How to keep chickens cheap?

sean_wonder

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Jul 9, 2016
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I have figured out many ways to lower the cost of keeping chickens, but I believe that there are still more things that I could do.

I am aware of the mother heating pad, deep litter method, fermenting feed, free ranging, and sprouting. Most likely, i will have to keep my chickens in a small coop, with roughly 2 1/2 sq feet per bird, and I know I can find cheap scrap pieces to make feed and water tins, nesting boxes, and a moveable run, but they will have an acre of supervised free range every day when i get home from school since our yard is fenced in.

The only thing I am welling to spend real $$$ on is just the coop & the chicks themselves, since there are no local breeders. Any tips on how to save money on everything else?
 

sean_wonder

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Jul 9, 2016
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i have found a shed with 43 sq feet of storage
how can i create inexpensive roosts, nesting boxes, waterers, and feeders for this shed?

https://www.amazon.com/Keter-Outdoor-Backyard-Garden-Storage/dp/B00DH8J31Y/ref=br_lf_m_8edemp44zjsg3vf_img?_encoding=UTF8&s=lawn-garden

this is the link to the shed!! i will probably have to add some extra insulation to it, so how would i do that as cheaply & effectively as possible?

(i will be constructing a run for this out of cattle pen, tarp, and 2x4's. it'll probably be a tractor design thing and then at the end of the day i'll let them out of the coop so they can play in the yard and throw some treats in the coop to lock 'em up before i head to bed. the only free-range time they'll get is when i can supervise them, but i also don't want their run to be stationary so they can kind of get the benefit of free range without the risk)
 

rachelsflock

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Feb 3, 2015
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To keep chickens cheap, stick to production hybrids or leghorns, only get as many as you need, replace them at 18 months mercilessly, feed a balanced feed as much as they want (pellet especially), but you may want to take it away once they've filled up to prevent pests from dining, and free range. Some producers also cull broody birds.

Not really what hobbiests want to hear, but that's how you do it. That's a lot of what I don't do.

Now in regards to that shed, I think you might be able to build better for cheaper. That plastic guy is also going to need a ton of ventilation unless you only intend to get two or three birds. No deep litter in that guy. Find a buddy with scrap wood and tools and build something tight. People also love pallets as building materials. For a reference, my first shed cost was free made of scrap wood in a few hours. My next shed...well, the husband got to that project. It was not cheap. My goat house is a 6x6 shed with a dirt floor and lots of ventilation yet is tight and secure and it was $200 because the husband wanted a real roof on it. It would have been less than $90 otherwise.

I'd also just get a metal feeder from your feed store and build a nipple waterer with a 5 gallon bucket and horizontal nipples. If they're good enough quality and you keep the metal feeder out of the rain and wet they will last for years and years (at least the feeder, I'm still testing my nipple waterer). Hang the feeder in the coop, put the waterer on a cinderblock outside. 2x4 makes an excellent roost. Plastic colored tubs from the hardware store with chicken sized holes make great nest boxes. They can be weighed down with a brick and filled with shavings.

I'd also always remember to lock up the birds at or before dark. Replacing eaten birds is expensive.

That's all I can think of. I'll follow this thread for ideas on what else I'm not doing.
 

sean_wonder

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Jul 9, 2016
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Now in regards to that shed, I think you might be able to build better for cheaper. That plastic guy is also going to need a ton of ventilation unless you only intend to get two or three birds. No deep litter in that guy.
It has a vent attached in the back, and a window on the side. Unfortunately I don't know anyone savvy enough with building to build a whole coop on our property, but I'm sure my family could figure out how to cut a few more vents into the sides. How could I improve the ventilation of this shed to fit seven hens?
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
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Craigslist can be your best friend as well as any buy/sell/junk/swap facebook groups for your area. For my coop build I purchased hardware (screws, hinges, latches, etc.) and that's about it, also a gallon of good exterior paint (you can get mis-tints free or cheap from the hardware store and sometimes even have them re-tinted to a color you want). Scrap from construction sites. You can get pallets from almost any store (most receive shipments on them), any "container" can be a nest box if it's the right size. My girls have a wooden wine box/crate and a milk crate. Old windows are often free or cheap. Much of my wood came from a deck that someone tore off. You might be able to find an old dog house/play house/swing set/shed on Craigslist that you could get free or cheap if you haul it away. A tree branch or old ladder can make a roost or just a scrap bit of wood. Get creative!
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
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Also reading on BYC there are many that spoil their chickens. I'm not saying this is bad, but I have never purchased or made "treats" for my chickens. They get chicken feed, they get weeds from my garden, they get kitchen scraps if we have them, but I don't spend much on them other than a bag of feed as needed.
 

sean_wonder

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Jul 9, 2016
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Get creative!
Thank you for all the advice! I've looked into many of the options you've mentioned and the kind of space I'm in need of just isn't available for a cheaper price. I know, I sound stingy and weird, but hear me out.

We live on an acre of land next to a highway. None of us are savvy with building, and to be honest my parents want little to do with the chickens except to eat their eggs. I need this to be done as cheaply as possible, while it still being possible for one high school age kid to do. (Though I'm sure I could employ a little help from my siblings and parents. My parents said if we do get chickens, they want a permanent structure in our backyard, however they definitely won't be willing to devote the time and learning it will take to build a coop from scratch)

I'm sure I could figure out how to install more ventilation in that shed, but I need someone who actually has chickens's advice on whether or not adding ventilation will solve the problem. Again, minimum chick order is seven, and truthfully I am glad its so high despite it causing a slew of housing problems. We have tons of foxes and hawks where I live, even with the bustling road nearby.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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I hope you can afford to feed them well.

I'm sure I could figure out how to install more ventilation in that shed, but I need someone who actually has chickens's advice on whether or not adding ventilation will solve the problem.
First we need to know what your climate is:

Where in this world are you located?
Climate is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, then it's always there!
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Here are a bunch of threads about resin sheds:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/search/37536898/?q=resin+shed&t=post&o=date&c[title_only]=1
 
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