How to get started??

Doc7

Songster
May 12, 2018
369
558
158
Central Virginia
I built my coop and run for 6, but now I am building an extension / addon that will add space for 4 chickens, both coop and run extensions.

My plan is to add 3 to my flock each April and cull 3 each fall. This way I always have 3 first year layers in the fall and winter months to get eggs even during molting season for the older birds. Culling prior to the onset of molt will save me 3 birds feed cost in an unproductive season. Plus I’ll get to enjoy a wide variety of different kinds of chickens as time goes by. This spring I’ll be adding breeds 7 through 9. The next spring (2020) I’ll likely have a repeat breed or two, as I’ll have some favorites by then that I won’t want my flock to be without.

I based my decision to add and cull on this:
https://nwedible.com/chicken-rotation-optimizing-for-year-round-laying-from-the-backyard-flock/
 

harveyhorses

Songster
10 Years
Jan 16, 2010
666
141
211
Powhatan Va
Do breed research. There are so many out there, I started with Buff Orpingtons, because I wanted something that was friendly and 'bears confinement well' some breeds don't, and they are great if you can free range. I knew from the start I would not. Be able to put mine in the pot, so calm and friendly was my criteria. Then I got 3 EE, that had basically been left to forage on their own, , now I have a mix, but all large birds with compatible temperaments.
Build a coop you can clean without becoming a contortionist. Secure from predators, because everyone wants chicken for dinner
Welcome
 

KnightsMist

Chirping
Jan 18, 2019
42
141
77
Massachusetts
My tentative plan is to build an 8x8' shed coop with a large attached run (dimensions tbd but probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 15x20'). So that should be plenty for a max of 15-16 birds, I figure. I just need to decide how many to get initially, and how many to add how often. Lots of time to figure it all out. I will definitely build the coop and run prior to getting chicks. The thread about mistakes people have made has been SO helpful for learning and planning!!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
72,735
76,910
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
My tentative plan is to build an 8x8' shed coop with a large attached run (dimensions tbd but probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 15x20'). So that should be plenty for a max of 15-16 birds, I figure. I just need to decide how many to get initially, and how many to add how often. Lots of time to figure it all out. I will definitely build the coop and run prior to getting chicks. The thread about mistakes people have made has been SO helpful for learning and planning!!
Unless a good part of your run is weather proofed an 8x8 coop will not be enough for 15-16 birds in the Cabin Fever parts of winter...twice that would be good.

You're doing well to start with lots of research.
I spent the winter before building coop reading this and other chicken forums...
....but bring your grains of salt.
I took notes and saved links in a word doc(you can search it) and a spreadsheet with headers like coops, roosts, nests, dosages, predators, etcetcetc.

Links in my signature are some good reading if you haven't stumbled across them already.

Oh, and, Welcome to BYC!!
 
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Wee Farmer Sarah

Free Ranging
Oct 8, 2018
2,289
11,507
692
North Central Massachusetts
I'm in Massachusetts, so we get cold and snowy winters- will definitely be looking at cold hardy breeds. The breeds I am most interested in right now are the Buff Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Black Astralorps, Barred Rocks, RIRs, and EEs. I won't necessarily get all of those (at least initially) but those are the ones I'm thinking about right now. I love the Polish chickens (and I'm half Polish so I feel like I need a couple!! :lol:) but I've already seen that they can get picked on by other breeds. So those are my thoughts. I'm looking for eggs for my family and some to sell on a very small scale (friends/family/neighbors) to help cover costs of feed etc.
Go for the cold hardy breeds at first until you get more experienced. RIR's and Barred Rocks are great dual purpose birds for our area and they are native New England breeds
 

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
23,926
13,445
696
Holts Summit, Missouri
American Dominique is the oldest developed in American breed and used to develop some of the those other breeds. The American Dominique is cold tolerant and adapts well to confinement. The breed needs help.
 

KnightsMist

Chirping
Jan 18, 2019
42
141
77
Massachusetts
Unless a good part of your run is weather proofed an 8x8 coop will not be enough for 15-16 birds in the Cabin Fever parts of winter...twice that would
I thought the rule of thumb was 4sqf/bird? 64sqf would be 16 birds..unless I'm missing something??

I want to put a roof over the run and I saw some people cover the sides with plastic to help keep the wind down- that definitely seems doable, I imagine birds would not want to be kept inside for weeks or months on end- so if I did that, would that work for the number? Or would it still be advisable to have fewer?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
72,735
76,910
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I thought the rule of thumb was 4sqf/bird? 64sqf would be 16 birds..unless I'm missing something??
It is an oft repeated 'rule of thumb'(remember the 'grains of salt' I suggested?)....
....but not carved in stone and does not work in some situations.
Crowding causes a lot of problems.
I learned that the hard way one winter...too many crabby birds trapped in coop during a frigid days long blizzard is not a good situation.
I won't cite hard numbers....but...can you see the links in my signature?
 

KnightsMist

Chirping
Jan 18, 2019
42
141
77
Massachusetts
Got it- thanks for the tip, definitely don't want cranky birds.

No, I do not see any links..? Do I need to click on something to see them?
 

moniquem

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 3, 2013
680
1,520
282
washington
It is an oft repeated 'rule of thumb'(remember the 'grains of salt' I suggested?)....
....but not carved in stone and does not work in some situations.
Crowding causes a lot of problems.
I learned that the hard way one winter...too many crabby birds trapped in coop during a frigid days long blizzard is not a good situation.
This is my first winter with chickens and I am finding I would like to give them a bit more space. My coop is 4X4 and I only have the 3 chickens but they do spend a lot of time in the coop due to weather. So this year I will build them a bigger coop.
Lots of people recommend building bigger the first time due to "chicken math" take that advice! Even if "chicken math" doesn't get you you will use the extra space.
 
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