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Grandma's Chicken Project

 
pollinator
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I'm posting on behalf of my Grandma who does not get along with computers.

She has chosen this chicken coop from Rural King and we know it is expensive, but the spring being so busy this would be a nice start. https://www.ruralking.com/chicken-coop-duplex-with-run She has come up with a way to finance it and I'm all for that.

She has chosen Buff Orpingtons as her egg chickens on the recommendation of her best friend. On the recommendation of another friend, she is planning to get them from here: https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/buff_orpingtons.html

I think the brooder kit from premier 1 is best, https://www.premier1supplies.com/p/heating-plate-starter-kit-for-chicks?cat_id=237 , but she hasn't decided yet. The Rural King kit is cheaper, but will it work?

The chickens are her project. I can make recommendations, but I can't decide things. This is her project.

Edited to add, she decided on the Rural King Kit that's $20. I can't blame her.
 
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The coop looks fine. My main thing is for the coop to have 1/2" hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. I have had racoons reach into the chicken wire and pull off chicken heads and legs through the wire.
 
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:She has chosen Buff Orpingtons as her egg chickens on the recommendation of her best friend. On the recommendation of another friend, she is planning to get them from here: https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/buff_orpingtons.html



How many chickens is she planning to get? Buff Orpingtons are gorgeous but they are large. I know the coop says six, but I wouldn't put six in there.

I've been enjoying the videos posted on Twitter by the Floof Lady, and she's got a YouTube channel, too. Here's a playlist for beginners (assuming your Grandma is a beginner), and she has Buff Orpingtons, so it'll give you a good idea. If you can help her set up to cast YouTube videos to her TV, she won't have to do anything on the computer.





 
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Those coops look like the same material and construction as a dog kennel an ex girlfriend once bought.
It wasn't the most sturdy of kennels and even after I reinforced it with more timber and screws it was still pretty junky...
I think they're made in China?
 
Diane Kistner
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Drew Moffatt wrote:Those coops look like the same material and construction as a dog kennel an ex girlfriend once bought.
It wasn't the most sturdy of kennels and even after I reinforced it with more timber and screws it was still pretty junky...
I think they're made in China?



I think the wooden coops, too, even if they are sturdier, have to be painted and maintained to keep from rotting. When I was first trying to get chickens, I was bewildered by the idea of having to build a coop, and I wanted to order something off-the-shelf, too. I wound up getting a small Snaplock coop, and my only regret is that I didn't get a large one. The small coop would easily hold four larger-bodied hens like the Buff Orpingtons, but right now I've only got two. What I like about this coop is that it's super-easy to clean and maintain, and it's not going to have to be painted or rot. It's also got insulating properties against cold and heat. I put it up on a simple wooden stand built from 2x4's (they have plans on the Formex Snaplock site) and cobbled together my run from some 2x4 gridwall panels I was using in the garden fortified hardware cloth and skirting around the bottom.







Coop-and-Close-Run-with-Arbor.jpg
Coop in Close Run, edged in concrete blocks, hardware cloth skirted under them and up the sides of the gridwall panel run
Coop in Close Run, edged in concrete blocks, hardware cloth skirted under them and up the sides of the gridwall panel run
Hens-Loose-in-Arbor.jpg
During the day, they get to scratch around under the arbor; netting covers the open spaces so they can't fly out.
During the day, they get to scratch around under the arbor; netting covers the open spaces so they can't fly out.
 
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I learned early on that some "statistics" scale up, some scale down, and some simply don't. I have observed this with chickens. Industry standards are often quoted for 'number of chickens per square feet of space', but as already commented on, the size of the bird is an issue, but so also is the temperament of the breed. One of the biggest problems in small spaces is that if some of the chickens decide they don't like another, there is no place to hide. Tight housing at night when it's dark may work if there's lots of space and interesting things to do during the day. The same number of "square feet per bird" when it's 2000 square feet and 1000 birds even if it's just a boring open barn, allows a bird to hide in the masses. Scale that down to 3 birds and 6 square feet and bad things can happen. Choose a calmer bird breed and things may be fine, but some of the feistier breeds will fight if not given lots of room, or free ranged. The two friends I knew who ended up with "small, cute" chicken houses, ended up using them for sitting and brooding chickens. One of them tried using them for breeding purposes, and found them marginal for that.

I will agree with Diane Kistner - easy to clean is important - and add easy to access *all* areas. Friend number 2 had relatively short areas under her coops that gave the chickens extra covered run during the winter rains, but as she got into her 60's and chickens decided that laying eggs in the very back of these areas was the best place, she was not impressed. She ended up with a large soup spoon on a 3 ft handle trying to collect eggs she couldn't get to without breaking them.
 
Diane Kistner
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:She has chosen Buff Orpingtons as her egg chickens on the recommendation of her best friend. On the recommendation of another friend, she is planning to get them from here: https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/buff_orpingtons.html



One thing I meant to say is that I ordered six chicks from McMurray Hatchery (which has a good reputation), and all of them arrived stone-cold dead. I don't blame the hatchery for that; it probably was an issue with the post office. But it's something to be aware of. Chicks do die in transit for all sorts of reasons. I wound up getting five more chicks from our local Tractor Supply during their chicken days, and the selection was not nearly as good. The just had straight run for the Easter Eggers, and the only females they had were Blue Wyandottes (which I had not researched) and Rhode Island Reds (which I had). All but one Wyandotte chick and the one straight-run Easter Egger I took a chance on (fortunately, a quite prolific little hen!) also died. I was brooding them in the house with an expensive brooder setup and hovering like, well, a mother hen...and I still wound up with nine dead chicks to bury.

The next time I get chickens, I will be buying young at-laying-age pullets from a farmer who sells them nearby. That way, I'll know I've got hens (we're prohibited from having roosters here), the initial aggravation of brooding the chicks and suffering losses won't be an issue, and the birds can still be trained (as easily as any chicken can be trained) to eat out of my hand and know that I'm the "mommy." I wanted hens mainly to be pet chickens and wanted only enough eggs for me, not to sell. That need is being satisfied with two birds, who have to get along because they're all they've got! LOL!

 
Ryan Hobbs
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I hope that we can get some good ones. I wonder if we can just drop in on the hatchery?

Grandma and I discussed housing them at length, and decided that we would buy plans and build the coop ourselves.
 
Diane Kistner
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:I hope that we can get some good ones. I wonder if we can just drop in on the hatchery?

Grandma and I discussed housing them at length, and decided that we would buy plans and build the coop ourselves.



You live near the hatchery? Oh, yes, go for it! Sounds like you'll be much happier with building your coop. I was too much of a klutz as a carpenter (or at least thought I was) to do that, but that's the route I'd go if doing it now. I assume you're already aware of Backyard Chickens...lots of clever time-savers posted there.

 
Ryan Hobbs
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Ryan Hobbs wrote:I hope that we can get some good ones. I wonder if we can just drop in on the hatchery?

Grandma and I discussed housing them at length, and decided that we would buy plans and build the coop ourselves.



You live near the hatchery? Oh, yes, go for it! Sounds like you'll be much happier with building your coop. I was too much of a klutz as a carpenter (or at least thought I was) to do that, but that's the route I'd go if doing it now. I assume you're already aware of Backyard Chickens...lots of clever time-savers posted there.



We do not live close. I just checked. I thought it was near Cincinnati, but that turns out to be false. I found a place in Cincinnati called Mt Healthy Hatchery. We could go there, it's only 2 hours away.
 
Diane Kistner
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:
We do not live close. I just checked. I thought it was near Cincinnati, but that turns out to be false. I found a place in Cincinnati called Mt Healthy Hatchery. We could go there, it's only 2 hours away.



You might call them first and see if they will let you buy fewer than 10 pullets. (Unless your Grandma wants that many.) Their prices look a little higher, but if they are very healthy birds, it's worth the extra cost. If she's allowed to have a rooster where she lives, the straight run cost will be less. Or just order them from the hatchery you'd first planned on and just know that chicks sometimes die. They refunded my whole order when mine arrived dead.

 
Ryan Hobbs
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Ryan Hobbs wrote:
We do not live close. I just checked. I thought it was near Cincinnati, but that turns out to be false. I found a place in Cincinnati called Mt Healthy Hatchery. We could go there, it's only 2 hours away.



You might call them first and see if they will let you buy fewer than 10 pullets. (Unless your Grandma wants that many.) Their prices look a little higher, but if they are very healthy birds, it's worth the extra cost. If she's allowed to have a rooster where she lives, the straight run cost will be less. Or just order them from the hatchery you'd first planned on and just know that chicks sometimes die. They refunded my whole order when mine arrived dead.



She and I live together. We want 12 pullets (we eat a lot of eggs and often have guests).
 
Ryan Hobbs
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This is the coop design we settled on. It needed several things and this one hits all of them.

1 it has to be accessible to grandma with her bad hip.

2. It has to hold 12 birds.

3. It has to be easy to modify or duplicate.

4. It has to be easy to build.

Now 3 is where we are going to differ from the plans, We're gonna make the coop part a bit bigger and the run much bigger. We're also using metal roofing because we have some just sitting in our shed.
 
Jay Angler
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I like this design *much* better. The only immediate change I would suggest is that they show the feeder outside in the run, and I recommend it be smaller and inside to decrease the risk of a rat problem. Rats are natural prey to both mink (and family) and raccoon, so keeping the feed safe reduces those risks as well. 12 chickens don't need more than a 10 lb feeder. My friend has had one of those 20 lb feeder for a couple of decades, but she's now over 70 and simply can't handle it.

Since you're planning this for a senior, making sure things have sturdy easy to grab handles and latches that are still raccoon safe would be good. You already state she's got a bad hip, so planning a bit for the future would be thoughtful. There is a senior center in England that introduced back-yard chickens, and it was a very positive contribution to the senior's well-being.
 
Diane Kistner
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You'll be much happier with that coop design. Also, you can increase the chickens' sense of how much space they have by adding some additional (removable if you want) perching places to the top part of the run. Be sure to give them a tire or two (or some such) filled with sand and dirt and wood ash to use for dust bathing; otherwise, they'll dig up the ground to bathe in.

 
Diane Kistner
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Jay Angler wrote:The only immediate change I would suggest is that they show the feeder outside in the run, and I recommend it be smaller and inside to decrease the risk of a rat problem.



I made my feeder out of one of those five-gallon blue water jugs with the tapered end with lid. I like it because the chickens don't try to sit on top of it, like they would with a bucket, and I can see through it to see what the feed level is. I cut a hole in it to put in a PVC elbow (but for more chickens I'd add a few more), and it's worked very well to keep both the rain out and the chickens from scattering feed all over the place. I haven't seen the level of food going down more than the two chickens are eating, at least not yet (winter's a ways away), so I'm thinking the mice aren't getting to it. I followed the instructions for the five-gallon bucket feeders except by using the water jug I've got a tidy little spout on top with a lid where I can add chicken feed with one of those bird feeder scoops, like this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004I3X66U/

Not having to lift a heavy feeder is a real blessing. When I started building this thing, I was expecting to have more chickens, so it's kind of overkill for my two hens, but I only fill it up with about six inches of feed in the bottom now. I've been advised by a number of folks to keep the feed itself in the house because it can go bad quickly and critters can get into it, but if feeding 12 chickens, it might be better to get one of those galvanized stainless steel trash cans to keep the feed in beside the coop so your Grandma can just top it off with a few scoops as needed.

Another thing I'd recommend is to go on and plan to get the chicks accustomed to those drip feeders. I started with the ones with the little end droppers that hang down, first ones that screwed on a soda bottle and then a bucket with the drippers in the bottom. The chicks figured it out very quickly once I showed them. I wish I'd gotten the ones that go in the side or have little cups, because the drippers do get plugged up fairly easily and have to be cleaned, and you can't sit the bucket down because the bottom drippers are in the way. But it's SO much better than bowls of nasty pooped-in water you have to change all the time!



 
Ryan Hobbs
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Here is my modified design.

chicken-coop.JPG
[Thumbnail for chicken-coop.JPG]
 
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Just a quick note about Murray McMurray.  I'm not sure what happened with Diane's order, but I have ordered from them several times and have only ever had one chick that was DOA.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Trace Oswald wrote:Just a quick note about Murray McMurray.  I'm not sure what happened with Diane's order, but I have ordered from them several times and have only ever had one chick that was DOA.



Thanks. I figured it wasn't their fault. My stepdad used to work for FedEx and he said one time a dog arrived DOA at his hub. He researched the manifest and the dog was shipped in close proximity to dry ice. The carbon dioxide suffocated it. Any time you're shipping living things, there is a risk of them showing up dead.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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It's all still up in the air, but this greenhouse deal is for 2 24ftx48ft greenhouses. I'm thinking of turning one into the chicken run since I don't need 2 to start seeds and grow melons.
 
Jay Angler
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OK, I'm jealous - two 24ftx48ft greenhouses sound awesome. If it's practical to put them nearby each other, and organize things well, you could start seeds *above* a 4 ft high chicken area and get some chicken-powered bottom heat. I would recommend organizing things so the you can easily control chicken access to various parts of the greenhouses so you get a version of rotational paddocks. I have only read in one place that chicken can introduce pests into a greenhouse. Other places I've read, they help to control pests and fertilize.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Jay Angler wrote:OK, I'm jealous - two 24ftx48ft greenhouses sound awesome. If it's practical to put them nearby each other, and organize things well, you could start seeds *above* a 4 ft high chicken area and get some chicken-powered bottom heat. I would recommend organizing things so the you can easily control chicken access to various parts of the greenhouses so you get a version of rotational paddocks. I have only read in one place that chicken can introduce pests into a greenhouse. Other places I've read, they help to control pests and fertilize.



I've got them on layaway now: two 24ftx48ft greenhouses.
 
Diane Kistner
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:
I've got them on layaway now: two 24ftx48ft greenhouses.



What's this greenhouse deal you got?
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Ryan Hobbs wrote:
I've got them on layaway now: two 24ftx48ft greenhouses.



What's this greenhouse deal you got?



It's all here:

https://permies.com/t/127475/Heated-Greenhouse

2 large commercial greenhouses for $1000 USD. It's gonna take me about 4 months to put away the money, but I made a deal for them.
 
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