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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by FutureChickenMan, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. FutureChickenMan

    FutureChickenMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 29, 2007
    And the best place to start is research. So, I'm heavily considering starting a mini-chicken farm to supply the family with eggs and meat.

    I've done some basic "figuring" and have come up with a coop design. For the egg production their section will be 20'x16' with a 4' wide, 16' long 3' high hen house. Containing 16 1'wide 1'deep 18" tall nests (all nests further down are the same dimensions) and 4 2"x4" perches 4' long. (I'm in snow country) I plan to have the Hen house mounted on top of 12" Tall foundation blocks with a slight tilt to the front to help drain out the waste when I clean it. In this part of the coop I plan to contain between 25-30 Red Star hens. I chose to split up the breeding stock and the laying stock so I don't get the "bloody egg" as some of these eggs will most likely go to family and friends. Purpose: Egg production.

    There will be a 4' x 16' breeder section with a 4'wide 4'long and 3' tall hen house with 4 nests and two perches in this section. This section will contain 1 Red Star Rooster and 4 Red Star hens. Purpose: Reproduction of hens.

    Another "breeder section" same dimensions as the one listed above except I plan to keep 1 Jersey Giant Rooster and 4 Jersey Giant hens in this section. Purpose: Reproduction of hens.

    The last section will be 12' x 16' and have a 12' long 4' wide 3' high hen house containing 10 nests and 4 perches. This section will hold 12-18 Jersey Giants for meat/egg production.

    Overal coop/pen dimensions are 40'x16'. If my math is correct and what I read on the subject is correct, the plans I've laid out should be able to adequately house about 60 birds total.

    Now I have more questions hopefully you guys can shed some light on.

    1. Keeping the critters warm in winter; I found something called a Ceramic Heat Emitter which seems to be the most efficient way to keep the coop warm without having "light" in it. Has anyone used these and if so, how many do you think I will need based on the size of the hen houses.

    2. The Red Star is a sex-link bird; Has anybody raised this particular breed and used it for a meat bird. Should I bother raising the cockrels I don't necessarily need or just cull them right from the start. (the ability to sex the chicks at hatching will make life easy for splitting up the pullets and cockrels)

    3. I chose the Jersey Giant because it seems to be more long lived than the xRock, probably the biggest meat bird and also appears to be a good layer in the winter. Is there something better?

    4. Is there a better brown egg layer than the Red Star that is calm and hardy?

    5. I'm considering painting the inside & outside of the hen houses with a exterior laytex paint to help protect the wood from water damage/feces. Is that a good idea?

    Thanks in advance for your input.
     
  2. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi and welcome! Rhode Island Reds are a good breed, they lay large brown eggs steadily and are a hardy, calm breed. Sex links are good cross purpose birds, you chose well.

    Don't kill yourself trying to heat the coop. As long as the chickens can get out of the weather and drafts, they'll be OK. You might want to lay down plenty of bedding and give them flat roosts so that their toes are under their feathers and not exposed curled around a roost. I myself have a heat lamp for mine that I keep out there in case it gets unduly cold at night. You don't need fancy heaters, chickens are pretty well insulated, and you have so many of them that they'll have no trouble keeping each other warm.

    If you want them to lay through the winter they'll need a light in the coop, mine is on a simple timer that goes on at 4 and off at 8:30.

    I painted my coop to protect the wood too. I didn't paint the inside, but I know people who did and had no ill effects.

    Congrats and have fun!
     
  3. FutureChickenMan

    FutureChickenMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read about the 14 hours of light needed to lay and thought a simple timer would do the trick for that. I'm not sure about the heat issue however as in my neck of the woods it can get down to -15 in the early january mornings. They won't be exposed to too much snow as the whole pen will have a metal roof over it so that the snow can slide off to the ground around the outside of the pen. I know what you're talking about with the 2x4 perches, read that a couple days ago and thought that was a very easy solution to a complex problem. After doing more reading today, I think I'll work out some way for less nests but make them bigger. Currently the plan is about 1 nest for every 2 birds. I could make the nests bigger and get to a 1 nest for every three birds; go from 16 nests down to 12, that would give an adittional 4 inches to each nest making them 16"wide 12" deep 18" high. I have plenty of time to plan an research as I don't plan on breaking ground until next spring.
     
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Sounds like you've put alot of thought into this and I commend you for that. So many times, I hear, "Hey, I got this chicken at the feedstore, now what do I do??", no offense intended to those people who start their chicken keeping on the spur of the moment. It's just that a little thought goes a long way.
    You said:
    I chose to split up the breeding stock and the laying stock so I don't get the "bloody egg" as some of these eggs will most likely go to family and friends. Purpose: Egg production

    Don't know if you meant that literally, the bloody part, but you nor your family will be able to tell a fertile egg from an infertile one unless you see the white ring around the white spot on the yolk-no blood involved in fertilization. Still, no problem with separating the laying flock from the breeders as the layers may lay better if they aren't bothered by the rooster for mating.​
     
  5. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

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    I wanted to suggest, as far as culling your rooster chicks - you could raise them also for meat or sell them (as day old chicks). People around here buy them, raise them, and eat them.

    I don't know if you already have a plan already or not, but you will need an incubator to keep the sex-links going (I'm not sure about the Jersey Giants). They don't normally go broody (at least, not in my experience). They are fantastic, reliable layers. I have a black sex-link (black star), used to have two. They always gave me eggs (even through winter), even when my other breeds didn't.
     
  6. FutureChickenMan

    FutureChickenMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Don't know if you meant that literally, the bloody part, but you nor your family will be able to tell a fertile egg from an infertile one unless you see the white ring around the white spot on the yolk-no blood involved in fertilization. Still, no problem with separating the laying flock from the breeders as the layers may lay better if they aren't bothered by the rooster for mating.

    Back when a was a little squirt I had some RIR (Rhode Island Reads for those who don't know) and I remember forgetting to pick up the eggs for a couple of days. Mom wasn't pleased when she cracked a partially developed egg in to the frying pan, hence the "Bloody Egg" term 'cause mom was bloody mad at me. I was 6 what did I know, the birds and bees hadn't been explained yet. LOL!
     
  7. FutureChickenMan

    FutureChickenMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I thought about that but don't know a whole lot about the temperament of Red/Black Stars. I don't want a pen full of fighters that's for sure, and since they'd be all roosters in one pen I thought that was just asking for trouble. I might give it a shot one season just to see how things go. I could section off one of the bigger pens for them and give them a simple box for a nest for a temporary test.

    As for the incubator, are the red/black stars negligent on their mommy duties?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007

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