So many questions... Help a newbie out!

cjaway20

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 12, 2014
2
0
7
Hi everyone! I'm brand new to this community but I have a lot of questions that I just cannot find answers to. I'm hoping I can lay the questions out all at once. First, I have already checked with my city and there is no issue with me having as many chickens (roos or hens) as I want. I also talked to two of my neighbors who have small flocks and they confirmed that there are no issues.

I live outside of Eugene, Oregon out in the country. We are in zone 7, so it's a pretty warm climate. We usually get snow once per year and it might last a day or two. For the most part, temps are in the 40s and 50s at the lowest, and of course, we get our fair share of rain in the winter. I have two acres with about 100 wild bosc pear trees, and I'm sure the hens will just love picking at the fallen fruit in the late summer and fall. There is also tons of tall grass. I plan for the chickens to range free on the property during the day. I'm a SAHM and I'm outside much of the day in my yard, so they will have plenty of company.

Here are my questions:

1. I was hoping to get 3 RIR, 3 Australorp, and 3 Plymouth Rock chicks. I've heard issues with mixed breed flocks. In your experience, do those breeds get along fairly well? I am going for good egg production, but also friendly and not very flighty.

2. What does a typical day (concerning the hens) look like for you? I know the hens will be let out in the AM, but do you then fill feeders, give them kitchen scraps, etc? Or do you wait to do that in the afternoon or evening? I know the hens will lay during the day for the most part, so I'll collect eggs midday or so.

3. I plan to do a DLM with an open earth floor for the coop. The ground does not freeze here. The coop will be a walk in with an attached yard. I've attached some to scale photos of my coop that I've mocked up. My dad is going to help me build it and he has decades of construction experience, so I know he will build it soundly. He has also had chicken coops before, though in a much colder climate. Will an open earth floor be ok with the DLM?

4. Ventilation is very important and I want to make sure I do it right the first time. I also want to make sure that the hens are protected from the rains during the winter. I planned to use hardware cloth over the windows, and have propable covers for them so I can have them open during the day and during nicer weather (all summer, most of fall and some of spring). Does my plan (see attached photos) look like it will work? Will it be too drafty for the roosting area? We do get some wind in my area.

5. I want up to 10 hens at a time. I was planning on building 4 nesting boxes, and having them be fairly large (18X18 or so). Do I need more? I've heard straw is best for the nesting boxes, not pine shavings.

6. Will the hens eat the tall grass? Are there any bugs that are poisonous to them? We have our fair share of ants, spiders, pill bugs, cut worms, flies, wasps, honey bees, etc.

7. As for the construction of the coop, I planned to half bury cinder blocks as kind of a false foundation, as a way to get the wood base off of the ground, and as predator digging prevention. I will also have a three foot skirt of chicken wire or hardware cloth around the entire coop to deter those diggers. Does that sound like a good plan? We don't get many predators in our area, thanks to being surrounded by a cattle ranch.

8. Should I toss treats into their run only (will be attached to the coop) or can I scatter them around in areas they are are foraging? I can't wait to see them go crazy for the meal worms and crickets. And cabbage pinatas! :)

9. When in the pullet age, how likely are they to come back to the coop in the evening? I'm wondering if I should just have them in the run until they are a bit older. They could easily get lost on my property.

10. Should I put some branches for roosting in the run? They obviously won't be roosting there, but I was thinking they would like a place to hang out.

11. It seems like most coops have the roosting area mostly enclosed. My coop has a window (which will have a cover to close them up) right near the roosting area. Is this a bad idea?

12. Should I wait to open the nesting boxes until they are a certain age? They will of course be in the brooder until they are fully feathered.

 

familyfarm1

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 9, 2013
6,322
297
317
Northern Virginia

I'll try to answer all the questions I know.

Answers

1. We have all three breeds and they get along fine.
2. After you let them out you feel their feeders and you can refill them if they run out and you think there hungry. You can feed them scraps from your kitchen when ever you want to.
Questions 3 and 4 I can't answer.
5. Straw is the best.
6. Just let them eat what they find good to eat, our chickens are spoiled so they don't eat grass a lot (to green
). Once I found a hen eating a small snake!
can't answer question 7 ( my sister and my dad built our coop.)
8. Where ever you want to, either is fine.
9.Yes that might be best, best way to get them used to free ranging with out letting them go far is to let them free range a little for a week and a little more the next week and keep in a group until they know not to go to far. At first they won't go to bed by them selves so you might have to show them and after awhile they will get used to it.
10.If you won't to but you don't have to.
11.We have something like that in our coop so I think it would be fine.
12. well again it's all up to you.
Sorry I couldn't help with everything! Have fun and enjoy your chickens!!
 

Arielle

Crowing
8 Years
Feb 19, 2011
16,722
624
411
Massachusetts, USA
Hi everyone! I'm brand new to this community but I have a lot of questions that I just cannot find answers to. I'm hoping I can lay the questions out all at once. First, I have already checked with my city and there is no issue with me having as many chickens (roos or hens) as I want. I also talked to two of my neighbors who have small flocks and they confirmed that there are no issues.

I live outside of Eugene, Oregon out in the country. We are in zone 7, so it's a pretty warm climate. We usually get snow once per year and it might last a day or two. For the most part, temps are in the 40s and 50s at the lowest, and of course, we get our fair share of rain in the winter. I have two acres with about 100 wild bosc pear trees, and I'm sure the hens will just love picking at the fallen fruit in the late summer and fall. There is also tons of tall grass. I plan for the chickens to range free on the property during the day. I'm a SAHM and I'm outside much of the day in my yard, so they will have plenty of company.

Here are my questions:

1. I was hoping to get 3 RIR, 3 Australorp, and 3 Plymouth Rock chicks. I've heard issues with mixed breed flocks. In your experience, do those breeds get along fairly well? I am going for good egg production, but also friendly and not very flighty. IF you buy chicks from a hatchery they are all likely to be good layers. Understand that factory manufacturing lends itself to egg production. THese are good breeds to start with. Just know there are breeders out there with birds that are more dual purpose and have better type. BUt hatchery is just fine-- a good place to introduce yourself to chickens.

2. What does a typical day (concerning the hens) look like for you? I know the hens will be let out in the AM, but do you then fill feeders, give them kitchen scraps, etc? Or do you wait to do that in the afternoon or evening? I know the hens will lay during the day for the most part, so I'll collect eggs midday or so.
Tis is the flexibility of chickens. THe breeds you picked tolerate being penned. Once they have a routine they are generally ok with it. SOme of my girls free rrange all day and heaven forbid I need to coop them for a morning. Others live cooped. If you want them to forage for most of their feed-- let them out all day, and come home to filled feeders; I feed scraps and the girls come racing to meet me at the door. I feed scraps at my convenience. Annoying to trip over them, so I put down the pan and walk away

3. I plan to do a DLM with an open earth floor for the coop. The ground does not freeze here. The coop will be a walk in with an attached yard. I've attached some to scale photos of my coop that I've mocked up. My dad is going to help me build it and he has decades of construction experience, so I know he will build it soundly. He has also had chicken coops before, though in a much colder climate. Will an open earth floor be ok with the DLM?

You will like deep litter with an earthen floor. Just have predator prevention in place.I use DL in several runs, and in some coops.



4. Ventilation is very important and I want to make sure I do it right the first time. I also want to make sure that the hens are protected from the rains during the winter. I planned to use hardware cloth over the windows, and have propable covers for them so I can have them open during the day and during nicer weather (all summer, most of fall and some of spring). Does my plan (see attached photos) look like it will work? Will it be too drafty for the roosting area? We do get some wind in my area.

My suggestion is look at the woods design for a coop. It is a long structure that allows for a completely open front at all times, and yet is deep enough that the chickens are out of the wind. IT also has a number of windows that allows light in. I have discovered that light is benefical in may ways including egg production but also decreases mold issues. MOnitor and half monitors are also very good designs. I have moved away fromt he design you have planned as it does not allow for air flow in an effective manner. IT is a shed, but not a coop. No offense, the design shows lots of thought and careful work. Just not what is best for the chickens.


5. I want up to 10 hens at a time. I was planning on building 4 nesting boxes, and having them be fairly large (18X18 or so). Do I need more? I've heard straw is best for the nesting boxes, not pine shavings.

The 18 x 18 is larger than necessary and will take up more room in a small coop. 4 is a reasonable number though, but you will find eggs in justone most of the time. Put fake eggs in each nest box to discourage crwoding ( often 2 in a box at atime) and avoild a cue, causing the girls to lay onthe floor. You can use either straw or hay or shavings. your choice. Some poeple use a special mat. Concider having a step that closes up to clock access during the night as they will want to sleep ( and poop) in the next boxes. THey are up earlier than I am so I dont do this; rather I clean it out every morning, and add fresh bedding as needed.

6. Will the hens eat the tall grass? Are there any bugs that are poisonous to them? We have our fair share of ants, spiders, pill bugs, cut worms, flies, wasps, honey bees, etc.

I have not encountered information on posionous bugs for the chickens, THe make valient efforts to catch flies even as young chicks. We catch those in the house and give to the chicks. I"ve not seen them go for bees and wasps. THey will eat down grass-- it is prefered above pelleted feed. My lawn is cropped very short right now, less than an inch high. Grass should never be less than 2 inches and then allowed to grow up again before grazing again. I'm working on more grazing areas. SOme grasses are prefered over others. Lawn grasses are typically tender and prefered IMO.

7. As for the construction of the coop, I planned to half bury cinder blocks as kind of a false foundation, as a way to get the wood base off of the ground, and as predator digging prevention. I will also have a three foot skirt of chicken wire or hardware cloth around the entire coop to deter those diggers. Does that sound like a good plan? We don't get many predators in our area, thanks to being surrounded by a cattle ranch.

THat maybe enough prevention. Place rocks on the chicken wire as well. I'm placing a wall of rocks around the base as the chicken wire will quickly rust and break. I have several predators but have enough wildlife around me to keep them satisfied-- not a lot of pressure on my setup to get chickens.

8. Should I toss treats into their run only (will be attached to the coop) or can I scatter them around in areas they are are foraging? I can't wait to see them go crazy for the meal worms and crickets. And cabbage pinatas! :)

I do both depending on the value of the treat. expensive goes int he run; oats are sprinkled in the woods to mixi nto the fallen leaves. My hopes is that it encourages foraging-- a reward. My speckled sussex are wonderful foragers and travel long distances; Other birds I have stay close to the coop-- DH and I have discused this and wonder if other clans are preventing them from crossing thru their territory. IT is a rooster thing. Since moving my ameraucana rooster Ihave noticed the mixed pen ( assortemnt of breeds) now takes the area the AM once inhabited and they travel further. OTher creatures will eat the treats, so plan accordingly.


9. When in the pullet age, how likely are they to come back to the coop in the evening? I'm wondering if I should just have them in the run until they are a bit older. They could easily get lost on my property. I love having a rooster with every group. SOme groups have 3-4 roosters. IT protects them when ranging in the open. THe boys are actually watching for predators while the girls eat. Two boys is my prefered minimum. Hard to catch two boysoff guard. I loose hens in the clan with only 1 rooster. Yes, keep them in when young, You can let them out for a few hours before sunset, start with 1 hour, and they will go back in at the appointed time. THe longer the time the great distance they may roam, so start with short times as they learn the lay of the land. I find my 9 month olds at the house in the morning 150 feet from their coop-- a few have figured out how to get out the open gable ends of the horse barn. Comical to see 1 turkey hen , 1 vigilent barred rooster and 2 chicken hens traveling around the whole farm.

10. Should I put some branches for roosting in the run? They obviously won't be roosting there, but I was thinking they would like a place to hang out.

Yes. THey like interesting things to investigate. Mirrors, pails, tunnels. pile of leaves. ANd yes they will try to roost there, so be sure to put them in everytime if you want them coopped for the night.

11. It seems like most coops have the roosting area mostly enclosed. My coop has a window (which will have a cover to close them up) right near the roosting area. Is this a bad idea?

I have one coop with windows at roost level and the girls seem to like looking out. In another coop the window cover comes off and the breeze blows on them and they like that in the hot months. THe Woods design is defferent-- do be sure to look it up-- find the woods thread here on BYC and you will find links to the online book.

12. Should I wait to open the nesting boxes until they are a certain age? They will of course be in the brooder until they are fully feathered.

THey will learn to nest in them if the box is available and higher than the roosts. Do what ever is convenient. You might not get to the boxes until close to laying and that is ok.

The foot print is basically a WOods style design. Except: I would change the roof structure to a s plit roof and put in windows and rearanging the windows and doors. AND completely open the south end and cover with rat wire. Move the 2 roosts to the opposite end. and move hen door to side, perhaps by human door.

You are putting in a lot of thought and effort and that is worthwhile. THe design you have above will be too stuffy. I expect with the high moisture in ayour area that lots of air movement is beneficial to preventing respriatory issues.

Nice job-- good questions!
 
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