• Welcome to Homesteading & Country Living.
    We are glad you came to visit.
    Ads in your way? Register/login and read with less ads, or ask how to get rid of them.

Chicken advice

Help Support Homesteading Forum:

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Chicken owners! I'm planning to build a chicken coop this summer/fall and starting a small flock with pullets and/or chicks from a family member's farm, sometime within the next year or so. I've been doing my research on the basics but just curious to hear from your experience: What would be your number one piece of advice for someone just starting out? Any words of wisdom much appreciated!
 

Terri9630

Internet Princess
Staff member
Moderator
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
6,943
Location
Central NM.
Predator control. Take a good hard look at the predators in your area and keep them in mind when you build your coop/pen. Just so you know, chicken wire was made to keep chickens in. It won't keep ANYTHING out. Even rabbits can chew through it.
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
4,077
You're up in snow country... so your coop could offer a little more protection from the cold and wind than mine needs here in Alabama.

Watch out for raccoons, once they kill one of your chickens they will be back for more... It's warfare to the death with them. They seem to enjoy killing. I use live traps for lots of critters that become a nuisance. I relocate them... not with raccoons. Once they discover chickens relocating only makes them someone else's problem. I recommend dealing with them permanently. I chain up my dogs and use steel traps.

Don't go overboard with laying boxes... A few years ago I had about 40 hens. I provided 8 laying boxes. They still tried to use the same two. They'd pile up on top of each other to lay. If you have less than 20 chickens 2 laying boxes is plenty.

To follow up with terri's post... I use chicken wire for the main pen. For the coop I use 1/2 inch hardware cloth to protect them at night.

There are several good threads here in this section that covers much of this... other first timers starting out... Give them a good read, lots of good tips.
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
4,077
To keep them healthy... East of the mississippi the red cedar tree is common (Juniperus virginiana). Yes, it's actually a juniper... They have hard blue berries from time to time. The white coating you see on them is actually yeast, if you find a good strain you can culture it for bread making...

Anyway, I digress, if you have this tree on your property you are in luck. It's medicine, very old medicine. A couple of times a year I harvest and drop a handfull of these berries in the chicken waterer they drink from. It'll keep you chickens healthy along with most other farm critters for that matter...

A very good herbal medicine book for farm animals... “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm & Stable” by Juliette Levy... as useful now as the day it was published in 1954, still in print. I posted the book here.

https://www.homesteadingforum.org/threads/herbal-medicine-books-peanut-recommends.6745/


Cedar sm 071_v1.jpg
 
Last edited:

phideaux

Spectator of Life
Neighbor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,534
Location
West Ky
Protecting them from predators will be your biggest task.

Proper feeding and proper medicines you can get from a book .
Or the folks here.

That predator problem is the challenge .

I hate raccoons.

Hawks can be bad.

Coyote can be bad also.

Rats , snakes.

Raccoons...did I mention raccoons.

Jim
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Predator control. Take a good hard look at the predators in your area and keep them in mind when you build your coop/pen. Just so you know, chicken wire was made to keep chickens in. It won't keep ANYTHING out. Even rabbits can chew through it.
Our local animal inspector pretty much said the same thing re: predators. Will need to protect against raccoons, hawks, owls, mink, weasels, and fishers. I'm thinking a run with a roof and hardware cloth...
 

LadyLocust

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Mar 5, 2019
Messages
1,928
Location
Washington
I agree with the others - predators. Don't forget to enclose the top of the coop too, not so they down fly out, but to keep hunters at bay. I've had owls get my chickens before. Ft. Knox of chicken coops will save you down the road. Also, Rhode Island reds do lay well but are psychotic birds! They are popular but if you plan on turning them out at all, be prepared. The only birds I ever had that ate house paint (pecked it off the house!) would chase my car, friendly if I was a'foot, just weird.
 

Terri9630

Internet Princess
Staff member
Moderator
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
6,943
Location
Central NM.
Protecting them from predators will be your biggest task.

Proper feeding and proper medicines you can get from a book .
Or the folks here.

That predator problem is the challenge .

I hate raccoons.

Hawks can be bad.

Coyote can be bad also.

Rats , snakes.

Raccoons...did I mention raccoons.

Jim
You forgot owls. We recently lost 2 hens to an owl.
 

Terri9630

Internet Princess
Staff member
Moderator
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
6,943
Location
Central NM.
I use horse panels. It will stop all our predators except a bear but it will make enough noise to alert the dogs so we can get out there.
 

Terri9630

Internet Princess
Staff member
Moderator
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
6,943
Location
Central NM.
To keep them healthy... East of the mississippi the red cedar tree is common (Juniperus virginiana). Yes, it's actually a juniper... They have hard blue berries from time to time. The white coating you see on them is actually yeast, if you find a good strain you can culture it for bread making...

Anyway, I digress, if you have this tree on your property you are in luck. It's medicine, very old medicine. A couple of times a year I harvest and drop a handfull of these berries in the chicken waterer they drink from. It'll keep you chickens healthy along with most other farm critters for that matter...

A very good herbal medicine book for farm animals... “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm & Stable” by Juliette Levy... as useful now as the day it was published in 1954, still in print. I posted the book here.

https://www.homesteadingforum.org/threads/herbal-medicine-books-peanut-recommends.6745/


View attachment 34938
We have juniper here that look similar but I don't know what type. I know the coyotes eat the berries.
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Predator control. Take a good hard look at the predators in your area and keep them in mind when you build your coop/pen. Just so you know, chicken wire was made to keep chickens in. It won't keep ANYTHING out. Even rabbits can chew through it.
Our local animal inspector pretty much said the same thing re: predators. Will need to protect against raccoons, hawks, owls, mink, weasels, and fishers. I'm thinking hardware cloth enclosure and a run with a roof...
You're up in snow country... so your coop could offer a little more protection from the cold and wind than mine needs here in Alabama.

Watch out for raccoons, once they kill one of your chickens they will be back for more... It's warfare to the death with them. They seem to enjoy killing. I use live traps for lots of critters that become a nuisance. I relocate them... not with raccoons. Once they discover chickens relocating only makes them someone else's problem. I recommend dealing with them permanently. I chain up my dogs and use steel traps.

Don't go overboard with laying boxes... A few years ago I had about 40 hens. I provided 8 laying boxes. They still tried to use the same two. They'd pile up on top of each other to lay. If you have less than 20 chickens 2 laying boxes is plenty.

To follow up with terri's post... I use chicken wire for the main pen. For the coop I use 1/2 inch hardware cloth to protect them at night.

There are several good threads here in this section that covers much of this... other first timers starting out... Give them a good read, lots of good tips.
Great points! I'll dig a little deeper through the other threads as well. Also, I'd definitely be the person building too many laying boxes "just in case", so thanks for that tidbit! :D
 

dademoss

Retired Scapegoat
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Messages
1,676
Location
Dunlap Station, Ohio
My best advice would be to make everything tall enough to walk into! Mine have summer and winter homes. The summer home has an enclosure for night that is only 4 feet high (it fit the lumber and hardware cloth I had. it's a royal pain in the butt to clean. The winter home is easy, it's a 6x8 greenhouse. When it's above freezing, I can move the chickens out of the greenhouse and move the seedlings in :) they get range of the "compound" during the day, and go to their coop at night.

IMG_0507.jpeg IMG_0508.jpeg
 
Last edited:

dademoss

Retired Scapegoat
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Messages
1,676
Location
Dunlap Station, Ohio
Oh, the other thing, lay hardware cloth all under the coop and run where they spend the night, the raccoons are pretty good diggers to get a free dinner.
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
4,077
I agree completely on the hunching over... no fun. I used 6ftx10ft chain link fence panels with hardware cloth on the outside of the coop (pics in here somewhere). Except my panels aren't exactly 6ft tall, actually a little less. I still bang my head going through the door sometimes, very annoying! :mad:

Here is the thread on coop pictures... you might find some ideas you can use.
https://www.homesteadingforum.org/threads/coop-pictures.723/
 

goshengirl

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
392
Location
Virginia Military District, Ohio
Ease of access - If you can't walk into it (such as an elevated coop), make sure you can easily clean all corners without hunching
Predator control - plenty of comments on this
Sturdiness - strong enough to withstand predators, weather, time, and future additions (the flimsy coops at TSC do not meet this requirement)
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
4,077
On the topic of birds... One year I started getting an unusual number of eggs broken. Chickens themselves will break eggs by accident from time to time. Anyway, one day I saw the culprits, it was crows. They were flying into my nest boxes, cracking eggs open and eating the yolks and whites. Lots of bird species do this to other bird nests in the wild.

I went back to my tried and true, neon green fishing line. Crows just hate the stuff. I hung a few strands in front of the boxes, 3 or 4ft. My number of broken eggs went back to normal levels.
 
Last edited:

SheepDog

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
4,347
Location
SE Washington State
To keep diggers out the hardware cloth floor is a good remedy but even better is to trench around the coup and run and bury barbed wire or razor wire in the trench. It stops digging. For cats, big and small electric fence 8 inches out from the coup enclosure keeps them from climbing. Be sure to run alternating live and ground wires so they even get shocked if they jump on the fence.
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Secured coop with a minimum of 4 square foot per chicken. Run with a minimum of 10 square feet per chicken.

Chicken wire is good for keeping chickens in. 19 gage, 1/2" hardware cloth will keep small predators out.
Thanks, those sound like good rules of thumb for spacing. Definitely going to go with the hardware cloth!
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
To keep them healthy... East of the mississippi the red cedar tree is common (Juniperus virginiana). Yes, it's actually a juniper... They have hard blue berries from time to time. The white coating you see on them is actually yeast, if you find a good strain you can culture it for bread making...

Anyway, I digress, if you have this tree on your property you are in luck. It's medicine, very old medicine. A couple of times a year I harvest and drop a handfull of these berries in the chicken waterer they drink from. It'll keep you chickens healthy along with most other farm critters for that matter...

A very good herbal medicine book for farm animals... “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm & Stable” by Juliette Levy... as useful now as the day it was published in 1954, still in print. I posted the book here.

https://www.homesteadingforum.org/threads/herbal-medicine-books-peanut-recommends.6745/


View attachment 34938
Neat! I'd never heard of that before. Thanks for sharing!
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Protecting them from predators will be your biggest task.

Proper feeding and proper medicines you can get from a book .
Or the folks here.

That predator problem is the challenge .

I hate raccoons.

Hawks can be bad.

Coyote can be bad also.

Rats , snakes.

Raccoons...did I mention raccoons.

Jim
I have a long list of predators in my area for sure! I've read some pretty brutal stories about raccoons that get at the flock while doing my research! :eek: They're so rude.
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
I agree with the others - predators. Don't forget to enclose the top of the coop too, not so they down fly out, but to keep hunters at bay. I've had owls get my chickens before. Ft. Knox of chicken coops will save you down the road. Also, Rhode Island reds do lay well but are psychotic birds! They are popular but if you plan on turning them out at all, be prepared. The only birds I ever had that ate house paint (pecked it off the house!) would chase my car, friendly if I was a'foot, just weird.
Yes, 100% planning to enclose the top. My brother lives down the street from me and has had hawks try to get in from the top. I hear the owls at night, so I know they're around, too...

Re: Rhode Island reds, WOW! That's the kind of anecdote I came here for, haha. What other breeds have you owned?
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
My best advice would be to make everything tall enough to walk into! Mine have summer and winter homes. The summer home has an enclosure for night that is only 4 feet high (it fit the lumber and hardware cloth I had. it's a royal pain in the butt to clean. The winter home is easy, it's a 6x8 greenhouse. When it's above freezing, I can move the chickens out of the greenhouse and move the seedlings in :) they get range of the "compound" during the day, and go to their coop at night.

View attachment 34947 View attachment 34948
Great ideas, thanks for sharing! I love the idea of the greenhouse being a winter home! What kind of greenhouse do you have?
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Oh, the other thing, lay hardware cloth all under the coop and run where they spend the night, the raccoons are pretty good diggers to get a free dinner.
Oh, good point! I have hardware cloth under my raised beds to prevent diggers, but I hadn't been thinking about that as a feature for the chicken coop.
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
I agree completely on the hunching over... no fun. I used 6ftx10ft chain link fence panels with hardware cloth on the outside of the coop (pics in here somewhere). Except my panels aren't exactly 6ft tall, actually a little less. I still bang my head going through the door sometimes, very annoying! :mad:

Here is the thread on coop pictures... you might find some ideas you can use.
https://www.homesteadingforum.org/threads/coop-pictures.723/
Thanks for the link! I'm still browsing layouts/features and open to ideas, so this is great. :)
 

ZenScience

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
49
Ease of access - If you can't walk into it (such as an elevated coop), make sure you can easily clean all corners without hunching
Predator control - plenty of comments on this
Sturdiness - strong enough to withstand predators, weather, time, and future additions (the flimsy coops at TSC do not meet this requirement)
Thanks! Re: sturdiness, what building materials/methods have you tried or would recommend?
On the topic of birds... One year I started getting an unusual number of eggs broken. Chickens themselves will break eggs by accident from time to time. Anyway, one day I saw the culprits, it was crows. They were flying into my nest boxes, cracking eggs open and eating the yolks and whites. Lots of bird species do this to other bird nests in the wild.

I went back to my tried and true, neon green fishing line. Crows just hate the stuff. I hung a few strands in front of the boxes, 3 or 4ft. My number of broken eggs went back to normal levels.
Oh geez, that's really good to know because there are a LOT of crows that hang around nearby. Thanks for the tip!
 

phideaux

Spectator of Life
Neighbor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,534
Location
West Ky
I think my favorite hens that I had , and I've have many breeds, would be the Buff Orpingtons.
They are very docile, and don't get excited about much.
Excited , upset hens don't lay good.
The BO hens are good layers a even into late fall .

Just a good healthy a Reed IMO.

Jim
 
Last edited:
2

Latest posts

Group Builder
Top