Changing direction... Changing coop?

TheBajan

Songster
Mar 18, 2018
332
1,051
216
Davisburg, Michigan
Two years ago we bought our first flock. We built our coop inside our pole barn. The coop itself is 8'x8' with an inside run that is 8'x16'. On the outside of the pole barn their is a partially covered run that goes around the corner of the building and is 11'x35' in one direction and 11'x9' around the side (about 484 sq ft). I'm posting some pics. At any rate, it's been great. What do I love about it? Mostly everything if you have a single flock and aren't breeding it's been perfect.
We are changing direction. We've decided to begin breeding. To see where this hobby might take us as we near retirement. I've chosen 3 breeds to start with and I've sold my original flock to make room for the changes. Also, we have never free ranged due to living in the wood near too many predators. I've always wanted to let them free range but I'm too protective. Our solution is to build three 8'x12' movable hoop coops and begin pasturing them. Each breed will have it's own hoop coop and pasture during the summer months. During the cold winter, my plan is to bring them back to the coop in the pole barn.
My dilemma is; how to keep the breeds separated though the winter months. We live in Michigan and we have seen REAL snow as early as October and as late as April. More likely we are talking about Dec-Mar (four months) that they would spend as a single flock. I'm looking for suggestions or ideas. How have/would you handle this? I've heard of having a separate coop for just the roosters but I'm unsure of how that works. Is it okay to just keep them all together for the winter months and begin breeding again in the spring? I've also considered redesigning my inside run into two more coops. Then I would have three 8'x8' coops inside the pole barn and I could divide the outside run in to 3 sections as well. That's a very expensive option and I'm unsure how my husband will react. Two years ago when we built the coop and run, it was close to a thousand dollars and it was all because I wanted chickens. At that time, we had no thought of selling or hatching eggs, meat birds, or breeding.
To bring this to a close, I'm really looking for ideas and what has worked for others. Thanks for taking a minute to read this.

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Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,301
20,171
907
Southeast Louisiana
Very nice set-up!

Some things that might help you with your planning. It takes an egg about 25 hours to go through a hen's internal egg making factory. That egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Sunday then Sunday's egg is not fertile form that mating. Can't be. Monday's egg might or might not be. Don't count on it. Tuesday's egg will be.

A rooster does not always mate every hen in his flock every day but he doesn't have to. In the lat part of the mating act the rooster hops off. The hen stands, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake moves the sperm into a container near where the egg starts its journey. The sperm can remain viable in that container from 9 days to over three weeks. That means if you want to make sure the egg is fertilized by your rooster of choice you need to keep the hen away form any other rooster for at least thee weeks, four weeks is better.

There are a lot of different ways you could try. Considering your Michigan winters (thanks for providing that location information, saved me a lot of typing) I'd suggest a bachelor pad for the boys in winter. Keep all the girls together in one flock but absolutely no boys in with them. Then when you are ready, move them to the hoop coops about a week before you want fertile eggs. Of course this limits you to selling fertile eggs to when you can have them in those hoop coops.

Can you tell by breed which hens lay which eggs? If so, you can keep one rooster of that breed in with the girls and sell those eggs only. That means when you do move them to the hoop coop you have to wait a few weeks to sell the other eggs.

To me those are the top two choices but you might like something else better. Good luck!
 

TheBajan

Songster
Mar 18, 2018
332
1,051
216
Davisburg, Michigan
Very nice set-up!

Some things that might help you with your planning. It takes an egg about 25 hours to go through a hen's internal egg making factory. That egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Sunday then Sunday's egg is not fertile form that mating. Can't be. Monday's egg might or might not be. Don't count on it. Tuesday's egg will be.

A rooster does not always mate every hen in his flock every day but he doesn't have to. In the lat part of the mating act the rooster hops off. The hen stands, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake moves the sperm into a container near where the egg starts its journey. The sperm can remain viable in that container from 9 days to over three weeks. That means if you want to make sure the egg is fertilized by your rooster of choice you need to keep the hen away form any other rooster for at least thee weeks, four weeks is better.

There are a lot of different ways you could try. Considering your Michigan winters (thanks for providing that location information, saved me a lot of typing) I'd suggest a bachelor pad for the boys in winter. Keep all the girls together in one flock but absolutely no boys in with them. Then when you are ready, move them to the hoop coops about a week before you want fertile eggs. Of course this limits you to selling fertile eggs to when you can have them in those hoop coops.

Can you tell by breed which hens lay which eggs? If so, you can keep one rooster of that breed in with the girls and sell those eggs only. That means when you do move them to the hoop coop you have to wait a few weeks to sell the other eggs.

To me those are the top two choices but you might like something else better. Good luck!
@Ridgerunner Thank you so much for the suggestions. Yes, based on the breeds, I can tell which is which. I've chosen Marans, Cream Legbars, and Bielefelders. Chocolate, blue, and light brown eggs. Please explain more about the bachelor pad. I've heard the term and I understand it means the roo's all hang out together but what is the set up like? Do they have problems because they aren't with their hens? Do they tend to fight and if so, how is that managed? It's the idea I like the most because I believe it would require the least amount of changes to our current set up. That means less cost and a happier husband!
 

tribalacres

It’s a great day to be a farmer!
Premium Feather Member
Apr 2, 2020
710
3,777
256
Central Florida
Very nice set-up!

Some things that might help you with your planning. It takes an egg about 25 hours to go through a hen's internal egg making factory. That egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Sunday then Sunday's egg is not fertile form that mating. Can't be. Monday's egg might or might not be. Don't count on it. Tuesday's egg will be.

A rooster does not always mate every hen in his flock every day but he doesn't have to. In the lat part of the mating act the rooster hops off. The hen stands, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake moves the sperm into a container near where the egg starts its journey. The sperm can remain viable in that container from 9 days to over three weeks. That means if you want to make sure the egg is fertilized by your rooster of choice you need to keep the hen away form any other rooster for at least thee weeks, four weeks is better.

There are a lot of different ways you could try. Considering your Michigan winters (thanks for providing that location information, saved me a lot of typing) I'd suggest a bachelor pad for the boys in winter. Keep all the girls together in one flock but absolutely no boys in with them. Then when you are ready, move them to the hoop coops about a week before you want fertile eggs. Of course this limits you to selling fertile eggs to when you can have them in those hoop coops.

Can you tell by breed which hens lay which eggs? If so, you can keep one rooster of that breed in with the girls and sell those eggs only. That means when you do move them to the hoop coop you have to wait a few weeks to sell the other eggs.

To me those are the top two choices but you might like something else better. Good luck!

@Ridgerunner I’ve seen you post so many times when I’ve been studying to better myself and the flock. You are amazing and give amazing advice and suggestions. I’ve learned so much just from your posts! Thanks for your advice, lol, even though I wasn’t the original poster. Thanks again!
 

tribalacres

It’s a great day to be a farmer!
Premium Feather Member
Apr 2, 2020
710
3,777
256
Central Florida
Two years ago we bought our first flock. We built our coop inside our pole barn. The coop itself is 8'x8' with an inside run that is 8'x16'. On the outside of the pole barn their is a partially covered run that goes around the corner of the building and is 11'x35' in one direction and 11'x9' around the side (about 484 sq ft). I'm posting some pics. At any rate, it's been great. What do I love about it? Mostly everything if you have a single flock and aren't breeding it's been perfect.
We are changing direction. We've decided to begin breeding. To see where this hobby might take us as we near retirement. I've chosen 3 breeds to start with and I've sold my original flock to make room for the changes. Also, we have never free ranged due to living in the wood near too many predators. I've always wanted to let them free range but I'm too protective. Our solution is to build three 8'x12' movable hoop coops and begin pasturing them. Each breed will have it's own hoop coop and pasture during the summer months. During the cold winter, my plan is to bring them back to the coop in the pole barn.
My dilemma is; how to keep the breeds separated though the winter months. We live in Michigan and we have seen REAL snow as early as October and as late as April. More likely we are talking about Dec-Mar (four months) that they would spend as a single flock. I'm looking for suggestions or ideas. How have/would you handle this? I've heard of having a separate coop for just the roosters but I'm unsure of how that works. Is it okay to just keep them all together for the winter months and begin breeding again in the spring? I've also considered redesigning my inside run into two more coops. Then I would have three 8'x8' coops inside the pole barn and I could divide the outside run in to 3 sections as well. That's a very expensive option and I'm unsure how my husband will react. Two years ago when we built the coop and run, it was close to a thousand dollars and it was all because I wanted chickens. At that time, we had no thought of selling or hatching eggs, meat birds, or breeding.
To bring this to a close, I'm really looking for ideas and what has worked for others. Thanks for taking a minute to read this.

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No tips, lol, but an amazing set up. I love The indoor/outdoor idea. I think It’s super beneficial and we will be starting on our pole barn in the coming months love this idea.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,301
20,171
907
Southeast Louisiana
Please explain more about the bachelor pad. I've heard the term and I understand it means the roo's all hang out together but what is the set up like? Do they have problems because they aren't with their hens? Do they tend to fight and if so, how is that managed?

Basically you have a separate pen/shelter for the boys. They don't lay egg so they don't need nests. Other than nests treat them like you would a flock of all hens. Give them enough room.

If they don't have any girls to fight over they generally don't fight. Like a flock of all hens they will determine a pecking order, you may see some fights there, but they tend to not be that serious. Try to avoid change as much as you reasonably can, just like a flock of hens if you take some out or put new ones in they will adjust the pecking order.

Mine is across wire from the rest of the flock, the girls are right there but the boys don't fight. Other people say they have to block line-of-sight so they can't see the girls.
 

TheBajan

Songster
Mar 18, 2018
332
1,051
216
Davisburg, Michigan
Please explain more about the bachelor pad. I've heard the term and I understand it means the roo's all hang out together but what is the set up like? Do they have problems because they aren't with their hens? Do they tend to fight and if so, how is that managed?

Basically you have a separate pen/shelter for the boys. They don't lay egg so they don't need nests. Other than nests treat them like you would a flock of all hens. Give them enough room.

If they don't have any girls to fight over they generally don't fight. Like a flock of all hens they will determine a pecking order, you may see some fights there, but they tend to not be that serious. Try to avoid change as much as you reasonably can, just like a flock of hens if you take some out or put new ones in they will adjust the pecking order.

Mine is across wire from the rest of the flock, the girls are right there but the boys don't fight. Other people say they have to block line-of-sight so they can't see the girls.
Thank you again. These really are the questions I needed answering. I can do this! As they will all be arriving at the same time and "growing up" together, I'm hoping that will help. Again, thank you! You've been very helpful! :)
 

SnapdragonQ

It's coffee o'clock!
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
Feb 2, 2020
3,310
22,732
771
VA
Does your pole barn have stalls? You might be able to divide and/or convert a stall to a bachelor pad or certain breed pen for the winter so you could still sell hatching eggs/chicks.

Though my set up isn't even an inth of yours, I seem to be thinking of going down a similar path. Not so much for selling, but more in pursuit of a self sustaining homesteader flock. I've done meat birds in the past and like raising clean meat for my allergic kiddo, but the frankenbirdness of the CX certainly leaves a lot to be desired. And ordering red broilers has it's own drawbacks too.

At any rate I'm entertaining thoughts of Bielefelders but am wondering how to manage having more than one productive roo at a time and how to set up a bachelor pad for roos of different breeds when needed. From what I am reading the Bielefelders roos get along well, but I know other breed roos may not.
I'll be keen to see what you end up setting up and how things work for your roos.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
6,018
11,474
596
USA
I suggest you start by thinking what time of year you want to hatch eggs. You will need room to brood the chicks when they hatch, too.

Putting all the chickens together for the winter can work just fine, if you do not intend to hatch eggs in the winter.

You just need to separate them into appropriate breed groups 3-4 weeks before you are ready to start collecting eggs for hatching.

Or, let them run together for most of the winter, then move the roosters to a bachelor pad a month before you want to hatch. Put the right hens with the right roosters at least two days before you collect eggs.

Or, as Ridgerunner suggested, leave one rooster in with the hens and put the other roosters in the bachelor coop. Set eggs only from the hens of the same breed as the rooster, and only if it's been at least 3 weeks since the hens last had access to the other roosters.
 

MANNA-PRO

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