My family currently eats 2 dozen eggs per week. I am working on building a coop and run so I can get some good laying hens, and am not sure how big I should make the coop because I'm not sure how many chickens I will need to get 2 dozen eggs per week.
I am thinking 5, but am not sure if this will be enough. I'd rather have too many than not enough.
Could someone help me determine how many chickens I should get, and also let me know how many nesting boxes I should build for them? Once I know this, I'll know better how big to make the coop and run. The coop is being made from salvaged materials from a BBQ house that is falling down, it's about 20 feet by 10 feet, and I am thinking I can get a 10 foot by 10 foot coop and some good nesting boxes made from the wood that's not rotted away. But I don't know if this would be big enough, if it's not, I do have an old log cabin with good flooring I can salvage more boards from but I hate to go tear it down yet if I don't need the wood yet.
I found a guy via Craigslist that has Rhode island reds and bantams already laying. Which would be the better breed? He has 4 bantams and 10 reds, or should I look for something else?
I was thinking the reds, but only because that is what my grandmother used to raise and she always had plenty of eggs, but then again she always had 20 or more chickens in her coop.
So maybe 7 chickens, and at 4 square feet per chicken, this would make 24 square feet for the coop? I'm not very good with math, a 10 by 10 coop is 100 square feet? So if I had a coop that was 5 by 5 it would be 25 square feet, and this would be big enough for the seven chickens, with say 3 nesting boxes? The log cabin has a wooden ladder in it that will be used for the perch, so if I build an 8 by 8 coop (the ladder is 9 feet tall, this would allow it to angle out a foot or so for them to climb up easily), this is big enough for the perch and 7 chickens with room to spare?
I'm sorry I am not very good with math at all, I am not sure if my calculations are right or not.
Also I am clueless about sex-links, heavier hens, leghorns etc. I don't know what all that means, I just know my grandmother raised rhode island reds, for eggs and cooking, and the guy at the feed store is very helpful when it comes to selecting feed and our vet makes housecalls if needed. I'm trying to read the forums to learn as much as I can, I can build anything, I can milk goats and cows, I can slaughter chickens, pigs, fish, deer etc., but I am clueless about actually raising farm animals. Everything I have learned, has been when I have helped others with their own farm tasks in return for free fresh food, seeds, plants, tractor repairs etc (I barter a lot). My mom slaughters 2 pigs once a year and I help her with that in exchange for a ham, but some of the people I help, like her, their environments for their animals, although they are sufficient for raising....well I wish to be a bit more humane about where my animals live.
My husband laughs at me sometimes, I can do everything one needs to do when it comes to running a farm, I can plow, put in posts, build a barn......but once I get the manual labor tasks done, I am clueless. This is the year I go from just gardening to actually raising some farm animals, but now that I am ready to actually build for MY animals instead of others animals......well, no need for a huge barn with a huge fenced in area when I plan to start with just a pig or two, a few goats and some chickens. I can add later, but I don't want to spend 2 more years building a barn lol.
Again thank you for the help! I now know better where to start on the coop, and hope to have it and my pig pen completed this week.
I would choose RR over Banties. Our Banties are so flighty, you can hardly get near them. Make sure that you are getting young hens. Hens start laying at about six months. Many people sell year-old hens. These still make good layers. Hens two years and over won't lay nearly as well and start having health problems. Check out the hatcheries online for descriptions of sex-links. There are several kinds.
Sex-link chickens are crossbreeds that you can tell the sex by coloring at point of hatch. They are known for being middle weight, good feed to egg ratio, pretty good temperament.
Leghorns are what the grocery store white eggs come from. They are birds that eat less, are good with confinement, and lay tons of eggs.
Rhode Island Reds are pretty good birds. I haven't personally had them but my parents had them at one time, and they were nice birds.
Banties can be good birds, You do have to socialize them early and handle them lots. When my mom was growing up she had a banty hen that would ride on her bicycle handbars, and would sit on her shoulder anytime she was home. She had a major dislike for banty roosters though.
Buy 5 RIRs and you should easily have your 2 dozen weekly except when they moult. (Keep a spare carton or 2 of backups in your fridge if you have the room and use the oldest 1st; you will never eat an egg not fresher than what you can buy.)
I love my talkative little Leghorn; she's averaging 6.5 eggs a week. I never expected more than 3 eggs a week from my other 2 mutts (EEer and Maran mixes) but they're up to 4.5 each which means I about 16+ weekly from 3. They get 16% feed and range by choice; I suspect their "home life" contributes to their output.
I got 6 sex link pullets august of last year, they started laying exactly at 18 weeks was getting 5-6 pullet eggs a day, then winter hit and was getting 4-5 eggs a day, am now back up to 6 eggs a day. Am hoping when first molt hits the chicks I got will have started laying by that time. I have so many extra eggs that people are buying some from me at work. Now I have no extra eggs (my excuse for getting more chickens)
You could always try ducks instead of chickens. I have 4 ducks & 1 drake & get an egg everyday from each duck since end of January without any heat or artificial light. We love our ducks, very comical to watch too.
Actually just got 3 more ducklings but these won't be as heavy of layers as what I have already.
Yep. RIR's would be my choice. We have banties (which kinda means a dwarfed version of one breed or another, though some breeds are simply smaller), and they do lay smaller eggs, about the size of a healthy stone, but not near as big as a standard breed. Feathersite lists and shows all the different breeds there are to choose from, including leghorns, RIR's, Sexlinks and many more. You could familiarize with the many breeds there - though in time, after you've become a chicken collector like the rest of us, you may regret your ever wandered over!
Last edited by LFRJ; 04/05/10 at 11:51 PM.
Reason: oops. didn't finish.
I, myself, think I'd go with 6 RIR to begin with- next year get 6 more- the next year get 6 more, and send the original 6 to freezer camp! In other words, rotate 6 birds out every year- that way you'll have some established birds, and some learners. I'd go with a 10'x10' coop, 3 or 4 nest boxes 24" off the floor, use your ladder as a roost bar across 1 wall off the coop. Whatever you do, just have fun, it's not rocket science!
id get all 10 rir chickens but thats just me i like to have more cause you know once you start getting fresh eggs you will eat more than the store ones at least i eat more of my fresh eggs than i use to eat store eggs i use about 6 eggs a day just for breakfast just for myself
and as for mine i have nice 15 hole nesting box but they would rather lay there eggs on the side of the building in each corner but when i put straw in the box they all seem to go in to it and pull out the straw and then dont even go back to it lol stupid chickens but its ok cause they dont really mess with the eggs on the ground
10 chickens can use one box some times more i had 40 chickens and 5 nesting boxes and they would all try to lay in 1 box
but ya just have fun with it and learn as you go there chickens they really only need feed water and a place to sleep at night and they will be fine i know lots of people just leave then free range and if you do that you dont really need to feed them much if any
Again thank you for the help everyone. I will be going to pick up the reds this week once the coop is completed, and I have also found a place to get 2 week old chicks for just 1.99 each.
I already have a rabbit hutch that I built hoping to have rabbits, but since I have not found any rabbits yet, could the chicks be raised in the hutch until they are old enough for the coop?
As for ducks, we do have a pond, and ducks would be great to have just for the kids to enjoy as playpets, but I don't want to jump in over my head. This year we are trying for one or two pigs (I completed the pig pen this morning WOOT) the chickens, and hopefully 2 milk goats but one farmer told me to wait until fall for goats, when the prices go down.
I want to also raise quail, I have a wooden building for them to reside in already. The wooden building would make a great chicken coop but my husband doesn't want them too close to the house, and the building is about 20 feet from the house. He also says the chickens would ruin the building, but in my mind, the building would make a GREAT coop, it already has shelves that are just the right size for nesting boxes. But he did agree to let me cage quail in it, so I will be getting quail eventually also.
I also have a greenhouse (12 by 10) that I use to put some of my potted yard plants in during the cooler season, it also would make a great coop if it weren't so hot here, it's right beside a magnolia tree so I could make them a huge and safe run using poultry netting and bird netting but my husband said the greenhouse would get too hot for the chickens, even with door and windows left open (it does have electricity and a fan in one of the windows). The greenhouse I could use, but I wouldn't want my chickens to get too hot and die, so that's why I am building the coop from scratch.
If there were a way to make the greenhouse safe for chickens, I would MUCH rather use it so I could get many more chickens than just 5, people around here are always looking for fresh eggs and they'd be great for bartering for veggies. Right now I just store my gardening tools in it, and move about 5 or 6 plants in the winter....it was my MILs and we inherited it when she passed away, but it basically sits unused for the most part. The tools could be easily moved to the wooden building and the plants could easily come into the house when it gets too cold for them.