New member, new flock, new coop, all new to us!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by jschell, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. jschell

    jschell Hatching

    Jan 20, 2014
    Northeast Pennsylvania

    My wife and I will be starting to keep some laying hens this spring. She has done her research and chosen Black Australorps. She wants to stay with one breed. The building of the coop is up to me. We have a few acres (some pine forest, some lawn/garden area) and intend to free range 6 -12 birds in the evenings for several hours.

    As new keepers there is a lot to be learned. I can read all the books and search the threads and but I figured my own thread would be easier to keep things organized.

    1. How long do I keep the chicks indoors?
    2. How big a coop do I need for 6-12 hens, and how many boxes?
    3. Should I get a rooster?

    We are very much looking forward to our endeavor.

  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome to BYC![​IMG] We're glad to have you. Here are the answers to your questions:

    1. Keep the chicks indoors until they are fully feathered, usually at 6-8 weeks old. They can go out sooner if you keep a heat lamp on them.

    2. For 6-12 hens, you'll need a coop that provides at least 24 square feet in total (each hen needs 2 square feet each, unless they are going to spend a lot of time inside, in which case you'll want to have more space). So, an 6' x 4' coop would probably work. If possible, provide at least 5 square feet of outside space per bird (more is better).

    3. This is a hard question to answer. If your only goal is to have fresh eggs and loving hens, or if you have young children, it may not be a good idea to get a rooster. However, a rooster does make a flock more interesting-- they seem to have more personality. And, if you want to, you can hatch eggs if you have a rooster.
  3. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us! I've answered your questions the best I can in bolded text.
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
  5. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! X2 on the BYC Learning Center articles.
    Like they said above, when the chicks can go out depends on the temperature/ how feathered they are, and if you have heat in the coop, some people have their brooders in the coop.
    If you have bad winters there and the chickens will be spending a lot of time in the coop, you will probably want to go with about 3-4 sq feet per bird inside, more is better ... and you might want to take chicken math into account to start with ... you will probably want more chickens, they are addictive... 1 nest box every 3-4 birds seems to be the general rule of thumb, it keeps the humans happy, but the hens usually have favorite nest boxes they all like to use and ignore others.
    With roosters, like Wyandottes7 and BantamLover21 said, it really depends on your situation and what you are planning on doing.. . If you are going to free range a lot, a rooster can be an asset, in theory he should watch over and protect the girls.
  6. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Usually rule of thumb calls for 4 sg.feet per bird inside the coop and 10 sq.feet in the outside run. If your climate calls for many days too severe for birds to venture outside, you should have a larger coop If chickens are too crowded they can resort to feather picking and at the extremes cannibalism . If you have bantam breeds you could get by with less space.

    Free ranging in the dark is like Russian roulette, a lot of predators are afoot then and chickens don't move much in the dark. Most birds return to the roost(coop) at dusk.

  7. [​IMG]
  8. Welcome to BYC With the coop, bigger is better in my opinion. If you go a fair bit larger than you need, you shouldn't have to clean it as much ect and most people usually decide after a while to expand their flock, so then u would not need to modify the coop if you decided to have more chooks. :thumbsup
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Agreed with the above - welcome to BYC, and good luck with your flock and projects.

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