getting back into chickens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by redcows, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. redcows

    redcows New Egg

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    As a kid my family always had chickens and I greatly enjoyed them. I am thinking about starting a flock and would appreciate some opinions as to setting up my house and run. I am thinking of building the house on one end of a lean to on the side of a hay barn. The house dimensions will be 8'x8' and the run will be 8"x16". I also plan to allow them to free range around the barns and cattle pasture during the day and return to the coop/run at night. The biggest negative I can see is there is very little shade from the hot setting sun during the summer. I plan to use shade cloth on the run. My main goal is to produce eggs for the family and some to sell.
    So here are a few questions:
    1) due to the heat of the sun what would you do, if anything, to insulate the house?
    2) how would you arrange the roosts/nests in the house? feeders/waterer? the human door will be on the east side, exit to run on the south side
    3) where would you recommend putting ventilation in the house
    4) how many hens should this accomodate?
    5) for those that free range birds like this do guineas or roosters work best to warn of overhead predators? I dont really want to raise chicks so would prefer not having a rooster
    6) any ideas/thoughts/suggestions are appreciated
    7) what breed who work best for this scenario
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    1) due to the heat of the sun what would you do, if anything, to insulate the house?

    I don’t know where you are located or how hot you are actually talking about. Heat is much more dangerous to chickens than cold. They do wear a down coat. Not knowing your details, I probably would not do much unless it is pretty drastic. I would provide a lot of ventilation up high above where they sleep (hot air rises) and in the hot part of the year, plenty of ventilation down below them when they are sleeping.

    2) how would you arrange the roosts/nests in the house? feeders/waterer? the human door will be on the east side, exit to run on the south side

    Feeder and waterer can go wherever you wish as long as you keep the feed dry and the water from freezing. In the summer having water in the shade could help.

    Based on your concerns about the heat I’d avoid having the nests and roosts on the south and west sides. Those are going to get hit with the worst of the sun on the south and west. So maybe roost on the north and the nests on the east.

    3) where would you recommend putting ventilation in the house

    I’ll give you links to some articles I think anyone building a coop should read. The cold weather one may not apply to you but the other two might help. The lady that wrote these was in Ontario so they may not be slanted to your weather. But my answer is up high under the overhangs to keep water out and anywhere else you can in the summer.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    4) how many hens should this accomodate?

    There is no way that anyone can truly answer that question. We keep chickens in so many different conditions, with different flock make-ups, in so many different climates, with different goals, using so many different management techniques there is no easy answer to your question. I’m sorry.

    But if you don’t have any real experience with chickens, I know you need some help getting started. That’s why you asked. There is a rule of thumb used on this forum that goes 4 square feet per chicken in the coop with 10 square feet per chicken in the run. This will keep most of us out of trouble most of the time in a whole lot of different situations. It’s geared more toward people in suburbia having fairly small flocks that are pretty well contained. It doesn’t matter so much if the room is in a coop, coop and run, or some other set-up as long as it is pretty well available when they are awake. And with some management techniques you can get by with less.

    I prefer to go big though. I find I have fewer behavioral problems (they can become cabalistic if they are too crowded), I don’t have to work as hard, and I have more flexibility to handle problems if I give then more than the minimum space.

    I’m not going to give you a number but I will say that will handle a lot.

    5) for those that free range birds like this do guineas or roosters work best to warn of overhead predators? I dont really want to raise chicks so would prefer not having a rooster

    The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. Anything else is pure personal preference. You’ll find people on here that would not have a flock without a rooster. Others are extremely happy they don’t have one. Often the dominant hen will take on some of the duties of a dominant rooster, including watching for predators. Often, not always. You are dealing with living animals. I can’t give you any guarantees as to what will happen, just tell you some things that might happen.

    6) any ideas/thoughts/suggestions are appreciated

    Not going there. I could type all day.

    7) what breed who work best for this scenario

    Not knowing where you live climate-wise makes a difference in that some are more cold-hardy or het tolerant, and does the color of the eggs or chickens make a difference? If you are where it is not really cold in winter, leghorns lay a lot of white eggs.

    There are several different breeds that would work for you with brown egg layers. Black Australorp, Delaware, Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, any of the Rocks or Wyandottes and several others.

    Several hatcheries sell a type of chicken called a sex link. This can get kind of confusing because the names that call them really don’t mean anything, just marketing names. Many of them have “star” in the name but one hatchery’s Red Star may be quite different from another hatchery’s Red Star.

    Sex links are chickens that when they hatch, there is a pattern or color in the down where you can tell if they are male or female. They are not a breed but are a hybrid. It can get more confusing because there are two different types of sex links. Some are made by crossing specific breeds. A Rhode Island Red rooster over a Barred Rock hen is one of the crosses that will give you a black sex link. These chickens come from hatchery stock that lay pretty well so they will lay pretty well. There is not anything really special as far as then laying well because they are sex links. It’s simply that their parents come from flocks that lay well and that is an inherited trait.

    But to confuse it, several hatcheries offer sex links based on the commercial egg laying chickens. These have been specially bred for to lay a lot of fairly large eggs. They have fairly small bodies so they are really efficient at converting feed to eggs. They don’t have to use a lot of the feed to maintain the bigger bodies. They sound almost too good to be true don’t they. Guess what. There is a down side.

    Because they have been specially bred to lay a lot of fairly large eggs from a small body and have been bred to be replaced after a laying season or two, they may not have a lot of longevity. Some people have hem and they last a long time, but they tend to have a few more medical problems that some of the other chickens.

    From what you’ve said, I think the sex links of either type would probably work pretty well for you. There is no right or wrong decision for you in this, just the one you choose. There are a whole lot of different choices out there for you that you would probably be happy with.
     
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  3. redcows

    redcows New Egg

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    Feb 23, 2013
    Thanks for the information, I had every intention of giving my location but forgot. I am in southern Tennessee, our summers are high humidity and stretches of 90-100F degree days isnt uncommon. Our winters are usually mild with very few nights ever below 15F.
    As for the egg production I want large brown eggs.
     
  4. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Ridgerunner hit it out of the park!!
     

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