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Newbie with questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bbking83, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. bbking83

    bbking83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2014
    Southern Indiana
    New to chickens and the BYC site, happened to find it from another thread. Appears to be very useful for newbies like me and from the posts that I have seen everyone appears very friendly and helpful. I have 5 acres in a rural area of Southern Indiana. I'm looking to buy a few (I'm thinking 5 or 6) hens and a rooster in the spring. My wife is a stay at home mom and I have a 2 year old son. They are the main reason for the birds as I think they will both enjoy them. I'm mainly looking for good egg layers but would also like something that is a meat bird as we may thin or do away with the flock and stock the freezer before winter starts. Can anyone suggest the best bird for this? I want to stay away from anything flighty or aggressive as I want something my son can be around. I really like the look of the Rhode Island Reds but not sure if they would fit our needs. I also have some coop/run questions. I plan on building a large, well protected run with coop. During the day the birds will be able to free range throughout our yard/property and go back into the coop/run in the evening. I'm planning on building the coop/run on nice days over the winter so I'm ready for birds in early spring. When the hens sleep at night, do they each need an individual nesting box or do they only go to a box when they are laying? Should each hen have its own nesting box? I have seen several coops with wooden rod perches and poop boards below. This would appear to make for easy cleanup but a fellow I work with told me in the winter months (if I keep them through the winter) their feet will freeze to the perches. For this reason should I go with all nesting boxes? Will they sleep anywhere on the floor if there is no perch and limited nesting boxes? I'm not saying I would go that route, just trying to understand. I'm also curious about the best ideas for watering. From what I have read there are as many different ways to care for chickens as there are breeds. I've read some people use a trough or pan while others use "cleaner" systems. One system I saw for sale on amazon was a 5 gallon bucket with a few nipples on the bottom. Chickens can drink from these? I liked the idea of that system as the water would stay clean and you would not have to refill as often. I even saw one lady post that she uses an old crock pot in the winter to keep water from freezing up. I also had a question on feed. Normally they will be feeding free range along with some feed for an evening treat. If we happen to go on vacation and my neighbor takes care of them then they won't be able to free range during the day and will be confined to the run. How much feed would they need daily? I plan on the run bring anywhere from 10'x10' to 10'x30' depending on how excited I get when I build it so they would have some area to scavenge when in the coop. And lastly, should the chickens be confined to the coop at night or is it suitable for them to access the run as well? Thanks for any help!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    You need one nest for every 3 or 4 hens. They shouldn't sleep in them at all or you'll need to clean the poop out every morning before they lay.
    Their feet won't freeze to the roost unless it's made of metal or plastic, hence the reason they're made of wood.
    The roost needs to be significantly higher than the nests to prevent nest sleepers.
    Poop board is an excellent addition.

    Adequate ventilation is as important as food and water. Chickens die from heat and bad air, not cold.

    The chickens should be confined to the predator proof coop at night unless you make the run perfectly predator proof. That means no place for digging under the sides, openings over 1/2" and a complete wire or other cover to prevent climbers, owls/hawks.

    I suggest reviewing these breed charts to find the right birds for you.
    http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/chickenbreedcomparison.pdf

    http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
  4. bbking83

    bbking83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2014
    Southern Indiana
    Thanks for helping with my questions. I'm sure I will have more as I get farther into building the coop and start bringing the birds in. So nice to find such a helpful site.
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    bobbi-j made some excellent points
    I highly recommend you spend some time reading this part of the site - https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

    Never assume you have no predators afoot. If you build it, they will come.
    A mink or weasel can get into a 1" opening and will kill all of your birds in a single night (like in 10 minutes). Mink killed $4000 worth of my chickens this past summer.
     
  6. bbking83

    bbking83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2014
    Southern Indiana

    If I go away for a week and my neighbor takes care of food and water, would they be content in the coop all day/night? This is obviously assuming they have food/water and proper ventilation.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    I have a run attached to my coop so when I'm gone they can be in and out at their leisure. I would not leave them in the coop for a week unless you have a very sizeable coop. And by that I mean a building of some sort, not just a place for them to sleep and lay eggs. I don't buy into the "x number of square feet per bird" theory. Those are minimum requirements. In my opinion, the more room you can have for them if they must be confined, the better.

    [​IMG]

    This is how my run and coop are attached.
     
  8. bbking83

    bbking83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2014
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    I like the look of your run, I was thinking of doing something similar. What kind of wire fencing is that and does it keep out smaller predators like mink and weasels? Looks like there is some reinforced wire at the bottom (sorry, I'm viewing from a phone screen)?
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    It's 2x4" welded wire. It would not keep out a mink or weasel, but it's what we can afford right now. It does keep out our biggest threats - coyotes, raccoons, opossums, hawks. I have 24" of 1/2" hardware cloth around the bottom to keep chicks from going through the bigger wire when they're contained in the run. It also keeps the raccoons from reaching in and tearing the chickens apart through the fence. Ideally, the run should have the hardware cloth all the way around it, but that's pretty expensive. You do the best you can with what you have to work with.
     
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  10. bbking83

    bbking83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2014
    Southern Indiana
    Your exactly right. I'm trying to find the balance of protection on a budget so always looking for ideas.
     

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