Starting My Flock This Spring... How Many, and What Kind?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Calix, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Calix

    Calix Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2012
    So I got a new-used coop, and I'm trying to decide who's going to be living in it come May. You can see it here:

    According to the square footage, I can have four hens. My plan originally was to order four hens from Meyer's and pick then up in the beginning of April, but after talking with my mother (who bought the coop for me and who I still live with) I ordered six. Her reasoning was that, if we lost one or two in the beginning, we'd still have a flock. Also, if we ever wanted to add to our flock, we'd have to get at least three, so if we were to lose a few hens and needed to add more, we'd be over four anyway. So, we figured our best bet would be to get six just in case we lost some to keep us from having to introduce new chicks to a limited space where they might be picked on.

    I'm hoping to figure out a way to get the coop and run into our dog pen, so they'll have a lot more space to run in. Hopefully we can, but we don't know for sure, and if we can't they'll be a lot more confined than they would be in the pen. I'm going to try to let them free range if I can, maybe make them a pen of some sort to go around the built-in run or that I could put them in and move around, I'm not sure. I may also just put chicken wire around the dog pen anyway, and pick them all up and put them in there for a few hours every day just so they have the space and protection from dogs.

    I'm also worried about combs... we have very volatile winters here, humid, subzero-then-mid-40's, up and down winters that make me worry about frostbite. Gotta love NE Ohio. I know a lot of people around here manage to have hens with single combs and never have a problem, but I still worry. I think I'll be adding an additional ventilation hole to my coop if I can (I don't have the tools but I should be able to convince someone who does to help me, hopefully), but I'm still worrying about the single combs on some of the girls I'm getting. If I get the six, I'll be getting one Buckeye, one OE (either Legbar x Maran or Americauna x Maran), three EE's and a Meyer Meal Maker, who will be my 'mystery layer' so I'm not sure what she'll be. That's potentially two hens with single combs.

    I keep wondering if I made the right choice. Should I risk it, with two hens with single combs and six hens altogether, or go for four (and if I do four, what kind of combs should I aim for, if it even matters)? I'd really love some input- this is really stressing me out, haha.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  2. Smithyard Farm

    Smithyard Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2012
    Pembroke NH
    checked out your coop - very cute!!! it seems a bit small for 6 hens though. what are the dimensions?? 6 hens do a lot of pooping!! I m concerned you do not have enough floor space to do deep litter when you have overpopulated your coop. you may need to clean more often to keep the ammonia at bay. I know some people use sand quite successfully, but it seems to be quite time consuming.

    I am in NH and have al single combs. below zero degrees here the last few weeks.. all the chickies are fine...

    Good luck getting it into the dog pen!!
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree 6 hens are going to be way overcrowded in that space. You can go ahead and get 6, planning for some losses, but if all make it to fully feathered, are you going to be willing to sell 2 of them? That's what you'll need to do to make that coop work. Overcrowded birds get stressed and have behaviors from pecking to egg eating to cannibalism--not a pretty picture.
  4. Calix

    Calix Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2012
    Okay, I think I'm going to be rethinking my order some just to be safe. I'm thinking I'm going to go with five, and pick breeds that are known to be calmer (I'm going to go with a Buff Orpington instead of the mealmaker and cutting out one of the EE's.) I'm looking into the OE now, to see what kind of personality the parent breeds (Americauna, Cream Legbar and Maran) tend to have to see if that one will be a good idea.
  5. averycatherwood

    averycatherwood Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 5, 2013
    Concord, North Carolina
    Those are some awesome breeds! I personally love Rhode Island Reds. Mine are both incredibly sweet and love to be cuddled. You can always let your hens out to free range a bit once they get used to their new home. It helps them stretch out their wings a bit.

    Good luck!! [​IMG]

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