worrying more than I should. I am glad there are websites like this but it can be overwhelming reading lots of contradicting information and horror stories when I have only had chickens such a short time.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    It’s too late for you but my normal suggestion is to start small. There is a learning curve so go through that process before you decide to expand. It’s the same advice I give on the sister gardening forum. Start small and build up instead of planting a huge garden where you are going to burn out from frustration. Some people can handle it, I wish you luck, but a lot of people get overwhelmed.

    There is a lot of contradictory information. There are different reasons for that. Part of it is that we are all unique. We have so many different goals, set-ups, climates, management techniques, flock make-ups, experience levels, and so many other things that different things work for different people. A lot of different things can work. Some people have problems understanding that there can be many different ways to achieve what we want. It is not that there is only one way and every other way is wrong. There is the experience factor. Some people see certain behaviors and want to call out the National Guard to restore order when it’s really just normal chicken behavior. It’s not a reason to panic.

    A lot of people starting out don’t really understand why they see what they see. They see adolescent pullet and cockerel behavior and think adult chickens act that way. They don’t. Or they believe these magic numbers they see all over this forum and wind up overcrowding their chickens, which leads to behavioral problems. Hey, 3.9 square feet per chicken is a guaranteed disaster but 4.0 square feet is paradise, right? There is magic in 4.0. In some cases you can get by with less than 4.0. In some cases you need more, sometimes a lot more.

    I think one of the hardest things for people just starting out to do is to understand that someone who keeps large free ranging flocks with multiple roosters may not be the best model to follow if you have four hens in a small suburban back yard. You have to take what people say and figure out if it actually applies to you.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. smileygreen64

    smileygreen64 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree. Starting small is always sound advice. I was raised in the country with all kinds of critters, and after 6 years of living in the city and college life I got over excited when I got a place in the woods again. I decided to get chickens and started asking around and now I have over 30. My only cost has been feed. In hindsight, people giving me free chickens should have been a warning sign. I will try and keep that advice in mind when I plant my garden. I should have plenty of good fertizer by then.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    When you’re ready join us on this forum. It uses a different format but it’s run by the same people that manage this forum. At least check us out.

    It’s a fairly small group of very friendly people that are always glad to have people join in. We joke around lot but there are some people that know how to grow things. With your experiences you’d probably fit right in.

    http://www.theeasygarden.com/
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    LOL .....talk about too late to start small!
    Laughing with you......Welcome to BYC @smileygreen64 !!

    Are all the birds in good health, as far as you know so far?
    How are you housing them now?

    Advanced search>titles only>breeding pens
     
  10. smileygreen64

    smileygreen64 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are are all in good shape. I know the people I got most of them from and know they have good birds. I got some others from a person I did not know but I would be happy living in her chicken coop, and all her birds are in good shape.

    One exception though. I have one Brahma hen with a swollen back toe. No raised scales or any other signs of anything I know about. It isn't spreading to her other toes and no sores on her feet. Maybe just a broken toe?

    Right now they are all together in a 30x10 coop. There are two roosters that were raised together and the rest of the males are young cockrels. They seem to be getting along good now. Some sparing but nothing bad.
     

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