Hey all!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by E-Chick, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. E-Chick

    E-Chick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 27, 2009
    Ramona
    Chicken newby here!

    I'm in Southern California, just northeast of San Diego in Ramona. Hubby and I bought 8 acres last year and have finally decided to do the ol' laying hen thing. We get winters that have the occasional freezing night temperatures, as well as many 100*+ summer days. One thing that is certain, Ramona is windy a lot of the time.

    Put up an 8'x6' coop this weekend (bought a wooden storage shed with hung doors) and plan on starting with a mixed variety of about 10 chickens.

    Our intentions are:

    - 8 - 12 egg laying hens + a few more as time progresses (heard this is an addictive hobby/way of life)

    - Variety of egg colors (for fun)

    - Chicken coop with a minimum 8'x 10' run (for the most part - we think this is generously large for the amount of birds - sound good?)

    - Hubby wants to raise coop up about 2' for chickens to be able to access bugs and shade underneath (I don't get it, what with all of our space. Seems like added work for him. But, I don't care either way. Just wondering WHY most coops are raised?)

    - Wind turbine on the roof (will that be a bad thing in winter?). Shed/coop also came with a small round gable vent.

    - Cross ventilation windows with wire mess openings for normal-hot weather and opaque covering for cold weather

    - 6 nesting boxes - 3 above 3 starting a few inches from floor (don't know why, but read to raise it, somewhere)

    - Astro turf type floor for nesting boxes (or??? Saw that in one of the ready made coops online)

    - Vinyl flooring covered with shavings (a friend with a coop about the same size said that this makes for easy cleaning and less smell)

    - Access via hinged panel to nesting boxes from outside

    - Hanging feed and water containers (inside coop)

    - Additional water container (outside coop)

    - Staggered (so the girls don't poop on each other), natural branch, approx. 2-3" diameter roosts with homemade branch ladder for access (same thing for coop access)

    - Add a smaller, movable run (with small coop for shelter and maybe 2 nesting boxes)

    - Try to predator proof as much as possible. Plan on totally enclosed run to protect the birds. So far, the predators that I know we have around here are: coyotes, hawks, turkey vultures, bobcats, snakes. We also have rats, squirrels, and rabbits. Don't know if they are an issue. What would be good to use as a snake barrier?? We have rattlers, king snakes, whips, etc. here.

    - Not sure yet due to the predator thing, but want to *think* about free range if we/they feel comfortable about it (after several weeks/months???) - unless a large run IS considered "free range"...

    - Organic feed (any suggestions?)

    My questions (besides the ones above):

    - Will the girls ruin my veggie garden if allowed in there? Or, will they just eat all of the bugs?

    - Do you routinely "clip" their wings?

    - How much feed will we go through on average - considering that they will be in a large run?

    - Can we leave them unattended for up to 5 days w/o having someone come to take care of them? And, will we have to keep them IN their coop or okay to leave coop access open to their run for that amount of time?

    - Do you routinely vaccinate or otherwise give medicine/supplements to them?

    Any suggestions to what we have planned so far? I know that we don't know our hens from our rooster yet, but, with this forum I'm sure we will soon! [​IMG]

    Nice to meet you, and thanks for having me! You guys are great!!! [​IMG]

    PS, Ironically, my screen name has nothing to do with chicks or chickens, lol! It is a shortened version of esplendido chick - I smoke cigars, I'm female, and the esplendido is the first type of cigar that I smoked. BUT, the name is very fitting for this forum [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  2. WriterofWords

    WriterofWords Has Fainting Chickens

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    Dec 25, 2007
    Chaparral, New Mexico
    [​IMG] from NM. I'll have to come back and take a look at your questions, my lunch just ended!
     
  3. willowcol

    willowcol Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2008
    Macclesfield NC
    Hi [​IMG] !!!!!
     
  4. sparkles2307

    sparkles2307 Terd of Hurtles

    [​IMG] from MN!

    OK just to answer a few of the questions, I think that you need something like, 8 square feet per bird for run space...
    And I dont think you need to clip the wings at all if you run a bit of wire over the top of the run to keep them from flying out.

    Again, Welcome!!!
     
  5. E-Chick

    E-Chick Out Of The Brooder

    92
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    Apr 27, 2009
    Ramona
    Thanks, and sorry for LONG winded intro post. Wanted to get it all out there!
     
  6. jhart101

    jhart101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2009
    Clayton, NC
    [​IMG] from NC.
     
  7. sparkles2307

    sparkles2307 Terd of Hurtles

    Also you will need to actively go shut them up for the night and then let them out again, that way you can close the coop doors to prevent any critters who scale the fence from getting into the coop.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,484
    3,877
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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    - Chicken coop with a minimum 8'x 10' run (for the most part - we think this is generously large for the amount of birds - sound good?)

    Rule of thumb is 4 square feet per chicken in the coop and 10 square feet per chicken in the run. There is a lot that goes into this, but this is a good place to start.

    - Hubby wants to raise coop up about 2' for chickens to be able to access bugs and shade underneath (I don't get it, what with all of our space. Seems like added work for him. But, I don't care either way. Just wondering WHY most coops are raised?)

    The only problem I see with a 6 x 8 coop raised 2 feet is that eventually someone may need to get under it. A hen will decide to lay under there, you will need to recover a hen, something. Your hubby is right that they need shade.

    - Wind turbine on the roof (will that be a bad thing in winter?). Shed/coop also came with a small round gable vent.

    The turbine should not be a problem in the winter. My concern is that you may not have enough ventilation in the summer or winter. Check out this link as to ventilation.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    - Cross ventilation windows with wire mess openings for normal-hot weather and opaque covering for cold weather.

    You may need more ventilation in the winter. See above.

    - 6 nesting boxes - 3 above 3 starting a few inches from floor (don't know why, but read to raise it, somewhere)

    Rule of thumb is 1 nesting box for every 4 hens. With 10 hens, you do not need more than 3. You raise them to keep them cleaner. Keeps the hens from tracking in as much mess.

    - Astro turf type floor for nesting boxes (or??? Saw that in one of the ready made coops online)

    Most people use wood with straw or pine shavings. Some people use 5 gallon buckets. Lots and lots of options on nesting boxes.

    - Vinyl flooring covered with shavings (a friend with a coop about the same size said that this makes for easy cleaning and less smell)

    Talk to your friend about how they manage the poop. Sounds like you can get good advice from your friend.

    - Access via hinged panel to nesting boxes from outside

    This is convenient but make sure rain cannot get in. These can also be weak points as far as predator-proofing so pay a little attention how you do this. Some people actually prefer to go inside their coop to gather eggs as this lets them closely observe their flock every day. Purely personal preference.

    - Hanging feed and water containers (inside coop)

    Keeping them at the height of the chicken's back reduces waste. If you hang them so the chicken cannot perch on top, this reduces waste as they cannot poop in them as easily.

    - Additional water container (outside coop)

    In your heat, probably a good idea. Try to keep it in the shade so it is cooler.

    - Staggered (so the girls don't poop on each other), natural branch, approx. 2-3" diameter roosts with homemade branch ladder for access (same thing for coop access)

    If you use a natural branch, it is a good idea to remove the bark. Red mites hide in cracks and crevices during the day and attack the chickens at night. If you remove the bark, itis easier to treat.

    - Add a smaller, movable run (with small coop for shelter and maybe 2 nesting boxes)

    - Try to predator proof as much as possible. Plan on totally enclosed run to protect the birds. So far, the predators that I know we have around here are: coyotes, hawks, turkey vultures, bobcats, snakes. We also have rats, squirrels, and rabbits. Don't know if they are an issue. What would be good to use as a snake barrier?? We have rattlers, king snakes, whips, etc. here.

    Rats can eat eggs and young chicks. Mice can carry disease. You need to keep your food in vermin-proof containers and don't have piles of trash or lumber; natural places for rats, mice and snakes to hide. Some people have a constant trapping program to keep the number of mice and rats down so snakes are not as attracted to the area. Other than reducing their food supply and not having good places for them to hide, I don't have any advice on snakes. The danger from snakes is that they will eat eggs and chicks.

    - Not sure yet due to the predator thing, but want to *think* about free range if we/they feel comfortable about it (after several weeks/months???) - unless a large run IS considered "free range"...

    Free range means many diferent things to different people. To me, it means they never run out of fresh green things to eat. A run would have to be really huge to meet that description.

    - Organic feed (any suggestions?)

    My questions (besides the ones above):

    - Will the girls ruin my veggie garden if allowed in there? Or, will they just eat all of the bugs?

    They will eat bugs, sprouts, greens, and most vegetables. I feel quite comfortable saying that most people on this forum that have chickens and gardens agree that they will ruin a garden. It does depend somewhat on how far they have to go to get to the garden. Growing up, we seldom had chickens in our garden. It was about 200 feet from the coop and had a 4' high fence around it. Occasionally one would still find her way in.

    - Do you routinely "clip" their wings?

    Depends on your circumstances. Most people probably don't but some do. There is a link in the Learning Center at the top of this forum home page that tells you how if you wish to.

    - How much feed will we go through on average - considering that they will be in a large run?

    Unless you have really huge run, expect it to be picked bare. You'll wind up providing practically all their food.

    - Can we leave them unattended for up to 5 days w/o having someone come to take care of them? And, will we have to keep them IN their coop or okay to leave coop access open to their run for that amount of time?

    Partly it depends on how predator proof your run is concerning leaving the coop open all the time. For me, I would not leave them unattended without someone coming over daily to see that they have food and water. Automatic feeders and waterers can malfunction and they can trash both where they are not fit to eat or drink out of.

    - Do you routinely vaccinate or otherwise give medicine/supplements to them?

    Some do and some don't. Many people feel passionate both ways on this. There are many threads on here about these topics. I suggest you search them out and educate yourself about these items and make your own decision. I also recommend you talk to your county extension agent about what is prevalent in your area and get their recommendations.

    Hope some of this helps. Since it is raining here, I thought I'd go through a few things. There are a lot of different people on this forum keeping chickens for totally different reasons and in totally different circumstances. You'll get a variety of opinions on almost any topic since we all look at it through our own eyes. But you'll find that most of the people on here are friendly folks that really try to help. Enjoy the experience.
     
  9. edmcm2000

    edmcm2000 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 19, 2009
    Hi, We have 7 10 week old easter eggers, coop is an 8x8 wooden shed with an attached 8x10 run. run is enclosed with 1/4 inch hardware cloth mesh, including the top, and also goes underground and fans out about 15 inches underground from the sides of the run. Have human size door in the coop and in the run. Nothing gets in or out, including snakes, hawks or rodents. Don't have to shut the chicks up in the coop at night. 2 homemade PVC feeders inside the coop that hold about 30 pounds of feed, Homemade PVC waterer in the run that is fed from a water supply line into a small tank outside the run, controlled by a float valve in the tank, which releases water to the drinking supply in the run as needed. In theory, we could leave them unattended for a couple of weeks, but wouldn't do that without someone at least looking in at them once a day. Good luck, have fun, Ed
     
  10. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    [​IMG] from TN
     

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