chicken coop on the cheap
Which came first? The Chicken or the Coop? Free Coop Plans Hopefully for you and the chicken, you had / have a coop before bringing your chicks or pullets home. Your coop can be very large (housing several thousand pullets) or very small (housing as few as 1 or 2 pullets) depending on the number and size of the chicken breed you have chosen.
Rule of thumb is standard size breeds, layers and meat breeds require a minimum of 2 square feet of coop (hen house) floor space for each chicken. Bantam breeds can get by with as little as 1- 1/2 square feet of floor space per-bird. Using a half sheet of plywood as flooring, (4ft by 4 ft) you can safely house 6 or 8 standard size pullets/hens.
Unless you eat more eggs than most families eat ‘now days’ 8 hens will quickly fill your refrigerator with more eggs than your family can possibly eat. The experts tell me that 1 hen will lay 1 egg every 27 hours. If you have 8 hens, that works out to 5 or maybe even 6 eggs per-hen or 40 – 48 eggs every 7 days! Grinning, do the arithmetic Before you bring home 10 or 12 of those cute little chicks.
FYI – DIY hatching eggs No you do not need a rooster for your hens to produce eggs. A rooster is only needed if you plan on hatching a few eggs. Besides your neighbor will be much happier if you do not have an old rooster that starts crowing at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning.
After you have your coop, your next big decision is what breed chicken do I get. One of the larger duel purpose chickens is a good choice. They are good egg layers, large enough to be good table (meat) birds and in general have a quiet disposition making them easy to handle and are easy to keep penned in a uncovered outdoor run. They are easy to dress for the table. Their heavy plumage make them good to excellent winter layers, most laying brown eggs. They also make excellent setters and mothers.
If you like something a bit different think about getting a few bantams. They have the same disposition and coloring of their full size counter parts but are only about 1/3 to 1/2 their size and weight. They are good to excellent small egg layers and are good setters and mothers.If you are want excellent high egg production layers, that are non-setters and a medium weight birds, consider one of the Leghorn strains. White, red and brown leghorns are the most common. All leghorns lay large white eggs.
Disclaimer: I am not endorsing this or any other hatchery, but, Murray McMurray Hatchery has a ton of full color poultry pictures along with all the information about many different breeds that you will need to make a decision on what breed you may want to have in your backyard flock. I strongly recommend that you read and carefully select the breed that best fits your space and weather conditions.
My Personal Comment: I buy my chicks locally. I pay a bit of a premium price per chick, but, if I only need 1 chick that is all I must buy. Mail order generally requires that you order a minimum of 24 or 25 chicks plus shipping charges. In many cases shipping cost is as much as the cost of your chicks.
Without a rooster in your flock, chickens are quite, requiring little space and little feed if allowed to free range over your backyard, providing meat and eggs for your families table.
Chicken Sex: Smile, now that I have your attention, Here’s how to sex your day old chicks by looking at their wing feathers.
Sexing day old chicks: It is fairly easy to determine if you know the secret to feather sexing day old chicks. This is a visual examination of the chicks wing feathers to determine it’s sex. I found this site with all the information you will need in sexing your new day old chicks. Feather Sexing Chickens is provided by University of Missouri – Animal Sciences – College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
You can save a lot of time, money and effort by sexing day old chicks and only keeping the only pullets. Unless you plan on raising the rooster for meat birds or you need a breeding rooster, it is best to sell or give away all the roosters that you hatch. It requires a great deal of time, effort and feed to get these birds to butcher weight.
One note of Caution: Feather sexing chickens can only be accomplished when the chicks are 1 or 2 days old. Birds grow so fast that by day 3 it is ‘Very’ difficult or impossible to use this method to determine the sex of your chicks.
Why is common sense So uncommon?
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