NEWBY to Chickens, lots of questions!!


In the Brooder
9 Years
Mar 1, 2010
Good Morning!

This year I would like to begin keeping chickens. I want to start with a small flock, enough to provide my family of 5 with fresh eggs. Once I get the hang of it, I would then like to keep meat birds and layers.

I have 5 acres of land so I would like to have a mobile chicken coop so that the birds can have fresh grass to be in all summer (May to Oct) but I also need a permanent structure for the winter. I have no trees and the wind is ferocious.

Really, I don't know where to start. I don't want to buy the chicks before I have their house built. And I don't want to build it too small, or too large.
I really need guidance, please.
Laura, from MN

If you go to the blue bar above, you will see "search" in the line up. Click on that and you will be able to search by key word in all the different forums. There is a TON of information on this wonderful site - good for you for doing your homework first!
Hello Laura
Many of your questions can be answered here on BYC. Ask specific questions and you will get better answers.
You will need to determine how many eggs your family will eat in a week on average. Do you eat them for breakfast every day? How many do you use for baking? If you only eat them for breahfast once a week and you do no baking then that would require less hens. If you eat them everyday and bake all your own cakes and such then that will require more hens.
For the chicks you will need a small brooder are that can maintain temperatures up to 100 degrees and be ventilated yet draft free. Once they are fully feathered then they can go into a run. If your summers are hot then they will need protection from the sun and heat. If your winters are cold and windy then they will need protection from that also. My first thought would be to build a permanent coop area for winter use and an attachable ark for summer use.
If your summers are hot then you will not want a heavily feathered bird as they can overheat. If your winters are brutily cold then you will want a bird with small comb and wattles to help protect against frostbite. If you are really windy then your birds should be heavy bodied so as to not blow away.
That should give you some points to ponder.
Post or PM and we will try to answer all your questions
Bear in mind that keeping them in a mobile pen (tractor) is a fair bit of work, as it has to be moved every day or two and you will have to carry water and food out there; and it is a bit less predatorproof than you can achieve with a fixed coop. How much these things matter to you depends on your particular situation.

There is no such thing as too large a coop, so my best suggestion is that you choose one of the following two plans:

either Plan A, build as big a coop as you can stand (financially and work-wise), on the theory that you will probably fill it with chickens eventually and if not then it is useful for storage space or anything else a person can use a shed for;

or plan B, start with just 3-4 chickens and build a small tractor for them now (but don't get chicks til the weather is warm enough for them to live in the tractor once they outgrow the brooder; what age that'll be depends on where you're going to brood them) with a firm commitment to having permanent winter quarters constructed by Fall.

The advantage of A is that you start out with optimally easy-to-deal-with quarters for your chickens; the advantage of B is that you get to experience chickens for a while which may affect your decisions about what size and where to build a permanent coop.

There are also other possible ways to proceed, of course, but I think one of the above two choices would make the most sense.

It would be worth spending all your spare time for the next week or so just randomly reading BYC threads on subjects that catch your interest, and looking at peoples' coop design pages... you will probably develop a lot better idea of what exactly you're looking for.

Good luck, have fun, welcome to BYC,


New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom