Would like to run my "start up" plan by the experts - just meat chickens (for now)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dndlyon, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. dndlyon

    dndlyon New Egg

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    Mar 10, 2013
    Hi All,

    Totally new (2nd post), but I've been lurking for a while [​IMG]. I know I'm overthinking this, but that's what I do - I'm just naturally a worrier. So, I'd like to run my thoughts by anyone who might like to offer some feedback for a newbie starting out with meat chickens. Eventually we'd like to get a few egg layers, then turkeys, and on and on with other critters. We've never done anything like this before, so want to just dip our toes in the water with meat chickens.

    We have a few pastures on our property that are not being used - just mowed by a neighbor for hay every now and then. I've looked up a bunch of information, and am trying to put together the easiest plan because I travel for work every now and again relatively unexpectedly (but never for more than a week or two at a time), and would like to put something together that can be managed by others (husband / neighbors) if I have to travel. Here are my current thoughts...

    Brooder (~15 chicks for this "batch")
    • A large cardboard box (at least 18" high and about 4' x 4' to give about 1 sq ft per bird)
    • Of course, the brooder lamp, thermometer, bedding, waterer and feeder as most of the brooders are set up on the internet.
    • We'll put the box in the garage because I'm not sure we can keep the terriers out of the box if it resides in the house. I'll be sure it is protected from drafts when the overhead door is opened and closed.
    • After lowering the temp as recommended, we'll move them outside...this is where I'm not sure if what I'm thinking is adequate.

    Outdoor Chickens!
    • I'd like to pasture them as much as possible because it seems like less work.
    • Assuming all 15 make chicks make it, I think I'll need 60 sq ft of electric chicken fencing to maintain their "pastures" - assuming that I'll move the area once a week (or at a frequency that is required depending on the chickens). We aren't home during the day, and we live out in the country, so I'm assuming that this will be necessary to protect them during the day. I'd love to let them free range the area, but the neighbor's dogs have a history of being goat and chicken predators in the area. The pastures will have a shaded area and food and water. I've read that roosts are really needed with Cornish X's, but am interested in your experience and opinions.
    • I'm assuming that the electric pens are not enough to keep them safe at night - we have racoons, and I'm sure all the other things that love to steal your chickens. So, we'll get some type of secure hutch to lock them up in at night. Please let me know if you think this is overkill - I guess in my dream world, the electric netting would be secure at night, but I'm guess from what I've read that it would really just be a good way to lose 15 chickens at night. Question - if the chickens are only locked in at night, how big should their coop be? What has worked for you?

    Thanks in advance for any comments, thoughts, and concerns!

    -Dawn
     
  2. [​IMG]

    I like the brooder idea. If you are going with meat birds, you may want them outside sooner than you think[​IMG]. I personally would recommend an 8 X 12 (no need to get hung up on this exact size) chicken tractor. Crosses get big fast and so do rangers. Tractor allow you to move daily so they don't sit in their nastiness.

    Best of wishes.
     
  3. dndlyon

    dndlyon New Egg

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    Mar 10, 2013
    Thanks, Charm! I really would like to avoid the tractor idea because I'm sure that DH will forget to move it if I have to travel! However, I saw a few videos today, and I'm not expecting the fat little meaties to be able to flee danger in any type of hurry. It looks like I might have to wait to day pasture my egg layers (whenever we add them to the family) & stick the meaties in a tractor. Thanks a bunch for the advice!
     

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