Help me select breeds for my flock plz

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GD91, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. GD91

    GD91 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there.

    I just started out on the road to chicken keeping & have built a coop from an extension of one of those old brick garage / barns with a corrulgated metal roof & concrete floor. It is 10 1/2 ft long & 8 1/2 ft wide.

    I wanted a breed (or breeds) of bantams or small chickens that are good layers & good meat birds also, as the extra cockerel stock from hatching will be meeting the pot eventually.

    The run opens up (with the coop door open) onto a natural woodland garden with a 6 foot wall around it. The garden I would class as a small to medium, with a woodland area, a gravel patio, a small courtyard & a long enclosed driveway.

    How many birds (roughly) would sit comfortably in the coop without overcrowding?

    They will have freerange access to the garden etc for a minimum of 12 hours a day in the summer & six in the winter.

    Also its worth mentioning I have fairly close neighbors, although one of these already has chickens.

    Advice welcome, thanks everyone.
     
  2. kota1369

    kota1369 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could have a lot of chickens comfortably in that size of a coop. I think it depends on your needs. The main thing to remember is the coop needs ventilation. The more chickens the more ventilation. In winter time you do not want condensation build up as it causes lung infections. since you want both meat and layers you could go with Rhode Island reds as they are good versatile chickens and great free rangers. They are a dominant chicken so you don't want to mix breeds with them that are sweet and docile. I used to have Easter eggers........ I like the free ranging and lack of laziness in the RIR's.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You have a nice size coop, but I say start off smaller than you can technically have.

    By the numbers, at 4 square feet per bird, you could run 21 birds. That's a lot of birds.

    Now, things to keep in mind.

    There might still be times your birds need to be confined to the coop. Extreme bad weather (you don't say where you are so I don't know if that's a consideration for you), predator issues, teaching new layers where to lay, going on vacation, things like that. Personally, I'd start with a dozen or so birds and see how things go. The thing is, the longer you're exposed to the world of chickens, the more you find another breed you'd like, so leave room to add as you go. It's also always good to have extra space to partition some off for adding new birds, or a grow out area for littles if you choose to hatch some later.

    It's always tempting to get the absolute maximum number of birds you can manage, but overcrowding is a big cause of behaviors in birds.
    But, start a little small and you can always add from there. Then again, these numbers are for large fowl. If you go with all bantams, you could probably start with 16-20 and go from there.
     
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with donrae, start small, you'll find more that you want and won't have room for them if you go for the maximum right away!

    As far as the "maximum" for the coop size... technically, by the book, we could fit 90 birds in our hen house. By (bad) experience, I know that 75-80 is the largest number that I want to overwinter there. I've had 110 in the coop in the summer when they can go outside and get away from one another, but once the number creeps into the 80's in the winter, I start having bad pecking problems and have to sell off some hens. It's always better to give chickens more room rather than crowding them. You'll have less stressed birds and fewer behavior issues.
     
  5. MoodyBroody622

    MoodyBroody622 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have multiple Japanese bantam hens that are great layers, cochins and silkies are good sitters and layers
     
  6. GD91

    GD91 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    21 Birds [​IMG] good god, I wasn't considering keeping that many!

    There's only myself & my husband to feed [​IMG] imagine his face if I incubated 21 birds [​IMG]

    I've kept rabbits in the past & I know the more space given & the less animals = less cleaning. I was actually considering about 6 -7 birds as layers & the mixed breed chicks they hatch as meat bird's once they reach the right size & weight + maybe keeping a couple of chicks for the future [​IMG][​IMG]

    We've recently found our food bill is too stretched, long story, but anyway we live in the UK & rather than living off pot noodles & raw carrots we have decided to choose the "healthy living" option of raising our own small livestock (Chickens, rabbits, quail etc) & growing our own vegetables in the garden & indoors year round.

    Basically we were fine until our electric company wacked our electric up to over a £100 a month for a 1 bed flat [​IMG] because we have electric heating, the water bill & Tv license has gone up to + neither of us can find full time, permanent work in the north west & its all got much harder than last year. We find ourselves pooling the rent, we are paying family debts back & bill money every week which leaves us with £10 - £20 a week to buy food.

    Think I may have started a bit of a fad though [​IMG] a friend wants to buy some of my (barely existant) chickens. No chance until she buys the coop first, not with her dogs!

    Anyway, I'd like the birds to have as healthy & natural a livestyle as possible. Don't ask me why, but it always disturbs me when people cram lots of animals into a space. I used to see a friends 2 dutch rabbits in a 2x4ft wooden ark run about a foot high that was classed as suitable by the seller [​IMG] Seriously, I went & gave her one of my own 6x6ft old runs so the poor things could frisk about without whacking their heads & actually play, which thankfully was more than big enough & she told me they appeared much happier & more playful in there. [​IMG]

    I think when you have to clean them out more than once a week & its bad, that's generally a sign to extend the housing or runs.

    Still need some more ideas of breeds though [​IMG]

    Oh, and I've got ventilation covered, the entire roof has small ventilation gaps at the sides + the door is going to be a double layer of chicken wire on a frame with a covered fixed up tarp outside at the top to be pulled down in cold/bad weather so it won't get drafty.

    Also we are extending our little project further = my husband suggested we come together & build a covered run on the outside slightly bigger than the coop so even if we aren't there to watch them or have predator issues they can still be left out & they have a sheltered outdoor area in the winter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2013
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Wow! Sounds like you've got things well covered, and your birds are going to have a great life. I hear what you're saying about the bills and not enough work, here it's my medical bills that are killing us. But hey, I can tell you a dozen meals to have from eggs, and we're never going to starve. We might get tired of eggs, but not starve!
     
  8. kingsfarm

    kingsfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Couldn't pass this one up...Isn't God good to create an animal small enough to handle,gentle (xcluding some roos-Ha) beautifully feathered and many colors,smart enough to keep the flock going by faithfully guarding and protecting their eggs for 21 days until the miracle happens,teaching their young how to be "chickens" and most of all providing food and entertainment for their "keepers"...They can even find their own food if need be and let out to be free.....range that is....
     
  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    The problem I'm having recommending breeds is twofold--one, you want small chickens, perhaps bantams--but you want them to have enough meat to be worth butchering. That doesn't really exist, and even when you butcher a smaller large fowl bird, like an Easter Egger, it's more difficult because they are very hard to gut (can't fit your hand in there) and there's not much meat on them when you're done. Secondly, you're in the UK, and I don't know what breeds you'd have available.

    Personally, if you can decide against the smaller bird thing, I'd find a bird like a Barred Rock or a Marans or a Delaware that will strike a good balance between meat and eggs. Or, you could raise different birds for different purposes--we raise Red Sex Links and white Leghorns because they are egg-laying machines, but they really only have enough meat on them to make soup, so they're not good meat birds. We then raise white Broilers (Cornish X) and/or colored broilers (Freedom Rangers, RedBro) for meat. They won't ever make me an egg, but the feed conversion to meat is wonderful and they taste amazing.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    I would go with a mix of birds to meet your needs. I'd choose a few production birds: Black or red sex linked, or leghorns. (Smaller body, good feed to egg conversion, egg laying machines). Then I'd add some dual purpose birds. A lot of people love the Orpingtons. Australorpe would be an other good choice. If you had a rooster for your dual purpose birds, it'd be a self sustaining flock. Personally, if it were me, I'd stay away from bantams. People do mix large and small fowl without problems, but my preference would be to have all large fowl, or all small fowl. As a kid, I did have a mix of bantams and large fowl, and they did ok, but for egg production and meat, I'd choose large fowl. You might want to research the option of keeping chickens and rabbits in shared housing. Enter "raken house" into a search engine.
     

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