New to the group and raising chickens for eggs

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by irishrose57, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. irishrose57

    irishrose57 New Egg

    Jul 6, 2015
    We are just in the learning stages for raising chickens for eggs. You will see me all over this site asking a million questions.

    I found the type of coop and run I would like. My husband is concerned (he is a engineer need I say more) that kits are made of fir. I have seen cedar coops but crazy expensive. And to me since I see fir all over different sites it must be reliable. We live in Wisconsin in the country but in a small subdivision, and can get lots of snow and brutal cold weather. I have an attached site that is fenced in for them to free range. Not huge but plenty big.

    so first question: is fir a reliable wood for the coop.

    second question probably for another thread. I have 3 flower boxes in this enclosed area. I am reading the girls will create havoc on the plants. But I also ready if I cover the plants until bigger they might not bother them. I will certainly keep on eye on them until we are all used to each other. So they can be shooed away.

    third: do people prefer hatching chicks, buying chicks or older birds etc.

    Thank you
  2. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 7, 2011
    Finger Lakes, NY
    Welcome! [​IMG] I'm going to start with the 3rd question first. I prefer buying chicks - preferably from a local breeder. Unless you know what you're doing with an incubator, it's not worth the effort. Older birds will not 'bond' with you as easily as chicks will. If you can avoid getting hatchery chicks, all the better. In my experience, you can expect to lose 20-30% of your chicks. Having said that, if you decide to buy locally, visit the seller premises - how are the birds kept, do they look healthy/happy? Are the birds wading through muck/poop or is the area fairly clean etc. - you get the idea.
    Plants - chickens love to sample anything - whether it's good for them or not. Check out if your plants are safe for birds to eat, they will dig/scratch to their hearts' content. If you value your plants - don't let the birds near them! [​IMG]
    Third - why is your husband anti-fir? I have built my coops from plyboard and recycled pallets, but they are inside a barn secure from the weather. I would think that fir would be quite acceptable. I'm sure others here will give you their opinion on fir.
    Enjoy your birds - they are the cheapest form of therapy I know [​IMG]
  3. Chickenshoe

    Chickenshoe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2015
    We began our chickening this year..[​IMG]
    built $ about $800 in materials... stick built it, 2x4 2x3's plywood, metal roof.. looked at pre-fab stuff, figured I could build a top quality coop myself, prefab stuff is to flimsy, we too live in cold, north east. lots of snow and sub zero. got our chicks locally, from small poultry breeder. drove 3 hrs to get there, as breed wife wanted could not get at local Agway.. we got SL Wyandottes, Bramahs, Sussex, and Rock... no mailing job, best to go get them if you can...our 13 girls are thriving, have not lost any. they are about 4mos old now... in run 1/2 the day, let out daily in afternoon and have a ball running around on property, predators, yep, took shot at fox with 12 ga shotgun, probably killed it.. have not seen it since.. remember to shut your girls in each night, if you forget they will be eaten for sure.. losses during the day are rare.. if you can build it, do it yourself.. metal roof recommended.. lots of ventilation...but no drafts...

    as to plants,, yea, they will dig in the wife has lots of plants, we keep shooing em out..
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    What kit are you looking at...can you post a link?
    Most prefabbed coops are a malignant, misleading, waste of money......and shoddy construction, fir or otherwise......I recommend staying far, far away from them.

    The engineer should be able to design and build an excellent coop after some research.
    Start research with the articles linked in my signature below on Space and Ventilation.
    ......and take a look at My Coop page linked to the left under my avatar.
  5. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Flock Master

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I would agree with your husband about the prefab coops. They tend to overstate the number of birds that can fit as well as being made of very thin material.

    I myself have used regular house siding on my coops and it works nicely.

    Lots of windows on mine. Second hand metal roofing as well. Salvage what you can to keep costs down. This coop and run has a lot of salvaged material in its making. The long sides of the coop are from giant crates that had been taken apart and put up for sale. The windows are salvaged 1/4 inch thick smoked lexan that I framed out. They all open for added air flow.

    Ventilation is very important of course.

    Getting chicks locally is nice if you can do it. It has been mentioned that older birds do not bond as well and shipped birds can pass away. NOW that being said mine are all hatchery stock and I have only lost one chick ever. It was a Silver Spangled Hamburg. They are very small and fragile as chicks.

    Enjoy your chicken experience. Lots of great people here on BYC.

  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! Don't buy a prefab; either build your own, or buy a storage shed type building and modify it. aart has wonderful links, worth looking at. Predator control and ventilation are the most important issues, after coop size and design. At least four sq. ft. per bird in the coop; I've got five sq. ft. per bird in the winter, and many bantams, who need less space. Build big, and safe. Hatchery birds have worked very well here, with some locally produced purebreds from very good breeders. I'm very careful (paranoid!) about biosecurity, so no older birds come here, and hatchery chicks come vaccinated for Marek's disease. There are so many breeds to choose, I've still got a wish list. Mary
  7. irishrose57

    irishrose57 New Egg

    Jul 6, 2015
    We did buy a prefab from kotulas. It's the same style my friend husband but from scratch. The engineer is always too busy to put it together. Still in a box in the garage. After reading so much on these forums. I see modifications I need to add for ventillation. Once it's built hubby will be pushed to do mods. I want windows and auto door added. Ordered chicks from my pet chicken. Scary but they mail. Same friend has always had good luck. Breeders all to far for me to drive. Just found out I need back surgery a full fusion asap. I want to be ready for my chicks. I have broader and all there supplies ready.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’ve had chicks shipped in the mail three times from different hatcheries (shipments of 28, 21, and 20 chicks), two of those in really cold weather. They have all arrived alive but I did lose one a couple of days after they arrived once. Don’t let people scare you about hatchery chicks. The vast majority of the time they are OK. We buy from several different hatcheries. Just one of those hatcheries might hatch 80,000 to 100,000 per week during the season. It’s not surprising that occasionally there might be a problem, but no problems is more of my limited experience.

    I’m also an engineer, a retired civil engineer. Fir can be a really good wood, if it is heartwood. I don’t know how thick that fir is in that kit. Sometimes they don’t use heartwood. I am not a fan of the pre-fab coops in general. They are often poorly designed for chickens, don’t always use good construction techniques, and often use shoddy materials. Some of them are OK but from what I’ve seen, most are not.

    Many of us keep chickens free range or at least let them forage where there are a lot of different kinds of plants, some of them poisonous to chickens. In general chickens leave the bad stuff alone. There are a whole lot of different plants so it’s a little hard to talk in generalities. I can say usually or normally but that doesn’t cover all the different plants on the planet.

    It’s a matter of dosage, one bite won’t kill them. Normally one bite is all it takes, the plant is often so bitter they don’t go back for a second bite. If there is no other green stuff around they might though. It’s best in a bare run where there are no good plants to not have the poisonous plants.

    Sometimes the problem with plants is that they eat the plant or maybe the fruits. But chickens really like to scratch. If you try to mulch the plants, the chickens will scatter it everywhere looking for creepy crawlies in the mulch. It’s usually a good idea to fence the chickens in or put a fence around the plants so they can’t get to them.

    We are all unique, with our own goals and ways to do things. I can’t speak for most people. I like to hatch my own because I am trying to breed for certain traits, though I will occasionally get chicks from an established hatchery or get hatching eggs from someone in the area. I stay away from buying older chickens because of biosecurity issues. It’s often challenging to get only pullets if you buy chicks though. There are ways to get breeds that are sexed from the hatcheries but hard to get them like that as chicks from someone local. Of you buy started pullets you can be sure they are pullets, not cockerels, so that can be an advantage. If you want pets that you can play with, raising hem as chicks usually makes it easier to socialize them.

    I think if you read through the forum you will see that there are normally many different things that work, that there is almost never one way that is required of even best for all of us. It’s more of a case of considering what will work in your circumstances to meet your goals. What is “best” for me is probably not “best” for you on many different issues. That’s why you will often see conflicting information on here. We all have different experiences and different goals, and different circumstances.

    Welcome to the chicken adventure. It can be a fun ride.
  9. Corazon Ranch

    Corazon Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2012
    Kits are usually made with the cheapest and thinnest materials. So it's not the tree's fault! If you buy Douglas fir lumber and build it yourself, it will be better (and probably more expensive). The kits can be improved upon by adding screws, glue, paint, etc. But my biggest complaint with the ones I've seen is that they are too small. Like a dollhouse for chickens! Call me spoiled, but I like to stand up inside my coop!

    Best of luck with the engineer!
  10. irishrose57

    irishrose57 New Egg

    Jul 6, 2015
    Thanks everyone.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016

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