Chicken newbie in Bay City, Michigan...

thegreatpiscato

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 21, 2013
19
1
24
Hello everyone,


I very impulsively, and somewhat foolishly, purchased a dozen baby chicks from the Tractor Supply Company store near my home. I was told that I'd need to keep them indoors until the weather warmed, (it snowed here today,) and since I didn't have a box to keep them in anyway, I paid for them, with the condition that I'd be back the next day to pick them up. When I returned, I noticed their sign said, "All Remaining Chicks, 1/2 Price," and I bought all they had, so I now own 19 chicks! I did this without any prior research, and was surprised to learn that three chickens are usually sufficient for a family. However, since I am a single male, (retired from the Navy,) it appears as though I'm going to have to go into the egg business!




Since I know absolutely nothing about raising chickens, I am, (no pun intended,) "flying blind." I originally had them in one banana box, but after I purchased a three-gallon waterer, ran out of room. So I taped two banana boxes together, with the chick feeder in one, and the waterer in the other, with a large "mouse hole" cut between the two. I also placed the feeder along one end of the box, and duck-taped a strip of cardboard over one-half of the feeder, to keep the chicks from perching on it, and fouling their feed. This appeared adequate until last week, when I woke to the sounds of peeping chicks, and I thought, "They must be wanting their breakfast..." But as soon as I sat up in bed, I saw three chicks running around my bedroom floor! I quickly realized I needed a bigger, deeper box, and was fortunate to obtain a large one from a medium-sized freezer. I cut a piece of hardboard exactly the size of the bottom of the box, and then reinforced it with some 1" x 2" wood strips, fastened with sheet metal screws , along with some washers, to keep the heads from pulling through the cardboard. I also added three strips of wood under the bottom of the box, to allow air circulation. Since the chicks have grown, I placed just one layer of bricks under both their feeder and waterer. It has greatly minimized the amount of wood shavings that previously seemed to find their way into each of them.



Despite what I had been advised, when they were about 2 & 1/2 weeks old, I began scattering about one-half cup of sand on the floor of their box. They go crazy for it, and appear to be thriving. As a Michigan State University Certified Master Gardener, I have a very large, 70' x 25', garden. Since I am a strong proponent of organic gardening, my hope is that I can fence in my garden, (to a height of eight feet,) convert my shed into a coop, and simply let the chickens eat the bugs, till the soil, and "fertilize" my garden, all simultaneously. However, I do have several questions.


First, do I have to keep my chickens "contained" until the plants I start from seed are established? Are there certain plants that chickens simply just cannot resist? And what are the recommended sizes for nesting boxes? I would greatly appreciate any advice you may offer...


Thank you,

Senior Master Chief
P.J. Anderson
U.S. Navy, Retired
 

redsoxs

Crowing
8 Years
Jul 17, 2011
25,643
2,075
463
North Central Kansas
Greetings from Kansas, thegreatpiscato, and
welcome-byc.gif
! Great to have you here! 19 chicks...you are going to have some eggs. Just asking...they are hens, right? They weren't something called the "Fry Pan Special" or "Straight Run" were they? If so, count on a majority (if not all) of them being boys...then you have a whole new set of challenges! So, assuming you have hens...you most certainly have to keep them contained until your plants are established, and even then they may still eat them. My chickens free range and have lots of choices...when I give then access to my fenced garden they occasionally pick at a red tomato if they can reach it, a zucchini, or cucumber...most everything else they leave alone - but they will eat freshly sprouted seedlings in a heartbeat! They do lots of raking and scratching for insects - that's the bigger danger with young plants - they get trampled or dug up.

Nest box size...there are lots of different opinions on that one - some depends on breed. I happened to measure mine the other day - they are 14" deep as 14" wide" and 12" tall. For 19 chickens you can probably get away with as few as 4 or 5 nest boxes...they will only use a few of them anyway. I have 18 hens and 6 nest boxes...there are never eggs in more than 3 of the boxes. Good luck to you in your poultry journey and I salute your military service!!!
 

DDNONIN2016

Songster
7 Years
Jan 27, 2012
3,853
118
236
SW Ohio
Hello and
welcome-byc.gif


Thouroughly enjoyed your intro. Laughed to tears at the part about the chicks running around your bedroom floor :D

Your plans for a shed/coop and extremely large garden sound great. Good luck to you!

And like redsoxs mentioned....I hope you have all pullets
 

1muttsfan

Up Northerner
10 Years
Mar 26, 2011
21,828
9,592
787
Upper Peninsula Michigan
Hi and welcome to BYC from northern Michigan
big_smile.png


Hope you stop by the Michigan thread and say Hi - look in the Where are you - Where am I section of the Forum

As far as fencing your birds into the garden, it is very likely that what they don't actually eat they will completely demolish. Chickens and edible garden plants do not do well together! Most people have to fence the birds out of the garden.

And as far as your young birds, standard fowl require 4 square feet of floor space in the coop per bird, so for 19 you will need a coop that is 76 square feet. And as redsox says, bin chicks often get mixed around - hope you have all hens!
 

thegreatpiscato

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 21, 2013
19
1
24
Greetings from Kansas, thegreatpiscato, and
welcome-byc.gif
! Great to have you here! 19 chicks...you are going to have some eggs. Just asking...they are hens, right? They weren't something called the "Fry Pan Special" or "Straight Run" were they? If so, count on a majority (if not all) of them being boys...then you have a whole new set of challenges! So, assuming you have hens...you most certainly have to keep them contained until your plants are established, and even then they may still eat them. My chickens free range and have lots of choices...when I give then access to my fenced garden they occasionally pick at a red tomato if they can reach it, a zucchini, or cucumber...most everything else they leave alone - but they will eat freshly sprouted seedlings in a heartbeat! They do lots of raking and scratching for insects - that's the bigger danger with young plants - they get trampled or dug up.

Nest box size...there are lots of different opinions on that one - some depends on breed. I happened to measure mine the other day - they are 14" deep as 14" wide" and 12" tall. For 19 chickens you can probably get away with as few as 4 or 5 nest boxes...they will only use a few of them anyway. I have 18 hens and 6 nest boxes...there are never eggs in more than 3 of the boxes. Good luck to you in your poultry journey and I salute your military service!!!

Hi Red,

Thank you for your reply, and your kind assistance. Most of my birds are "layers," and my neighbor already told me it's okay for me to keep chickens, so long as I don't have any roosters! But only time will tell, and I plan on using Michigan's "Right To Farm Act" as my defense, in the event the township approaches me with any complaints. Also, since I'm a 100% service-connected disabled veteran, my V.A. counselor is prepared to author a letter for me, describing my birds as "therapy" chickens! Thanks again...

Paul Anderson
Bay City, MI
 

TwoCrows

🌻🐣🌻
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Mar 21, 2011
47,959
107,302
1,712
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
welcome-byc.gif
from New Mexico!

Don't worry about not knowing what you are doing yet...these chicks will have you trained in no time!
wink.png
It gets easier as time goes on. :)

So glad you could join and enjoy BYC!
 

thegreatpiscato

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 21, 2013
19
1
24
Hello and
welcome-byc.gif


Thouroughly enjoyed your intro. Laughed to tears at the part about the chicks running around your bedroom floor :D

Your plans for a shed/coop and extremely large garden sound great. Good luck to you!

And like redsoxs mentioned....I hope you have all pullets

Since I'm not a "chicken sexer," (that's an actual job,) I guess I'll just have to wait. Thanks for your reply...

Paul Anderson
Bay City, MI
 

thegreatpiscato

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 21, 2013
19
1
24
Hi and welcome to BYC from northern Michigan
big_smile.png


Hope you stop by the Michigan thread and say Hi - look in the Where are you - Where am I section of the Forum

As far as fencing your birds into the garden, it is very likely that what they don't actually eat they will completely demolish. Chickens and edible garden plants do not do well together! Most people have to fence the birds out of the garden.

And as far as your young birds, standard fowl require 4 square feet of floor space in the coop per bird, so for 19 you will need a coop that is 76 square feet. And as redsox says, bin chicks often get mixed around - hope you have all hens!

Holy wah, so you're from da U.P. eh?...I'm from Baraga, born on da "Rez," and my Anishinabe name is Waboose, (But not for da reason ya might be 'tinkin'...(I could never sit still...)

Hey Muttie,

So's youse up dere in da Great White Nord, good for youse guys! I thought each chicken would need her own nesting box, but instead, it's sorta like what they call "hot-racking" on a nuclear submarine. Since space is at a premium, you actually share a bunk with one of your shipmates, (though not at the same time,) 12 hours on, 12 hours off. The only problem is when your bunk-mate is a stinking, fat-assed slob, who would shower only about once a week. I'd strip the bunk and re-make it with fresh sheets every time, and just throw his in a pile on the deck. He complained to the Master Chief, and bought himself a "blanket party," which involves four guys hanging on his blanket from underneath, (which effectively immobilized him,) while as many others as you can muster beat the hell out of him with full-sized bars of soap tucked into a sock. He took the hint, and from that day forward, he showered each and every day!

I want to thank you for your advice, and as a fellow Yooper, invite you to write me at [email protected] Thank you...

Paul Anderson
Bay City, MI
 

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