Thinking about getting chickens

Sheepshape

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Baymule....what a fantastic set up......talk about STYLE.....!

I have 20 something chickens and this is my tatty home-made chicken house.

Chicken house.jpg


You're probably thinking....how do so many chickens get in there? They don't. Only a few 'agree' to use the chicken shed, the others live in the sheep shed about 100yards away. They are totally free-range apart from overnight.

Here's where most of them choose to spend their time.

Cocks in shed.jpg


Feeding? Well, chickens are the 'dustbins/trashcans' of the bird world and will eat just about anything from both the animal and vegetable kingdom. They can be fed solely on 'layers pellets', most of which are nutritionally complete. However, they prefer variety, and they will devour kitchen scraps. Laying hens need to have a reasonable protein and calcium intakes.

Chickens need to be wormed from time to time, especially if they are free range.

They should have access at all times to fresh water.

I roast their own egg shells, grind them up, and add these to porridge for my hens to give extra calcium

Easy to keep, many varieties pretty hardy and produce amazing eggs. However, I honestly think eggs from domestic hens cost more than many from the supermarket. I also find that it's either 'feast' or 'famine' with eggs. Presently I am getting a large number daily (12-15)....but in the winter I had to resort to buying eggs(Hens over one year of age stop laying during the darkest times of year, and my pullets had not yet come into lay).

Chickens are a joy to keep, but mine don't make me any profit.
 

Baymule

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@Sheepshape that was at our old house. When we got here, I had only kept a half dozen chickens. I gave away my beautiful Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. :hit My poor remaining chickens lived in a rabbit cage for a couple of days until I attached a couple of horse panels to make a run. Then I made a hoop coop and a PVC coop. The hoop coop was recently dragged under a big cedar tree and it will become part of a run and new walk in coop. And I have 2 other coops also. Right now I think I have something like 30 chickens. I need to buy new chicks and slaughter down in the fall.

Old laying hens make the best chicken and dumplings. I also cut the meat off the bones and can it in glass jars, then simmer the bones for broth and can that too.
 

Vasara

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That is a VERY small coop. Personally, I like low maintenance and a solid floor must be constantly cleaned or the poop piles up and gets filthy nasty in a very short time. In addition, that coop sits on short legs. Chickens like to scratch, dig and will shortly dig under the coop to lay eggs, making it harder for you to collect them.

I am a big fan of a dirt floor and deep litter. I clean my coops out several times a year. Then I lime the dirt and put in more litter in the form of wood shavings, leaves, hay, straw, grass clippings, or whatever I have.

A coop large enough for not only the few hens you want, but room for the replacement hens that you will have is what you need. I would build a coop larger than what you think you need, and tall enough for you to walk inside it. My old coop was 8'x8' and just big enough for 8 hens. I quickly realized that as I added more young hens, it was overcrowded and added the 8'x12' run.

We moved 4 years ago to 8 acres and I have built several coops on skids. I am about to build a permanent coop with a run, much like the old one I had.

Here is a link with plans and pictures on how to build a roll our nest box to keep hens from eating eggs. Yes, they will eat eggs, not all of them and not always, but once started, are hard to break them of the habit.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/new-rollout-nest-design-picture-heavy-edited-1-21.287684/
I’m so glad I came here with my questions before jumping in head first! Thank you for tour advice and info. I will definitely look into building a walk in coop and larger run area. Easy to clean and maintain is at the top of my list. When you say a dirt floor, you just mean to build the coop on the ground with no floor? Why lime the dirt? And then toss the straw and what not on top the limed dirt? Cleaning ‘several times per year’? Once a month or every two months or bi weekly? If the floor is dirt, won’t the chickens dig under the walls and get out? See, in my original post I said I get some answers but am left with more questions. Again, I’m so glad I’m asking these questions now and planning everything well before I start! Thanks again for all your help
 

Baymule

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Lay 1"x1" or 1"x2" wire flat on the ground all the way around the coop and run. Attach it to the coop and run. It needs to be 2 feet wide. This provides a "no dig zone" around the coop for predators. A dog or other predator may come up to the coop and start to dig in, but won't get past the wire. They never back up 2 feet to dig and tunnel in. LOL If the hens are digging under the edge of the wall (and they do) the 2 feet of wire on the ground gives you a chance to fill it in. I never had a hen dig out, past the 2 feet of wire around the coop and run.

Sink posts in the ground at the corners to build your coop. And yes, just a dirt floor. They love to dig holes and dust bathe. I lime the dirt when I clean it out and dig it back down to the dirt. Especially in the summer when it might smell when I remove all the deep litter. Then put in more litter, straw, wood chips, hay, leaves, whatever is available in your area. I use trimmings from the garden, pea hulls, corn shucks, big outer cabbage leaves, anything and everything but not onion or citrus fruit. The hens will eat what they want and scratch the rest to bits. When the coop gets messy, add more litter. The hens love it and they make you compost to use in the garden, flower beds or just spread in the yard to help enrich the soil.

Here is a tutorial on how I built a hoop coop. I realize that you may not have cow panels, but maybe you can glean ideas from it.

https://www.theeasygarden.com/threads/hoop-coop.18291/#post-238754

This is what a cow panel is, a very thick heavy wire panel that is useful for putting up instant livestock pens.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/feedlot-panel-cattle-16-ft-l-x-50-in-h?solr=1&cm_sp=SearchPreview-_-DidYouMean-_-Product&cm_vc=-10005

Ask all the questions you want, glad to help.
 

Sheepshape

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@Sheepshape, I like your coop!! It looks very secure.
Thank you....it is safe and keeps out predators (over her foxes are the real problem). Inside of the coop are large stones as the gale-force wind once whipped it over into the field beyond . Testament to OH's welding skills and a whole lot of luck, it suffered NO damage (though the fence came down).

For anyone unfamiliar with chicken keeping, they poop an awful lot...any and everywhere. They perch up to sleep at night and leave a huge mound under the perch by morning. When they come out of the coop, the first thing they do is......an enormous poop. Lots of scraping up after them, but not all bad as chicken poop is a wonderful fertiliser.
 

Baymule

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For anyone unfamiliar with chicken keeping, they poop an awful lot...any and everywhere. They perch up to sleep at night and leave a huge mound under the perch by morning. When they come out of the coop, the first thing they do is......an enormous poop. Lots of scraping up after them, but not all bad as chicken poop is a wonderful fertiliser.
And that is why I never want a "floor" in a chicken coop! Dirt floors and deep litter are just too easy for me to ever want to do anything else. LOL
 
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