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So... chickens...

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So... chickens...

Post Number:#1  Unread postby DaytonHillRabbits » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:18 am


Hey all!

Looking for some info on chickens! My hubby has finally caved and decided we can have some chickens.. we're going with 4 "Lohmann" red layers. I have them on order from the local feed store, they will be Point of Lay pullets.

I've kept layers before, but they just kind of wandered the farm I had them and I didn't keep them cooped up. Here, we are in a residential area, with neighbors stupid dogs running loose, so they will need to have a coop with a run to keep them safe.

How big do I need to make this coop for 4 of these laying hens? Any tips or tricks when it comes to building a proper coop? Raising the birds? I just plan to go with layer crumbs for feed, may decide to ferment the feed like I did in the past.

Would LOVE to see your setups as well for inspiration! Hubby has until July 25th to construct this coop and run for the ladies so we need to get cracking! :lol:

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Re: So... chickens...

Post Number:#2  Unread postby tarheel506 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:43 pm


When I was in a place like that (neighbors, neighbor's dogs, cars flying up the road, etc) I built a chicken house and yard out of pallets. Super cheap, and totally did the job, photos attached. The house was 4x8, with a hinged door on either end (one for checking nest areas, the other for where the feeder and waterer were hung). The yard was 10x4 with a gate on one side so I could go in and shut them in the house at night. Housed 4 Rhode Island Red hens and 1 rooster with room to spare. Used thick branches from trees in the yard to make roosts. I did go back and add braces across the top the keep the cover wire from sagging, but I can't find any pictures of that. I think I spent all of $50 (most of that was for the chicken wire and plastic roof material) on the whole get up, though it did take some work to rip the pallets for house and remount the boards so they were flush to provide more shelter.

Although I used board sections to divide 4 "nest" areas, I found that most birds will share a nest...they never used more than 2 of them, and they don't need to be fancy. The biggest concern was not so much keeping the birds in, but keeping predators out. Raccoons will even reach through chicken wire and grab chickens by the neck, which is why I shut mine in the house at night.

The only downside to keeping them in a fixed area is that they will pretty quickly strip the ground. If you have enough space, you could modify something like this to be mobile so you can move it around and keep them on fresh grass. I also used crumbles in the feeder, and tossed grains on the ground each day.
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Re: So... chickens...

Post Number:#3  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:23 am


If you live subdivision ..... and the town doesn't have rules about chickens (I'd check... I found out the hard way)
Id build a pallet house and run!
the one tarheel showed was wonderful!!

Ive tossed fresh cut grass into the run for extra foraging
If you get them trained to a feed can, you could occasionally free range (with supervision)

good luck with your chooks.. I sure miss mine...
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Re: So... chickens...

Post Number:#4  Unread postby DaytonHillRabbits » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:31 am


We aren't in a subdivision and we are outside town limits so we should be good, it's just that the neighbors are closer than I like, and there are a few dogs who's owners refuse to keep them controlled. I have my own dog who patrols the property and for the most part he keeps the others off, but.. have to be careful regardless.

Is there anything I need to know about keeping chickens other than collecting eggs daily and making sure they always have feed and fresh water? I've kept them before and used to ferment the feed but I don't think I want to commit to that level or time and effort again.

I can't wait!

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Re: So... chickens...

Post Number:#5  Unread postby shazza » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:34 am


one of the best suggestions i've heard for keeping chickens occupied in a static coop is to rake up a bunch of leaves from a nearby forest or from under a tree or something and cover the bottom of the coop. rummaging through the leaves for bugs will make them super happy and you'll get really nice eggs from the extra protein. over time the leaves will turn into compost too so even though they'll destroy the ground they're on it'll at least be useful :p

having a movable coop/run would be ideal, but it kinda depends on how much room you have. a tractor would mow your lawn to oblivion pretty quickly unless you have like, an acre.

i plan on using something like this:
Image

which is easily movable, but it requires some kind of fencing around the chickens while they're not in it since it's pretty much JUST a coop for them to sleep in. usually people use electric fences and move them when they need to, but if you have problem dogs it may not be an option. i would talk to your neighbours and ask them to keep their dogs in or call animal control. if they won't handle it, i personally would solve the problem with some buckshot.
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Re: So... chickens...

Post Number:#6  Unread postby tarheel506 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:38 pm


DaytonHillRabbits wrote:Is there anything I need to know about keeping chickens other than collecting eggs daily and making sure they always have feed and fresh water? I've kept them before and used to ferment the feed but I don't think I want to commit to that level or time and effort again.

I can't wait!


I'm trying to think of little things that surprised me when I got into chickens, but if you've had chickens before you may already know them...

If you don't hang your waterer and feeder off the ground, they will make a mess/waste a ton of both. Crumbled feed tends to create less waste than pellet feeds.

Egg-eating is typically behavioral, not nutritional, and if you can identify the culprit she should be culled, as others in the flock can actually start to mimic her behavior. This can be a debated topic, and a lot of people think that it indicates a calcium deficiency. I've worked with multiple vets that raise poultry and all agreed that it is in fact behavioral.

That said, it is worth it to pay more for a good quality layer feed, and feed can be as simple (layena type products) or as complicated (fodder, custom grain mixes, fermented feed that you mentioned) as you choose to make it. Supplementing fresh foods when you can is always good. If you're doing the best you can by your animals given your personal budget and time constraints, then you're doing good.

When hens become broody you just gotta kick them off the nest, unless you have a rooster and actually want to relocate them and let them try to hatch some eggs. Also, if you have a rooster, he will probably have a "favorite" hen and she will probably lose a lot of feathers on her lower back from all his, um, special attention.

When a pullet first starts laying, her eggs will probably be smaller than normal and may have soft spots...not a problem, will change as she ages a little more.

I hope I didn't just repeat a bunch of info you already know...

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Re: So... chickens...

Post Number:#7  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:22 am


My 2Cents:

Chickens can and will try and eat everything... so kitchen scraps now have a place to go...
They can fly, so remember to fence high or deter with netting.
more than one feed/water is nice for those low on the pecking order...
More greens, brighter egg yolk
(Love the idea with the leaves!)
If you don't have leaves, straw/hay will work too (once they clear out all the grass) just toss in a bale and remove the binder string
no matter how many nest boxes you give them, they will all want to use the same one.
if there is a spot you do not want them roosting, that is their favourite roost spot (think poop in piles were you need to walk)
oyster shells in a separate feeder helps stop egg eating from starting.
Chicken T.V. is sitting watching the chooks free range... one of my favourite activities..... lol
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