Can I keep these three breeds together?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Portalguy, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. Portalguy

    Portalguy Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2009
    Ripton, Vermont
    Hi,

    Just finishing our coop, wife is a bit late ordering chicks, and has found most backordered though end of June.

    She wants to mix the following breeds together, 20-24 chook total in a 4' x 8' coop:

    - black australorps

    - plymouth/barred rocks

    - sussex

    Does anyone have experience or at least some thoughts on combining these three breeds in one space?

    My personal concern is that since it is mail order, so Murphy's Law applies and the breeds won't arrive at the same time, will be of different ages and it may not be easy to mix them.

    Thanks!
    Rob
    (confuseder by the moment)
     
  2. SpringChickens

    SpringChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 1, 2009
    College Station, Tx
    You shouldn't have a problem mixing the three breeds together, as long as all are standard size. If you get some as bantams, the standards occasionally pick on them.

    I do have a major concern about the size of your coop. You will have a total of 32 square feet (a 4X8 coop). A *minimal* space requirement is 4 square feet per bird, giving you enough space for 8 birds, max.

    If you order all birds from the same hatchery, you shouldn't have a problem. Just let them know that you want them all at once, they should be willing to accomodate you.

    Good luck! Come back often, this site is a great resource.
     
  3. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Space is my biggest concern, too. That space will do while they are babies, but only for so long. If the only time they are cooped is at night, and you provide plenty of roost space it should be okay.

    Bantam vs standard--my experience is that the bantams will rule the roost.
     
  4. Birch Run Farm

    Birch Run Farm Biddy up!

    Sep 5, 2008
    VERMONT
    For 20 large fowl that would be very tight, especially in our crappy winters. I see your coop size comfortable for 5 to 6 large breed birds.
     
  5. Portalguy

    Portalguy Out Of The Brooder

    80
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    Apr 26, 2009
    Ripton, Vermont
    Quote:Thanks for writing, that's right !

    Should have mentioned this (but as I'm long-winded I didn't) this is our first time so I expect to lose some to 'mistakes' of one kind or another, random predators etc.

    They will be free-ranging (I'll just have to fence in my vegetables) but by Winter I hope to have eight birds left.

    Either that, or I'll have to extend the coop [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    Rob
     
  6. SpringChickens

    SpringChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 1, 2009
    College Station, Tx
    Just be warned; I had my birds in an 8X8 pen for a while until their coop was finished. I had 18 birds in there; from about 4 weeks to 2 months of age. Around *2* months of age, they were picking at each other so badly I had to move them to a larger area.

    18 birds in an 8X8 space is somewhat comparable to your 8 birds in a 4X8 space. Really, even the 4 square feet of space per bird is pushing it.

    I also started with 18 birds, and would have 17 birds now if we hadn't had a rooster day recently. Losses are typically very minimal; not 2/3rds of your flock. If you want to have 8 hens next winter (which still may be too many for your space), I would start with 9 or 10 birds.

    Good luck! Sorry, don't mean to be negative, just want you to learn from my mistakes!! [​IMG]
     
  7. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    I agree with Spring Chicken. Occasionally you do have heavy losses, but that isn't typical, even for someone new to chickens.

    If you are looking at large breeds that will be primarily cooped during winter storms, you need 10 sq ft per bird.
     
  8. Portalguy

    Portalguy Out Of The Brooder

    80
    1
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    Apr 26, 2009
    Ripton, Vermont
    Oops. Did not catch my mistake until now. The coop is actually 8' x 10'. I messed up the conversion from metric.

    Eight birds times ten square feet per bird, I don't even have to do the annoying arithmetic [​IMG]

    Letting them run over a wide area, fencing in where I don't want them to go, there are a lot of variables and I really don't know what to expect in terms of 'losses'.

    Q: What's the acceptable bird density when they're just shut in after dark and come out in the morning?


    Certain hawk species (I have seen osprey, bald eagle, northern harrier) are also welcome to an occasional chicken dinner (I hear gasps). Their red-tailed cousins are not welcome; they're as common as inlaws. I am also hoping to sight some Merlins, GyrFalcons and Peregrines; which seem to have returned to Vermont thanks to our lower pesticide usage than other states.

    No I'm not using chickens as bait; merely recognising that:

    1. free range chickens are part of a larger ecosystem, have been for millenia;

    2. suburban sprawl has eliminated habitats on a large scale for many predators;

    3. factory farming with its unknown melange of chemicals has already killed off part of the food web.

    The chicken coop itself, I'm making very tight based on my neighbours' experiences with weasels, foxes and random vermin. We have a river and numerous creeks nearby (one in easy walking distance down through the woods) so weasels have captured the lion's share of chickens in Ripton. When able, I've asked for details about how the weasel was successful, as well as countermeasures.

    Thank you kindly for your mentoring and concern, I appreciate it very much!
     

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