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Thread: My garden and chicken coop advice

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    Default My garden and chicken coop advice

    So our garden this year iso really coming together. We are planting more stuff than we ever have. In addition to some fruit trees we have 20 tomato plants going in (various types), watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, broccoli, pole limas, cauliflower, carrots, various types of onions, beets, asparagus, peas, green beans, lettuce, blueberries, raspberries and tons of other stuff that we have decided to try. In addition we were just offered 7 free hens. I have never kept hens and would like some advice and knowledge from those who have and do. I am looking into coop designs and what I am finding are real elaborate designs that seem really overkill in both design and expense. Does anyone have a blueprint for something cheap, effective and simple? Also, how much feed would I be looking at to feed 7 each day and how many eggs on average would this amount of hens produce? Thanks for any advoce and if any of you find yourselves in Eastern Maryland this summer be sure to let me know as we will have more than we can possibly eat and can and would love to send some fellow liberty lovers home with some organic food and maybe even some seeds.
    "Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people
    designed to make of their victory,
    there would have been no surrender at
    Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me.
    Had I foreseen these results of subjugation,
    I would have preferred to die at Appomattox
    with my brave men, my sword in my right hand." - Robert E. Lee to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale (D-Texas), 1870




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    7 hens = 5-7 eggs per day (it's just under 1 egg per day, per hen as an avergage).

    I am doing the same as you this summer...including about 5 chickens. I'll be watching this thread for similar reasons.

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    Keep it simple. Will the coop also be their cage or will they be free range with a coop to roost in at night and lay eggs in? Chickens don't need much at all. Some lay boxes and something to perch on that is all out of the wind and rain. Leave enough room to put a source of heat(usually a heat lamp) in there for them in the cold of winter. They are birds, with down feathers, I am not sure if I have ever heard of a chicken freezing to death. If they have room to run around in the summer, it is nice to offer some shade if they choose. Mine usually just walk the yard, but I have a 50% or greater mixture of shade to sun. Try and create a couple vent holes in in that air can flow through in the summer, but they could be plugged back in the winter. Also, try and make it fox/possum/racoon proof. I have seen a mouse in our chicken coop, but it didn't seem to mess with them.

  5. #4

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    Do you have predators in area? Can your chickens roam freely (including in your garden - trick question) ?

    If they must be caged due to predators, etc. coops get more complicated quickly.

    One big thing you'll learn is that fencing is to keep predators out, this is more important than keeping chickens in.

    In coop, they need nesting boxes - anything from custom wood boxes hung on wall to the large enclosed cat litter boxes.

    They need a constant source of water and food. Keeping water from freezing in the waterers is a whole article right there.

    They need a roost, space for everyone. They need a way to get outside, and outside they need a run (fenced in area that will quickly turn to feces and mud).

    This is why you really want free range chickens if possible, or electric netting enclosed area you can move every 1-3 weeks as they eat the grass. Eggs from chickens that eat grass and bugs in the grass are what you want. (They still need some grain or chicken feed)

    Movable chicken tractors are nice, but seem more suited for southern (warmer) areas.


    Read this primer: http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/r...chickens/49527

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    yeah no need to make it too fancy because they're just going to shit all over it roosts on one side boxes on the other, dittos on predator proof, gotta watch hawks also if your in an area that is prone to them especially when they are chicks.

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    Well I am in the middle of a town of around 3,000 so not too many predators to worry about. We see the occasional possum and garter snakes but really nothing that could do them real harm outside of my dogs. Our entire back yard is fenced in so for the most part they would be rather free range. Good note on winter heat as it is something I had initially overlooked in making a list of things I needed. I have plenty of heat lamps because we have raised and bred exotic reptiles on and off for many years. I know this is probably a dumb question (please keep in mind that this would all be pretty new to me) but how much noise can I expect them to make. I obviously want to be a good neighbor and not get animals that are going to keep them up all hours of the night.
    "Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people
    designed to make of their victory,
    there would have been no surrender at
    Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me.
    Had I foreseen these results of subjugation,
    I would have preferred to die at Appomattox
    with my brave men, my sword in my right hand." - Robert E. Lee to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale (D-Texas), 1870


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    Hens will nearly be silent as far as your neighbors are concerned. The most noise they make is in the morning when laying, mine anyways. They kind of cluck a little louder then, otherwise you hardly ever hear hens. I live in a neighborhood and my neighbors on both sides of me honestly never noticed the chickens when we had only hens. Now we have a rooster.... his days are numbered. He calls ALL day long, nearly every 3 minutes with few breaks throughout the day. It would be cool if I was on a farm, but I hate it for my neighbors sake. Not sure what you meant by having possums, but nothing that will do them real harm. Possums and racoons will both eat chickens. We have had 4 killed by predators and we think they were all killed by either a racoon or possum.

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    Member donnay's Avatar
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    The Portable Coop!

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/th...e-chicken-coop


    Allowing the chickens free range, they will keep the bug population down. I want some guinea hens so they eat the ticks!!
    *Legal Disclaimer: While I am a keen researcher and want nothing more than to help people, I am not a doctor and more importantly, I am not your doctor. Any article I post that contains general information about medical conditions, treatments and remedies is to bring awareness. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You should never delay seeking medical advice, or discontinue any medical treatment because of information in an article I have posted. The only advice I would give is to continue to research further and use discernment with all advice.

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    If your dogs are medium size or better, depending on the breed, they will also kill your chickens. Just for fun.

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    A friend of mine, bought a puppy and put it in with the chickens. He is now a really big white dog and protects the chickens from even hawks and owls. No critter will ever come near his chickens. The dog lives in the large area that the chickens and the garden is in. The chickens also keep some of the grubs and the like from eating up certain types of plants like squash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrotterz View Post
    Not sure what you meant by having possums, but nothing that will do them real harm. Possums and racoons will both eat chickens. We have had 4 killed by predators and we think they were all killed by either a racoon or possum.
    I just meant that our yard is totally fenced in and I have only ever seen one in the yard even before it was fenced in. I know they can be an issue, I just don't expect it to be much of one here though I would still like to take some precautions.
    "Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people
    designed to make of their victory,
    there would have been no surrender at
    Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me.
    Had I foreseen these results of subjugation,
    I would have preferred to die at Appomattox
    with my brave men, my sword in my right hand." - Robert E. Lee to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale (D-Texas), 1870


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    Quote Originally Posted by donnay View Post
    The Portable Coop!

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/th...e-chicken-coop


    Allowing the chickens free range, they will keep the bug population down. I want some guinea hens so they eat the ticks!!
    That is a great link.. Thanks for that!
    "Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people
    designed to make of their victory,
    there would have been no surrender at
    Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me.
    Had I foreseen these results of subjugation,
    I would have preferred to die at Appomattox
    with my brave men, my sword in my right hand." - Robert E. Lee to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale (D-Texas), 1870


  14. #13

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    didnt see it mentioned, but you will want to either fence the garden in, or figure out a way to keep the chickens out of the garden (if free ranging)

    chickens will scratch and bed down in the garden, ruining most plants, if allowed to roam free.

    for a chicken waterer, i built something similar to this: http://simplethrift.wordpress.com/20...s-yup-nipples/
    nipples can be purchased here: http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies...;pgwc1030.html

    hope this helps.

  15. #14

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    http://www.aquaponicsusa.com/Aquaponics_USA_index.html

    I know it isn't chickens, but Aquaponics offers another way to become food independent.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdmyprez_deo_vindice View Post
    So our garden this year iso really coming together. We are planting more stuff than we ever have. In addition to some fruit trees we have 20 tomato plants going in (various types), watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, broccoli, pole limas, cauliflower, carrots, various types of onions, beets, asparagus, peas, green beans, lettuce, blueberries, raspberries and tons of other stuff that we have decided to try. In addition we were just offered 7 free hens. I have never kept hens and would like some advice and knowledge from those who have and do. I am looking into coop designs and what I am finding are real elaborate designs that seem really overkill in both design and expense. Does anyone have a blueprint for something cheap, effective and simple? Also, how much feed would I be looking at to feed 7 each day and how many eggs on average would this amount of hens produce? Thanks for any advoce and if any of you find yourselves in Eastern Maryland this summer be sure to let me know as we will have more than we can possibly eat and can and would love to send some fellow liberty lovers home with some organic food and maybe even some seeds.
    Please read this article:

    http://www.richsoil.com/raising-chickens.jsp
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdmyprez_deo_vindice View Post
    I just meant that our yard is totally fenced in and I have only ever seen one in the yard even before it was fenced in. I know they can be an issue, I just don't expect it to be much of one here though I would still like to take some precautions.
    You can still expect to lose some to predation. You're basically advertising free meals by having them. Friends of mine north of Frederick MD had little problem until they went on vacation for a week, and even with neighbors watching things they came home to an empty coop.

    I am not a big fan of fenced in chickens. I had a job with a small coop which was never cleaned, and getting near that thing a couple times put me off eating chicken for a whole year. Every time I smelled cooked chicken there was the tiniest hint of chicken shit in the aroma.

    I think ideally you'd have animals protecting them. If your dogs take a liking then you're set. Some people keep roosters to protect the hens, but then you've got the crowing, and also the fact that you're basically keeping a fighting cock in your yard. The ideal rooster to watch your hens is unfortunately the giant dickhead you have the least problem eating.
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    A little late, but some good advice. Go on craigslist and look up chicken coops. People who no longer want chickens are usually fine with getting rid of them for very cheap.

    I spent over $1k building my chicken coop and run. The intention was to make it predator proof. It held up pretty well, even with raccoons jumping on the coop and peeking around the side right at the chickens with no way of getting to them. It lasted about 2 years but finally a raccoon got in. I had everything secured but did not factor in water eventually rotting out one of the floors and the floor collapsing, creating an easy entrance for a hungry raccoon.

    My coop is now for sale on craigslist for $399. My wife cannot handle getting attached to any more chickens only to have them slaughtered by a raccoon.

    My listing:
    http://tampa.craigslist.org/psc/grd/2953596842.html
    Last edited by Elwar; 04-25-2012 at 11:41 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwar View Post
    A little late, but some good advice. Go on craigslist and look up chicken coops. People who no longer want chickens are usually fine with getting rid of them for very cheap.

    I spent over $1k building my chicken coop and run. The intention was to make it predator proof. It held up pretty well, even with raccoons jumping on the coop and peeking around the side right at the chickens with no way of getting to them. It lasted about 2 years but finally a raccoon got in. I had everything secured but did not factor in water eventually rotting out one of the floors and the floor collapsing, creating an easy entrance for a hungry raccoon.

    My coop is now for sale on craigslist for $399. My wife cannot handle getting attached to any more chickens only to have them slaughtered by a raccoon.

    My listing:
    http://tampa.craigslist.org/psc/grd/2953596842.html
    mine does not have a floor , it is wire , so when they dig under , they cannot get in . Coons are smart and relentless chicken killers . Next spring , I am going to buy a few turkeys , have to figure out what to do with them until they get big ....
    Last edited by oyarde; 06-04-2012 at 10:22 AM.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    mine does not have afloor , it is wire , so when they dig under , they cannot get in . Coons are smart and relentless chicken killers . Next spring , I am going to buy a few turkeys , have to figureout what to do with them until they get big ....
    Second the wire floor. I suggest welded wire over chicken wire. The gauge is heavier and will last longer.

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    sorry to come in late.

    I'm not in your county, so your rules are probably different, but here it's illegal to keep "farm animals" if you own less than 2 acres. A liberty candidate that was running for county council. He was surprised at how many people wanted chickens in this county and was going to push to relax regulations. Anyway, check your zoning and county regs before expending any effort building a coop, etc.

    On coops - my cousins built one from scrap lumber and old doors, chicken wire and stuff and it lasted years.

    On keeping water from freezing, build a small box like frame under a metal water bowl and stick a 100W bulb in the frame and put the bowl on top. buy the bowl first to get the size of the frame.

    I'm envious! - wanted to raise a few hens for eggs and have a goat for milk and cheese.

    good luck!

    -t
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    @tangent4ronpaul,
    I hope that, soon, all of mankind will be free. Then, you can have those things and much more.

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    I also wanted a goat and chickens!!!

    A house we're looking at actually has a chicken coop already. I figured it must be an omen.

    How do you keep chickens from freezing to death in Michigan winters?
    .[QUOTE]"Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won." - Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead[/QUOTE]
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    I also wanted a goat and chickens!!!

    A house we're looking at actually has a chicken coop already. I figured it must be an omen.

    How do you keep chickens from freezing to death in Michigan winters?
    Bring them inside with you?

    We want goats & chickens too. If we get that place, I think I'd build an attachment to the garage because it's heated, and let them get heat that way. I wonder how goats would do in these winters? Have to get those ones with lots of hair/fur.
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnay View Post
    I want some guinea hens so they eat the ticks!!

    I grew up with chickens, guineas, turkeys, ducks, and geese along with several other farm animals. If I had a choice, I'd go with ducks.

    Guineas are the lowest maintenance possible. They were free range at my parent's house. Give them some food and shelter when they're young and that's it. They do eat ticks, but they are very loud. Louder than roosters. They had a tendency to stick around for a while and then one day they'd just up and wander off and you'd never see them again. Might hear them in the woods once in a while. They're very stupid and very susceptible to predators.

    Ducks, on the other hand, are quiet. You can get a variety that doesn't fly off, and if you have a source of water, they won't wander, either. Their preferred food seems to be leeches, followed by other insects, but they're pretty much omnivores. My parents had a 3-4 acre lake and when they bought the property, you literally couldn't walk into the water without coming out with a leech attached. They bought a dozen ducks and maybe four or five years later they had 40 ducks and you couldn't find a leech to save your life. Might have to give them some cracked corn or something in the winter, but that's it. They don't make a mess like geese, and don't smell like chickens. I think they taste better than turkeys or geese (never tried a guinea). They only lay eggs seasonally, and they're a bit bigger than chicken eggs, but taste similar. We lost a lot to coyotes in the winter, when the lake froze over, but that was about it, other than raccoons eating some eggs. Not sure why other predators left them alone.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kluge View Post
    Bring them inside with you?

    We want goats & chickens too. If we get that place, I think I'd build an attachment to the garage because it's heated, and let them get heat that way. I wonder how goats would do in these winters? Have to get those ones with lots of hair/fur.
    I could wander up the road and ask, my neighbors have goats and chickens. I love goats, and I see them available for cheap / free quite a bit too.
    .[QUOTE]"Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won." - Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead[/QUOTE]
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    I blog at Red State Eclectic, and I tweet here,.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kluge View Post
    Bring them inside with you?

    We want goats & chickens too. If we get that place, I think I'd build an attachment to the garage because it's heated, and let them get heat that way. I wonder how goats would do in these winters? Have to get those ones with lots of hair/fur.

    My parents also had goats, for about five years. They did fine in the winter in Connecticut, although I'm sure Michigan is colder. The goats and chickens spent the night in the basement of a partially earth sheltered garage (it opened on one side so they could wander around in the day. It wasn't heated. They both did fine.

    They got rid of the goats because they had to be milked everyday and they didn't want to deal with it anymore.

  28. #27

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    http://firesignfarm.blogspot.com/2009/01/chicken-coop-in-winter.html

    G
    oogled "chickens in winter" - got this. Seems that the down stuff they put in winter coats also keeps birds warm. Go figure!
    .[QUOTE]"Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won." - Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead[/QUOTE]
    ..
    .

    I blog at Red State Eclectic, and I tweet here,.

  29. #28

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    If you free range, be sure to fence off their access to your garden, they will scratch all the top soil off your garden in search of bugs & worms. I love to free range my hens, as it keeps down the bug/slug population and it makes great eggs, rich in Omega-3s.

    As for food, I seek out an organic and soy-free food. It costs twice as much as the regular soy-feed but in my experience, the hens were much more healthier and I believe the eggs are better as well. Garbage in--garbage out cliche. I feed my hens back their own shells (clean, dry and grind first) and also leave them grit (tiny gravel-like stones that they eat with their food which helps break down their food).

    In the summer, I only give them food once a week or so, as they free range most of their food. In the winter I have to give them food every day, as there are less pickings. We also give them table scraps, with our toddlers we have a lot of peanut butter sandwich crusts! Since we eat organic, I feel fine giving them our scraps. They'll eat ANYTHING, about the only thing I don't give them is chicken meat, since that is just wrong in my eyes, lol. I do give them cooked eggs. My hens love things like lasagna, they go nuts. And watermelon, they especially love the seeds because they think they are bugs. Also corn on the cob!

    I was scared at first about getting chickens, I thought it would be a lot of work and worry. Turns out to be the easiest thing ever. Now that my hens are older, I'm incubating some fertilized eggs right now to replace them.
    Last edited by mearow; 06-05-2012 at 09:37 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    I also wanted a goat and chickens!!!

    A house we're looking at actually has a chicken coop already. I figured it must be an omen.

    How do you keep chickens from freezing to death in Michigan winters?
    Get yourself some Rhode Island Red or Hampshire Reds. They hold up great in our winters in NH.

    *Legal Disclaimer: While I am a keen researcher and want nothing more than to help people, I am not a doctor and more importantly, I am not your doctor. Any article I post that contains general information about medical conditions, treatments and remedies is to bring awareness. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You should never delay seeking medical advice, or discontinue any medical treatment because of information in an article I have posted. The only advice I would give is to continue to research further and use discernment with all advice.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by enoch150 View Post
    Ducks, on the other hand, are quiet. You can get a variety that doesn't fly off, and if you have a source of water, they won't wander, either. Their preferred food seems to be leeches, followed by other insects, but they're pretty much omnivores. My parents had a 3-4 acre lake and when they bought the property, you literally couldn't walk into the water without coming out with a leech attached. They bought a dozen ducks and maybe four or five years later they had 40 ducks and you couldn't find a leech to save your life. Might have to give them some cracked corn or something in the winter, but that's it. They don't make a mess like geese, and don't smell like chickens. I think they taste better than turkeys or geese (never tried a guinea). They only lay eggs seasonally, and they're a bit bigger than chicken eggs, but taste similar. We lost a lot to coyotes in the winter, when the lake froze over, but that was about it, other than raccoons eating some eggs. Not sure why other predators left them alone.
    We raised ducks when I was growing up, as pets and for the eggs. As to preventing them from wandering off - we fenced in the area and if you pick up a bag of Purina duck chow (yes they really make that) they will get fat enough that they can't take off - well, won't be able to take flight for more than a few feet. You can also clip their wings, but if you just feed them they will fatten up and stay home. I found ducks a bit more protective of their eggs than chickens and they would bitch when you stole them... Another thing about ducks is they don't do coop's - at least not in my experience. It was always a Easter egg hunt finding their new nests... Do pick up a small kids swimming pool for them - they love water. We lost one to the neighborhood fox, but otherwise no problems. Umm - get them a bale or two of hay and they will be happy.

    We goose sat one summer and geese are a trip! They lay HUGE eggs and are very aggressive about protecting them. They will come after you if you go after their nest. The one we were sitting got loose once and we located her, not by her loud hoooonk, hoooonk, hooonk's but rather from our neighbors high pitched screams... we found them in her garage. She standing on a stool and screaming - a scene right out of a disney cartoon except replace mouse with goose... LOL! We couldn't help but laugh! But yeah, a pissed off goose with wings fully open and chasing you is not a experience you will soon forget!

    -t
    Public education is not education ... it is schooling.
    Our military is not defense ... it is warmongering and empire building.
    Government police do not protect ... they control.
    Regulations do not regulate ... they protect the status quo.
    Government banks do not distribute money based on effort ... it is gifted to close friends ... and some of it trickles down.

    The result is war, poverty, fear, chaos, and hopelessness for most people with abundance for a few elite.
    -Travlyr

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