Newbie looking for advice before taking the "leap"...

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by newchic2013, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. newchic2013

    newchic2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    We were "this" close to buying baby chics last spring on an impulse buy. My girls begged and begged and I stood my ground. After thinking about it for a few months, I think it might be doable but I know absolutely NOTHING about chickens. I'm only now learning what a pullet is for Pete's Sake! lol. We live in Michigan where the winters get pretty cold, and have plenty of snow. We have two dogs, two cats (indoor only), and LOTS of fish. :) I love animals and would have no problem caring for the chics if I knew what exactly to do. Since we won't be buying any until spring, I've decided to take this time and start researching what I can until then. I'm starting with the coop. I really don't want to spend a TON of money on an elaborate piece of art and I admittedly don't want something from the junk yard in my back yard either. I've seen a few on ebay that look reasonable but maybe a bit small. I'm only planning on 2-3 chics to keep it manageable. I've put together a list of questions I have. It would be great if some of you veterans would be willing to give me some advice. -- Amber

    1. Ebay coops, junk, worth it, too small?

    2. Will the chickens destroy my grass? What if I do a tractor? How often do I have to move it to keep actually grass and not a dirt/poop mixture? :) My yard is rather large and is fenced in but I do live in the "city".

    3. Living in Michigan, will a well insulated coop suffice? Getting a heat lamp out there might be an issue.
     
  2. Mr MKK FARMS

    Mr MKK FARMS Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC! Glad you joined us! [​IMG]
     
  3. TheSpeckledRoo

    TheSpeckledRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello newchick, I am from Michigan as well. I don't consider myself a expert or anything but I can give you my two cents. In my opinion I would build my own coop. I would start by building a coup big enough for at least six chickens. I say six because raising chickens becomes an obsession trust me. I started out with 14, now i have 30.

    You could find lots of free material around, at my local hardware store I can get free pallets. From there only your imagination can limit you.

    Chickens will tear out your grass if they have a permanent coup and pen. Personally I don't have a tractor so i can't answer that part of your question.

    Like I said before, I live in Michigan as well. My girls do fine in the winter. I have an insulated coup, no heat lamp. Just make sure your coup gets plenty of sun to warm it up.
     
  4. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Greetings from Kansas, newchic2013, and [​IMG]! Great to have you aboard! Research first plan and BYC is a great place for that research! I'll take a shot at your questions:

    1. Ebay coops, junk, worth it, too small?
    Probably some of both - in terms of good or junk. I think you'd get eaten alive by shipping, though. A better bet might be Craigslist - you can re-purpose just about anything with walls and a roof into a great coop. Don't neglect building one - lots of folks like me, that is not blessed with building skills, have made some very serviceable coops. In terms of size...the recommended size is 4 sq. ft. per bird...but go bigger in case you want to add birds later - everyone does!

    2. Will the chickens destroy my grass? What if I do a tractor? How often do I have to move it to keep actually grass and not a dirt/poop mixture? :) My yard is rather large and is fenced in but I do live in the "city".
    YES! They will scratch it up and destroy - just part of the chicken owning experience. You can sacrifice the grass in a run attached to the coop...or go the tractor route which you will have to move...depending upon the number of birds, perhaps everyday.

    3. Living in Michigan, will a well insulated coop suffice? Getting a heat lamp out there might be an issue.
    It doesn't even have to be insulated. I draft-free (but ventilated) coop is okay for your birds. Insulation never hurts but I shun a heated coop - too many stories out there of tragic coop fires. Here's an interesting thread about cold weather and chickens:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/421122/think-its-too-cold-for-your-chickens-think-again

    Good luck to you in your chicken adventure!!
     
  5. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    [​IMG]What will help the most is going to "Where am I, where are you," thread. You can locate your state thread and post your questions there. The residents can give the best advice on how they handle winters in your area, where to get the best prices on feed, chicken medications and so on. I can tell you that YES, chickens will ruin your lawn in no time at all. The Learning Center is another good place to visit.
     
  6. newchic2013

    newchic2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, thank you all for such quick responses. Who knew there were actually people on these chicken forums! The SpeckledRoo, I actually have 6 pallets in the back of my truck now to go back out to AAA Turf in Hudsonville. The problem is, almost all of the plans I've found cost an ungodly amount of money. The one online I was looking at was this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chicken-Coo...502?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4611595f56 . It looks like I could also add an additional run possibly to the end. I'm not opposed to letting them run in my yard either. I do have TONS of flowers and beds though and my dogs are both still "puppies" at just under and over a year old and they may love to chase. I have a large area of my yard devoted to my kids playground. I know salmonella is an issue with kids but if it isn't "that" close to the swing set, would this be an option? Or would it be unhealthy? There's no grass though, just mulch. Also, where do you get your chics SpeckledRoo? I know nothing about breeds but was thinking of a combo of buff orpingtons and barred rocks? Trying to go with uber friendly and quiet. :)

    Redsox thanks for the advice on the insulation. I read where the birds acclimate very well to the temperature changes and having a heat lamp can actually cause more harm than good.

    DrumstickDiva I'll check out that forum too.
     
  7. TheSpeckledRoo

    TheSpeckledRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can build anything you want with the pallets. As long as the coop has four walls and a roof your girls will be happy. I get my chicks from a number of places, mostly tsc. Also, I have bought some from my nearest auction house. The problem with auction house chickens is you don't know what you are going to get. Those auction houses are filled with sicknesses and disease. Your best bet would be to buy some from tsc during their chick days in march I believe. Also you can have chicks delivered by mail through a number of hatcheries. Murray mcmurray is a very popular one. There is also a hatchery in the west side of the state, although I forgot where and what it is called. You could pick some up from there. What type of dogs do you have? Some breeds do better than others, but training is recommended. I have a Chesapeake bay retriever, one of the greatest bird hunting dogs, (my mistake) and she rarely leaves them alone. She will run around the coup for hours at a time, although I guess that's good exercise. If you let ur girls free range you can kiss those flowers goodbye haha. I don't have kids so I couldn't answer the question about salmonella. I think they would be fine as long as they didn't eat anything outside.
     
  8. TheSpeckledRoo

    TheSpeckledRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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  9. TheSpeckledRoo

    TheSpeckledRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are awesome. Sorry I hit send before I was finished typing
     
  10. Welcome to BYC glad u joined us!
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