First-Timer Here, Several Questions!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ToledoClucker, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. ToledoClucker

    ToledoClucker In the Brooder

    Feb 18, 2012
    Hello Everyone:

    My family and I have decided to venture into the world of raising chickens and are planning on making our first order very very soon.
    We are planning on getting 4 hens (one for each of us [​IMG]) 1 each of Light Brahma, Buff Orpington, Plymouth Barred Rock, and a Silver-Laced Wyandotte. My questions are as follows:

    #1. I am "currently" using a plastic Rubbermaid tub that is approximately 18-20" H, and 16"W x 36"L. I plan on using paper towels for the first few days then switching to pine chips after that. At the risk of sounding naive, how exactly do you "clean" the shavings? I assume this means throwing them out and replacing them with fresh? And if so, how often do I need to replace the shavings?

    #2. Secondly, how long before my birds "outgrow" the above confinements? I live in NW Ohio, and I have read conflicting opinions on how early is too early to place them permanently in a coop. So any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

    #3. Any other tips in general :)

    Thanks everyone, this site is truly a great resource and my family and I are looking forward to being first-time chicken owners very soon!

  2. allpeepedout

    allpeepedout Songster

    Mar 2, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Welcome and what fun! You can just add a top layer of more chips daily to freshen the bedding, then do a complete change when it seems called for, like once a week or so. Some people just keep layering deeply and don't completely change the bedding. Depends on your setup. You don't want poo on feet. I would never expect my animals to live in a stinky place, and ammonia fumes can build up and kill chicks, particularly in something like a plastic tub. If it doesn't smell good, time for a bedding change. The more space, the cleaner things stay.

    They grow amazingly fast and you'll need about 1 sq. ft. per chick after their first few weeks. I believe most people say they are feathered out at 8 weeks but mine lacked feathers under the wings then. I think putting them out depends mostly on the weather, coop, whether you can add a little supplemental heat in coop in case of temp drop, etc. The old timers seem to get theirs outside pretty young and they do OK. Others of us baby them in the extreme. I think you will be able to observe them and tell what's right. If they do lots of chirping, they're trying to tell you something!
  3. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina

    Everything Allpeepedout said! I moved mine at 7 weeks since it was warm...they were getting so bored and big. That was 9 years ago.
    I use a broody hen in the coop to hatch and raise the babies.
  4. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    Lawrence, KS
    My Coop
    [​IMG] Welcome! No questions are silly here, so please feel free to ask away! I'm getting 4 chicks in just about a week and a half, so I'm right there with you on being excited! I too have a barred rock and a buff orp coming, but instead I have two delawares to round out my flock.

    To answer your question about cleaning the shavings, i'm sure that your nose will let you know when it's time for a full replacement. One of the big factors that I didn't see in your post is the location in where your brooder will be. I'd think if it was in the family room then you'll want to clean it out more often and throughly than if it were in the garage or outdoors.
    Mine is going to be in our finished basement, but I've put shower curtains to "quarantine" off an area because I've heard that they can make a mess and leave dusties all over the place.

    I would plan on having the coop ready by 4-6 weeks at the latest. This will give you enough time and space to move them out when it's ready. You don't want to realize too late that they are too crowded and have to spend a night and weekend scrambling to put something together that's not ventilated or well built. Are you planning on purchasing a coop or building one?

    any btw.. when you get the chicks, we LOVE pictures!! :)
  5. ToledoClucker

    ToledoClucker In the Brooder

    Feb 18, 2012
    Thanks for the great replies/answers!

    To answer some of the above questions:
    Right now the brooder is in my semi-finished basement, which I am a little hesitant about because I think it might be a tad drafty. I also have to create a screen top for it to keep our housecat out. I was thinking a simple 1x2 construction with a brick on top should be secure enough. I also was considering using a large dog cage (I have a year old Newfoundland), but then would have to formulate a suitable bottom and sides to keep the shavings INSIDE the makeshift brooder.

    I am definitely going to build my own coop. I simply cant justify the costs of buying one (at least at the prices I have seen!), when I can build one much cheaper. I plan on using the DLM method in my coop, with an attached run that will be all enclosed. I have been browsing the coop forums as well, trying to get a look at what the inside of a small coop should look like. Right now I am planning on only four hens, but may up that to six if the first four goes well, so I would make the coop large enough to house 6 hens. There just seems to be so many options in coop design that I am a bit baffled at the moment, so any good links or hints would be appreciated!

    I will definitely enclose some pictures when the new chicks arrive, though I am having trouble locating a supplier that can ship such a small order of chicks (4) of the selected species. Most of them have dates 2 or 3 months apart, and I was hoping to get them all in one order to raise them together and because it would be unfair for one of my children to have a chick before the other (at least in their eyes!).

    Anyways, thanks for the great responses and I'm sure I'll be here posting more questions!

  6. la dee da

    la dee da Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Other than being predator proof the most important thing you want to consider is ventilation, here's an excellent link that I used to help figure out my ventilation:

    The typical rule on space is 4 square feet per sandard sized bird inside the coop, and 10 square feet per bird in the run. Some people give more space and some people give the birds less space, it really depends on the birds personallities, how much you can afford, and where you live. For example, if you live in a really cold climate with lots of snow your birds will need a bigger coop because they'll be stuck inside the coop a lot. If you live in a hot climate you'll need even more ventilation so the birds can stay cool.

    One thing I wanted in my coop was for the roosts and nest boxes to be high enough that the birds can use the space underneath. I also planned for the deep litter method, so I made everything 8" higher than they would have been. To make cleaning easy I just had the human door reach the floor, and put a 1x6 board in front of it to keep the litter in(the board is held up by a couple of bricks). With as few birds as you want you may be able to make a coop too small for a person to go in which will save a lot of money and will be easier to make. I have no experience with that kind of coop as I planned for 25 birds.

    Here's a link to my coop if you want to look at it, bear in mind my family has a habbit of overkill [​IMG]

    Some of the things I considered before building my coop:
    -The "square footage rule"
    -How many birds will I want?
    -Birds tend to fight over the highest roost, do I think that would be a problem?
    -How much ventilation do I need? Pick the worst winter/summer you've had and plan for it.
    -How much light do I want? This isn't a problem if your coop has electricity
    -Make it easy to add more windows/ventilation if you need it.
    -Is the coop in direct sunlight? I only put one 2x2 foot window on the southern side because the coop gets the sun all day every day. I am also going to paint it white or off white, to keep the heat down.
    -What kind of predators do I have?
    -Do I want my birds to be able to use the space under the roost and nest boxes?
    -How do I prevent getting locked in the coop? This is one of the most important ones, In my opinion. I've read many stories about people accidentally locking themselves in their coops. I got a lock specifically to prevent that from happening. I also open the pop door first, and close it last so I always have an escape.

    Hope this helps!
  7. la dee da

    la dee da Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    As for the chicks, is there someone you know who might buy chicks themselves, and you can just add the ones you want? Then you can buy from the bigger suppliers and not have to worry about the extra 20 chicks.

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