Chicken Newbies in SE Michigan - Accepting ANY tips and advice!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by xleslieanne, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. xleslieanne

    xleslieanne In the Brooder

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    Hello all! First post on here, though I've been reading around and collecting some information! My fiance and I are looking into getting some chickens over the coming weeks but this is all very new to us! He's thinking he wants 10, but I'm thinking 4-5 is a much more realistic number for us being first time and getting accustomed to it. We live in southeast Michigan so I have been reading a lot about weatherproofing coops, etc. We are looking to purchase a pre-fab coop at least to start and potentially adding on/building off of that in the future. Some of the basics I've found that I need to consider are
    - Weatherproofing and insulating for rain/snow in our climate
    - A poop shelf for easy cleaning
    - Ensuring coop we assemble has wire to keep predators out from all angles
    - Heated water container

    I would really like advice on bedding though! It seems shavings seem to be a great option, but I see other sites recommending other options.

    So, as you can see, total newbie looking for any recommendations or tips you've got! Everything is definitely appreciated. :D
     
    BarnhartChickens98 likes this.
  2. BarnhartChickens98

    BarnhartChickens98 Crowing

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    I use a Deep litter method in my coop (DLM) and that works the best for me, I use a large pine shaving in the coop and egg boxes. Straw gets matted down an retains a lot of moisture, as does small shavings. Another thing to make sure of is to not use cedar shavings as they can be toxic to chickens.
    Good Luck!
     
  3. mowin

    mowin Songster

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    Welcome to BYC. :welcome.
    Tons of great info on this site.

    Most here won't recommend a prefab coop. Most are poorly built, and only hold a fraction of the chicken they claim to hold.
    The only prefab I seen that was built very well, was at a place that sold sheds of all sizes. While it was well built, structurally, ventilation was lacking, and the claims of housing 18 chickens was 3x the realistic amount. It was also very expressive.

    You're better off building yourself, or buying a storage shed and modifing it for your needs.
     
  4. BarnhartChickens98

    BarnhartChickens98 Crowing

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    Either that or finding a contractor in your area and have him build it for you. Thanks for bringing that up, It totally slipped my mind to recommend that.
     
    mowin likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Don't buy chicks until you've built your coop....
    ...don't build our coop until you understand what chickens need.
    3 great links in my signature to get you started, let me know if you can't see them.
     
  6. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

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    ^ this, so much. Even if it's a prefab, it always takes more than the "just 2 hours!" it claims it needs, or there'll be broken or missing pieces, or it happens to be raining every single weekend you need to work on it...

    I'd say build for a possible 10 (or however many birds you imagine you might have total), and then starting with 4 or 5. If you stagger your flock's ages you'll get more steady egg production over time, instead of a whole lot for 1 or 2 years and then gradually less over time.

    Prefabs are always going to be unrealistic about how many birds they can hold, so buyer beware! For 10 birds you should be aiming for a 40 sq ft coop at a minimum (I'd recommend around 60 or more in your climate, especially if you don't opt for a roofed run with some wind breaks) - you will not find many prefabs of that size. I've seen some quality large premade coops but they're not cheap, for that price I'd just do a custom build.

    Most people on here don't insulate, even in colder climates, as it's an extra expense and rodents are famous for getting into insulation. Obviously if it gets ridiculously cold where you live that might not be optional.

    Bedding depends on your climate, budget and availability of materials. I use wood chips because they're free and easy to get, and once I'm done with them in the coop they get tossed into the run where they provide drainage in the run. I find shavings to not be cost effective and terrible in the run as they just get soggy in the rain.
     
    BarnhartChickens98 likes this.
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    Welcome! I agree with everyone here, and it's often cost effective to start with a garden shed type building and add ventilation and more windows. A walk-in coop is best!
    If you select breeds that do well in colder weather, no insulation or heating will be needed in winter. An insulated roof helps with summer sun though, and a well drained location with shade is best.
    Get on the Michigan thread here too!
    Mary
     
    xleslieanne likes this.
  8. xleslieanne

    xleslieanne In the Brooder

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    thank you! i will definitely look for that michigan thread!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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  10. SilkieNation

    SilkieNation Songster

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    I'll add that chickens can be a lot of work - to keep them healthy, happy!, safe from predators, as free as possible from disease, comfortable, entertained and clean. When I got my first flock about 14 years ago, I thought they'd be easy keepers - fresh food and water every day - it'd be a piece of of cake! Well I was wrong. I'll admit I pamper my chickens, and that adds to the work, but even if they get standard, healthful care, it takes time every single day.

    There's a lot to consider. As someone said above, build the coop and run first. Make sure they will have more than enough room inside and out when they are full grown.

    This site will give you the information you need. Keep reading and asking questions!

    Chickens are very cool!
     

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