New to chickens - already built coop - tell me what's wrong (or right) - Florida

hkeibard

Chirping
Oct 13, 2020
43
116
56
Jacksonville, FL
Your run and coop looks good but must remember the rain and wind that you may get. We live in Arkansas so we put a 3 foot of tin around the hard wire on the bottom of our run. With a tin roof over our run even though they run free on our 1-acre yard. To keep the feed from getting wet we use the PVC pipe. Our laying coop is enclosed with pine shavings. If we know the weather is going to be bad we place plastic on the North side of run.
Thanks so much. I don't know why I didn't think of placing some tin around the bottom. I think that's a good idea. When it isn't raining it's no problem, but here in Florida it rains a lot and I've already seen proof of it coming in from the sides. And closing up in bad weather (hurricanes here) is also a good idea. Thank you very much!
 

hkeibard

Chirping
Oct 13, 2020
43
116
56
Jacksonville, FL
I raised chicks outside in Virginia one summer, in a dog kennel covered with hardware cloth, with a tarp over 3/4 of it and a heat lamp inside. It worked pretty well. (They went outside the day they arrive at the Post Office. The space was 4 x 6 feet, and I think there were 15 chicks, with no losses.)

I would probably put the heat source in the crate, put the crate against the house, and put cardboard along 2-3 other sides of the crate. (If heat lamp, do not cover the top of the crate. If a different heat source, put cardboard on top of the crate too.) After a week, remove cardboard from one end of the crate, and start leaving the crate door open so the chicks can go in and out. Watching where the chicks spend their time, and where they sleep, will tell when to remove the rest of the cardboard, the heat source, and the crate.

I suggest cardboard because it's usually easy to get, and because the space is under a roof, so cardboard will probably last long enough for this purpose. A tarp could work just as well--it just needs to block wind from blowing through.
Fawnda - We happen to have several spare dog crates on hand, so I'm reading a set up for in the house and outside in the coop. So I'll have both options available to me depending on how well it goes. If it goes well inside (kinda worried about the mess) then I'll probably keep them in longer.
NatJ -Thanks for the suggestions. I was thinking right along those lines. I'm definitely not going to leave the outside kennel option unprotected from wind and drafts. I've read quite a few posts suggesting getting them out early is one of the "best" things they learned to do. I have lots of cardboard on hand and will be using that to fight the drafts. I've tested my seedling mats and I'm not sure they are bringing the temp up enough, so I might invest in getting a heating pad. I've still got a week before they arrive so I'm still experimenting.

Thanks for all the help!
 

hkeibard

Chirping
Oct 13, 2020
43
116
56
Jacksonville, FL
I live on the east coast of Central FL. We just started our chickens in May 2020. Yes, it got pretty hot here. We installed a fan in our coop and our coop is built up off the ground 3 ft. It was a very hot summer and they spent most of the summer under the coop in the shade. We purchased a shade cloth to place over the run also and that did help. My chickens like to scratch and dig in their run. I have rather large holes where they've carved out places to keep themselves cool also. I worried about predators digging from the outside but never thought about how much digging the chickens do on the inside! We have hardware cloth going from the bottom board about 18 inches out to lay flat on the ground. The grass ends up growing through it and if something decides to dig under the hardware cloth, they have a lot farther to go before they get to the actual run. We bought Amazon Blink cameras so we get an alert if something is snooping aroun the coop at night. I've seen 3 different raccoons. They've sniffed around but pass on trying to get in so far. We feel our coop is pretty solid. Do you have a roost bar in their coop? Mine wanted to roost almost from week 1. We also have roost bars in the run for them. They like to get up there to see what's going on. Good luck!
Hi and Thanks.
Gotta say, I never thought about all the digging the chickens might do from the inside either. Important point. I'll need to remember that for the run we'll build.

I've seen several recommendations for fan use in Florida, so I expect to look into that next. Since I'm starting in the fall, hopefully I have some time. Since the coop has a wood floor there's no doubt a fan will be needed. There are trees providing some shade and we put the silver paint on top of the tin roof to help with cooling as well.

I just picked up a blink camera deal through Amazon's prime day as well. We already have outdoor cameras on the entire perimeter of our house, so I knew I'd be doing the same on the coop.

We will have a roost bar. The original coop just had a very long branch/sapling spanning one length of the coop by the single wall. I think I'll do that.

Thanks ever so much!
 

Lori Stricklin

In the Brooder
Sep 9, 2020
5
14
18
I do not have any experience raising chicks or chickens for that matter (but someday I'll be a chicken mama. However, like you I have been doing my homework and reading as much as I can and I have found so many pearls of wisdom from the folks at Back Yard Chickens. You can never know enough when it comes to chickens and their care. Kudos for you for working on your coop prior to the arrival of these sweet little chicks. Good luck as a chicken mama.
 

Mondexmomma

Hatching
May 18, 2020
2
0
9
Personally, I would keep the chicks inside for a few weeks at least or until feathered out at 5-6 weeks. They can slip through the bars of the dog crates for one, and it's hard to heat adequately a big open, drafty space like that for young chicks who need a draft-free 90 degree environment. They are so small, a mink could slip in above the hardware cloth apron or a snake and eat/kill a bunch of them. I had a friend who got 25 chicks this past spring and put them all in an old barn with appropriate heat etc. They thought they had found all the openings and fixed it, but a mink got in and killed them all in one night :/ At least if they're bigger when you put them out, they become too big for many things to eat them. If nothing else, set it all up now with a thermometer and do a trial run overnight to make sure you can keep the area warm enough through the night especially.
Unless you have a mommy hen taking care of the chicks.....You ARE the mommy hen so unless you intend on sleeping with them and warding off predators and snuggling with them under your arms. Bring them inside in a tote or even an old play pen with a lamp. Put lamp to one side incase they get hot they can move to a cooler spot and dont fry. Water in swallow dish they can drown if they fall in. I wet the chick feed for a while too.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
4,035
6,726
406
USA
Unless you have a mommy hen taking care of the chicks.....You ARE the mommy hen so unless you intend on sleeping with them and warding off predators and snuggling with them under your arms. Bring them inside in a tote or even an old play pen with a lamp.
Chicks can be raised safely outside, too.

It's just a matter of getting the conditions right: predator-proof pen, correct temperature, enough protection from wind and rain.
 

Mondexmomma

Hatching
May 18, 2020
2
0
9
Hi and Thanks.
Gotta say, I never thought about all the digging the chickens might do from the inside either. Important point. I'll need to remember that for the run we'll build.

I've seen several recommendations for fan use in Florida, so I expect to look into that next. Since I'm starting in the fall, hopefully I have some time. Since the coop has a wood floor there's no doubt a fan will be needed. There are trees providing some shade and we put the silver paint on top of the tin roof to help with cooling as well.

I just picked up a blink camera deal through Amazon's prime day as well. We already have outdoor cameras on the entire perimeter of our house, so I knew I'd be doing the same on the coop.

We will have a roost bar. The original coop just had a very long branch/sapling spanning one length of the coop by the single wall. I think I'll do that.

Thanks ever so much!
Most chickens will roost. Also there are electrolytes for their water when it is super hot. I just got some big branches and worked themin their run they had a square bar in the coop but they never use it. If you are raising frizzles they dont fly and roost. I put the branches close to the ground they will hop up and sit on them.
 

hkeibard

Chirping
Oct 13, 2020
43
116
56
Jacksonville, FL
I do not have any experience raising chicks or chickens for that matter (but someday I'll be a chicken mama. However, like you I have been doing my homework and reading as much as I can and I have found so many pearls of wisdom from the folks at Back Yard Chickens. You can never know enough when it comes to chickens and their care. Kudos for you for working on your coop prior to the arrival of these sweet little chicks. Good luck as a chicken mama.
Yes, this forum is phenomenal. Everyone is just so great. I see so many posts from folks with chickens in distress and there's always many BYC community members right there to help out as much as they can from afar. I've never seen a more supportive online community. BYC humans and their feathered flocks rock!
 

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