Gettting started with chickens

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Gettting started with chickens

Postby 4seasons » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:31 am

I have a friend that is getting rid of some chickens. While I grew up on a farm I have never dealt with birds before. For the past week I have been reading everything I can find on chickens. Last night I started building the chicken coop. I know that I have several challenges to overcome before I am collecting fresh eggs. First thing is predators. We live in an area where everyone has a dog and a cat, coyotes and foxes are plenty, black bears have been spotted within a mile, wild boars within 10 miles, and I disturbed a 6 ft long black snake while clearing a place for the pen. I also can't grow corn here because of all the racoons. My dog is pretty good about killing coons, skunks, and possums, and I trained him to leave the cats alone, so I am hoping he can control the predators and not become one himself. I am planning on using some welded wire fence, and lumber that I have laying around to build with. I am planning to bury the fence 6 inches to limit digging predators. But the opening in the fence are 2 inch wide by 3 inch tall so I am a little worried about something smaller getting thru. What is everyone's experience with chickens, and what are the best tips you have.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby matt walker » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:36 pm

In my experience coons are the number one problem, and the welded wire is just like a sneeze guard for them. They will grab the birds and pull them apart and through piece by piece. Get some small, heavy mesh instead of or in addition to the welded wire.

Otherwise, if you can keep them from getting killed, keeping chickens really couldn't be easier. It's also really rewarding, in my experience. Fresh eggs really is one of life's great small pleasures, in my opinion.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby mannytheseacow » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:53 pm

I would echo that. I use the 1" mesh chicken wire (for some reason 2" mesh isn't available around here). I've even had the coon pull ducks against the 1" mesh and kill them, but as long as you have a boxed in enclosure to overnight them they should be ok.

I lost all my birds in the spring of 2012. 30 chickens and 15 ducks. Once the coon got a taste of duckling they even broke a window and went through a screen in my old chicken house. I haven't had any problem since adding livestock to my operation, though. I also took 12 coon off my property that year though, they have quite the population collapse to recover from.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby George Collins » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:34 am

I use electrified poultry netting. Haven't lost a bird yet that I could keep in the fence. It took me awhile to get them all to stay in even with clipped wings. Those that got out, except for one time, never made it through the night. But those that stayed in have been wholly unmolested.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby GrahamB » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:11 am

We've had a couple of Barred Rock for about six months now. We have them in a Quonset tractor made of cattle panels, covered with chicken wire and then a tarp over the top to keep the rain off. They love it, getting new grass once a week. We've had raccoon coming round (they left scat outside the coop), but they haven't managed to get in or grab the birds.
Our dog comes around with me when I feed the rabbits and pick up the eggs from the girls. I'm sure he helps by marking his territory around the rabbit and chicken tractors, keeping the villains away.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby 4seasons » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:27 am

We decided to go ahead and get some chickens so I got started on the coop.
I am using the materials that I have on hand for the most part and only able to work on it on weekends at the time so it is going a bit slowly. I also only have a rough sketch in my head of how I want it to look so it is a lot of thinking as I go.
The rough plan is a 6ft by 6ft hen house built pole barn style sitting 2ft off the ground so the chickens can have a bigger run with less materials. Attached to the hen house will be a 12ft by 6 ft run. Both the run and hen house will have a 6 ft minimum ceiling and I want to be able to stand up when I have to go in. Also the ground that I am building on is not very level so a pole barn seems to be the easiest way to work around that.
Image
This is where I am putting the coop. The light metal is where the house will be and the rusty metal is over the run. (Don't worry, I have better metal for the roof, this is just to help me visualize.) The small upright pipes are where the poles will go.
Image
You can also see how much planning I put into this project as I cut the overgrown brush and stuck some markers down, did some thinking and then got to work.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby 4seasons » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:36 am

My nest step was to dig some post holes and cut and set some old telephone poles and a couple of locust logs that I had left over from another project. I also banded the hen house poles with some 2x6's that I salvaged from some over-sized pallets.
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Then I put in my floor joist.
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I also started putting the wire up under the hen house to make it easier to dig before the house was in the way.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby 4seasons » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:40 am

Next I buried some wire attached to some ceder post, back-filled and packed in the earth. I also put down the flooring to I had a place to stand to build the roof. I also got the rafters on.
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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby DrewInToledo » Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:16 pm

Nice work, 4! I have chicken envy.

Not knowing much about chickens, where will the chicken poo land? I had it in my head that a screen bottom is choice to allow the poo to fall through and collect. Or.. maybe I'm thinking hamsters?

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Re: Gettting started with chickens

Postby matt walker » Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:26 pm

That looks great 4! I am jealous of your locust posts, we don't have much of that here. I really like the style, I think it's going to be a fantastic coop, and being able to stand up in there, well, that's a great idea. Wish I could stand up in mine.
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