Help me fill my chicken tractor (newbie)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by traceyleezle, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I was wondering if I could get some help with some breed selection. We are trying our hand at chickens in a couple of months. My husband is going to build us a chicken tractor. We plan on using the plans for the Catawba ConvertiCoop and adding two feet to the length to make it 4'x10'. We plan on getting two silkie bantam hens just for pets, and then 6 layers. I want, first of all, to make sure our coop will be big enough for our birds. Then I really want our layers to be nice friendly birds as I have two kids that love animals as much as I do, that's pretty important, also I want good layers that do well even when it's cold. I live in South Central PA so it doesn't get horribly cold, but we usually have a week or two when it's pretty cold. What would you recommend for someone just starting out? I was looking at buff orps, but I'm wondering if 6 of them would be comfortable with the 2 silkie bantams in that coop, as I know they are bigger. Thanks for your info and help!
     
  2. smarsh2

    smarsh2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    it might be a little crowded but BOs seem to do well caged. Others that are particularly tame are Austrlorps, black sex link, and maybe Faverolles. I personally wouldn't want but about half that many chickens in that space, unless you plan to let them run some.
     
  3. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    Oregon
    40 square feet is recommended for 4 standard sized hens if they are kept there all the time (10 sq. ft. per hen). With 2 silkies (bantams) maybe a total of 3 more standards at the most. If you let them range everyday in a larger area then perhaps you can have an additional hen. If you will have all bantams then 8 sq.ft per bird so 40 dived by 8 = 5 birds total. Overcrowding causes aggression and sometimes even cannibalism.
     
  4. OverEggstended

    OverEggstended Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 11, 2010
    SW Washington State
    My suggestion is to get Cherry Eggers. I have added them to MY personal list. They generally give you an egg almost every day, and can do so even in their 3rd year if what I have read is true. They have nice brown eggs that are very well sized.

    As to the number...
    Although I agree that 6 + the silkies is a lot, there are a few things to consider that MIGHT make it possible. If you are planning on moving the tractor daily, you will have less problems with overcrowding than normal. They will have new foraging to do each day as long as you hold off on offering food until mid morning and will not get as bored and ansy. Also... depending on your living arraingements, Cherry Eggers are supposed to be unbelievably good free range birds. They supposedly will suppliment up to 60% of their diet with foraging if allowed to do so in the warmer months and rarely wander too far. If you can either be around and schedule them some out time each day... or are able to accept some losses if they are NOT supervised... that would help as well (as long as the coop is adaquate for nights).

    I must say that I am new to chickens as well though. All of this info is garnered from extensive research and reading and not on practical experience. In other words... you might want a plan B JIC things start going downhill. 2 Tractors perhaps? Or a larger one?
     
  5. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    The hubby and I were discussing the size of the chicken tractor this evening and came to the conclusion that it might be a lot smarter to have a bigger stationary coop with a moveable run. I do plan on moving them every day to a new patch of lawn for foraging as part of the reason we want chickens is pest and weed control. That way at the end of the day we can just bring the run back up to the coop and tuck everybody in, then move somewhere different in the morning.

    We really want some fun social chickens, who will also earn their keep too. We plan on spending plenty of time chillin' with the peeps so to speak, so a friendly breed is a must.
     
  6. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Quote:What is this 4 sq ft per bird that I keep seeing? I have seen it suggested in quite a few places (including here) as the general rule of thumb per bird. How does that apply? Or have I been misinformed?
     
  7. Karrie13

    Karrie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2009
    Minnesota
    The 4 square feet per bird is for inside the coop or building. It is 10 square feet in the run itself.

    I like the gold sex links (golden commets). I have 7 of them and they are laying almost everyday, even in the subzero temperatures we had and will be having again. I also have 4 black sex links but for some reason I like the gold ones better. They are friendly and like to come and stand on my lap antime I am sitting in the coop or run.

    Good luck!
     
  8. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    Alaska
    4 sq ft of floor space per Standard size chicken in the Coop.
    10 sq ft of ground space per Standard size chicken in the Run.

    That is just a general amount of space, per chicken for the health, comfort and welfare of the chickens.

    hope that helps...
     
  9. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I'm so confused. [​IMG] I'm not really sure what to do at this point. We live out in the country, but right next to a very busy road so I don't think free ranging is a good idea. We don't really have a large lawn to speak of where we could dedicate the space for a permanent set up. That's why the tractor appealed to us, I though we could move it every morning and that would give everyone new grass and bugs and keep them happy. So what would you recommend in our situation? I don't need the bo's, I don't really want a bird that big anyway, I just liked them because everyone kept saying how friendly they are and good layers. Is there a smaller bird that would be more comfortable that is friendly and a good layer? If I am moving the chicken tractor daily, how many birds would you say we could comfortably keep in there (40 sq feet total of run space)? Oy, I need some help here. lol Oh well, better to learn this now than later.
     
  10. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    Oregon
    If you want enough eggs for a family you may want to get 4 standard hens instead of any silkie bantams, for as cute as they are they are also often broody and therefore don't lay many eggs. There are many standard hens that are friendly for pets AND lay well! The dual purpose hens tend to be the friendlier, more docile birds. Plymouth Rocks (any color), Sussex, Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Barnevelders, Easter Eggers (they are really mixed so personality can be mixed as well), and others may be your best bet. Do a search about each breed. [​IMG]
     

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