Lots of Newbie Questions

winchick

Hatching
9 Years
Mar 1, 2010
2
0
7
Hi All!

I am new to the chicken world, live in Staten Island, the ruralist borough of NYC, and have a ton of questions! This site is so informative, so I am looking forward to your responses.
Well, we are in the beginning stages, and planning our coop, so...

How far off the ground should perches be?
In the summer, I have a shady yard. How much sunlight will my hens need?
Does food and water need to be both in the interior of the coop as well as in the run?
I want my girls to be organic...feeding suggestions?

I really wanted them free range, predators are not a huge issue, maybe the occassional wandering neighborhood cat, or evening raccoon, ( but at night they would be enclosed in the coop), so, how far will they actually wander? There is a small portion of my large yard that is not enclosed, that leads up to a deck and then out to front of house. Would they go that far? I work during the day, should I only let them roam when I am around, and how difficult will it be to get them back in the coop?
Originally I had planned to build a movable coop this way they would have access to all the grass, but if I can let them roam for part of the day, I would much rather build a stationary coop. How do you feel about a stationary coop with a movable run?

Lots of questions as promised!
Wendy
 

CityChook

Songster
11 Years
Apr 9, 2008
1,719
20
184
Minneapolis, MN
My Coop
My Coop
welcome-byc.gif
from Minneapolis, MN!

Roosts: Some chickens will go as high as tree branches and the rafters of your coop. Mine are big bootie girls and so my roost is at 30 inches high. Just remember to make the roost higher than the nest box.

Sunshine: Shade is good. My hens like sunshine, but having the coop in the shade of a big tree for the hot parts of the day keeps it much more comfortable for them. I find that even when they free range, they tend to stick to the shadier (ie: safer) parts of the yard.

Food: I keep the food/water inside. Some do outside and that's fine too. It's probably less messy outside, but I don't feel like feeding the neighboring squirrel population.

Organic: They make organic feed. It's spendy, but if that's your priority then it's easy to get your hands on. If you don't have a relationship with a pet food vendor at this point, now would be a good time to start seeking him/her out. My (small) local pet food shop is happy to special order just about anything for me within a couple of days, saving me tons of money in shipping fees.

Ranging: It's probably not a grand idea to let them free range while you're not home. Anything can happen. If they have a decent sized run, even a stationery one, then they will be fine (and significantly safer) during the day while you're at work.

Most importantly, have FUN!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,098
19,543
857
Southeast Louisiana
How far off the ground should perches be?

The perches, or roosts, should be visably higher than the nesting boxes or anywhere else you do not want them to sleep. Chickens instinctively try to roost as high as they can get. The higher the roost, the greater likelyhood they will hurt themselves getting down, especially the bigger breeds. Also the higher the roost the more horizontal clearance they need to fly down without hitting something. To me, the roosts need to be as low as possible but high enough they want to roost on them.

In the summer, I have a shady yard. How much sunlight will my hens need?

They don't "need" direct sunlight. Like humans they use sunlight to help make certain vitamns, Vitamin D I believe, but in the shade works well for them. They will get enough Vitamin D from their food.

Does food and water need to be both in the interior of the coop as well as in the run?

You can do both or either. There are different benefits or potential problems both ways. If the water is outside, the coop stays drier. If you sleep late, they need water when they wake up. Some people feel they are feeding the wild bird population if they feed outside yet others feel they are attracting rodents inside their coop if they feed inside.

how far will they actually wander? There is a small portion of my large yard that is not enclosed, that leads up to a deck and then out to front of house. Would they go that far?

Probably. Definitely is they have motivation, such as getting startled or thinking there may be food over that way.
 

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