Help! chicken math caused me to have way too many chicks!!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Dixiebazarre, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. Dixiebazarre

    Dixiebazarre Out Of The Brooder

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    I started with a flock of 4 (3 hens and a rooster) then when I decided to add a few more (2 young hens and a roo) the lady who sold them to me convinced me I needed to get some chicks... and even threw in some for free! Then I went a little nuts and now we have 19 chicks ranging from 2 weeks to 7 weeks. I have about a 400sq ft space for my adults, chicken wire covered with deer netting. But we are trying to slowly get the run and coop more secure, but now I need to consider where to put these little ones in a few weeks and the more I read, the more I am seeing the cost go up, and up, and up!!! We naively thought we could just throw the birds out to free range and lock them up at night to keep them safe.... now that I'm attached, and reading all the stuff about how dangerous it is with predators out and about in the day, I'm starting to panic. Should I just get rid of the babies? Is there another way?? If we put hardware cloth on every surface of our run it would easily cost thousands. I hate to confine them to a tiny space. :(
     
  2. cmchickens

    cmchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In my opinion, if you cannot afford to properly house them, you should find them a new home. We all understand chicken math within reason. I stated with 6 chicks and have 40+ chickens at the moment. But my coop and run allow for that many and then some. I would take an honest look on how many chickens you have room for, then pick your favorites to keep. As far as making your coop and run more secure, do as much as you can. Unless you have built Ft. Knox, there is always the possibility of predator attacks. I let my chickens free range on occasion. I believe that the benefits from free ranging outweigh the risks in my low predator area.
     
  3. esme13

    esme13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with cmchickens. See how much you have room for, keep the ones your like and rehome the rest. There's no reason to inquire more expenses then needed.
     
  4. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did you get straight run chicks, or all pullets? If you got straight run, you will probably end up with some roos that you'll want to get rid of anyway so that might bring your numbers down to a more manageable level.

    When I first got my chicks, one thing that helped me decide where to spend my money was that I did a risk assessment of sorts. I looked at where my biggest risks were and took steps to reduce them first. Lessor risks received less attention (and money). There are alternatives to providing a 100% predator-proof pen. It comes down to how much risk you are willing to assume. The big predators I need to watch for are hawks. My whole backyard is fenced in, so the risk of attack from dogs or coyotes is pretty slim. My pen would need to be secure enough to keep out foxes, raccoons, and opossums that might climb their way into my yard. Weasels also pose a threat to my birds. I am lucky that I am able to be home to make sure my birds are locked in their secure coop every night by dusk so the risk of nighttime predator losses is pretty low.

    When I started construction, I picked the predator that was most likely to pose the biggest threat to my birds--hawks--and made sure I protected against them. I decided that covering my pen would reduce the most risk. I constructed a roofed pen with welded wire sides (2x3 inch openings). This is in no way entirely predator proof, but the roof keeps out the hawks and the wire keeps out the raccoons, opossums, and foxes. Weasels can still get into the pen, but I'm always there to lock the birds in at dusk and it's unlikely a weasel is going to come hunting during the day. As money allows I'll reinforce the pen with 1/2" hardware cloth then I won't have to worry about weasels either.

    I also free-range my birds. Their pen is only adequately sized for the number of birds I have and, like you, I don't like keeping them penned up 24/7 in a tiny space. I have two alternatives--enlarge the pen or accept the risk of losses. I don't have the funds to enlarge the pen so I will do what I can to minimize the risk to an acceptable (to me) level. This spring I'm going to build some low shelters for them to use as cover in a couple places around the yard so in the event there is a hawk attack, at least they have a place to run to. I'm also going to plant some shrubs for cover. I have the scrap lumber and can get the shrubs cheap so these measures will cost much less than adding on to my run. It doesn't eliminate the risk of predator losses, but it reduces it to a level I'm comfortable with. When I have the money I'll expand the covered pen. I'll probably choose to expand the pen before I choose to reinforce it with hardware cloth because, again, it's the hawks that pose the biggest threat to my birds, not the weasels.

    Determine what predator poses the biggest threat to your birds and decide that that's what you'll sink your money into protecting against. Plan to construct in such a way that makes it easy to add reinforcements/remodels in the future as money allows. Look for other cheaper measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of predator losses until you can afford to install those reinforcements. If you still aren't comfortable with the resulting risk level, then give away the chicks.
     
  5. Dixiebazarre

    Dixiebazarre Out Of The Brooder

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    Bogart GA

    This is so helpful!!!! I have mostly girls and 6 straight run. I may just sell those guys off before getting them outside. Our biggest predators are hawks too, and coyotes at night. We have an already constructed area with 7 foot high very sturdy fencing but its the type or fencing with large openings so we would need to put something smaller over it. We have some roof tin that hubby says we can bury 12 inches down and basically make 1/2 the wall metal. From there up, it'll prob be welded wire dog fence, as well as on top. (we talked after my post and he helped me plan:)) my question now is: Will 19 chickens and 1 roo be happy in a 20x20 space with a coop about 15x9?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the general rule of thumb is 4sq. ft. per bird in the coop and 10sq. ft. per bird in the run. For 20 birds you'd need 80sq. ft. of coop space and 200sq. ft. of run space to meet these recommendations. Your measurements will offer your birds 135sq. ft. in the coop and 400sq. ft. in the run--well over the recommended amount.

    Realize though that not all breeds do as well with confinement. If the breeds you've selected are among those that don't tolerate confinement well, that additional space will be a necessity not a luxury.
     
  7. Dixiebazarre

    Dixiebazarre Out Of The Brooder

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    Cool! My breeds are black astrolorpes, barred rocks, leghorns, buff orpington, Wyandottes and a RIR. We also have 2 straight run silkies who are around 7 weeks that are too big for the brooder so I have them in a large tote till they feather out a bit more to put outside (but honestly I might re-home them as we are really wanting good egg layers) then I have some bantam chocolate Orpingtons that are unsexed that I'm not sure I'll keep. They were my first chick purchase and they were a lot more $$ than the others. Weirdly, I'm not as crazy about fancy expensive chickens as most. I would rather have my sweet little barred rock any day. My girls that are already outside are the barred, astrolorpe and RIR. The roo is the most precious red sex link you ever met, but totally protects his ladies. I adore this group. They lay daily and they are super friendly. I will likely put them somewhere besides with the new girls.
     
  8. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Extra space would be good if you're planning on housing bantams with large fowl. It gives the bantams (disadvantaged because of their size) options for staying out of the way of the larger girls and reduces the chance they will get picked on. Silkies can be picked on because of their more mellow personalities and because of their appearance, so having plenty of extra room for all the birds to spread out would be a plus.
     
  9. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    My set up is an 8x14 coop and a 16x20 run with chicken wire top to prevent hawk attacks. I think you have plenty of room. My 19 have no difficulties getting along and there are 3 bantam cochins in the mix. I have a mixed flock with some being skittish and some wanting to be lap chickens.
    You can put some barriers or roosts in the run to help give the bantams a place to hide or get away from someone in a bad mood too.
     
  10. tjo804

    tjo804 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens are wonderful pets and Great livestock. They have a way of letting you know what they need if you are willing to pay attention! that is going to be your biggest expense as you develop and grow your flock. It is a lot like walking the halls in a middle school. IMHO Some go with the flow, some act like the crazy who needs to be left alone some will turn out to be bullies and you will know which ones can stay and which need to go. As an animal lover and an avid grocery store shopper I never thought I would ever consider freezer camp. However it is now a part of my life and I am actually looking forward to Broiler chicks. You will be the best judge of your flock as you will be the only one who spends the time to make sure they are happy and have a clean pest free environment Just keep in mind that if you skimp on space you can make it work if you are willing to spend time on extra chores and observation. Many chickens even show chickens do not have the luxury of grass or friends they are raised in small cages You will need to be the one who makes the decision on how you want to raise you flock.

    Gather all the information you can and don't take things personally and you will have the happiest flock in your space!

    Good luck and enjoy your eggs!
     
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