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Hobby chicken farm - suggestions please!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by JPDRoo, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. JPDRoo

    JPDRoo Hatching

    Feb 16, 2015
    Hi I have recently started backyard chicken keeping and love every seconds of it. Currently I'm in a suburban block of 400 m2 (small, I know and have 6 purebreed chickens - light sussex, aracauna/amricauna, silver laced wyandotte, barnevelder, silkie and faverolle, in the backyard. Since I like chooks so much, I have planned to expand my new hobby to a bigger scale - to build a hobby chicken farm.

    I have planned to buy a 1.5-2 acres block of land to build our house as well as the chicken farm on.

    My ultimate aim is to breed and sell pure breed chicken as well as sell excess eggs (for hatching and eating), chicken manure, etc. I know this wont make me money but at least help with the running cost, this is after-all a hobby, I do have a well paid full time job that I wont give up.

    My idea is to build a huge common coop and run for 20-30 hens (for eggs), and 10 individual smaller coop/run for breeding and other purposes e.g. keeping excess rosters until they are re-homed, raising pullets until they are sold, etc, each large enough to hold 5-10 chooks.

    As I have a full time job, I want the running and maintenance of the farm as low as possible.

    Some ideas I have are
    1. Use deep litter method (so I dont have to clean up chook **** everyday) in coop and sand in run
    2. Automated waterer (I plan to use the nipple system which is connected to a big auto-fill reservoir for all the run) and feeder system (I like this idea especially )
    3. All coops and runs will be predator, rodents and snake proof e.g. concrete 1 meter deep around edges of coops and run, coop will also have a concrete floor with DLM above it, run will have galvanised 1.2 cm rodent and snake proof mesh on floor and sand about 10 cm thick above it. All coops/runs will be big enough to walk in.
    4. A shed big enough for artificial incubation and brooding young chicks, as well as keeping all the chicken farm utilities and tools in it.
    5. The chicken farm will have fence around it.
    6. There will be water and electricity to the farm.
    7. The layout/plan in my head so far is that I will have 2 rolls of 5 terraced smaller coop/run on each side, one big/common coop/run for the hens and a shed in between them.

    My questions are
    1. Does anyone here has a hobby chicken farm and care to share their experience of what to do and what not to do if they were to build another one? Does my idea sound feasible so far?
    2. What other things would you put in / suggest putting in the farm?
    3. What would you suggest the layout/plan of the farm be in terms of position of smaller coops / bigger coop / sheds etc.
    4. Ideas on how to keep the farm as low maintenance as possible.
    5. Does anyone have any experience on deep litter method on a concreted floor?
    6. Any other resources for starting up a hobby chicken farm that you are aware of?

    Feel free to through your thoughts in!


  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Welcome to BYC!

    I used to have 11 coops/hutches going at once, and so feel qualified to comment on a bit of what you are planning, even though I have never tried to make money from my hobby.

    One thing I urge you to do is to try to go with larger coops and keep the breeding pens for breeding season only. Simplifying your chores by having fewer waterers and feeders to care for, for much of the year will be a desirable thing IMO.

    So in other words, for much of the year, having a couple of large sheds with chickens is much easier than going from small coop to small coop, checking feed and bedding (and water levels), and so on.

    I grew exhausted with the daily chores after awhile and downsized.

    In addition, having larger run space for them for most of the year will be enjoyable to them, and they only need to be penned up in the smaller areas during the breeding season so you can collect fertile eggs or have them raise a family.

    In addition, you may find that you wish to pen your roosters separately - some may fight, or they may try to overbreed the hens. Or you may need those breeding pens for hospital space (or chicken timeout if one of them is a bully).

    You can pen all the roosters together I have read, and they fight less since there are no females to fight over. I have not actually tried this myself though but have read that "bachelor pens" work well. Unless you are raising games or gamelike tendencies are in them I am thinking. But I did speak with a bantam game breeder who said she didn't have to pen her boys separately away from each other- they got along OK with each other.

    One thing to decide is if you want to walk inside a shed or barn to care for them, or do you want to have smaller coops to not have to breathe as much dust etc.

    Being in a barn is better for severe weather when you do your chores, but it takes more to clean out a barn than small coops.

    Another thing to think on is, what if they get mites? It is very time consuming to dust or spray chickens. So I would say to start smallish and work your way up. At one time I had 109 chickens to dust for mites, and quite a few of them were very difficult to catch, due to the way I had designed my coops and their flighty nature. I couldn't reach all the way in to grab them when they were sleeping. I downsized and am much happier.

    I would recommend that you design your coops to be easy to reach all the chickens on the roosts, so you can access them easily to treat them for mites or to inspect them, so you don't have to chase them with a net during the day (hey it happened to me LOL).
    Not my pics:

    see post #19

    So some breeders will put the trio into these small cages just for a time.

    The following is just what I have read on BYC and I would say not to depend on this as the truth but research yourself to make sure since I don't have this knowledge firsthand:
    Be aware that rooster semen can be active in a hen for up to one month I think but two weeks is more likely, so if a hen was previously with other roosters then you would want to have her separated for quite some time before depending on the current mating. But if the hens are not with the roosters until breeding, all it takes is a few days I have read for the eggs to turn fertile.

    Another thing to think on is that the breeders do pay close attention to feed and like to feed something specific during breeding season:

    If you want good hatchability it pays to feed good stuff I have read.
    2 x 2 heavy knotted netting is good to top your pens to protect from hawks- think snow load though and it will bring your fencing down if not hung well.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    JPDRoo sounds like you got it figured out and I have little to offer other than you'll find out a hobby of that scoop soon quits being a hobby and starts being a j-o-b. Don't ask me how I know. ;)
    *keeping excess rosters until they are re-homed* that's a quick trip to the poorhouse. I can't even give a free rooster away, nevermind finding smoebody that will buy one. I think this year I'll whack my roosters as soon as I can determine their gender and pass them as jumbo quail.

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