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Help! 4 lovely ladies just moved in, coop and all

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  • How much sweet pdz in coop

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    01-21-2013, 11:09 AM
  #11
Started
You've probably spent the past 24 hours doing a lot of research online about chickens but I think Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens is well worth it to own. Pretty much anything Gail Damerow writes is worth the read.

Frostbite is a rather common in sub zero climates with single comb varieties. You can look for varieties that are more cold hardy with smaller rose or pea combs when you add chickens. Wyandottes and Ameraucanas are always beautiful additions that add a lot of color to the flock.

Chickens love dirt baths. The will roll around and fluff themselves in the shavings but they need dirt to work it in to their skin. Take an old kitty litter pan and fill it with dirt. Put it in the coop and let the party begin. Some people will mix in DE with the dirt for bugs and mites but that's probably not much of a concern this time of year.

Chicken coops are a good use of used building materials. Spend some time checking out what stuff you have laying around the property that can be put to good use in your new and improved coop. What you have is a good place to start and might just need windows that you can open and close for ventilation, some insulation and a good secured people and chicken (pop) door. I'd nail a piece of plywood over the open window for now. Chicken wire won't keep a determined predator out. If there is just that one perch, add a second one about one foot lower for now. One closer to the ground will be warmer than one in the middle of the coop. Keep your eye on CL for free materials too.
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    01-21-2013, 12:31 PM
  #12
Trained
Chicken Treat Chart The Best Treats For Backyard Chickens - BackYard Chickens Community

Here's a link to a related forum, Backyard Chickens. It's got TONS of good info, a BB similar to this one where people chat about their birds and any bird issues.

I have a large flock, so my coop is pretty big, but it's not terribly fancy. The main thing is to keep them out of drafts and dry when the weather is really ugly. Your birds will be very cold hardy, folks in Alaska and Canada don't heat their coops, so really no heat is necessary. Deep litter on the floor will give them something to snuggle in on cold nights. For their combs, you can put vaseline on them and it will protect them from frost bite.

I feed a good layer ration and oyster shell, free choice on both, and then as a treat I toss down some Scratch when I want them to follow me. Scratch is not nutritionally complete, it's more like a Chicken Candy. I ask my hens, "Do you girls want some candy?" and they come running because they know I'm tossing down scratch.

For bedding, I use a lot of shavings, and I clean maybe 4 times per year. To keep smells down you can put Sweet PDZ in the shavings and I toss handfuls of scratch in there and they go in and stir up the bedding, which keeps things nice and dry. Wet bedding will start to smell bad, if they toss the bedding regularly, everything gets stirred up and won't smell so bad. If I ever notice any kind of an ammonia smell, I strip and clean the coop immediately. Birds are very sensitive to fumes.



I have hardware cloth (heavy gauge wire) on the windows and all around the bottom of the coop. The run is made of 2X4's and is covered in hardware cloth. Most predators will rip right through chicken wire. My windows are 2ft X 2ft and open 95% of the time. If it's going down below 20 F, or a storm is blowing in from the south, I drop the shutters down and cover the windows. I leave their little pop door open 24/7 unless it's going to get REALLY cold, again below 20 F. I have vents all around the top of the coop and by design, none of the corners fit too tight, so that they get lots of air in their, but not drafts. I have 6 egg boxes in the bump out in the front of the coop.

My chickens free range all day, hubby lets them out in the morning on his way to work and I go out and put shut the door on the run about dark. In the winter, I have supplemental light inside the coop for 4 hrs/day to keep up egg production. I pick up my eggs every evening when I go out to close the door on the run.

The hen my hubby is holding is a Black Cochin, I originally took the pic for a friend of mine who'd "never seen a chicken with 'furry' feet.".
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    01-21-2013, 12:36 PM
  #13
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand Percherons    
You've probably spent the past 24 hours doing a lot of research online about chickens but I think Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens is well worth it to own.
Hehehe...yep...pretty exciting Sunday night in our house, reading the backyard chicken care forums. I will look out for that book though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand Percherons    
Frostbite is a rather common in sub zero climates with single comb varieties. You can look for varieties that are more cold hardy with smaller rose or pea combs when you add chickens. Wyandottes and Ameraucanas are always beautiful additions that add a lot of color to the flock.
I spent some time with the girls this morning and saw that 3 out of the 4 seem to have white tipped combs. I don't know if they had it before or it happened in the last day or so, but we're trying to close off drafts as best we can. Heading into really wretched weather this week, with windchills around -15F. I did notice, though, that there was some condensation on the inside of the plexiglass this morning, and from what I read yesterday, moisture in the coop is actually a bigger frostbite threat than simply cold temps, right? Not quite sure what to do about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand Percherons    
Chicken coops are a good use of used building materials. Spend some time checking out what stuff you have laying around the property that can be put to good use in your new and improved coop.
Yes, my husband has already been up in the rafters of the garage seeing what materials he can re-purpose. So far, looks like we've got plenty for a new roof, door, and new base when it gets a little warmer.

I took out some veggie scraps today, corn, lettuce, tomatoes from our dinner last night. They LOVED the tomatoes. So funny to watch them eat, and I love the soft little noises they make while they're "talking" to each other.

A couple of them ventured outside while I was tidying up and rearranging the food in the coop, but they definitely didn't seem inclined to go far. I'm thinking they'll be shut in the next couple of days while it's so frigid, and then we can get more creative about setting up a turnout pen for them this weekend.
     
    01-21-2013, 12:40 PM
  #14
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians    
Chicken Treat Chart The Best Treats For Backyard Chickens - BackYard Chickens Community

Here's a link to a related forum, Backyard Chickens. It's got TONS of good info, a BB similar to this one where people chat about their birds and any bird issues.
Yes, I found that last night and spent a lot of time reading- I was encouraged to see that there were a lot of other newbies there asking the same kind of questions I had!

DA, thanks for all the good suggestions on setup- we're busy compiling ideas for the spring. The bird in the picture is so interesting- I haven't even begun trying to get into the different breeds yet. So much to learn!
     
    01-21-2013, 12:52 PM
  #15
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan    
Yes, I found that last night and spent a lot of time reading- I was encouraged to see that there were a lot of other newbies there asking the same kind of questions I had!

DA, thanks for all the good suggestions on setup- we're busy compiling ideas for the spring. The bird in the picture is so interesting- I haven't even begun trying to get into the different breeds yet. So much to learn!
Your very welcome! I'm always happy to help if I can. I'll take some pics today around and in the coop so you can see what we've done, you're welcome to use any ideas that you think will work for you.

Cochins are my absolute favorite breed for looking at and as pets. They are very sweet, docile birds and some can become very much the pet. They are not great layers though, so I only keep a few. For layers I like my Ameracaunas or Easter Eggers, Buff Orpingtons (fluffy butts, they're cute and they lay), Wyandottes (silver laced are my favs). I've had some Polish, those are some fun looking birds!, but they aren't great layers and the other hens picked on them.

I'm all about the eggs, and I just get hatchery birds. I am not worried about showing or purity really. I'd like to get a few more breeds just for fun and in my next order will expand and get a couple more, like Marans that lay chocolate eggs and maybe a Silky or 2, just for fun.

Since you don't have a run right now, you don't have much choice, but I never keep food or water inside the coop, I set it just outside in the run. Wet food stinks, and too much humidity isn't good. If you're getting condensation on the windows, you don't have enough ventilation, maybe put a vent in up at the top of the walls?

Here's what a typical egg gather for one day looks like around here:

     
    01-21-2013, 01:16 PM
  #16
Green Broke
I'd put in a heat lamp for them. A red bulb is best as it won't keep them awake at night.

I put my lamp at one end of the coop so they can shuffle around if needed so they don't get too warm or too cold. The bigger, fluffy cochins tend to roost on the outside of the heat area whereas those who are molting, the less fluffy and the bantams roost right in the middle of the warmth.
     
    01-22-2013, 08:28 PM
  #17
Trained


Here's the front of the coop, shutters down. Egg boxes in front. The black tub in front is a 40 gal, stock tank that I use for their water. I have a de-icer in it for winter. The cinder blocks in front of the egg boxes are so I can reach down and get the eggs. Hubby is tall with long arms, didn't realize when he built it, that I would have to fold over and hang upside down and still barely reach the eggs.



I have a metal roof on top of the run, depending on where you live you may or may not need to protect from overhead predators. I put tarps on the north side to break the wind.



Here's the run, framed with 2X4's and covered in Hardware Cloth over chicken wire. We started with chicken wire, saw how quick a raccoon could tear it out and put the hardware cloth over the chicken wire, so far, no intrusions.



We wrapped the bottom 2X4 with the hardware cloth and then dug down about 3 inches and extended it around the coop about 2 ft and buried it. Again, to keep digging predators out.



Inside, 3 roosting boards with a 'table' so I can inspect a chicken that I think has something wrong with it.
     
    01-22-2013, 08:41 PM
  #18
Trained


Egg boxes from the inside. I have 6 over sized ones for 30 hens and 6 guineas. I bed down with shavings and throw scratch in so that they keep it well stirred.



You can see their "pop" door, I'm standing in the full sized door taking the pics. The coop is probably about 6 1/2 or 7 ft tall inside, plenty of room for a person to stand up. They make automatic, timed, pop doors but they are $$$$. I just cut a hole, put the door on hinges on the bottom and put it up and hook it closed at night, unhook and drop it in the morning. Nothing to break and didn't cost me anything.



A couple of the 'girls' and a couple guineas. I think guineas are just too comical. Love the way the one is flapping his wattles at me.



The girls and RooManChoo stirring up the shavings in the coop.







Most of my girls are Ameracaunas, a mix of Aracauna and just about anything else, also known as Easter Eggers because of their colored eggs. I have 1 pure Aracauna, the fluffy butts are Silver Laced Wyandottes, nothing is cuter than a fluffy chicken butt IMO, and the black one is a Black Cochin, my favorite breed. The roos are Easter Eggers, the red one is no longer with us, he became very aggressive and had to be culled. So far, the ivory one, RooManChoo is very docile and gets to live.
     
    01-22-2013, 08:57 PM
  #19
Yearling
Dreamcatcher- Wow- what a great tour of your amazing set-up. You give a girl something to aspire to! Too many great tips in your post and photos to count, but I am making my husband read this thread to see all the possibilities.

We have both become attached to the ladies already. He has decided they should be named after female jazz vocalists, so we have:
Billie (Holiday)
Sarah (Vaughan)
Irma (Thomas)
Ella (Fitzgerald)

It is 10 degrees F right now, on it's way down below zero tonight. I covered over their door and the big cracks around it with plastic sheeting, and then a really thick towel, and covered over the open window with multiple layers of burlap (thinking that wouldn't be a direct draft but still allow some air transfer, in addition to the large vents up high). They have plenty of food and thick straw. Despite the raw weather, they greeted me with two eggs today, so I'm assuming if they were too stressed by the temps they wouldn't be laying, right?

Tomorrow is supposed to be the same temp range (0-10 F), with wind chills in the negative teens. I'm feeling like if I can safely get them through the next few days, we can make some improvements to the setup when it warms up this weekend, including getting them a run setup for some outdoor time.

Yesterday, when it was still in the 20s, I did give them the chance to go out in the yard, and they were thrilled at the jailbreak. Got to see who had the more adventurous personalities- the two barred rocks ended up in the garage and scratching eagerly around the driveway, which is cleared of snow unlike the area around the coop. The reds hung out around the coop door but put themselves back in on their own pretty quickly. The barred rocks needed a little more encouragement.


This is so much fun already- just wishing for warmer weather to get here.
maura likes this.
     
    01-22-2013, 09:11 PM
  #20
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan    
Dreamcatcher- Wow- what a great tour of your amazing set-up. You give a girl something to aspire to! Too many great tips in your post and photos to count, but I am making my husband read this thread to see all the possibilities.

We have both become attached to the ladies already. He has decided they should be named after female jazz vocalists, so we have:
Billie (Holiday)
Sarah (Vaughan)
Irma (Thomas)
Ella (Fitzgerald)

It is 10 degrees F right now, on it's way down below zero tonight. I covered over their door and the big cracks around it with plastic sheeting, and then a really thick towel, and covered over the open window with multiple layers of burlap (thinking that wouldn't be a direct draft but still allow some air transfer, in addition to the large vents up high). They have plenty of food and thick straw. Despite the raw weather, they greeted me with two eggs today, so I'm assuming if they were too stressed by the temps they wouldn't be laying, right?

Tomorrow is supposed to be the same temp range (0-10 F), with wind chills in the negative teens. I'm feeling like if I can safely get them through the next few days, we can make some improvements to the setup when it warms up this weekend, including getting them a run setup for some outdoor time.

Yesterday, when it was still in the 20s, I did give them the chance to go out in the yard, and they were thrilled at the jailbreak. Got to see who had the more adventurous personalities- the two barred rocks ended up in the garage and scratching eagerly around the driveway, which is cleared of snow unlike the area around the coop. The reds hung out around the coop door but put themselves back in on their own pretty quickly. The barred rocks needed a little more encouragement.


This is so much fun already- just wishing for warmer weather to get here.
I LOVE the names! I don't really name mine, I have too many to keep straight. The cochins all get called Coochie and the others are just, "ladies" or 'girls'. I name the roo because I never keep more than one of those.

You'll get so used to them following you around and 'supervising' whatever you're doing, that if you don't have a couple around talking (gossiping) and scratching, then you'll wonder what's wrong. The other day my husband and I were just rolling because the girls were coming up and 'talking' to us and I'd answer back, "You don't say? ETHEL said THAT?" and they'd very earnestly look at me and "Bok Bok Bok.....bawwwwwwk". It was like we were having a conversation and went on for 20 minutes. My husband had tears rolling down his cheeks he was laughing at us so hard.

I don't know about predators in your area, but here I keep that coop zipped up like Fort Knox and to the point I think I'm paranoid and until the last 2 years, I wasn't paranoid ENOUGH. Raccoons especially, with their little 'hands', are very tough to keep out. Skunks are abundant around here too, and OMG, if one of those gets in, you'll play HE!! Getting it out without having to burn the coop. UGH!
     

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