Getting ready for chickens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by whillergee, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. whillergee

    whillergee Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 28, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I joined a week or so ago, but haven't introduced myself until now -- no chickens yet, but my husband is converting a former playhouse into a coop behind our house here in the Oakland hills (CA). I have about a zillion questions, but the one for today is: Since our coop is underneath a redwood and an oak tree, there's lots of shade where we'd like to have the chicken run. Do chickens do better with a little sunlight? We're probably starting with egg-layers, but I'm intending to raise some meaties too at some point. I'm completely paranoid about predators - you can bet I'll be trolling the predator threads on the forum.

    Well, as long as I'm here, let me pose one more question - if we were to rig up an automatic door to the coop, I'm assuming the chickens already will know to seek out the inside of the coop when the sun goes down. Do they need any instruction? Are chickens smarter than I think? How dark does it have to be before they go in and roost?

    Aaack - I'll stop now. The more I write the more questions will come...

    wendy the hopeful chicken person in Oakland
  2. trilyn

    trilyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2009
    East Syracuse
    [​IMG] from NY! If you leave your chickens locked in the coop for a solid week, they will know that's home-they'll go in there to roost. At least mine did! It's pretty cool actually, to watch them start to wander in that direction as the sun starts to set. As far as the trees and shade go, I have my run under a gigantic maple and it is mainly shaded with patches of sun. Now that the leaves are gone, the run gets all the sun-I think it's a pretty nice combo and the chickens don't seem to mind it! Good luck!!

    ETA: For an automatic door, I think I would have it shut them in a half hour after it is full dark, just to be sure you don't have any stragglers!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  3. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] from the opposite coast in Florida!

    I think chickens will do well in shade, they're originally jungle birds that spend most of their time scratching around on the forest floor. As long as there is a bit of sunshine during the day they should do well. They do like to take their dust baths and lay out in the sun for a little each day. You're smart to be planning for predators right from the start. The first priority is a nice secure place for them to sleep in, that's when many things prey on chickens. Next make sure their run is safe from intrusion by dogs, and secure overhead to protect them from hawks. You can contact your county extension to see what other wildlife you may have there, if there are mountain lions or bears there you'll want to ramp up your security even more.

    Get ready to enjoy the wonderful world of chicken keeping!
  4. whillergee

    whillergee Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 28, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I think we'll extend the run onto both sides of the coop since there's more sun on one side, and there'll be plenty of dust for them there too.

    As far as predators go, we're planning on digging down at least a foot or more for the run fencing and putting rocks at the bottom of the fence in the trench all around, and putting some kind of covering over the run for hawk protection. Do owls go for chickens too? We have those around here occasionally. I've seen skunks, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes up here in the hills, but I hope I don't have to worry about BEARS!! [​IMG]

    Next question: is there any kind of standard size for roosts? Do chicken feet need a certain diameter?

    Thanks for all the help!

    Getting anxious for next spring...
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    [​IMG] from Indiana! I have a light on in my coop each evening, so my girls have never had an issue with staying out after dark; they head towards the light source. So I would set your auto. door opener to close at least 15 minutes after dark. Just observe them a couple of days to see how dark it when they make the transition. Chickens do enjoy some sunlight, so it would be great if you could place your coop/run where they can get some broken sun through the branches at least...or maybe where they can have at least a patch of sun as an option... Have fun!!!
  6. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    [​IMG] from washington

    as you can see you'll get lots of good advice here.

  7. fatboys farm

    fatboys farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 3, 2009
    Franklin GA
    a big getrdone from west central ga.
  8. CityClucks

    CityClucks The Center of a 50 Mile Radius

    Jan 31, 2009
    Tulsa, OK
    [​IMG] from Oklahoma!!

    Yes, owls love a tasty chicken dinner - covering your run is a very good idea to help keep out both aerial and climbing predators. For a roost, I recommend a 2 x 4 board set with the flat side up - so the chickens can stand flat-footed on it and settle themselves down to cover their feet. I like your idea of extending the run so they can get to more sun if they like. I'm so glad you found BYC - you'll learn tons here. Good luck with your chickens - they're wonderful!
  9. Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex

    Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Rogue Valley, S. Oregon
    For the first three days my chicks were put outside, we had to chase/carry them into the coop at night. After that, all but 2 of 30 went in on their own. (And, just so you know, those two almost NEVER go in on their own, despite me, my roommates, the dog, and even one of the roosters trying to get them to go in) It also helps if you have room for a feeder inside. We just got a bigger coop and put in a feeder and they seem far happier inside now that there is food!
    As far as perches, the suggestion I was given was to use 2 x 4's put flat side up as, apparently, most chickens don't like to 'perch' they would rather sit on shelves. This also allows them to sit on their feet to stay extra warm in the winter.
    And as for owls- the chickens will sleep while the owls are awake and vice versa, so they are no threat if your chickens have a coop. At times I didn't close the door to my coop until 12 or later, but having my dog alert me to predators I could be fairly confident that before 3:30 AM there would be no attacks. Hawks are the only thing that has snatched our birds. The dog just cant help them there (though he courageously saved one of the aforementioned stupid chickens who won't go to bed with the others from a raccoon at least 5 times!)
    We kept my chicks in the pen for a month before allowing free ranging and while they were confined to the shaded run which came with the house (covered with corrugated fiberglass roofing) there was only one sunny patch about 1 foot by 4 feet. For about half an hour each day they spent time laying in the sun (really amusing to see 30 chickens lying in a narrow strip) but the rest of the time, they did fine in the shade. And they Like the shelter from the rain.
    Good luck, and have fun with chickens!
  10. whillergee

    whillergee Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 28, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    You guys are great - based on input I'm getting in this forum, we're revising some of our plans for a more fabulous chicken experience. The thing we're researching right now, as pretty much urban dwellers, is where to find things like chicken feed and hay that isn't exorbitantly expensive. But that's a topic for another post!


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