Some questions from a wanna-be-newbie

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AmandaBB, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. AmandaBB

    AmandaBB New Egg

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    Feb 22, 2009
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    Hi

    My husband and I are thinking about having chickens but we're both totally new to it and we really want to avoid making mistakes.

    We life near Barstow in California, so we're especially wondering about what kind of extra things we need to keep a eye on since we do life in the desert. Which besides the heat, also includes dangers like snakes and coyotes.
    We life in a rural area and have a fully fenced in 1.8 acre property which currently includes a house (of course [​IMG] ), 300 pistachio trees and a large vegetable garden and which has plenty of space for chickens.
    We do want to keep them in a back corner of our property so the noise of the rooster hopefully wont bother us to much.
    We want to use the chickens for eggs and meat by the way.

    We were thinking of making something like this :
    [​IMG]
    but then with a 6 ft full wooden fence around it to keep out the snakes and to keep the coyotes and our dogs from disturbing the chickens. We also want to make a wire roof on it so the chickens can't fly out and nothing can fly in to bother the chickens. And put the housing itself in a corner.
    I'm not sure how well it would work though since I realize that the chickens need enough ventilation in the summer since it easily gets over a 110F/40C here.
    In the winter time it normally gets just below freezing during the night and on the coldest days it's around freezing or a little above it so do we need anything for that like a heater or ventilation in the housing?

    We're also not sure how many chickens we should get for just the two of us and how much space they need.
     
  2. mmtillman

    mmtillman Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am a newbie too , and cant give too much advice , but I can say welcome [​IMG]


    and you have a wonderful plan for your chickens!! Good luck and let us see the finished project?!!! [​IMG]
     
  3. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    My chickens are all gamefowl, which seem to be tougher than most barnyard types. I just moved them from Florida to GA. They have never had more than a roof over their heads and even in the sub freezing weather in GA they have been fine. In your weather, I would put up a large roof for shade and put the roost under it. Pay VERY close attention to security from predators. Put the nests in a dry place and let them live outside. Won`t hurt a thing. Minimum space is 4 sf per bird, but you can`t make it too big for them. They`ll love the room. Again, pay close attention to security. Overkill doesn`t apply in this case. For 2 people, 4 hens and 1 rooster are good. More eggs than you will need. Bless the neighbors with the extras. Have fun, you`ll love`m.
     
  4. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    [​IMG]

    I live in the city limits and this is what I got going here and simple to build and set up. Usually in a day's time when everything is going like it should be.

    What you have is fine but you would need netting on the top to keep them from flying over.Nylon is best because its easier to get it on top rather than heavy metal panels but metal is better! Be sure its not chicken wire but hardware wire all around.
     
  5. rockabilly7

    rockabilly7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in florida and keep a small flock of 7. I wouldn't worry about snakes too much unless they are over 7 feet (i study herpatology and keep many snakes also) and it usually takes a very large snake to eat an adult chicken, and since your in california there aren't any snakes besides rattlers who get big enough to eat a chicken of that size. We also have rattlers down here and my chickens are kept near woods were they are commonly seen and i have NEVER had a problem with snakes. I would be most worried about coyotes and hawks they're the big problems. But the best way to avoid those guys is to have a cover on your run which you planned on doing and build a coop that is very secure and make sure they are in it and closed up tight every night lol!!! Those are the rules I live by and I have NEVER had a predator problem. A rooster is also great to have because he will protect his girls to the death, and the crowing isn't really a problem with all the noise and hustle in the house you will hardly hear him. And a benefit of having the coop close to the house is if anything is wrong during the night ( E.G. predators) you will be able to hear the chickens in panic mode and probably catch the little bugger before anything bad happens. Well I hope I helped!!!!
    [​IMG]
     
  6. DonnaBelle

    DonnaBelle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 15, 2009
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    Hi,

    We have had great success with Kencove electric poultry fencing.

    They have a website: kencove.com. We are in a very rural setting with coyotes, etc. The nice thing about it is that it can be moved to a new area (rotation) very easily.

    Good luck, we are newbies too, 3 Rhode Island red hens and one really big beautiful Rooster who "rules the roost" for sure.
    We get 3 eggs a day, but I must confess, I do spoil those girls, fresh greens, warm mash early in the morning, they do love me lots that's for sure.

    Donna Belle
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to byc!

    6 ft full wooden fence around it to keep out the snakes and to keep the coyotes and our dogs from disturbing the chickens.

    You will also need to bury wire, or a wire apron on the ground, or something like that, to prevent anyone from digging under it. A full wooden fence sounds *expensive*, are you sure you wouldn't rather just build a strong wire-mesh fence (like 2x4 mesh with a smaller mesh added near the ground) and run a strand of electric around the top and bottom?

    I'm not sure how well it would work though since I realize that the chickens need enough ventilation in the summer since it easily gets over a 110F/40C here.

    Your coop will definitely need LOTS of ventilation, like even just wire-mesh walls on two or three sides, but with panels that you can attach or close up for when it gets cold (or cool/rainy/windy).

    The other big thing you will need in your run is SHADE, preferably in large rather than small patches, and preferably shade that doesn't interfere with any breeze that may occur.

    In the winter time it normally gets just below freezing during the night and on the coldest days it's around freezing or a little above it so do we need anything for that like a heater or ventilation in the housing?

    Nah, chickens are fine with cold as long as they're out of drafts and the air is dryish. No heater needed. You will *always* need ventilation, you can close it down somewhat in colder weather but chickens produce really vast amounts of water vapor and ammonia which have to be exchanged for fresh air.

    We're also not sure how many chickens we should get for just the two of us and how much space they need.

    For eggs, figure that a good sexlink in its prime laying years should give you an egg 6 days out of 7 (at least); a hen of a good laying line of one of the breeds known for laying performance should give you an egg 5-6 days out of 7; any other breed, could be an egg every other day, could be less (and poorer layers usually will lay for less of the year, as well). It depends on how many eggs you want.

    It would be a really really good idea to design accomodations that could fit a lot more chickens than you initially think you want -- nearly everyone here has ended up with more, sometimes *significantly* more, than they expected. I myself was POSITIVE I would not actually *like* chickens and would never have more than 3 utilitarian layers... [​IMG]

    Most people here figure 4 sq ft per chicken indoors and 8-10+ per chicken in the run. In a hot/mild climate like yours you could probably go with less indoor space if necessary (but see previous paragraph), but make sure you have ample SHADED outdoor space. Personally I have 15 sq ft per chicken indoors, and about the same in the runs (varies) and wish my runs were a lot bigger.

    Have fun,

    Pat​
     
  8. HappyHatch'en

    HappyHatch'en Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For fencing I used 6' chain link fence and buried 12" into the ground...if a predator wants in they have to dig more than a foot down and back up....plus I have some larger rocks they would have to move. Instead of buried fence you can cement two feet on the outside around the outside of the fence....snakes...a watchful eye perhaps??? or get guineas I heard they will kill a snake and eat all your unwanted bugs...and last... automatic waters and plenty of shade being your location. Good Luck and I have found that BYC is the place for friendly people and great honest answers.
    HappyHatch'en
     
  9. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

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    My only suggestion is to think about hawks being able to fly into your run. You may want to rig up some netting over your run to discourage hawks.
     
  10. AmandaBB

    AmandaBB New Egg

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    Feb 22, 2009
    California
    Thank you all for the really useful suggestions. I feel a lot more confident now that we can actually pull this off. [​IMG]

    We don't know yet when we can start on building it yet due to finances and a garage that looks like it's about to collapse (we've only recently moved in to our new house) but hopefully we can start this year.
     

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