How to get started??

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
23,909
13,422
696
Holts Summit, Missouri
I have three groups of 16 birds in three 10 x 10 pens. They say the arrangement is tight even when they get a good amount of free-range time. I have placed a saw horse and a 55-gallon barrel in each so they have elevated retreats. Each pen also has a wash tub with dirt for dust bathing and hay for scratching through. They also have extra roost poles so they can disperse at night if need be.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
72,588
76,353
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop

KnightsMist

Chirping
Jan 18, 2019
42
141
77
Massachusetts
Thank you- the article on space is very helpful! 8x8 was my initial thinking, based on the 4sqf guideline, but I will be building a coop from scratch and have not bought any materials yet- so altering my plans isn't a big issue (or, alternatively, keeping with the 8x8 and adjusting the # of birds down to say, 10 or 12, is also an option).

Lots to learn! :) Please keep the info coming- I definitely want to get it right the first time (As much as possible..).
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Great Horny Toads
Staff member
Premium member
Jul 16, 2015
37,752
58,969
1,312
central Wisconsin
Thank you- the article on space is very helpful! 8x8 was my initial thinking, based on the 4sqf guideline, but I will be building a coop from scratch and have not bought any materials yet- so altering my plans isn't a big issue (or, alternatively, keeping with the 8x8 and adjusting the # of birds down to say, 10 or 12, is also an option).

Lots to learn! :) Please keep the info coming- I definitely want to get it right the first time (As much as possible..).
Definitely don't crowd, especially in your climate. I once had to lock my 8 chickens up in their 8x10 pen for a few weeks due to weather and they started to peck each other. My current shed is roughly 30x40 for chicken area, by 4 square feet I could keep 300 in it. It is full at about 80 birds.
 

starri33

Crowing
Feb 28, 2016
1,095
3,008
377
Golden Valley AZ
Hi and welcome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping, I started with buying one of those little Tractor Supply Coops, got it home took one look at it after it was put together and ask my husband who were they kidding, the box said 6 chickens, I would not put more than 2 in that thing. lol, I bought (after 2 yr. research and thought) 6 chicks from TSC, got to reading where most lost 2 to 3 of their chicks, so wanting about 6 to 8 hens, I bought another six, well by the time they were ready for the coop, I had 12 hens..lol.. have since added to the collection I lost 2 of the orginial girls, then added 2 more hens and a roo. Just recently hatched 6 more, so I'm hoping that when the dust settles I am going to end up with 16 hens and 2 roo's, one of which is probably going to have to find a new home. All in all, I'd like to have about 25 hens and a couple of roos.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,387
7,278
536
western South Dakota
This is a wonderful hobby, and there are many aspects to it, and you don't have to do them all at once, work into it.

My points:
* if you are building, make it so that you can walk into it. Seriously research ventilation.
* start with an all hen flock for a year or two
* can you cull birds?
* I currently have a nice 4 x 8 x 6 coop, and have a dozen birds in it
* outdoor shelter is nice in the run
* roosts, hideouts, platforms that birds can get under and on make runs much more chicken interesting
* bedding in the coop and in the run keep your birds much cleaner
* line the nests with cardboard, then add a bit of nesting material, slick when you need to clean them out
* take the number of people in your family and times it by 1.5, a nice number of birds to start with, and should meet your families needs, multi-generational flocks are best, and adding new birds is fun, but too many birds, not good, back to point 3, can you cull.
* do not plan to make money with this
* feed commercial feed, some scraps, and clean water - do not add homeopathic stuff

Later on, trying meat birds, broody hens and chicks, grow out cockerels those are all fun to try, some you will like and some not so much.

Mrs K
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
72,588
76,353
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
but I will be building a coop from scratch and have not bought any materials yet- so altering my plans isn't a big issue
I would suggest you build as big of a building as you can, sectioning off an area for storage and be ab;e to sectioning off more for introducing new birds.
I was lucky to be able to already have a large building.
Being able to do most chores under cover, as well as store almost all supplies is invaluable.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/aarts-coop-page
 

paintedChix

Songster
6 Years
Dec 15, 2013
522
609
237
NC
It's always amazing to read the posts by everyone and how everyone's opinions are soooo very different!

What might be a mistake for one situation is a great deal for another. And after 8 years of owning birds, I'm still learning myself. I love being on the property we are currently on - giving me options in paddocks, pastures, runs and housing.

I love using "used" items and giving them new purpose. I like that I'm not on a main road anymore so that as we collect stuff to use at a later time it doesn't appear to be as "trashy" as it might (does) look to an outsider. And over Christmas I diminished the piles of pallets I'd been saving that my husband was complaining about and now have 2 new 4x8' coops that are at each end of an 8' x 64'ish run w/ a large tree in the middle (run not complete yet); 3 new 8x8' coops (2 not completely done & occupied yet - I had the stomach flu last weekend, over the clearest/warmest days of course, and when better i literally cried as it rained/poured/froze for the other 2 days I was off work :( ) & another in the works. None of the 8x8's are totally done - no pop doors that will allow chix in/out when going to pasture/run yet, but getting there - for now they go out thru the people doors). None of them are built exactly the same - different sizes of material, different materials used. The pens do set side by side and back to back so that communal walls could be used... mostly open air.

The four pens that were here on the property when we moved in - 3 of them now have hooped roofs - so after ducking under the 3-3/4' door frame, you can stand up. The 4th needs to have the tin & wire removed then it, too, will be hooped and birds will/should be happier. I will definitely be happier!

I've learned about and now utilizing the DLM methods - O so much easier to do when I ended up working full time again this past fall and had a hard time getting ANYTHING clean (I was doing good to have a clean kitchen sink, shower, toilet and laundry, LOLOLOL). And the chickens LOVE the DLM that they can dig through. All the NC sand here on this property is slowly starting to see more insect life - which also truly makes the birds happy. Things are coming full circle!

See if there is anyone around you that will allow you to watch and/or participate in culling or processing chicken - since you think you may be doing that. I currently don't have the equipment to pluck feathers (& that is a PITA 4 me & the stench of scalding does make me ill), so I skin our birds. If you can't stomach it - dual purpose or meat birds may not be the way to go at all. I am fascinated by having different color eggs in my egg cartons! Soooo PRETTY! Make me smile when I turn around with a cup of coffee to contemplate breakfast, lunch or dinner. I need a purple egg layer - haven't found out what lays those yet, LOL.

There are many, many more breeds out there than the handful that are mentioned so far in this thread. I've become enamored w/ some of the rarer, crested breeds - that also do well with free ranging and make good table weights (not as fast as american cornish crosses, but who wants a "frankenchicken" anyway?).

My advice - simply get started. You will slowly learn what truly works for you. The posted articles by Aart are great, the article about rotating & culling the flock is great. There are other good and thorough articles. BYC is the BEST!!
 

WindingRoad

Songster
Nov 21, 2018
1,017
1,972
213
Maine
I started with 6 chickens from the feed store. Bought a small coop from Walmart, and while they where growing built them a bigger coop.

Feed is not as important as people make it out to seem. Chick feed and in about a month crack corn its cheap and they love it. If your worried about their vitamin intake just buy something you can add to their water. every once in a while throw in some weeds or grass clippings if they wont be free ranging.
Or just buy good feed and skip a step.
 

Latest posts

Top Bottom