New to this - please help

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jmboyd, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. jmboyd

    jmboyd Hatching

    Feb 26, 2007
    Hi I am new to raising egg laying chickens and have a few questions. The chicks were bought at 20 weeks and are not yet laying.
    -Do I need to have wood chips on the floor of the coop?
    -I built perches according to the specs on the site and used bamboo polls around 1.5 inches in diameter. Is bamboo too slick?
    -I have two nests for my seven chickens witch I made from plastic milk containers. I cut the front and filled them with hay but the chicks don't nest but rather use them as a dumping ground. They are not using the perches. Wat am I doing wrong?
    -and lastly, how much and how often do i feed them? I am currently using a feeder I hang from a chain in the coop and make sure it is kept somewhat full.

    Any advise would be appreciated. Or you could point me in the right direction. Thanks, JM
  2. TheBigWRanch

    TheBigWRanch Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    Wenatchee, Washington
    What breed of chickens do you have? How high off the ground are your perches? Some breeds can't fly very well. I have heard that you should go out every night and pick the chickens off of the ground and put them on the perches until they get the idea that they should go up there. A milk carton sounds too small to be used as a nest box, but maybe I am wrong. Chickens do not start laying very well until there is 14 hours of daylight, and some breeds start laying later than others. If you use shavings, do not use cedar shavings, they can be toxic. That's all the info I have for you right now, I'm sure other people will know more.
  3. Deanw

    Deanw In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2007
    What size of milk cartons are you using?
  4. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    Milk crates would work a lot better. They like to have 12x12x12 worth of room.
  5. jmboyd

    jmboyd Hatching

    Feb 26, 2007
    sorry- i meant milk crates.

    the perches are 16 in. off the ground and the nests are about the same.
  6. hypnojessi

    hypnojessi In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2007
    Troy, MO
    I'm planning on building a coop and I have a couple books that helped me out with everything I needed. If you go to and search for "chicken care" you will find a lot of stuff for cheap. I bought "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens" which is VERY helpful with EVERY aspect of raising chickens and I also bought "Raising Chickens in your Backyard." That one was also very helpful but with a little more sense of humor which was great. If you don't pick up one of those books, I can tell you that in "Storey's" they suggest for standard breeds, Nest Boxes should be about 12x12x12 like what was already mentioned. For bigger breeds like Brahmas, you can go with 14 wide x 14 tall x 12 deep. If the chickens aren't using them, try putting a small ramp or chicken ladder up to the nests.

    As for roosts, the same book suggests a perch for a standard breed be about 2in in diameter or across. "Allow 8-10 in of perching space per bird. Place them about 2 ft from the floor and 18 in from the nearest parallel wall, space them 18in apart. If floor space in limited (which in my design, it is, and this is what I'm doing) step-stair roosts 12 in apart vertically and horizontally so chickens can hop from lower to upper rungs."

    The book says that you shouldn't use plastic or metal roosts because the birds can't grab on to it. Bamboo may be too smooth for them and possibly too small. The book also suggests using a flat surface too, like a 2x2 square rod. Try changing to meet some of these qualities.

    Also, in my experience, you don't HAVE to put wood shavings on the floor. As long as you keep it cleaned out enough so the the birds aren't living in filth and it doesn't smell. I don't plan on using shavings in my coop and if I do, I won't be using a lot.

    As far as feed, if you want to keep food available all the time as free choice, that is fine. The birds won't eat more than they need so it's just a matter of choice for you. It's good that you are hanging the feeder so the birds can't poo in it or spill too much of it. If you feed free choice you'll need enough feeders so at least 1/3 of the flock can eat at once. If you feed on a restricted basis (only when you put it out) you need enough feeders so the whole flock can eat at once.

    Again, all my info comes from the "Storey's" book and it is very well written. I would reccomend it to anyone who runs a small flock and you can pick it up cheap on
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  7. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    For my perches, which I have in the coop and the pen, I pruned some tree branches to give them a natural effect they at different levels. My 4 nesting boxes are 12” x12” approximately made out of scrap wood starting at about 2 feet of the floor of the coop, I put a board in front to make sure no eggs fall out. My wood chips on the floor vary of different heights from 2” to 6” a lot of then this winter like to sleep in the thick wood shaving to keep warm.

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