Does this sound good?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by iwannabachicken, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. iwannabachicken

    iwannabachicken In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2012
    I raise feeder lambs and hogs but I am in the planning stages of getting a flock of chickens to hopefully make a profit on. I want to have a mix of 25 White Leghorns and Golden Buff hens. I have read many university publications, however they seem to just be a glimpse over of poultry production. Here is my plan:

    • Raised in a 5'x5'x2'-3' pen in my garage. I will build this pen out of 1x12x10 and 2x4x8. They will have netting on top to prevent the cats from getting to them. Do you recommend straw or shavings as bedding?
    • Feeders & Waterers - What size do you recommend? I would like to save money as much as possible, so I want to be able to use these when they are in production.
    • I currently plan on feeding DuMOR (from Tractor Supply), but I will switch if my feed store offers chick starter & grower feed for a cheaper price than $0.30/lb. (I still need to check.)

    Moving to My Shed & Production
    When they no longer need the heat lamp, I plan on moving them into my shed. They will have roughly 50 to 75 sq ft of space. I am going to build wooden boxes that are 12"x12"x12" to use as nest boxes. (What do you think of this size?) I am thinking I will need two to five of these. I'm still wondering about roosts...I will have to see what I can come up with. Do you have any suggestions on how to build them? How much space would each hen need?

    They will be fed a 16% Layer Ration, which I can get for $0.20/lb at my feed store. Do you recommend having grit or oyster shells available to the hen free choice? If so, which do you prefer? I plan on using lights to get the hens to lay throughout the winter. I do not plan on letting them "free range" or graze on my grass. They will be housed primarily because of predatory concerns.


    So far that's all I can think of relating to my plan so far...Obviously I don't expect to make any money until after the first year or two. However, profitability is my ultimate goal because I consider this a business.

    What do you think? What should I tweak? Answers to my questions above (in italics) would be greatly appreciated! :D

  2. Bullitt

    Bullitt Songster

    Jan 16, 2012
    You can use small dishes with marbles, or stones, in them for waterers in the brooder. The marbles prevent the chicks from falling into the dish of water and drowning. Small dishes can be used to put food out also. When they are bigger and in the coop you should use larger feeders and waterers. You can make these out of 5-gallon buckets and drill holes near the bottom. The waterer needs a 5-gallon bucket with a lid so it is air tight.

    You should use pine shavings as a floor covering in the coop. Some say hay or stray can get dusty and moldy. But there are differing opinions on this.

    You need about one nesting box for about every four chickens, so you should have six nesting boxes.

    It is recommended that there be 4 square feet of space in a coop per chicken. That would mean 100 square feet of space is needed.

    Do you plan on having a chicken run attached to the coop?

    It seems you are raising these chickens for egg production. If so, why not all white leghorns, which are the best egg producers and have the best feed-to-egg production rate?

    Ideal sells production white leghorns:

    Whether you are trying to raise chickens for meat or eggs, I think it will be difficult to make much profit. I don't want to be pessimistic, but I am trying to be realistic.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  3. HIS Paintbrush

    HIS Paintbrush In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2012
    Man, I thought you were gonna talk about food [​IMG]
  4. iwannabachicken

    iwannabachicken In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2012
    Bullitt - Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! Thanks for the ideas about the feeders and waterers.

    I was initially going to use pine shavings, but straw is cheaper. But if pine shavings are better for the bird's health, then I'll use them.

    As for the nest boxes & space...Meyer Hatchery recommends one to 1.5 square feet per floor reared layer hen and one nest box per seven hens. (That's where my numbers come from.) Are there any benefits (or even drawbacks) to giving them more space and more nest boxes?

    I do not plan on having a chicken run attached to it. However if I do ever build one, they would only be allowed out when I'm supervising them. (Due to the predators.)

    I might just go ahead and have all leghorns. But I may still have one or two golden buffs. (Also, thank you for the link.)

    Well, it's hard to make much of a profit on any type of livestock production :p But as long as I can make more than breaking even, I will be satisfied.

    Again, thank you for your input!

    HIS Paintbrush - I'm sorry, lol.

  5. Bullitt

    Bullitt Songster

    Jan 16, 2012
    I think straw is fine. I just mentioned that some complain that it can get dusty and moldy. I think straw will work fine, especially if it's cheaper.

    Giving the hens plenty of nest boxes means they won't have to compete for nest boxes. Nest boxes are easy to build, so it should be pretty cheap to build six nest boxes.

    The same thing goes for space. If the hens are crowded they can start competing for space and peck each other. I think you may have that problem if the chickens are "cooped up" all the time. Couldn't you build a wire-enclosed run to protect the chickens from predators? Having a dog is also a great way to deter predators. Some on this forum have suggested an electric fence around the run to keep predators away.

    Do you want a couple of chickens other than leghorns to be brooders?

    If you have the space, it would be cheaper to allow the chickens to free range and that way they will get a large portion of their food on their own. But if you have predators and there is no one there to supervise the chickens, that may not work for you.

    If you go ahead with this project, I hope you make some money with it.
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've always used hay or straw for bedding. No problems. Just make sure it's clean and you're good to go.

    My birds never layed in the nest boxes, so I just removed them. Sorry, can't help you there.

    With that little floor space, you're going to have crowding issues. These include picking/pecking, that is why so many birds used for commercial production are debeaked.

    Also with that space and no run, how do you plan to clean the coop? The ammonia build up will get pretty intense, I'd imagine, even using a deep litter method.

    Grit and oyster shell serve two different purposes. Grit is small stones to help the crop grind up food. If your birds don't free range and never eat anything except commercial feed, you really don't need grit. Oyster shell is supplemental calcium for stronger egg shells. If your feed is a layer feed with calcium already added, you don't need oyster shell.

    Something else to keep in mind is flock rotation. If you're going to make money selling eggs, you need to have them available all the time. Do you have an area to start another flock next spring? Your first flock will lay (usually) year round the first year, then take the next winter off. Commercial egg folks have a rotation where there's a young flock coming of age when the older flock is winding down. Do you want to overwinter the first flock to get the second summer's worth of eggs from them, or cull them out? Just something to keep in mind down the road.
  7. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Songster

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    [​IMG] [​IMG]got to post pictures of everything [​IMG]

    Do you recommend straw or shavings as bedding
    Use wood shaving deep littler method (do a search)

    Raised in a 5'x5'x2'-3' pen in my garage. I will build this pen out of 1x12x10 and 2x4x8
    Way to small need at least by 8 weeks 2 sqft per bird in coop and in brooder need think of a junior football size bird (will triple by 25 weeks) need 4" on a roost 4X25 birds you will need 6 1/5 feet so (2) bars 3 1/2' long to roost on and then you need 12"X12"X16" high laying boxes for 3 per box you will need 7 to 8 cubbies for egg layers. So your brooder box need to be at least a 6'X8' and 30" high. I don't think you big enough for space. Then the run should be at least 10X15' or larger. I may be really off base but not by much.

    They will be fed a 16% Layer Ration, which I can get for $0.20/lb at my feed store.They will be fed a 16% Layer Ration, which I can get for $0.20/lb at my feed store.
    Medicated chick feed until 24 weeks just before layer feed and skip any other feed until 24 weeks and then go to layer feed and add crushed oyster shells to encourage better egg quality
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012

  8. iwannabachicken

    iwannabachicken In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2012
    Bullitt - Okay, I think I will use straw, then, and I may also increase the number of nest boxes to six.

    I would love to have an electric fence, but the cost of the charger seems to deter me a bit. Are there any low-cost chargers available?

    I won't be breeding them; just having them as a laying flock. I was thinking of selling them all as one or two year olds and starting over with a new flock.

    Thanks for all of your help!

    donrae - As said above, I think I will use straw.

    Beak trimming is an extra $0.08/chick, so I may do that since I will have them in confinement. I may provide them with more space, but as it is, our shed is primarily used for storage of lawn equipment. (I am choosing to use the shed instead of building a new building because 1- it's cheaper and 2- it already has most stuff can be moved to our garage.)

    So sounds like I won't need grit. And I will need to check the label of the layer feed to see if I need oyster shell.

    I'm not sure yet about flock rotation. I will do some more research and I will have to figure something out! :)

    Thanks for your help!

    SteveBaz - Thanks for the welcome :)

    Wood shaving deep litter method--haven't done a search yet, but I will. Can you do the same with straw?

    As for brooder size--I heard 1 sq ft per bird was okay. If you think there's benefit in providing more space, I might as well do it. I don't think lumber costs would be too much different.

    Thanks for the recommendations on roost size and nesting boxes. I'll be sure to incorporate them into my layout for their pen inside my shed. I may not have a run, though, unless I can keep the birds safe from the bears when I'm not out watching them.

    I will feed the medicated chick starter. Just need to find some good prices. If the feed already has calcium, will adding oyster shells still help to improve the quality of the eggs?

    Thanks for your help!

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