Trying to figure out if chickens are for me.

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by CanadianBrad, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. CanadianBrad

    CanadianBrad Hatching

    Aug 25, 2013
    Hey, all.

    I'm Brad. Nice to meet you all. I'm a Canadian, from southern Alberta. If any of you remember the severe flooding stories in High River back in June, that's my neck of the woods. That's not really why I'm here.

    I'm here about chickens(obviously). I've been doing some research into starting a small-scale backyard agricultural operation for myself and my family(wife and 5-year-old daughter). Below I've outlined my objectives in this project.

    Ideally, I'm looking for a dual-purpose bird. Off the start, I'm looking for something that will supply eggs, but later down the road, as I become comfortable with the care of chickens(I have a great deal of animal husbandry experience, but most of it directly relates to species far removed from birds), I'd like to explore the possibility of raising birds for meat.

    Now, the physical restrictions, limitations, and realities of my situation. I have an area, roughly 20'x30', to dedicate to this project. I'm handy enough swinging a hammer and I'm an electrician by trade, so construction projects like a coop and fence and the like hold no fear for me. Now, it gets really cold here in the winter(-30 Celsius, which works out to about -23 Fahrenheit, is not unheard of, or even terribly uncommon, here). I have no problem insulating and heating a coop. It can get warm(around the 90-degree Fahrenheit mark, a little over 30 Celsius) in the summer, and so I can easily orient things to keep some/all of an outdoor run in the shade during the hotter parts of the day.

    Now, the first battery of questions.

    1) Given the environmental limitations, and the desire to have egg-producing chickens that offer the possibility of becoming/breeding meat birds later down the line, what variety of chicken would you recommend?

    2) If I intended to offer 120 square feet of heated indoor coop space, and 200 square feet of fenced outdoor run space, how many chickens of said species does that realistically allow me to keep? I come from the world of snakes, where we have rules of thumb regarding living space allowances in relation to snake length/girth, and I assume there's a similar guide for chickens(I've seen 4 sq. ft. of coop and 10 sq. ft. per bird in a few places).

    3) How does a rooster factor in when setting up for chickens(biology class teaches me that I need a rooster for fertilized eggs if I want hatchlings) to raise as meat birds? Again, going back to snakes, I housed males and females separately, and introduced the male to the female after hibernation to encourage breeding, then separated again after the mating. Is it a similar process for chickens, or can/does the rooster typically reside with the hens full-time?

    Anyone who can offer any thoughts, and/or anyone familiar with reputable "chicken people"(you know, those feathery people with combs) in the southern Alberta area, would be a great help. Thanks in advance.

  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Songster

    Aug 4, 2013
    [​IMG]Glad you joined us!
    I don't know anything about the cold and chickens, I have all the heat here. This is the thread for Canada:
    It would be best to just hop on the thread and get some great advice from people that share your climate.
    Different breeds do better in different climates, and managing a flock is a little different. I.E.: I have to worry about keeping mine cool where you have to worry about the water freezing. Good luck on your adventure!

    Edited to add: BTW, I do keep my roosters in with my hens full time. If you collect the eggs everyday you won't have random chicks hatching. It is safe to eat the eggs and you won't find a baby in there.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  3. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years.

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    [​IMG]the 4 sq.ft per bird in coop and 10 sq.ft.per bird out in run is a good rule of thumb - of course giant breeds would need more and bantams somewhat less.

    People in very cold climates don't tend to heat the coop - the biggest problem is humidity inside the coop from chickens crowding together. Maintaining good ventilation is much more important so frostbite doesn't occur. On average, chicken breeds tolerate cold much better than heat.
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Welcome to BYC [​IMG] The above posters gave you some good advice. I would suggest having a look around the Coop and Run section, or do a search here for ideas for winter coops in cold climates. You may also find this helpful:

    Breeds wise, have a look around the breeds section, here:

    When you scroll down the page you will see blue boxes where you can tick off your requirements, for example cold hardy, dual purpose (meat and egg laying) etc.

    On roosters, yes, you can keep them with the flock full time. One rooster to around 10-15 hens is good and should give you good fertility rates. Don't keep too many roosters in too small a space though, even if you have enough hens. They will fight and cause problems. If you want to keep a lot of hens and a rooster or two for fertile eggs now and then, plan ahead and put the rooster with a few chosen hens in a separate "honeymoon" run for 2 weeks. Collect eggs laid after 4 days for hatching.
  5. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Greetings from Kansas, Brad, and [​IMG]! Great to have you aboard! I think Sumi and the other poster above have you lined out with great resources so I'll just say best wishes and good luck!

    Mr MKK FARMS Crowing

    Sep 27, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! Glad you joined us! [​IMG]
  7. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Songster

    Jul 22, 2013
  8. CanadianBrad

    CanadianBrad Hatching

    Aug 25, 2013
    Well thanks, all.

    Firstly, I appreciate the links, and will have a look around. That breed selector tool is... well, maybe I'm not using it correctly, but it's not really much of a help. Regarding the cold/hot/all climates bit, I'm a little unsure. It's both hot and cold here, depending on the time of the year.

    I appreciate that bit regarding heating and potential humidity problems resulting. I will have to investigate.

    Anyway, thanks to all, and I'll be hanging around asking questions for a bit.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: