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Posted: 11/27/2007 12:32:36 PM EDT
Ok. I want to try my hand at raising chickens. I want about 10 all for laying eggs. I have been looking all over the net for some design ideas, and have run across a few good ones. I figured I'd ask around here there usually seems to be at least one or two people that have some sort of experience in just about anything you could ask. I live in town, and have a pretty decent size backyard. I don't want it to look like I'm raising chickens in my back yard though, so the design of the who thing house, and run has to encoorporate nicely in my yard. It seems like others that do it usually have some really shitty looking chickenwire, and wood contraptions, and it looks really bad. So someone school me on the whole chicken thing.
Link Posted: 11/27/2007 1:33:06 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/27/2007 1:39:09 PM EDT
If you're going to free range them, you need to be able to move it around in your pasture, etc...

IIRC Murray McMurray hatchery has some good, small protable ones.
Link Posted: 11/27/2007 2:36:42 PM EDT
I made our current one 10 years or so ago out of scrap wood.
8'X8' floor, 6' high in front,sloping to a bit over 4 1/2' in back.
Mostly scrap/recycled wood. Front has homemade window,(made to fit glass I had laying around) maybe 14" high by 4' long.Tilts in during decent weather for ventilation,and closes fairly tight in winter.
Chicken wire over front to keep out birds,etc.
Whole thing is up on blocks. Side entry door I put together.
I actually insulated it (R11 I had left over). Water rarely even freezes with enough birds in it.
Roll roofing. I made molding,etc out of more scraps,and painted a contrasting color (more leftovers).
I have very little in it,andit actually looks nice!

Hen yard is 6' kennel panels, 12' long,with gate. Couple posts across top,and turkey wire up there.

Made a really slick,small guillotine door to entry ramp, with a remote hook.That way I can let them out in the morning,and close them in at night,without going in.

I have a 20W flourescent tube on a timer:14 hours of light and they'll keep on laying all winter.

Will try to take some pics ifI'm ever home during daylight hours!
Link Posted: 11/27/2007 2:50:24 PM EDT
This is what my wife built for sale to others.
this will hold 4 to 6 chickens easily
it's got some good ideas you may want to incorporate.
boulder.craigslist.org/grd/476853722.html







My wife is big into this chicken thing, PM me with any questions and I'll make her answer them.
Storey's guide to raising chickens is a fantastic book that covers well everything.

Link Posted: 11/28/2007 3:47:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BozemanMT:
This is what my wife built for sale to others.
this will hold 4 to 6 chickens easily
it's got some good ideas you may want to incorporate.
boulder.craigslist.org/grd/476853722.html

images.craigslist.org/0102000103100104102007111247c83f10d41a7c0f960­013e7.jpg

images.craigslist.org/01150001161201041120071112d6bf8400c3bb3eb18f0­0c123.jpg

images.craigslist.org/01150401160001030820071112b1059b95d005f6aacb0­016ae.jpg

My wife is big into this chicken thing, PM me with any questions and I'll make her answer them.
Storey's guide to raising chickens is a fantastic book that covers well everything.




I am definately going to make something similar to that. The way it opens up completely so you can clean it is nice. I plan on getting a book I'll check out the one you mentioned. There is no ordinance in my town prohibiting chickens. Nobody will even know I have them in the first place even if their was.

I am a neat freak, and I couldn't let it start stinking or getting messy it would drive me nuts, so being in town, and such isn't a problem for me. Besides If it never became a problem for my neighbors, and I kept it clean, and sanitary Who's to blame a man for wanting to feed himself off what little land he owns in the city or not.

Their is a guy that lives a couple streets over from me that has a couple roosters that crow in the day, and at night, and whenever they feel like it. I don't plan on getting a rooster. I have freinds that will just give me baby chicks when they have them because they have so many. I'm actually kinda excited about trying it all I have read leads me to believe that it's actually a fairly rewarding, and fun hobby.
Link Posted: 11/28/2007 3:51:32 AM EDT
if you don't get a rooster, nobody will ever know.
except for some clucking, which doesn't carry far, they are non-noticable.
The one i showed pictures of should hold 4-6, but it gives you some ideas of things you can do for more chickens.

Here's the chicken book
Link Posted: 11/28/2007 4:05:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BozemanMT:
if you don't get a rooster, nobody will ever know.
except for some clucking, which doesn't carry far, they are non-noticable.
The one i showed pictures of should hold 4-6, but it gives you some ideas of things you can do for more chickens.

Here's the chicken book



Thanks for the link. I saved the page, and will probably order the book next week.
I'm looking for about 10 chickens. I was told if I get 15 day old chicks I would probably end up with about 10.
Link Posted: 11/28/2007 7:26:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TX_CO4:
Thanks for the link. I saved the page, and will probably order the book next week.
I'm looking for about 10 chickens. I was told if I get 15 day old chicks I would probably end up with about 10.


Only if you are doing something wrong.
We get pretty close to 100% survival rate once they are day-old and we get 50 at a time (every 8 weeks).

A good egg laying hen will produce 200+ eggs a year (basically 2 every 3 days), I hope you have a big family. (or like eggs a lot)
Link Posted: 11/28/2007 10:03:18 PM EDT
get your coop ready, but wait until april to buy your chicks.
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 4:16:39 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OKIE-CARBINE:
get your coop ready, but wait until april to buy your chicks.


Because??
He's in Texas, I'm in colorado and we have chicks going now, you just have to keep them warm. He should have much less problem in TX keeping them warm.
The first sets should be available late January/early February (MurrayMcMurray Hatchery, others), but you could buy eggs and incubate now if you want.

Remember, chickens won't start laying til they are 18-20 weeks old.
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 4:19:44 AM EDT
I can not wait till the story pops up about you being chased across the yard by the rooster!

Later,

Badredfish
<­BR>do not ask me how I know!
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 4:29:39 AM EDT
I keep a half dozen hens.

IM me your email address and I'll send you some pics of coops and "chicken tractors" to give you ideas.

I make them with no floor. Instead of cleaning them out, I just move them occasionally. The spot where they where is then fantastically fertilized and weeded for use as a garden if you like.

BozemanMT's wife's one looks good, too.
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 10:28:03 AM EDT
Hey BozemanMT are you a member of Backyard Chickens? I saw some coops on there that looked like yours, and figured it might be you.
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 10:57:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/29/2007 10:57:18 AM EDT by TX_CO4]

Originally Posted By badredfish:
I can not wait till the story pops up about you being chased across the yard by the rooster!

Later,

Badredfish
<­BR>Please do not ask me how I know!



Ok you pulled my leg how do you know?
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 12:17:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/29/2007 12:20:44 PM EDT by badredfish]

Originally Posted By TX_CO4:

Originally Posted By badredfish:
I can not wait till the story pops up about you being chased across the yard by the rooster!

Later,

Badredfish
<­BR>Please do not ask me how I know!



Ok you pulled my leg how do you know?


LOL - it just brings back memories of when I was little visiting my Aunt on the Santa Fe River - wanting so bad to go pick the eggs, but this little white bantam would spur the *&^% out of me and had me running across the yard. I guess it knew that I was scared of it.

If you get one - just be prepared to show who is the Alpha Dog(chicken) in your yard!

To quote one of the books - "the role of brash protector played by roosters"

Later,

Badredfish
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 1:02:57 PM EDT
Yeah, it's actually my wife on BYC (which is a good forum BTW)

I want to get a Black Jersey Giant rooster (2' tall or so, 13lbs+) to scare the $hit out of the dog (a great dane)
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 3:14:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BozemanMT:
Yeah, it's actually my wife on BYC (which is a good forum BTW)

I want to get a Black Jersey Giant rooster (2' tall or so, 13lbs+) to scare the $hit out of the dog (a great dane)





Later,

Badredfish
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 5:34:56 PM EDT
I have a few chickens but I live out in the country with neighbors that also have chickens and we don't care if it looks like we are raising chickens or not. With your requirements in mind, here are my observations:

Birds require a MINIMUM of 3 square feet of space per bird. Lots more is better. It will stink less and you will have fewer pecking problems. An 8x8 garden shed from one of the home improvement stores is what I would consider to be a minimum for 10 birds. If you do a 12 x 8 it will have more than enough room.
Coops should have a slow rate of natural ventilation but be free from drafts if the wind blows in the winter.
If you control the amount of time the birds are out you don't really need a run. Let them out no more than 2 hours before dark and they will eat grass, bugs, and grit for a bit without straying to the nieghbors yard, eating your wife's flowers, or pooping on your porch. When it gets dark they will be inside and roosted and all you have to do is walk up and shut the door.
A set of nest boxes is nice to have but not really required. Some birds will not use it.
A perch about 1.5 inches with enough space for your birds is great. Cut down an appropriate sized sapling somewhere. Small sassafras trees are great because the bark is nice and rough, though rough bark isn't required either.
If you are in town do not get a rooster.
Get the 8 gallon metal waterer and the large metal bucket type feeder and you can fill them up and go away for a week in the summer with no worries.
I use straw for bedding. Pine shavings make an awful lot of dust but do work. Change it in the spring and fall.
I recommend buff orpingtons - gentle and calm. Not too skittish. Pleasant to watch, lots of brown eggs. decent size.

If you have other questions send me a PM.
Link Posted: 11/29/2007 8:27:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jchewie:
I have a few chickens but I live out in the country with neighbors that also have chickens and we don't care if it looks like we are raising chickens or not. With your requirements in mind, here are my observations:

Birds require a MINIMUM of 3 square feet of space per bird. Lots more is better. It will stink less and you will have fewer pecking problems. An 8x8 garden shed from one of the home improvement stores is what I would consider to be a minimum for 10 birds. If you do a 12 x 8 it will have more than enough room.
Coops should have a slow rate of natural ventilation but be free from drafts if the wind blows in the winter.
If you control the amount of time the birds are out you don't really need a run. Let them out no more than 2 hours before dark and they will eat grass, bugs, and grit for a bit without straying to the nieghbors yard, eating your wife's flowers, or pooping on your porch. When it gets dark they will be inside and roosted and all you have to do is walk up and shut the door.
A set of nest boxes is nice to have but not really required. Some birds will not use it.
A perch about 1.5 inches with enough space for your birds is great. Cut down an appropriate sized sapling somewhere. Small sassafras trees are great because the bark is nice and rough, though rough bark isn't required either.
If you are in town do not get a rooster.
Get the 8 gallon metal waterer and the large metal bucket type feeder and you can fill them up and go away for a week in the summer with no worries.
I use straw for bedding. Pine shavings make an awful lot of dust but do work. Change it in the spring and fall.
I recommend buff orpingtons - gentle and calm. Not too skittish. Pleasant to watch, lots of brown eggs. decent size.

If you have other questions send me a PM.



Thats quite a bit of good info. I looked into the Buff Opringtons, and they were already on my list of prospects. They look nice, and according to the article they set well, and lay good too. Thanks for the info.
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 4:44:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/30/2007 4:47:07 AM EDT by constitutionlvr]
The Storey's guide to chickens that was mentioned above is a really good book. The same person Gail Damerow also wrote one called The Chicken Health Handbook that covers Health more in detail but does not have the general raising and care info the other one has. The advice above has been very good. I used pine shavings for my coop floor and used cedar shavings in the nest boxes. 10 birds will give you a lot of eggs when they are laying good. In winter chicken slow down egg production though so your egg count would be less. I really like araucana chickens they lay green eggs and have been good layers for me. But if your friend will give you free chicks take what you can get. If you are buing chicks I have been vey pleased with the one I got from www.mcmurryhatchery.com You can choose your sex or breed but you must buy at least 25 chicks. Other hatcheries include www.ideal-poultry.com and www.cacklehatchery.com I have not ordered from either of them though. If you want some funny looking birds the polish chickens are great and were not bad layers either. If you get the Storeys guide and read it and follow the recomendations contained within raising chickens is really easy and fun. And since you said you were not planing on getting a rooster this might not concern you but if you have small children you REALLY do not want a rooster.

eta: If you are handy with a few tools you can design your own coop to look like anything you desire. and as was mentioned above protection from predators (dogs for example) is important.
Link Posted: 12/1/2007 4:23:40 PM EDT
Another suggestion for whatever you decide to build: raccoons loooove a chicken dinner, and they WILL find the weak points in your coop. They have paws like hands,and they are relentless and intelligent. I started out raising chickens with the idea that the wire fence, and the wire on the windows was to keep the chickens IN! rrrrrrrrttt! WRONG! It has to keep all the hungry critters like 'coons, possums and skunks OUT!
After a number of costly break-ins,where the 'coon would get in and kill as many chickens as he could, or pull chickens against a chicken wire fence and eat what he could pull through that fence, I finally ended up with a virtual chicken fortress. You have to understand that a chicken roosting at night will just sit there and let itself be killed-there is nothing smart about a chicken. I kept a live trap set outside often, and continually caught huge raccoons, possums,and skunks. I used to leave the chickens out during the day to forage, and if I got back there a bit too late in the evening to close them back up, I might find a skunk in the coop . They want the eggs, but didn't seem to be much of a threat to the chickens. I'd yell, and bang around on the back of the coop, and the skunk would waddle out and go away.
After coyotes moved into this area, I couldn't leave the chickens out in the day any more-they would get into the treeline and get bushwhacked. Before that, I had a few episodes where a marauding dog would catch and kill some of the chickens when they were out. Hawks will get them,too. Like I said, there is hardly any carnivore out there that doesn't want a chicken dinner.
Link Posted: 12/1/2007 7:26:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
Another suggestion for whatever you decide to build: raccoons loooove a chicken dinner, and they WILL find the weak points in your coop. They have paws like hands,and they are relentless and intelligent. I started out raising chickens with the idea that the wire fence, and the wire on the windows was to keep the chickens IN! rrrrrrrrttt! WRONG! It has to keep all the hungry critters like 'coons, possums and skunks OUT!
After a number of costly break-ins,where the 'coon would get in and kill as many chickens as he could, or pull chickens against a chicken wire fence and eat what he could pull through that fence, I finally ended up with a virtual chicken fortress. You have to understand that a chicken roosting at night will just sit there and let itself be killed-there is nothing smart about a chicken. I kept a live trap set outside often, and continually caught huge raccoons, possums,and skunks. I used to leave the chickens out during the day to forage, and if I got back there a bit too late in the evening to close them back up, I might find a skunk in the coop . They want the eggs, but didn't seem to be much of a threat to the chickens. I'd yell, and bang around on the back of the coop, and the skunk would waddle out and go away.
After coyotes moved into this area, I couldn't leave the chickens out in the day any more-they would get into the treeline and get bushwhacked. Before that, I had a few episodes where a marauding dog would catch and kill some of the chickens when they were out. Hawks will get them,too. Like I said, there is hardly any carnivore out there that doesn't want a chicken dinner.



I know it's possable, but not likely to happen in town, but I'll be on the defensive when I build it. Man you'r kinda makin me want a chicken dinner.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 4:13:12 PM EDT
You might be suprised to know how many raccoons are living IN town.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 4:39:01 PM EDT
One thing I will do next time is make the run tall enough to stand up in. I have the top of mine wired and covered but I used 5 foot wire so I am crouched down to go in.
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