Questions From A Newbie

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sledzeppelin, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. sledzeppelin

    sledzeppelin In the Brooder

    Sep 21, 2007
    Embarrass, MN
    Hello. I'm new to the group, and pretty new to chickens. My family and I bought a hobby farm in Northern MN and we've been here since 8/15. We inherited 9 chickens (3 roosters, 6 hens) and the previous owner's coop. I'm sort of doing this backwards. Usually I do a lot of research before I get into something like this, but this time we had the chickens first and had to learn as we went.

    We've been having a great time with the chickens, but recently had a tragedy. We went away for the afternoon, and our dogs, who had been doing fine with the chickens until then, got out and killed 5 of them. Now we're faced with the decision of allowing our chickens to roam free and keeping the dogs inside all the time, or letting our dogs run but keeping the chickens inside. What we've decided to do is build them a better coop and run and then let the dogs use their old smaller run as a kennel when we're gone. The chickens will still get to roam free, but not every day. They'll have to switch off with the dogs.

    We have a nice big pole barn, so we decided to build the coop inside it so it's warmer in the winter, and then cut a hole in the wall and build a run outside of it - probably about 10x30. I'm going to use 6' high fence and put netting over the top (our chickens sometimes get over their current 6' high fence).

    We're going to be getting some new hens (probably 6-8) next week, so I'm kicking the coop/run construction into high gear.

    My first question is: any tips on introducing new chickens into the current flock? I'm going to try to get some that are full grown because I've read that the older bigger ones will pick on small ones. The place I'm getting them from has some that are almost a year old and some of this summer's hatch. I'm planning on getting the older ones.

    The chickens currently like to hang out in their nesting boxes a lot, and poop in them. How can I discourage this? I figured they did that because their single roost beam was too small when I had 9 chickens, but now that we have 4, they still do it - even the rooster.

    I saw some coop pictures with roosts right in front of the nesting boxes. I figured I'd want the roosts a little bit away from the boxes so roosting chickens wouldn't be right in the faces of nesting ones, but does this maybe discourage pooping in the boxes since they can just hop out onto the roost with minimal effort?

    My plan is to have my coop somewhat short with a regular peaked roof that comes out perpendicular to the barn wall. The boxes will be on either side with the slated roof as the top of the box, and then the portion of the roof that's over the boxes will be hinged so I can open it up and get eggs from the boxes, and so can my kids. The roof over the boxes will probably be plexiglass so I can see if the chickens are in there or not before I open it.

    I've already gotten tons of great information from this site, and look forward to your feedback.


  2. Country Gal

    Country Gal Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Capac, MI
    Welcome to BYC!

    Some of my chickens liked sleeping in the next boxes for a while... I went in a few evenings when they were getting ready to settle in for the night and took the ones that were in the next boxes out and set them on the roosts. After a few nights of that, they seemed to get the idea.

    There's several threads about intoducing new chickens into the flock with lots of tips - try the search function to find some of them... lots of great info!

    Good luck!
  3. greenmulberry

    greenmulberry Songster

    Jul 17, 2007
    If you can make sure that your roosts are up higher than the nesting boxes, in addition to taking them out of the nest boxes at night and setting them up on the roosts, that will help a bunch.

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