Sooo many question (Not sure where to put them)!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by eksulli, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. eksulli

    eksulli Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi folks!
    New here, new to chickens, lots of questions! Some may be stupid, bare with me ;)

    My hubby and I are going to be starting a coop sometime in the next month. Probably won't be finished until April(ish) because, well it's cold here in Pennsylvania, and the ground is FROZEN! We won't have chickens until after the coop is finished, but that doesn't mean I can't start learning!

    So our coop will be somewhere around 10' x 6' or possible 12' x 6' depending on what I can talking him into building. Due to town ordinances the chickens cannot be free ranged, no fowl at large. lol. But I'm thinking of taking our play yard and modifying into a chicken tractor of sorts. We'll see.

    Anyway, my primary goal in this is egg production, I only want 4 - 6 chickens, depending on what will fit. I would prefer to have only hens (less likely the neighbors will complain that way), but the ordinance didn't rule them out. So question number 1: Does a flock do better with a rooster, or is it simply unnecessary? All thoughts are welcome.

    Question 2: How many chickens would be comfortable in a coop this size, taking into consideration they will be largely stuck there full time.

    I used DE (food grade) for my dogs, myself, and multiple purposes around the house, (question 3:) is it safe to mix it with the substrate in the coop to help prevent mites/lice/etc etc etc? I know about the hazards of breathing it in, I've puffed it into my face a couple time *cough**cough*.... ugh. So I don't want to hurt the chickens.

    Question 4: What type of chicken would you recommend? My nephew raises Barred Rock (and his coop can even be seen in the small coop section on here :D), so I know I can get some hens from him, but I'm thinking a little variety would be fun?!
    All thoughts are welcome on this.

    Question 5: What about chickens and compost. I read somewhere that the chickens were GOOD for the compost, turning it, and they enjoyed the bugs and treats they get out of it. I started a compost bin this winter, that I am going to be moving out behind my garden, would it be safe to tractor them over it/to it and let them scratch and dig through it?

    Question 6: Cleaning tips, smell reduction techniques, things you wish you knew when you started. What do you do with the poo?

    Any other advice for a first timer? Thoughts, tips, suggestions? I will take it all ;)
     
  2. brahmabreeder

    brahmabreeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Q1. Roosters aren't completely necessary but they will help protect and alert the flock of danger. Plus if you want chicks he's going to need to be there for fertile eggs.
    Q2. The 10x6 would hold 15 birds comfortably at 4 sq.ft. per bird. The 12x6 will hold 18 comfortably. Depends on what birds you get to. Some breeds are larger than others some can get more picky, it all depends.
    Q3. Yes DE is fine with chickens. I've used it before.
    Q4.For chickens I would obviously recommend Brahmas. Buff Orpington's are calm birds too. OEGB are personal little guys but their eggs are pretty small. Golden Comets are exceptional layers of huge brown eggs but they don't breed true.
    Q5. I wouldn't just set the birds in the compost area completely, maybe just half in half out. My birds when they get let out always end up wandering to my compost bin.
    Q6. With the poo I just clean the coops out every so often. Keep lots of clean dry shavings in. Turn them every so often to keep the stuff on the bottom dry.
    If you'd like my opinion get non hatchery birds go to shows and stuff and get quality birds to start with. I find broody breeds to be some of the calmer breeds. If you want advice on what your bird standards are just say what you would like to see in your birds and everyone can help you pick a breed.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Most building material comes in 4’ or 8’ sections. It’s often easier with less cutting and more cost efficient with less waste if you use these dimensions. It does require planning and using out-to-out dimensions. Also think about the roof. You need overhang so you can open the top of the walls up for good ventilation and keep the water out.

    Here are a few articles I think you should read before you build a coop.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    1: Does a flock do better with a rooster, or is it simply unnecessary? All thoughts are welcome.

    The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. Everything else is just personal preference. Some people would not have a flock without a rooster, some are extremely happy that they don’t have one. Pure personal preference.

    Question 2: How many chickens would be comfortable in a coop this size, taking into consideration they will be largely stuck there full time.

    I’m a huge advocate of providing as much space as you possibly and reasonably can for many reasons. You have more flexibility in dealing with problems and you have to work less hard if you provide more space. In snowy climates you need more indoor space. For what you are talking about I’d seriously consider a 4’ x 8’ coop with an enclosed run built mainly out of wire attached. I think it helps them to get out in the sun and fresh air.

    I used DE (food grade) for my dogs, myself, and multiple purposes around the house, (question 3:) is it safe to mix it with the substrate in the coop to help prevent mites/lice/etc etc etc? I know about the hazards of breathing it in, I've puffed it into my face a couple time *cough**cough*.... ugh. So I don't want to hurt the chickens.

    I don’t use DE mainly because all the warnings say don’t breathe it. They stir up a lot of dust in the coop and run with their scratching. Many people on here think DE is the greatest thing since sardines and peanut butter on rye with yellow mustard. You can do whatever you want. I won’t use it and I won’t get in those arguments about it.

    Question 4: What type of chicken would you recommend? My nephew raises Barred Rock (and his coop can even be seen in the small coop section on here :D), so I know I can get some hens from him, but I'm thinking a little variety would be fun?!

    It really does not matter if all you want is eggs and you use a little caution. The leghorns are generally laying machines. Many hatcheries sell sex link chicks derived from the commercial egg laying chickens. Most hatchery dual purpose chickens will suit your needs very well. Try to stay away from the ornamental type chickens. I know many people on here really are in love with their pets and many do lay pretty well, but the dual purpose and utility breeds were developed for egg laying, not just to be pretty.

    Question 5: What about chickens and compost. I read somewhere that the chickens were GOOD for the compost, turning it, and they enjoyed the bugs and treats they get out of it. I started a compost bin this winter, that I am going to be moving out behind my garden, would it be safe to tractor them over it/to it and let them scratch and dig through it?

    Absolutely. They will love that and get a lot of good nutrition out of it. One word of warning. They will scratch through it. Unless you have it pretty well contained, it will wind up scattered all over the place, everywhere except in your compost heap.

    Question 6: Cleaning tips, smell reduction techniques, things you wish you knew when you started. What do you do with the poo?

    There are a tremendous number of techniques to handle this. Some of us clean on a daily or weekly basis. Some of us hardly ever clean. The more space you provide the less hard you have to work at this, so that is tip Number 1.

    If it stays dry, it generally won’t smell that much. So keep it as dry as you can.

    I use a droppings board under the roosts to collect pure poop and put it on my compost pile. It’s a great green (nitrogen provider) for composting and they poop a lot when they roost. Getting that poop out of the coop really helps keep the smell down.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. eksulli

    eksulli Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 20, 2013
    Thanks for the tips!

    I would like to build something similiar to this: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/wichita-cabin-coop

    Due to town ordinances, the place it has to be it could not feasibly be any wider than 6', but four might work, I'd prefer to give them as much run room as I can though, even if means cutting boards. Measure twice, cut once! lol. The ordinance states that they must be cooped 25' from property lines. After spending hours outside with a tape measure tramping around the yard getting frustrated I found one spot, not smack in the middle of my yard, where they can be! So that's the space I'm working with.
    I'd love to build a small coop and HUGE run, but I just don't have the room :(
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  5. eksulli

    eksulli Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 20, 2013
    [​IMG]

    Here is a TERRIBLE picture of where the chicken coop will end up being.
    That would be a 10' long coop. I have neighbors on every side, two in the back as a matter of fact. The bunny hutch you see is about 5' tall and about 4' long and 2' deep, not that my drawing is any help, lol. Oh you know. [​IMG]
     
  6. eksulli

    eksulli Out Of The Brooder

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    Those are going to be a HUGE help! Thanks
     
  7. salt and pepper

    salt and pepper Chillin' With My Peeps

    1)You only need rooster if you want chicks 2) If the chickens are going to be living in the coop most of the time, I wouldn't put more then 6 in there.If they have a run, then you could have more.3) I'm not sure about the DE. 4) If you want layers, barred rocks, orpingtons, and sussex are good breeds, 5) I wouldn't put them completely in the compost, but there's nothing wrong with letting them forage in some of it 6) As long as you clean it regularly it shouldn't stink.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  8. eksulli

    eksulli Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 20, 2013
    It could run toward the house more salt and pepper, but I am standing INSIDE the house (sliding glass door) taking this picture, so I may have another 3' (ish), if I take it all the way to the house!
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  9. salt and pepper

    salt and pepper Chillin' With My Peeps

    You could always make the coop smaller, and the rest of the space a run. If you only want 6 birds then it wouldn't make a difference. With only that small of a space to add, you could probably only add one bird.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  10. Smccau3

    Smccau3 Out Of The Brooder

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    I would definitely add a run. Chickens love to be out and digging through the dirt.

    I have 4 hens in a small tractor, and they free range during the day. We also got them for the eggs, and they are fantastic pets. We did not get a rooster, as we didn't want our neighbors to hate us with the noise. I am happy without a rooster.

    We do sprinkle DE in the bedding in the coop, to help with bugs. I clean out the coop as much as I can and throw the poop in the woods. Once I get a compost bin started, the poop will be going there.
     

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