Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by amijab, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. amijab

    amijab Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    It has been a long time dream of mine to have chickens. I ordered my chicks last week. They arrive May 18. I have been reading forums on this website (like months of reading) to get lots of knowledge on ventilation, building a predetor safe coop and run, run drainage issues, etc. now I feel so overwhelmed. My husband and I have little skills in the building department and I am so close to canceling my chick order. Was it this difficult back in the 1800's? [​IMG]. Most of my ancestors had chickens and I bet they didn't stress about all the stuff I am. I have read so much now I am frozen....
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    No, it wasn’t anywhere as difficult back then. Chickens were generally livestock and people grew up with them. They knew from experience what the chickens needed, they did not need the internet for that. Chickens don’t really need a lot, a lot of the stuff you read on here is more for the people than the chickens.

    Chickens need food, water, protection from the environment, and protection from predators. In the 1800’s (and much later) the chickens generally free ranged. They were pretty much expected to find their own food, at least in the good weather months. They generally lived on farms where they had all kinds of high-quality forage. Scientists had not yet determined what percentages of various nutrients they needed for maximum performance. They were expected to provide the family with eggs and meat, plus hatch and raise chicks. They could do that with the forage found on the farms. They did not provide a 5 pound broiler at 8 weeks and the eggs were not double extra huge on that fare, but they provided a lot of food. A broody hen could take her chicks out to forage and raise them to be quite healthy. The vast majority of us don’t live on farms like that anymore, that quality of forage just isn’t available to the chickens.

    Those chickens drank whatever water was available. It might be form a fairly clean stream or lake, but often it was from a stagnant farm pond. They were not provided purified water or water with vinegar or other supplements. They were exposed to their environment from day 1, including whatever water was available. They developed strong immune systems that could handle it. Or they died. Through natural selection you soon had a flock that could handle developing a strong immune system.

    When they free range in the right conditions, chickens can pretty well protect themselves from the environment. They have the freedom to go where they need to go. They may sleep in trees, usually in areas protected from strong wind, or maybe in farm outbuildings. I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees in below zero F temperatures. One forum member talked about a feral flock on the Michigan peninsula that took care of themselves over the winter, finding food, water (probably ate snow), and sleeping in trees. When we lock them in coops and runs, they don’t have the options to take care of themselves or get out of the weather unless we give them those options.

    With them free ranging, they were not restricted in room. They had the room to act like chickens and behave in chicken society the way flocks maintain the social order. Now they are often shoehorned into really tight spaces which can lead to behavioral problems. I really hate to see those questions on here that ask how many chickens can I squeeze into this tiny space. You can squeeze them into fairly small spaces, but at some point you make your life and theirs harder.

    The chickens free ranged and predators just weren’t that much of a problem. Many people had dogs that kept certain critters away. The chickens had the freedom to roost where they were pretty well protected from predators. People hunted and were quite happy to kill anything threatening, no humane society or anything like that. If a predator did show up, they had the skills necessary to deal with it. Yes they might have a few losses when something like that happened, and that was not pleasant for them. But they’d take care of the problem and hatch a few extra chicks the following summer. For a lot of people on this forum, the loss of one chicken is close to a life-altering event. Today chickens are pets, not livestock, for most people.

    Things are different today. We generally feed them practically everything they eat, it’s up to us to keep water relatively clean, and we keep them confined where they don’t have options to take care of themselves from weather or predators. We want the absolute best for them instead of settling for good enough. Our expectations for the chickens themselves are very high.

    Yes, paralysis by analysis is a real threat on here. Chickens don’t need that much but from reading many posts on here you’d think you are being cruel to them if you don’t put all kinds of weird things in the water, feed them all kinds of weird foods, medicate them whether they need it or not, give them toys, and so many other things.

    I don’t know what you are planning or what kind of climate you have. If you provide an adequate diet, clean water, reasonable housing (wind, rain, and space), and manage predators it really doesn’t have to be that hard. But yes, it can be overwhelming when you read this forum.
    7 people like this.
  3. PapaBear4

    PapaBear4 In the Brooder

    Feb 25, 2014
    Okay. Take a nice, deep breath. In-2-3-4. Out-2-3-4. Good job.
    We were all once new to this, just as you are. And all the resources can be overwhelming for sure. But don't panic, you can do this.

    Like Ridgerunner said, reading on the forums can be info-overload. Many of the folks on here have been keeping chickens for years (if not decades) and have accumulated a lot of nuanced knowledge along the way. It can be hard to sort through if you're new to this.

    Congrats on ordering your chicks! Some questions below so we can help you more specifically:
    How many chicks are you getting?
    What breed?
    Are they hatching locally or coming in the mail?
    Do you have a brooder for them yet?
    What's it look like and how big?
    How about a coop for when they get bigger?

    Even if the only thing you have so far is a receipt for your chick order, don't panic, it's not too late.

    Chicks are remarkably hardy as long as the basics are taken care of: shelter, heat, food, water. Okay, the details are a little more complex than that, but not by much.


    If you can give us some more details on where you are (geographically) and what you've got so far we'll be able to help you keep going in the right direction.

    Just hang in there and take it one step at a time.
    2 people like this.
  4. amijab

    amijab Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    Thanks for the insight. We only have a half acre with no fence. So unfortunately they can't free range. I am thinking about taking a nice shed and dividing it between supplies and chicken coop. Outside the shed there is already a 10 x 10 cement pad that is being used for nothing. I have thought I could build a run on that except for I have been reading about drainage issues and I am really not sure Now where to put the run. We have about zero building skills so I'm nervous about building a run in the first place and on here most people recommend a roof on the run so that is way beyond our skills. Maybe I just need to call in help from my brothers who are roofers[​IMG]
  5. amijab

    amijab Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    Ok papabear
    Here is a pic of me shed and cement pad that I want to convert to a coop and run. Of course things will need to be moved out of the shed and off the run. [​IMG]
    Here is the inside
    Here is the old doggy door the runs from the shed to the pad [​IMG]
    Because we have about zero building skills it seems easiest to use this shed and pad but...I think I need more ventilation and I'm worried about drainage issues with the run. Any advise would be so helpful .
    Also I have ordered about 10 chickens. Bared rock, black Moran, Easter eggers, Delaware, buff Orpington, olive egger and lavendar Orpington. No to the brooder but I will think about that once I figure out a master plan for the coop and run. I'm in Utah.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  6. Pats Poultry

    Pats Poultry Chirping

    Oct 17, 2016
    Colorful Colorado
    It looks like you are already ahead of the game. I would split the shed long way down the middle and use the side with the windows for the coop. Cover the windows with hardware cloth and there is some of your ventilation . I would also cut out a vent on the gable ends(the pointy ends) of the shed. That would be a good start. Other members might chime in for more options. The doggie door could serve as the pop door for the chickens. If you are concerned about drainage on the slab, take your garden hose out there and pour some water on it and you should be able to see exactly what kind of drainage you do or don't have and then you can make a decision on how to remedy the problem if you have one.

    I was sorta in the same boat you are as we received our chicks way sooner than we expected. I only had the coop half built and no run. We kept the chicks in the house for the first 5 week until the coop and run was 80% done. They are now 5 months old and I am still building or fixing things. I have come to find out that the chickens themselves do not need a lot from me for them to survive. I give them fresh water and food every morning, clean their coop out daily and that takes me about 6 to 7 minutes a day. Easy Peasy

    Don't worry . It will all come together. You wont regret your decision to have chickens. What a blast they are.

    biophiliac and drumstick diva like this.
  7. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Songster

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    The shed should do nicely as a coop with some minor alterations. I have no building experience either so having to do alterations scared me at first, but I bought a small electric saw and drill (things that would be useful to have around anyhow) and managed to not cut any limbs off while installing a new roost bar and nest box, complete with little windows.

    In theory the concrete pad should be fine as a run, you can load it up with bedding or leaf litter which will help with drainage as well as giving the chickens some padding and stuff to scratch in. Since you said it's 10x10 the easiest option would be to get a 10x10 dog kennel and put it right over that spot and fortify it with some hardware cloth if needed depending on your local predators. Or for a larger run you can get some welded wire fencing and fencing posts and make a run out of that (and same as above, fortify with hardware cloth/apron as needed). I see you have some grass around the concrete and the chickens would probably enjoy it if you included some of that area in the run (though they will destroy it). With 10 chickens if possible you'll want to go larger than the 10x10 pad, even though it does meet the minimum suggested space, as bigger is always better when it comes to a run.

    If you don't get a ton of rain a roof on the run isn't really a must have. I agree you should take a hose or even a couple buckets of water and throw it on the concrete pad and see how it behaves to see if drainage really will be an issue.
    biophiliac and drumstick diva like this.
  8. amijab

    amijab Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    Thanks! I will take a hose out there tomorrow and see what happens.
  9. amijab

    amijab Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    I did consider a dog kennel but my husband and I want it to look nice because we have no fences where we live but we do have neighbors soooo it needs to look good. I guess i need to find some chicken run plans and bribe my brother to help!
  10. ScottandSam

    ScottandSam Still learning

    Dec 24, 2016
    Shell Knob, Missouri
    2 people like this.

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