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Newbie with lots of questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kntry, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. kntry

    kntry Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2012
    Folsom, Louisiana
    I had chickens many years ago that ran free in a fenced back yard. I've never had a coop or egg layers so I have lots of questions!
    Thanks in advance for the help.

    I want to get about 20-25 hens, 1-2 days old. I want them for the eggs, mainly but when they get too old to lay, I want to be able to use the meat. Is there any reason to have a rooster?

    If they are free range during the day, will they stay around the yard if they are penned up for a few weeks when I first get them?

    How big of a coop will I need for that many if they're only in the coop during inclement weather and at night?

    Does each hen need a separate laying box?

    Is one coop design better than another one?
     
  2. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    There are lots of useful advice articles on the forum. I found this useful

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

    Don't skimp on room for your chickens. You get "angry" chooks who will fight, you get more poo, you get worse ventilation and the potential for them to catch diseases. Give them as much space as you can.

    Also, when things are "normal" they might be ok in a "minimum-size" coop, but there could be circumstances where they need to be put in there longer term. You don't want such things to be more stressful by worrying that they are uncomfortable.
     
  3. kntry

    kntry Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2012
    Folsom, Louisiana
    Thanks. That article was helpful.
     
  4. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana

    The ideal coop would be a shed or mini barn that would allow you to walk in and clean/water/feed. 20 to 25 birds may be crowded unless it Is an oversized shed. I've got 32 hens and a couple of roosters and they need two coops and one is well oversized. A single rooster can be handy to keep an eye out for predators but may too noisy if you live in an urban setting. About 5 nest boxes will be fine for a couple dozen birds. Chickens can fly over fencing but ours tend to stay within the fence. Keep them happy and they will stay within the yard. I walk my fence line at least a few times per week to ensure no predators are tunneling. We have had raccoons and coyotes tunnel and snatch a few chickens over the years but they do not scale the fence. Hope this helped!
     
  5. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Yes, I thought so, too. There is a lot of interesting and useful info under "Learning Center" at the top of the forum.
     
  6. barneveldrerman

    barneveldrerman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Their is no reason to have a rooster. They will lay eggs without one. They can also be a little mean depending on how you raise them.


    They should stay near their home once they know where it is!

    You would need about 80-100 square feet. I calculated that by using the method of 4 sq. feet per chicken. You could do more or less (don't recommend going less!).


    About 1 nesting box for 3-4 hens is how I have mine.


    I would choose the coop design based on what you like, what is more functionable for you, and the last is your climate.


    Hope this helps and have a great time with your chickens!
     
  7. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

    Welcome to BYC..

    I have a couple questions, I always do.

    How many eggs do you need or want?

    Why would you not get a few layers and buy some CX's for meat? After a hen is old and stops laying they are not all that great for eating, unless you like stewing hens and soups.

    Anyways I am sure you will learn everything you need to know here on BYC, these people are an amazing wealth of knowledge.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I want to get about 20-25 hens, 1-2 days old. I want them for the eggs, mainly but when they get too old to lay, I want to be able to use the meat. Is there any reason to have a rooster?

    You can eat any chicken of any size at any age, but some just don’t have much meat on them. Bantams, leghorns, and the hybrid egg layers just don’t have much meat on them. Pay attention to adult weight when you order but I’d suggest any of the dual purpose breeds pretty much fit your goals. You might consider getting one of those egg layer specials most hatcheries offer. They are usually reasonably priced. They basically send you a few different breeds, whatever they hatch surplus that week, so you get to look at a few different breeds to see what you like or don’t like.

    The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. Anything else is personal preference. Some people would not have a flock without a rooster, some are really pleased they don’t have one.

    If they are free range during the day, will they stay around the yard if they are penned up for a few weeks when I first get them?

    They will come home to roost at night so they will not ju8st wander off. How much they stay around the yard during the day depends on a lot of things; quality of forage, barriers, and just how much they like to roam. Each flock is unique and has its own dynamics. Just changing one chicken in a flock can change flock dynamics. Most of my flocks stay within 250 to 300 feet of the coop, but I’ve had some that would roam more than 500 feet.

    How big of a coop will I need for that many if they're only in the coop during inclement weather and at night?

    I wrote that space article so you already have my thoughts on that. I won’t give you a specific size because we are each so unique. I will mention that in most inclement weather mine are often outside. They like rain. Worms come to the ground surface where they are easy pickings.

    Does each hen need a separate laying box?

    There is a general rule of thumb that the minimum size nest you need is 12” x 12” for full sized fowl and you need one of those for every four hens you have. I made mine 16” x 16”. That fit my stud spacing so they were easy to frame up. I find I don’t need as many nests when they are larger. You could even go with one 24” x 48” community nest box that would possibly handle your entire flock. As with most things chicken though, I would not cut it too close. A little extra can help a lot.

    Is one coop design better than another one?

    If you look at the top of this page, you’ll see a tab that says “coops”. You can get an idea of how many different kinds of coops that we build. Which style is better for you will depend on your climate, how you manage your chickens, how important “pretty” is (in suburbia pretty may be important if you have neighbors that don’t want property values to drop and some people just like pretty), and so many other things. For that many chickens I strongly recommend a walk-in coop but how big or what style I haven’t a clue.
     
  9. kntry

    kntry Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2012
    Folsom, Louisiana
    Thanks for the help!

    We live in the country on 7 acres so there's no fences. I love a crowing rooster so I may get 1 as long as it won't ruin the eggs.

    How big should the nesting boxes be?

    I use about 6-8 dozen eggs a month. The only reason I'm saying 20-25 hens is because every website I've been on will only ship in those lots.

    I mentioned using the old hens for meat because I wouldn't know what to do with them. I'd rather buy chicken because I can't kill them. LOL
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I use about 6-8 dozen eggs a month. The only reason I'm saying 20-25 hens is because every website I've been on will only ship in those lots.

    There are ways around that. Many hatcheries will ship as few as 15 during certain times of the year assuming you are in the US. Putting your approximate location in your profile could help with some of these questions. With Ideal Hatchery it’s not a minimum number but a minimum price. There are some hatcheries that will ship quite a few less, My Pet Chicken for example but how many will depend on your post office location. One thing to watch for is that many of these will add “packing peanuts” to help keep the chicks warm during shipment. Packing peanuts are excess male chicks that people have not ordered. You might want to call the hatchery and tell them that you do not want any packing peanuts.

    Many feed stores will be having chick days before too long. Each feed store is different so you need to talk to the people managing it at that individual store to find out what they do. Most will offer bins of pullets. Whether those are actually pullets depends on the expertise of the people handling the chicks. Some are really good, some just don’t know chicken.

    Some, not many but some, feed store managers will take a special order. You can place an order with them and they will get your chicks shipped with their larger order, getting around the minimum. To determine what your feed store will do you need to talk to the actual person managing the chicks. Many other employees just don’t know what is going on.

    If you can find a neighbor on here, maybe by finding your state thread in the ”Where am I! Where are you section!”, you can find someone willing to split an order.
     

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