First timer! Need coop ideas

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by stacey52783, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. stacey52783

    stacey52783 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 17, 2015
    So we went out Sunday and bought 7 bantam chickens. I don't know if they are male or female. We would like to get some good laying hens at some point too, but there was a 6 hen minimum at Tractor Supply so we bought the 7 they had. Now I'm wondering if we'll have too many chickens. We don't have a coop yet..planning on buying one soon. How big does this coop need to be? How many more hens do we need to get a few eggs every day? I'd love to get like 4 or 5 eggs daily. So new to this. I'm wondering if we don't have enough space for the amount of hens we will need. We already have a 10 x 10 dog run we're planning on using as a run..just need the shelter and boxes for them to lay in! We also have a great privacy fence around our whole yard.
     
  2. bdjh

    bdjh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to owning chickens! You've done the easy, and cheap part, buying the birds.....now comes the work part.

    In terms of numbers, we've got 7 laying hens. We average 5-7 eggs a day in the summer, dropping to 1 or 2 in the winter. It's all about the amount of light.....less light, less eggs.

    I don't think you will be able to mix bantams and regular-sized chickens. We went to a bird show last year, and my wife wanted to get some bantams ('cause they were so so cute), but the breeders there told us we shouldn't mix them......chickens are real jerks, by the way....they pick on the smaller, weaker ones all the time.

    For size, our coop is 4 x 6, roughly. For the 7 we have, it's adequate, though if I were to build again, I might go a little bigger....just as a 'quality of life' thing.

    Our run is 8 x 16, and is fine for what it is. They have access to the run all day, every day, and spend all their time outside in the summer, except at night when we lock them in the coop. We let the birds roam in the yard all summer, as long as we're at home. They generally don't roam more than a hundred feet or so from the coop. They go out into the run on warm days in the winter. They won't walk on snow, so they stay in for 90% of the winter.

    I have 2 ceramic bulb heaters in the coop for the winter. Many will tell you that you don't need to heat your coop, but here in Winnipeg, I just don't feel right about leaving birds to cope with -40....again, it's a quality of life thing. The heaters only prevent the temps from getting colder than -10C (which is around 10F)

    We've only been doing this for 2 years, but in that time, I've learned a lot.

    The biggest things I can recommend are:

    • Have an area where the birds can get into the shade and/or out of the rain. We have our coop raised, so there is a 2-foot space for them underneath it. It's their favorite spot to be. They take their dust-baths there, and just kind of hang out.
    • Place roosting bars (2x4s or 2x2s) in their coop that lets them get up off the floor, and if possible, right up near the ceiling. Ours immediately found how to jump/fly up into the rafters of the coop, and sleep there exclusively.
    • Handle your birds often. Not only will it make them less skittish, but it'll let you inspect them for injuries, missing feathers, bald spots, mites, etc.
    • Take them treats. As soon as I walk out my back door, they start squawking, anticipating something yummy. Pumpkin guts, pineapple, oatmeal, leftover potatoes, meat scraps, yogurt, raw hamburger, pasta, lettuce......almost anything.......they LOVE it! The BEST thing in the world, though, are the crickets that get caught in our pool skimmer! Crickets are Chicken crack!
    • Go get a scrap piece of linoleum, and line your coop floor with it. It makes cleanup MUCH easier, and the wood floor doesn't get saturated with ..... nastiness.
    • Dust your chickens a couple times a year with Sevin dust......it prevents/treats mites. I also liberally dust the coop with Diatomacious Earth......you can get it at any farm or livestock store......I also add it to their food once in a while.......helps kill/prevent mites.
    • Keep water both inside and outside their coop. Chickens drink a LOT of water.
    • Don't put your coop right next to your house, or your neighbor's house.......chicken coops stink. Chickens can also make a lot of noise, even without any roosters. Keep your neighbors happy by giving them eggs.
    • If you have a pool, make sure you supervise them when they're patrolling around the pool for crickets. Chickens, when frightened by running dogs, will usually fly into the pool. Chickens are excellent swimmers......for about 15 seconds......then they become very poor swimmers.

    That's about all I've got for now.......feel free to PM me if you have any questions at all.......I'm no expert, but I'm happy to share what little I know......good luck!

    Brian
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
  3. Chickerdee

    Chickerdee New Egg

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    Hello, I'm another first-timer out here! I'm still in planning stages...the coop and run are being built - very exciting! I am looking for four pullets of different varieties. Where can I get them? I'd be so grateful for any help or contacts. I'm in Morden, Manitoba.
     
  4. bdjh

    bdjh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickerdee - I'm in Winnipeg. We've been getting our chickens from kijiji, and have had good luck. There are lots of people around selling birds. If you have specific varieties you're looking for, however, we attended a poultry show last fall, put on by the 'cluck and quack club', which is based in Beausejour, but have members from all over. The varieties of birds available was STAGGERING. I think it would be worth your while to attend one of their meetings if for no other reason than to get their member contact list.......one of the main reasons they exist is to sell and swap birds.

    If you don't want to make that trip, however, I can almost guarantee that there will be people in your area raising and selling good birds.

    Feel free to ask me any Manitoba-specific questions you might have.

    Brian
     
  5. stacey52783

    stacey52783 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 17, 2015
    So I'm not sure what to do. We bought 7 bantams(non laying I am told) and still want to get a few laying hens. I'm worried I'll need a huge house for them now.. I don't know if the chicks are female or male so I guess I should wait to see who is who huh? All the houses I'm finding capacity is 6-8 Hens
     
  6. bdjh

    bdjh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Stacey - I just did a quick search here on mixing bantams and large birds, and it seems like it certainly can be done. A few posts talked about the little ones being picked on, but others say theirs get along fine.

    If you want some layers, I'd build/buy your coop to accommodate the number you need, get your bantams established, and then introduce some laying hen pullets - they should be similar in size at that point, which may lessen the chances of bullies.

    A typical laying hen will give you 5 or 6 eggs a week, so depending on how many eggs you want, you might need 2, 3, 4 birds? My coop is 24 square feet with 7 birds, and I wouldn't want to go smaller. With 7 bantams and 4 layers, I'd aim for at least 24 sq feet, possibly larger. The more room, the better, and the more easily the little ones can stay away from the big ones......

    Plus, depending on how many roosters are mixed in with the bantams, you may be culling them out, depending on how close your neighbors are. If that's the case, then a coop for 6-8 birds may be perfect.

    Maybe an old garden shed that you could modify into a coop would work? Plenty of room.....and there are tons of folks here who've used them.

    Alternatively, Horizon Structures makes some beautiful coops.....not cheap, but pretty close to what it would cost you to build one of your own.
     
  7. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Depending on the breed of bantam you got you might get nice eggs from them. I have 2 little bantam Plymouth rock hens that just started laying. Their eggs are half the size of my hatchery Barred Rocks so I just use two eggs. Bantams take up less room so you'll be able to fit more into a coop than what the maximum capacity is for standard hens. If you want 4-5 standard size eggs per day then you'll want 4-5 standard hens and a coop to fit them. If you're okay with bantam eggs then maybe you only get 2-3 standard hens so you can have at least some larger eggs. You won't know how many though until you find out if you're bantams are pullets or cockerals. You could just plan on rehoming all the bantams in favor of standard size hens.
     
  8. iawoodchip

    iawoodchip Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jumping in with both feet and getting them both wet at the same time. Exciting, and challenging huh? I'm guessing you'll have a gazillion questions, and that's just about the house. The general consensus is 4 square feet per chicken . Bantams you could squeeze In a little tighter. You mentioned getting some layers as well. If you try to squeeze too many in a tight place, I think you may regret it. BYC has a bunch of discussions in the archives to study, as well as open conversation... Great luck in your venture.
     
  9. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ready-fire-aim approach could be exhilarating, but hang on for a wild ride.
     
  10. Chickerdee

    Chickerdee New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2015
    Morden, Manitoba
    Thank you so much for the reply! I'm keeping my eye on Kijiji. I've called Berg's Hatchery but they won't let me order less than 10 per breed. Aww. I want one each of a few different varieties. I'll definitely travel to Beausejour or elsewhere to find what I'm looking for.
     

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