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Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by imzadi, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. imzadi

    imzadi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 19, 2012
    Hi all...new to this lovely hobby of CHICKENS!!! I was sold one day when my hubby brought home free-range eggs from a client...and they were BEAUTIFUL (blue, green, cream, mocha, speckled!!!) and were so delicious it wasn't even funny! Anyway...I've been reading a ton to get info...and have a lot of it set in my head so that when we get the coop ready (not sure if gonna build or find one on criags list or something...but, whatever..gotta be SOON as I want to have my flock up and running before the middle of fall.

    my family goes through two 18 packs per week (we LOVE EGGS and cook with them too) and more would not be a problem as I have friends who would be willing to buy here and there, although NOT looking to start a business or sell...just whatever we have left. both hubby and I work full time...and two kids are in school all day. We have a dog and a cat (indoor only). We live in a cold and windy area in central Maine (chart says we are gardening zone four...ha! I figure 3 and sometimes 2).

    Ok...here is the plan...please give advice and info. I'll also have a few questions at the end :)

    Looking to have about 8 layers and 4 dual purpose birds and a rooster (two?) now...and to "try" to hatch my own meat birds in the spring. We want a coop for the 12 main birds (4' x 8' enough?) for now with a bit of a run...so as to let them "range" some while we are at work. When someone gets home and on the weekends...viola! They come OUT and free range around our yard...we have PLENTY of room and lots of trees for them. We have llamas and alpacas around us too. As for the meat birds this spring...when they are allowed out of their brooder...we are planning on using a portable "ark" type coop for them till it's time...for...the...end. Hubby can process these as he has dressed and butchered deer and rabbits many times.

    1. Does this sound reasonable?
    2. Is that a big enough coop...and how big a run should we make/
    3. One rooster or two?
    4. The BIG question: I want a mix of birds...to get the pretty colored eggs if I can so, probably, I'll have to get birds from DIFFERENT farms...either pullets or grown birds. If the birds aren't all from the same flock, can you just put them together immediately or will they fight as they don't know each other? I know that I have to research the breeds for cold hardy, temprement, laying/brooding, egg color (yippie!), confinement/free range preferences (anything else?)...but, don't want to set it up for failure.


    Sorry so long winded...just very excited and there is SO MUCH to learn to make sure that these little chickies have the bestest they can at my home...

    Thanks.
     
  2. ailurophile23

    ailurophile23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 21, 2010
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    Welcome! And it sounds like you are off to a great start with all the reading and planning. I have never done meat birds so I really cannot advise you on that. As for answers to some of your other questions, I would tend to go with one rooster for a flock that size - but that would just be my preference. For the coop, I think you and the birds will like it better if it is larger. The general rule for coops is 4 sq.ft. per bird and for runs is 10 sq. ft. per bird. And being able to let them out to free range when you are home is a terrific option. If you get adult birds from different farms, I would isolate them from each other initially until you can make sure one group doesn't have a disease that could infect the other group(s).

    Keep the great questions coming.
     
  3. imzadi

    imzadi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 19, 2012
    Thanks for the reply!

    How big a coop would you suggest? I'm not sure if the conditions for square footage are only based on the GROUND area or the WHOLE area? So...a taller 4 x 8 coop would be the "same" size (to the birds?) regardless of whether or not its 10 feet high or 4 feet high? Planning on getting/making a coop that is salt-box style...7' tall in front and 4 or 5' in back...with a door I can walk in.

    Same question for the run...

    So...I should look at a coop that is...say...150 square feet...so 10' x 15'...or...8' x 20' with a 10' x 15 foot run?
     
  4. ailurophile23

    ailurophile23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 21, 2010
    VA
    For the coop, you would be looking at say 13 birds so 4x13 would be 52 sq. ft. - 8x8 would be generous and you might be able to get away with 6x8 IF they have access to their run all day. For the run, 10x15 should be sufficient for 13 birds. These are guidelines - you really need to take into account what your weather is like too - since you said cold and windy Maine, I would probably lean towards generously oversizing the coop since the birds may have to/want to spend winters days inside. Another suggestion would be that you put a roof over your run - it will help keep the rain and snow out of the run and help keep it less muddy, all of which may make the birds more willing to use it (especially after a snow storm). And believe me, slogging through snow and mud in the run is no fun for people either. Also, be sure to read up on ventillation as it hugely important in helping prevent frost-bite.

    The portable ark type coop sounds interesting for the meat birds - just be sure to make it as predator-proof as possible. Same for the layer coop and run.

    Exciting, isn't it?! I am in the process of designing coop #3 for a flock this coming spring and all the options and details are running around in my head.
     

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