Now this is turining into a business!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by JackAubrey, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. JackAubrey

    JackAubrey Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 30, 2010
    Hello the forum! I need advice.
    I have just bought 40 RIR chicks, 18 were all girls-( pullets, right?) and the other 22 from Tractor Supply- a straight run. I already have 7 full grown hens, 4 RIR's, and 3 SLW.

    I'm thinking to break it up into 3 flocks and devoting two acres for free range.Each flock will get a subdivision of those 2 acres. The 7 girls I had before have been doing great free ranging. They go into their coop at dusk and I lock them in.
    They live in a 10x10x 6 coop, about 100 square feet , I think.
    I want to build coops for the chicks to eventually live in. I'm thinking 22 in one coop and 18 in the other coop.
    Here's what I don't know:
    1: How many square feet should the coops be for each flock, based on these figures? They will only sleep in there, and free range during the day.
    2: How many nesting boxes should be provided? I am primarily looking for egg production from all these hens.
    3A: I assume the straight run will have some boys in there, what should I do with them?
    I figured they would be a great way to never have to buy chicks again!
    3B: Will all the eggs be fertilized if I let the roosters live with the hens?
    3C: Would it be better to have a separate coop with a large run for the roos , and only introduce a hen when I want chicks?

    The three flock idea is because I am under the impression that mixing all the birds into one big flock would cause all sorts of troubles, and I think it would make managing them easier. This is all conjecture though. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, and best regards, JA
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Free range and multiple coops isn't quite going to work out as you envision. If you brood (grow out) the birds in a given coop they will indeed go to that coop to roost and lay when older but generally if multiple coops and no fencing the birds will pick the coop they want. You could end up with one overstuffed coop and another empty scenario.

    There is nothing wrong with one large flock and one large coop. A separate small coop can be used with run for growing out chicks, separating out birds to breed, brood and even as a rooster pen. The purpose of that extra coop with run is multiple and it's function change throughout the year. I'm setting up my breeding pen now. It's a tiny coop with small 8x8 run. After breeding season it becomes the grow out pen and broody hen pen and once I've moved all pullets to layer coop it's the bachelor pad until culled down cockerels to next years breeders. Handy to have an extra coop with run.

    What you do with male birds is indeed an issue. One best answered prior to purchasing straight run. You will have about 50% of those straight run birds be male. You can eat them. If broiling/grilling they are best culled by/at 14 weeks, fryers up to 18-20 week, roasters up to 8 months and older birds are stew/crock pot only.

    Most of the year we have fertile eggs. You'd never know and basically I run a don't ask, don't tell policy for sales. Those that directly ask I say yes they are fertile. A fair percentage of people cringe at the idea and stop buying the eggs. But the reality is they were buying and eating fertile eggs for quite some time without issue until they asked.
  3. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    1. The rule of thumb I believe is 4 square foot per bird (average size large fowl) in the coop. I don't have quite that much for 38 birds in one of my coops but I installed quite a few roosts and they seem pretty comfortable - no issues anyway.
    2. I believe the nesting box rule of thumb is one for every 4-5 birds. So assuming you have 47 total and 50% are hens, you'd need about 6 nest boxes. You could probably get away with less though if the nest boxes are a little larger than normal. I only have six for 38 hens but it's rare when they're all being used and another can't find a spot. It does happen occasionally though and when it does I'll find an egg or two on the floor in front of one of the nest boxes. It's no big deal to me.
    3A - Keep 'em, eat 'em, or sell 'em.
    3B - Maybe. In my layer coop and run I have one cock living with the 38 hens I was telling you about, and when we hatched eggs from them we set about 60 - it was a random mating and we didn't care who the mothers were. I was guessing maybe about 1/3 would be fertile based on the other general rule for cock:hen ratio (1:10), however; only sixteen eggs were fertile. It all made sense when I noticed only about seven hens showed a lot of wear and tear from breeding - these are his favorites. Despite the fact that there are 38 hens, and some are really gorgeous - Miss America type gorgeous, he doesn't see it that way and only likes those particular seven only. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    3C - That's what I generally do with SOP birds I'm breeding but not the layer flock. I'll probably do it with the layer flock starting this fall though because I want to only breed my best layers and we'll do single breeding. You don't have to do it necessarily if the cocks aren't too rough on the hens but if they are it's probably a good idea. Also if you want to control breeding it's a very good idea since hens can remain fertile from mating for up to two weeks afterward. So if you wanted to breed a certain cock and hens, and they were with one of the other cocks recently, the offspring may not be what you were expecting.
    1 person likes this.
  4. barneveldrerman

    barneveldrerman Chillin' With My Peeps

    1. If you build one large coop it should be a minimum of 160sq.ft. If you build two separate coops there will need to be at least 4sq.ft. per bird.
    2. I would say 3-4 hens per nesting box. So you probably would have 31-38 hens. That would mean roughly 8-9 nesting boxes.

    3A. If you have roosters you can sell then on the internet, give them away, keep them, or eat them.

    3.B. If you keep the roosters with the hens there is a good chance that most of them would be fertile. However, fertile eggs in most cultures good to eat.

    3.C. You could build a large coop for the roosters and put a hen in when you need fertile eggs, but in my opinion it is easier to buy them from a local feed store or online.

    Both small and large groups of chickens will have problems with each other.

    Hope this helps and if you have any more questions just let me know!!![​IMG]
  5. JackAubrey

    JackAubrey Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 30, 2010
    I like the ideaof separating the roosters and only introducing a hen when I want chicks. This leads to the next question, can I house a bunch of rooster together? Will they get on the way hens get along? I will raise them to eat. JA
  6. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    A group of roosters will be just as testy or even more so than a flock of hens. You may get away with keeping a bachelor flock by limiting the amount of time that the roosters are exposed to the hens. We are talking about housing the roosters or hens out of sight or hearing of one another. A hen only needs to be serviced by a rooster every 3 to 5 days in order for her to lay fertile eggs. Sexual jealousy is what makes roosters act like roosters and it is always easier to keep peace in a flock of hens than a bachelor flock of cockerels or mature roosters. Having the boys standing around watching the objects of their desire will not make your job easier.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by