Very new and in need of help

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Aaron516, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. Aaron516

    Aaron516 Hatching

    Apr 10, 2008
    West Virginia
    I am new to raising chickens. I havent actually started yet because i wanted to be prepared for it before i start. I need to know a few things before i start:

    1. How big and what type of coop do i need? I planned on getting about 5 laying age chickens from a local farm supply store.

    2. What type of chicken should i get for laying and general info on that?

    3. I live in WV and winters are cold. How would i prepare for that?

    Those are my major questions, but i would accept any free advice. I would like to know a little more about the coop and raising them. Id like to know about feeding and how much they eat. I am kinda just looking through the forums and catching on as i go. Thanks everyone!

  2. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    well you need to decide how meny chickens you want build a 10 by 10 or a 12 by 12.but i dont know how much room you have to work with.they will house 33 to 50 need a brooder heat light feeder an reds blk austalopes or rhode island reds are all good layers.
  3. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    Hi Aaron, I'm in WV too!!..What part are you from?..I'm in Randolph Co......Are you building your own coop or pre-built?...I have a nice 12 by 14 henhouse that houses 26 hens & roosters nicely in the winter...I have my henhouse divided off into two seperate coops each with a run of their own...

    I've raised RIRs, White Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Black/Blue/Splash Orpingtons and Light Brahmas...All do well in the WV winters...

    Depending on if you get chicks or older hens or pullets as to what you will be feeding them...days old require starter/grower/finisher all the way to point of lay at 17 to 18 weeks depending on breed...Some wait til the pullets start laying before giving layer....Hens will need layer pellets/crumbles or mash so they will lay well...Hope I helped...
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
  4. bluerose

    bluerose Songster

    Oct 21, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    Also realize that started pullets *may* have their beaks trimmed. They also might be a lot more standoffish and far less tame than ones raised by hand... which is WORTH THE EFFORT 100%.

    Many people don't use a heat lamp in winter, just a very snug coop and lots of scratch for dinner helps keep them warm.
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Aaron, here's a couple of "rules of thumb" for housing chickens:

    1. Provide a minimum of 1 sq. foot per pound of body weight for permanent indoor confinement areas.
    2. Provide 3 cubic feet of air (total enclosed space) per pound of body weight for permanent indoor confinement quarters.

    So, if you have 5 birds and they weigh 6 pounds each - you need 30 square feet indoors. Also, if your coop has 30 square feet of floor space it will need to be, at minimum, 3 feet high so as to provide 90 cubic feet, total. You can actually have their home a little smaller than this if they can get into an outdoor run every day but you shouldn't really crowd them too much since they'll spend so many cold, Winter days indoors.

    With 5 hens you'll probably end up with a structure big enuf for a couple of Saint Bernard dogs to sleep in [​IMG]. Building it with 2 by 4 framing and sheeting inside and outside with plywood and having insulation between isn't expensive. The heat of your 5 hens may be sufficient to keep water from freezing in the Winter.

    Check out the "Coop Designs" photo's and plans. And, read about what people are up to on the "Coop & Run Design and Construction" here on the forum. And, don't forget to start on the homepage for "Raising Chickens 101" and the "Learning Center."

    You are probably planning on having your birds outdoors part of the day and throughout the year. You may even wish to allow them to free-range a bit in the yard. (Mine are often allowed out when I'm in the backyard. [​IMG]) The heavier breeds tend to be quieter and less flighty. They can generally handle cold weather well and stay productive thru the Winter. They are easier to keep in the backyard than something like Leghorns, which might fly into the neighbor's yard (or a tree down the block [​IMG]). My favorite breed is the Black Australorp but I've also had Buff Orpingtons and Light Brahmas which the Australorps can outperform as egg producers - IMO. The sex-linked hybrids are probably even better layers.

    As far as what your chickens will need to eat - you can get an idea from looking at Table 3 what they'll be eating at various ages as they grow up.

    They are lots of fun and there are plenty of folks here who can answer your questions. You are welcome to ask 'em [​IMG]!

    Steve's digitS'
  6. airmom1c05

    airmom1c05 Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    Raymond, Mississippi
    What DigitS said! [​IMG]

  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    One thing I found exceedingly helpful when I was contemplating chickens and had a lot of the same questions as you do was to just read this forum, especially the "coop design" and "everything else chicken" sections. Just go thru the lists of old threads and click on and read whichever ones sound like they would be informative. "Best breeds for very cold winters", "which breed for eggs?", that sort of thing. Realio trulio! [​IMG]

    Regarding coop size, one good answer would be "4+ sq ft per chicken indoors, plus 6-10 sq ft per chicken (minimum) in the run". You'd want more indoors space if you anticipate they'll have to spend a LOT of time indoors, because of bad weather, muddy run, whatever.

    Another good answer would be "considerably bigger than that", since unless restricted to 5 chickens by local zoning, you are quite likely to decide you need More Chickens once you get to know them. Practically everyone here has more chickens (sometimes *significantly* more) than they started with. Just a word to the wise [​IMG]

    In terms of cold hardiness, peacomb breeds (wyandotte, buckeye, chantecler, etc) are less prone to frostbite and breeds with unusually large single combs (e.g. lots of the mediterranean breeds) are extra prone to frostbite. And larger breeds (orpingtons, brahmas, etc) are cold hardier than smaller ones (bantams, silkies, leghorns, etc).

    Have fun,

  8. Aaron516

    Aaron516 Hatching

    Apr 10, 2008
    West Virginia
    hey guys, thanks for all your help. I have been reading alot and im starting to get the terms down and all that. I even got my girlfriend into it a little bit. I am thinking of building a coop and starting soon, but i might wait around a little more and get ideas of what i need.

    I would like to start at about 5 to see how i do and as i get more comfortable, I would like to increase to 20-30 if i can.

    Thanks again,


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: