Newbie Questions from a Desert Rat

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Draconargentum, May 9, 2007.

  1. Draconargentum

    Draconargentum Chirping

    May 9, 2007
    Howdy, all-

    I suppose I should give some background before I ask my questions, huh? Like the title says, I'm a desert rat, born and bred, from Phoenix. I've always had at least one animal in the house for as long as I lived (with the exception of when I was seven, unless my siblings count). Currently, we've only got one dog, and she's an old girl anymore, ableit still quite the troublemaker. Well, to make a long story short, since I'm the baby of the family, my parents have decided that there will be no more pets in their house after our dog dies. On a happier note, I've been doing some research and keeping pet chickens sounds great once I move out.

    But there are a few issues: my main one, would it be too warm where I live for chickens? Even at this time of the year it easily breaks 100 degrees (as it has for the past two days) and gets over 120 occasionally. Are there any breeds of chickens especially heat-hardy, or would I have to install some sort of cooler in the coop?

    My second pertains to local predators: coyotes have already been covered in a page here, but I've seen nothing about snakes. Are these an issue to poults, hens and roosters? If so, does anyone have any ideas as to how best snake-proof a coop?

    Lastly (for the time being,) what are your opinions as to the easiest/best breeds to raise for someone brand new, not only to chickens, but to the avian pet world as a whole? Should I start with just one or two? Anything I definitely must look out for?

    Thanks for your time. I really appreciate it and hope that I'm able to become a regular member here.
  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    First let me say.....Welcome to the madness. You are well on your way to being a chicken addict! I am sure there are others where you live that have a matter of fact, I just recieved a Polish Roo, a few weeks ago from a family in NV. For the heat....there are several things...LOTS and LOTS of fresh cool water....shade...and if possible, a fan in the coop. I am not sure of what breeds do well in your area. Maybe someone on here can answer that for you.
    Snakes can be a problem...if you can raise the coop, have a secure floor..and secure windows and helps. However, snakes can get into the smallest spaces.
    When you are ready to build a coop, look in the "coop design" section, there are many wonderfull ideas there.
    Good luck with your move, and enjoy you new life, controlled by chickens ( when you get them)
  3. Draconargentum

    Draconargentum Chirping

    May 9, 2007
    Thanks. ^_^
    I've been searching around at my local library...Nothing much on coops, unfortunately, but I've been working out some plans of my own...But it seems as though banties are going to be my best shot at hot weather birds. I'm afraid that if I go with a standard or large size I'll end up with a fried chicken. >_<

    Still looking for suggestions of good chickens, particularly bantie varieties now, that are heat-resistant. All the books I've seen thus far on keeping chickens are for non-Arizonan environments (that is, 100+ summers, 40+ winters, and generally less than 30% humidity).
    Last edited: May 10, 2007
  4. Cheeks

    Cheeks Songster

    May 10, 2007
    ive learned that the chickens with loose feathering do better in heat. my buff orp is a trooper, where as my RIR is constantly panting.
  5. MTchick

    MTchick Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Western Montana
    I've been to Phoenix in August. It is really, really hot- even at night. I remember that in order to keep cool in the outdoors, most places had misters on their patios or walkways. Perhaps you could install a mister near your coop that was set on a timer? The other idea I have for you is based on the fact that the movement of the sun is really predictable. So building the coop in the shade of the north or east walls of a house will be better for a desert coop than a west (afternoon sun) or south (most of the day sun) side part of the property. Lastly, building under a tree or double overhang (like building the whole coop under a carport) would of course help tremendously.

    Phoenix is a big city- I bet there is a chicken club, 4H, or county extension that could offer some home-grown advice on dealing with the extreme climate. Give that a try, too.

  6. Draconargentum

    Draconargentum Chirping

    May 9, 2007
    Outdoor misters...That's a really good idea! Thanks, I'll look into that. And, yeah, I was planning on building the coop so that it (or as much of it as possible) was in the northeast corner of the yard. And maybe when I'm moving in and getting settled, I'll find a spreading tree...Not a date palm, though. Not only are they messy but scorpions just love the roots.

    Are scorpions a potential problem for chickens, too? 'Cause there's certainly no shortage of them out here.
  7. pipermark

    pipermark Songster

    Jan 26, 2007
    Ok I know we use to have a person that was a member of BYC that lived in Phoenix and had chickens, so they can live there succesfully.

    You mentioned coops. The backyardchickens website has a some good ideas. I think there is also a coop forum on this board.

    What birds are best , really have to do with the enviornment, you dont mention how much room you will have, how many birds you want, are these purly pets or are you interested in getting some fresh eggs as well. Would you prefer duel purpose birds so you can get some meat as well.

    Do you want to get into the showing aspect of rasing birds.
  8. Alisha in Cali

    Alisha in Cali In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2007
    Reno, NV
    Heat: For the heat misters in the coop are a must. Maybe you could put in a swamp cooler.[​IMG] I also like to allow the chickens some shady bare dirt to wallow in. They love to dust bathe and when they are done their feathers are nice and cool. They also like to lay there with their wings spread and just absorb the coolness. For my rabbits I place frozen buckets of water in their areas. That seems to help. Also, I regularly dump out their water and replace with cool fresh stuff. Feed is important in the heat too. Corn is a hot food and breaking it down can cause the chickens to overheat a little. I don't feed a lot of corn when it is really hot. Another option is to just have house chickens and then you can have them in the air conditioning and they can be with you all the time.

    Snakes: I've heard stories of people finding snakes in their coops and almost stepping on them. If you know you have snakes in your area you might want to use the small size of welded wire instead of chicken wire. Or instead of the traditional coop you could make up one more like a rabbit hutch. Then put un-climbable metal on the legs. I have a few chickens in hutches and they make a good coop. Especially since you might be getting banties.

    Breeds: Old English Games are probably going to be the easiest to find and raise. Most feed stores carry them. The biggest thing is you want to stay away from feathered feet. The less feathering the cooler the birds will be. Maybe naked necks would be good? I'm not sure about them, but they have a lot of surface area that isn't covered in feathers. Modern games are also good since they have those long uncovered legs. I'm wondering if silkies might be good too. They are pretty furry, but they came from Asia and it is hot there sometimes. Maybe just get one of a couple of breeds so you can see who handles it best. Most chickens don't lay well when it gets hot.

    Scorpions: I have no idea if scorpions can harm the chickens. Are the scorpions you have the really venomous types or are they the only slightly venomous types? It seems like the chickens would find them quite tasty. I think if they ate them it would probably be okay, it's just if they got stung.

    BTW, welcome to the addiction. Once you get chickens you'll realize why all us nuts are always obsessed with them. [​IMG]
  9. Draconargentum

    Draconargentum Chirping

    May 9, 2007
    I was actually looking more toward layers than meat birds...Don't get me wrong, I like chicken, but I'm not sure if I'd have the heart to eat a bird I'd known all its life. I could also work with dual purpose...But now I'm looking more toward bantam varieties, as I believe I've said (not altogether sure).

    I really don't know about any competitions in my area, so these would probably be more pets and/or layers than competition birds.

    As for room, I won't know until I'm old enough to move out (I've still got a few years yet at max, but I'd like to start planning sooner rather than later), but probably the general size of a typical suburban backyard...I'd say maybe 30x20 as a (very) rough estimate.

    I...really don't think I'd do well with house-chickens. Thanks for the idea, though.

    I just remembered today that I have a friend who keeps chickens at her dad's up in Show Low. I've asked her what breeds she keeps...But it's cooler up there, so I'll be taking the info with a grain of salt, since she's so proud of Star, who I believe is a Brahma hen (at least from the descriptions I've heard).
  10. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    If you will check out the Here Am I - Where Are You? forum you will find a thread of folks in Arizona. Yep, sure gets hot there. I'm from Ariz now living in Louiaiana.

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