New to chickens, looking for help to be successful

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LearningInPayson, May 23, 2019.

  1. LearningInPayson

    LearningInPayson In the Brooder

    7
    19
    21
    May 23, 2019
    Hello everybody,

    I am brand new to chickens and am very interested in figuring things out and getting some soon, hopefully before they are hard to find for the year. I have lots of questions and will be posting in different sections of the forum throughout the day to hopefully get some advice. I felt like this is the logical place to start (in my mind), though. So here it goes.

    I live in Northern Utah so winters are cold and summers are hot. I contacted my city and found out that I can have up to 6 chickens where I live, the coop has to be 10 feet away from the yard line and 30 feet away from neighbors houses. I am not allowed to free-range the chickens. I have a couple potential places that I can do this in my yard, depending on what I need exactly. This is where I am looking for help.

    I am not the most handy person. I try to build things and they do not always end up well, square, without gaps, etc. Is there a good, reasonably priced, prefabricated coop that someone could recommend? If not, is there a good site that you would recommend that could give me good instructions complete with supplies list, etc.

    Along with that, for 6 chickens, how large of a coop will I need/want? How many nesting boxes and what sizes? What else is needed and what else should I consider?

    As I am also not allowed to free-range the chickens, I need a large enough run for them. How exactly does that work? Do they always stay in the run or can I let them in my garden or my fenced yard from time to time? Will this make a difference on the size of run I need? How large should I make it? Any ideas on what will be best to use for that?

    I have read a lot of information on these and have seen a lot of different answers. I am very confused about it now. Any advice and help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for whatever you can do to help.
     
  2. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Crowing

    1,271
    1,165
    256
    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    Chicken coops that you buy and put together are notoriously cheaply made in general. They are also small. Many will say that they hold 8 chickens when there is barely room for 3. You would probably be best to buy a garden shed and convert it into a coop. It is simple to add roosts, nesting boxes, ventilation, and a pop door for them to come out.

    Unfortunately not being allowed to free range means you will most likely have to keep them in a run. Chickens can fly and many can fly over a fence. The run should be as large as possible with at least 10 square feet of run per chicken. Since you can not free range plan on more than the 10 square feet if possible.
     
  3. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Addict

    13,282
    47,485
    1,292
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    There are a lot of options. It can be overwhelming.

    I like the Wichita cabin coop design for a small flock.

    Here in Colorado I made mine walk in coops as the ability to be out of the weather to tend them is important to me.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/

    Lots of ideas here as well as many great articles about ventilation, mud, and caring for our flocks.

    Edited because autocorrect doesn't recognize Wichita. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    jthornton and 123RedBeard like this.
  4. CuckooTheCrazyChicken

    CuckooTheCrazyChicken Songster

    108
    215
    112
    Apr 9, 2019
    My friend has such a small coop for 6 chickens. The only enclosed space is the nesting boxes, and the rest are completely outside. They have no protection from the weather and predators could easily get in.
    I had to take care of them when they were on a winter vacation. It was snowy and super cold. They didn't have a heater for their water. It was horrible. The hens stopped laying from stress and they were taking cover in the nesting boxes :smack:rant:(
     
  5. lucyc

    lucyc Hatching

    4
    3
    9
    Mar 22, 2019
     
  6. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    6,921
    49,319
    1,122
    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    Chickens can be ordered year round at many reputable hatcheries. I like Meyers myself.
    Do you have an old shed you can convert into a coop? For 6 chickens you would want 24 sq ft. Larger is fine. If you can find a shed, you can partition off some of it for the chickens and use the rest for storage. Although not absolutely necessary, I highly recommend a walk in style coop.
    Have you checked Craigslist for someone selling an old smaller shed or coop that you could have moved?
    I use 3 sq /bird in the coop and close to 20 sq / bird in the run as I built my run to be as secure as the coop so I never close the pop door between them. If you cannot free range, this is my recommendation.
    For just 6 girls, you really only need one or two nest boxes. I currently use a community nest box that is 14" deep, 60" long and 14" high after the 4" of chopped straw bedding has been added. This size is for ultimately 24 layers. I also recommend a nice thick bedding layer as the girls seem to like that. I use curtains in the front of the box for privacy.
    You will want lots of ventilation in your coop. You do NOT need to insulate or provide supplemental heat in the winter. The coop and run should be kept as DRY as possible. Dry prevents so many issues.
    I also recommend poop boards under your roosts as that makes keeping the coop clean super easy.
    I am currently rebuilding. My run will be lean-to style with a shingle roof, framed in pressure treated lumber and secured with 1/2" galvanized hardware cloth and a 2' HC apron around everything. The HC will be put up with 1/2" SS staples and a gun then secured with either boards screwed over the attachment locations or added galvanized poultry staples.
    I'll use wood chips in my run. The chickens love scratching around in them and their poop will just compost with the wood chips. You just rake occasionally to mix the run litter and add more wood chips when needed.
    I'll also have natural logs and branches in the run for napping and preening locations.
    Don't skimp on the run size. You will regret it. You can let them out when you are out with them (because they are not allowed to free range where you are, you will need to make sure they don't fly out of your fenced in area).
     
    blackdog043 and 21hens-incharge like this.
  7. lucyc

    lucyc Hatching

    4
    3
    9
    Mar 22, 2019
    What is a poop board? Also, what is the best food for chicks? I have five chicks and I have been feeding them a premium start and grow/medicated food. Is this ok? Whatś the deal with grit? I just learned about that so I ordered some but not sure how much and how long theyŕe supposed to eat that.
     
    21hens-incharge and DobieLover like this.
  8. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    6,921
    49,319
    1,122
    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    This is my poop board. The "tray" under the roost is filled with a mixture of about 1 part PDZ to 3 parts play sand. I use a metal kitty litter scoop to scoop out the poop every morning. It gets put in an old kitty litter bucket and at the end of the week or whenever it is full, it gets dumped in my compost bin.
    PB with sand_PDZ.jpg

    What you are feeding your chicks is fine.
    Offer chick grit in a separate container starting their second week.
    Chickens need grit their entire lives. It is what is stored in the gizzard to help them digest their food.
    When your chicks are about 7 or 8 weeks old, you can offer them regular size grit.
    Grit is not to be confused with oyster shell. They are two completely different things.
    Grit is usually crushed granite pieces. Oyster shell is crushed oyster shell, abbreviated OS here. Grit is necessary for proper digestion in birds. OS is used as supplemental calcium in laying birds.
    I feed an All Flock type food to my flock because I have a rooster and non-laying pullets, neither of which require the extra calcium. These birds can actually be harmed by too much calcium.
     
    21hens-incharge likes this.
  9. lucyc

    lucyc Hatching

    4
    3
    9
    Mar 22, 2019
    OMG, so many different things. So my chicks are about 4 weeks old and I have not given them any grit yet because I just found out about it. Now Iḿ worried that itś so late.
    Just to clarify, they need regular food, grit, and oyster shell? Do they all need to be in separate containers? Daily on the latter two? Anything else I should be giving them daily besides water of course?
    Thanks for all of your help, by the way!!
     
    21hens-incharge likes this.
  10. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Addict

    13,282
    47,485
    1,292
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    No need to panic. It will be ok.

    Chick feed is more easily digested so they will be ok.

    The oyster shell doesn't need to be put out until they start laying.

    The grit and feed should NOT be mixed.

    Separate containers for each of the 3 items.

    I use metal rabbit feeders but any container can work so long as they can get their beaks in. In one coop I use plastic coffee cans with the side cut out. I screwed it to a wall stud so it cannot be tipped.
     
    jthornton, 123RedBeard and DobieLover like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: