Getting started!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Our Roost, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. Our Roost

    Our Roost Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2011
    ScottsVille, michigan
    Memories of grandparents have enticed me to start this project of raising chickens. During the depression era, my grandfather and sons raised chickens for eggs and food and also had a garden of vegetables for canning and jarring. Currently, it seems to be a way to bring grandchildren and family together during hard times and share some of the same memories that helped mold my character. What I remember most was the flavor of the chicken compared to todays mass marketing production and less flavorful poultry that is offered at your local grocery store. Sunday dinner at Nana Muldoons was the "best" with fried chicken, stewed tomatoes and garden fresh vegetables served as side dishes. I have family recipes that just dont do todays modern day chicken justice. The flavor just isnt as I remember.
    My female partner and companion owns 48 plus acres and a beautiful home in Manistee Michigan. Plenty of space for such a project. The summers are warm and the winters can be harsh and snowy. We would like to raise chickens seasonally for eggs and meat. Typically local farmers sell chicks in April. This gives us about 7 months of growth period in which to do this before winter sets in. And no, we dont plan on raising chicks over the winter months. Most of the coop plans I have looked at are for backyard pets and only designed for about 4 or 5 birds. We would like to have about 25 birds in all. I am leaning on 2 breeds of birds, Wyandottes and Rhode island reds. These seem to be good and healthy egg layers and meat birds? Their growth period seems compatible with the 7 month raising period before marketing. Maybe we can market more birds in this amount of time? No more than 25 or 30 birds at one time though. The coup size is important to me. Does each bird require its own roost and nesting place? That means 25 or so nesting bins? I think each bin should measure about 18 inches by 18 inches. Hoping that is the right length and width? I plan to make this coop about 16 feet long, but not sure how wide to make it. My bins will be fashioned off the back of the coop as shown in some photos to access eggs from the rear of the birds nesting. I assume this is why they do this so as not to get pecked? Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Has anybody read this?
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    [​IMG] This thread will get moved but in the mean time you have come to the right place.You can learn everything. Just go to the various topics & you will learn quick. Your asking about coops scroll down & theres a coop section.Browse around there & ask question.
  3. acid_chipmunk

    acid_chipmunk Polish Silkies d'Uccles O my!

    Mar 29, 2010
    Hello! [​IMG]

    We are glad you are here. Come back often. You will learn lots and have fun!

    No, you don't need spearate nest boxes for each hen. One box per every 4 girls should be enough.

    Yes, they roost, but long bars are better, so they can snuggle when it is cold. A 2x4 with the wide side up is what works best.

    Generally it is said to use 4 sq ft per large fowl bird in the coop and 10 sq ft per in the run (if you have an enclosed run). You can get away with less if they free range all day, but keep in mind, if you have them over the winter, they will be in the coop a lot and get bored.

    Also, keep in mind, if you don't keep the chickens over the winter, you won't get many eggs out of the hens before you use them for meat. They don't start laying until around 5 months at the earliest, so you would only have eggs for 2 months before they would be gone and you would start over. Most if not all of us keep chickens over the winter and they do just fine. Yes, they slow down on laying, but I can deal with that for the pleasure they give me watching them run around and look for bugs.

    I hope this helps and gives you a little more to think about.

    Good luck and come back!
  4. Bantimna

    Bantimna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2009
    South Africa
    Welcome to the BYC! [​IMG]
    Very interesting post about yourself and questions, I think acid_chipmunk has said everything I wanted to!
    Welcome back, may you have a great time, learning with fellow poultry enthusiasts.
  5. blefky

    blefky life in the yard

    Mar 18, 2010
    stamford, ct
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    First, let me just get out, right up front, that I'm feeling a little acreage envy - ok, now I feel better. [​IMG] There's lots to learn, and the BYC forum and archives are an excellent place to do it. There's a wealth of information lurking around here! To some of your questions. The rule of thumb for square footage per bird is four square feet in the coop and ten square feet in the run. Of course, you'll find discourse on this topic (as you will with most topics). If your birds are outside much of the time, the space per bird indoors may be somewhat less. The consideration should be physical and mental health of the flock. If they are over crowded you may see not only more physical illness, but more stress related negative behaviors from your birds - better to give them more space if you can. You live in a cold winter climate (I'm in CT), so you have to consider that your birds will spend a good amount of time indoors in the winter months. My girls will still go out in the cold weather, but they don't stay out for long periods and they won't walk on snow - I have to shovel an area of the run. When building, or purchasing/modifying, your coop, plan for plenty of ventilation - again please do yourself a favor and really check out the coop/run section of the community forum. Take it from me, educating yourself up front saves, time, frustration, and $$ down the road. I have four nestboxes in my coop - cut down from six in the old coop, because the entire flock seems to prefer to use two nestboxes, I have the other two there "just in case" but they are rarely used. I've learned that this is very common, we tend to overdo the number of nestboxes needed. Oh, and for me, being able to get at the eggs from the outside of the coop is more about not having to clean off the bottom of my shoes every time I collect eggs - though lot's of times when I'm out there I enjoy a visit. I've had RIR's, not Wyandottes, but there are many good, dual purpose birds out there. There are also chickens who are raised solely for meat. Too many to list here. Here's a good link for looking at the different breeds:
    Good luck to you! Oh, and that thing about not raising chicks - careful - many have made such foolish claims and had to retract them, chickens are addictive! [​IMG]
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I have my laying boxes inside the coop, which is 10'x24' section of the barn. I have 3 sections, each 10 ft wide, and 8 ft deep. They are separated by netting. I can keep three different "batches" of hens, according to their age. Chicks in one, pullets in the second, and hens in the third.

    Each can have their appropriate feed and their own water.

    I keep my laying boxes inside because it slows the freezing threat for a little while longer. I take food in and the hens go after the feed, I gather the eggs. It's all done very quickly. No pecking. I can also inspect while visiting each day.

    Each of my sections is 8x10 thus, 80 square feet. I limit my population to 16 in that square footage to avoid crowding and associated pecking.
    Each bird gets approximately 5 square feet.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you are not raising the chicks for keeping past October, I'd not even bother raising hens. Day old Rooster chicks are much, much cheaper, & bulk up quicker than pullets anyhow.

    There is also little point in raising "dual purpose" birds, if their only purpose is raising to 4-5 lbs for meat birds. Their feed conversion, while OK, isn't as good as a dedicated meet bird strain. Raising birds for the meat market is break even at best, unless you have your own corn fields. [​IMG]

    There wouldn't be much point in buying female chicks, which cost almost twice as much, and then "market" them before winter, unless you are considering selling them at 16-18 weeks as POL, point-of-lay pullets. There is a market for POL pullets, but the profit is razor thin and most times, it is break even or worse.

    If you intend to raise chickens between April and October only, I honestly see little need for nesting boxes. It doesn't compute to raise a pullet for only a month of lay, then be butchered, and if your intention is to sell POL pullets, they need to be sold at the Point of lay, not a month or two later.

    Have we helped you think this through yet? [​IMG][​IMG]
  8. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The more usual approach would be to save one roo and a few of the best (largest, healthiest) pullets to overwinter, then have a breed that tends to go broody and hope you get a broody, or buy a small incubator and start over in the spring. They do not need much for overwintering, but they do need extra indoor space in a well ventilated coop that has no draft on the roost. Believe it or not, in your climate they will thrive best aroound 15 sq ft per bird in winter -- but that's not so much space if you are down to 4 or 5 birds. The only thing you will want power for is an easy way to prevent their water from freezing, and a handy light if you need to check them at night -- no heat. And possibly a few extra hours of light in the winter, if you choose to do this.

    The others are right, if you only keep them 7 months, eggs will be an infrequent bonus, not something to count on.

    And even if there is already a coop there, complete with waterers and feeders, you will do well to break even, pay your feed bill. You can sell eggs, meat, chicks and POL pullets, but the latter is probably the only one that comes close to being profitable, unless you have a really good buyers' market there.

    There was a thread on here recently about trying to make money with chickens, probably in managing your flock. And here is a good place to start reading for northern coops; don't overlook the links on the page:

    You will be glad you planned and researched ahead. Lots of money gets wasted by people who start with chicks then start reading.

    Good luck! And welcome to BYC. You're in the right place.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2011
  9. Our Roost

    Our Roost Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2011
    ScottsVille, michigan
    All I can say is WOW! Boy am I going to get an education. Almost all your answers were right on with each other as to your responses to my concerns. Lots of input and helpful things to think about. Lots of tips to consider. Thankyou all so much! First off, my girlfriend and I are doing this with good intentions for the grand kids and for fun, but more so to enjoy farm fresh eggs and poultry. I already know this going to take a lot of work to get started! We never considered this for profit, but breaking even to purchase feed and help cover our costs in the long run would be nice.
    You have all brought to mind the benefits of wintering birds in the coop because they dont start laying eggs until 5 months old or thereabouts. I was concerned about two things mostly for not doing this. One being access to the coop location and treking through snow every day to feed them, and the other was how well birds stand up in cold weather and climates without some form of heat. Apparently it needs to be well ventilated as you all proposed and the water source has to be kept from freezing. IS that all? How about insulation? I will read more on this subject. I can definitely use some more input from you experts out there! I have lots to learn and I have lots more to ask! One last question. I will now probabally keep some of these birds throughout the winter and market some for table ware. This will start the egg process for me. When is it best to bring in new chicks and will they be excepted by the flock or do I have to keep them seperated. I want to keep revolving birds if I can. Thanks again! Are we having fun yet?
  10. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    [​IMG] and [​IMG] from Ohio. Good advice given. Good luck. [​IMG]

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