Suburban Noobie

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ambergris, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. ambergris

    ambergris New Egg

    7
    0
    7
    Aug 24, 2013
    Hello Everyone!
    This is my first post after browsing the site for a few weeks.
    I live in northern, suburban NJ (suburb of NYC) and have recently considered keeping some chickens. I am fairly confident that they are permitted in my neck of the woods, but that's a story for another time.
    What I am wondering is this: What can I do with a (roughly) 6' x 8' area? I was only planning on keeping 2-4 chickens, so would this be enough space for a small coop and run? I am not opposed to raising the coop so the hens can utilize the area underneath as part of the run. Any blueprints/ideas are welcomed.
    In addition, where I live, it tends to get very cold in the winter. I've already done some research on some winter practices, like scratch grains and supplementing additional electrolytes, etc. Does anyone have any idea as to what breeds would be the hardiest-- to endure both a first time owner and a harsh winter?
    Also, any suggestions about anything chicken-related would be GREATLY appreciated. I would love to hear from people in similar situations.
    Thank you all ahead of time!
     
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

    20,562
    1,148
    391
    Jul 24, 2013
    Chickens are very adaptable creatures. You should be able to raise birds in a 6 x 8 foot space, but the more room you can give them, the better. A coop with the hen house on top and the run beneath (or extending outwards as well) would make the best choice, in my opinion, as you could use most of the available space. Each chicken can do with 2-3 feet of inside space, provided it has a run/access to outside. I think that is is plausible that you could build a coop with sufficient space for four birds.

    As for cold-hardy breeds, and chickens that can withstand some newbie mistakes, many breeds would work. My favorite breed for cold weather is the Wyandotte. Wyandottes are gentle, adaptable, extremely cold hardy, and (in my experience), intelligent. There are many beautiful varieties to choose from, though my favorite is Columbian. Any Wyandotte would work well for you.

    Easter Eggers are almost as good as Wyandottes. They come in many colors, lay pretty greenish eggs, and are cold hardy due to their small combs. I have an Easter Egger, and she is my second favorite chicken, after my Columbian Wyandotte.

    Buff Orpingtons are good breeds, too. I've never raised them personally, but know people that have. Their birds have done fine in temperatures below zero, and are sweet and docile.

    Other good breeds would be Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Red Stars, and Black Stars. These are all great birds for beginners, and are cold hardy, though not as hardy as the Wyandottes and Easter Eggers, as they have single combs instead of rose or pea combs.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,686
    2,625
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Welcome.
    That should be enough for 2-4. I highly recommend raising the coop for space underneath. That could be the spot that stays dry for dust bathing and a cool spot on hot days.
    Most breeds can handle cold much better than heat so I would be more worried about summer.
    Most of the American breeds were developed in New England when there was no means to keep them warm and they didn't die off.
    Same goes for Continental breeds. France, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Holland, etc. can get real cold too.
    68 degrees is the sweet spot for chickens but properly acclimated can handle well below 0.
    They start panting at 85, slow down eating at 90, suffer at 95 and start dying at 105.

    The only thing they need in winter is clean water that is thaw and just as good of ventilation as in summer.
     
  4. ambergris

    ambergris New Egg

    7
    0
    7
    Aug 24, 2013
    VERY helpful!! Thank you so much!
    As far as the coop goes, 2 nest boxes would be sufficient for 4 hens, right?
     
  5. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

    20,562
    1,148
    391
    Jul 24, 2013
    Yes, two nest boxes will work.
     
  6. BrendaJ

    BrendaJ Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,322
    69
    166
    Sep 1, 2012
    Oregon
    Hello from Oregon & welcome to BYC. Glad you joined us :) I keep a small mixed flock ( 10 or so ) Most of my hens use the same nest box.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by