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Adding Chickens to the farm... I've got questions!

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  • Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
    Guy who gave them to me hatched them, but he's not a breeder & has a mixed flock so muttage could have happened.
    Ahhhh, that would explain the white legs, and why they're darker barred than you'd expect.
    It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

    Comment


    • OK, bear with me. This is long, but our coop setup works really really well so I thought I'd go into detail.
      I've got the luxury of a large coop--an actual 25x15' ish building. but all of this can be done on a smaller scale too. OP, your building is plenty big to section off. Highly recommend!

      In mine, I framed walls (hardware cloth wire over wood framing --widely spaced since it's not at all structural) to divide the coop into thirds. Using hardware cloth means they can see/interact with each other but it's fairly predator-proof. This being a Farm Where Stuff Accumulates, I had two old screen doors lying around, but you can get them for like $2 if your area has a building materials salvage center. Here's a diagram of the layout:

      Click image for larger version

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      Note that only the "Adult" area has a door to the outside--we free range, and the door opens/closes on a timer. (It is so totally worth the $ to have an automatic coop door, btw).

      When I'm not raising chicks or otherwise segregating anyone, I leave open the screen door that divides the two areas. If I need to keep some birds inside, the Young Chicken area is a really handy segregation area. For example, the day before we process the meat birds, I herd them into that area so they stay inside, they're easier to catch, and I can withhold feed the night before.

      Chicks:
      Weeks 1-4 or so: chicks are in a covered brooder crate with a heat lamp, in the young chicken area. The adult birds (and barn cats!! due to the auto door, cats can get in the coop) have full access to that section so they get used to the new chicks in their space, but can't get at the chicks.

      Weeks 5-6 ish: When they have some feathers & getting big enough that the brooder feels crowded I close the door to isolate the young chick area of the coop. Chicks have full run of this section, no cats or hens can get in, no exterior access. By now, the barn cats don't show much interest-- they honestly seem to get that the chicks are part of the farm and not prey. But still, the chicks are small enough and not flying yet, so better to be safe.
      It's good for the adults and chicks to meet each other through the wire wall.

      Wks 6-8ish: Once the chicks have feathered out enough that they start flying up onto the roosting bars (at which point they're also big enough that the cats don't look twice at them), it's time to let the adult and kids mingle. So, I open the screen door just enough that chicks can pass in/out but the hens can't (and while a determined cat could certainly go through, by this point they're completely uninterested.

      The above may sound regimented and complicated but honestly it just flows. Basically, when they seem ready, I go to the next stage and we've have Zero drama (and zero losses to barn cats). The segmented coop is what makes it easy. As for dogs, I'll defer to others who have done it. Personally I don't know anyone who's successfully free-ranged with dogs on the farm--chickens appear to be very very hard for dogs to resist.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        HungarianHippo - great info. Thanks!

        I really like the idea of sectioning off my space into two areas, with a door between them. I was wondering about screen doors (properly reinforced of course). I was thinking of going to Habitat for Humanity, which has a plethora of doors available. I like the idea of a screen door because it adds ventilation and allows the chickens to see each other.

        Which reminds me, that is something I wanted to ask about - ventilation that is. This old pig barn is heavy duty corrugated sheet metal. The only openings on the East/West side are the old pig doors. There are no windows or human doors on the east/west sides. There will be 3 openings put in the west side - stall door openings for the horses to access their stalls.

        There is a human door at the south end and a human door at the north end (at each end of the 5' wide aisleway). The north end door will be covered up, as that will be a horse stall.

        The only two "windows" are in the south wall - and they are just cutouts, on hinges that fold down. One on either side of the human door. The south wall is the only wood wall of the barn. I guess they ran out of metal sheets. lol

        So - my plan was to put an exhaust fan in the north eve of the barn that blows OUT, thus drawing air in from the windows and the open stall doors to get a nice draft through the barn (to be used in summer, obviously). The interior wall between the horse stalls and the coop will be wood on the bottom 4 or 5 feet and hardware cloth above to the rafters. Seemed a bad idea to completely enclose the coop on all four walls - right? or wrong?

        Updated plan attached.
        Attached Files
        ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

        Comment


        • I just got my long planned coop built. It’s similar to the plan HH posted except I have storage area, indoor coop, then hardware cloth covered porch with outdoor access if I open it. We’ve had Chickens over 10 years and I’m thrilled with this coop.

          So so many great ideas in this thread.
          Time management tough for you? 42 great tips and support through this course!

          Comment


          • Pulling air out is great. Chickens breathe moist air out. The drier you keep it, the better.
            It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

            Comment


            • You might also think about running a vent along the top of the wall. Just cut out...oh, 4-6 inches of siding where it meets the roofing, and fill that space with hardware cloth instead. Great passive ventilation.

              The plan is looking great! One thing I did in my breeding pens was make each of them accessible individually, and that does really work well. It's really nice to not have to go through one to get to another. Not sure if that's possible with your space, but one thing to consider

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                Simkie - there is a gap where the rafters go through the metal siding all the way down the east side and the west side of the barn. Like the metal sheets don't go all the way up and touch the roof above. There is a wood sill that the metal sheet is attached to at the top, then the gap a little smaller than the height of a 2X4, then the roof panel.

                Been trying to figure out how to best enclose that small space. I was thinking foam insulation. But if it is best to leave that open, really heavy screening or hardware cloth would work. I guess I only need to do that for the feed and coop areas - not all the way around two sides X 40 feet. - because that would be really labor intensive (which is why I was thinking spray foam, which is cheap, easy and simple! lol
                ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  Oh - and how would you attach hardware cloth to galvanized, corrugated, metal siding? Is there a special glue or you weld it on or how?
                  ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

                  Comment


                  • Simkie, what breeds of chickens do you raise?
                    Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                    www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                      You might also think about running a vent along the top of the wall. Just cut out...oh, 4-6 inches of siding where it meets the roofing, and fill that space with hardware cloth instead. Great passive ventilation.

                      The plan is looking great! One thing I did in my breeding pens was make each of them accessible individually, and that does really work well. It's really nice to not have to go through one to get to another. Not sure if that's possible with your space, but one thing to consider
                      Yes- frame out a 'window' with wood then screw the hardware cloth to the wood with screws and big fat washers to help keep it flat. Were it me I'd sandwich the wire ends between two boards because nothing shreds finger tips like the rough edge of HW cloth.

                      Also, if the exhaust fan is mounted up high, I would counter it with a hardware cloth window on the opposite wall, down low, rather than up high. Ideally fresh air would enter the space down low and be pulled up and out up high.

                      I don't like the idea of spray foam- it's not critter proof. I'd do HW cloth. it'll be ugly but who cares.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by 4LeafCloverFarm View Post
                        Simkie - there is a gap where the rafters go through the metal siding all the way down the east side and the west side of the barn. Like the metal sheets don't go all the way up and touch the roof above. There is a wood sill that the metal sheet is attached to at the top, then the gap a little smaller than the height of a 2X4, then the roof panel.

                        Been trying to figure out how to best enclose that small space. I was thinking foam insulation. But if it is best to leave that open, really heavy screening or hardware cloth would work. I guess I only need to do that for the feed and coop areas - not all the way around two sides X 40 feet. - because that would be really labor intensive (which is why I was thinking spray foam, which is cheap, easy and simple! lol
                        Could you block that as framing in a house, with odds and ends of wood left over from other?

                        Nail pieces up there to fill that small gap.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by 4LeafCloverFarm View Post
                          Oh - and how would you attach hardware cloth to galvanized, corrugated, metal siding? Is there a special glue or you weld it on or how?
                          In some places, you can add "furring strips" to the metal sheeting, then attach/staple your whatever, hardware cloth, insulation, screening, other wood to it:

                          https://www.google.com/shopping/prod...E,gclsrc:aw.ds

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by 4LeafCloverFarm View Post
                            Simkie - there is a gap where the rafters go through the metal siding all the way down the east side and the west side of the barn. Like the metal sheets don't go all the way up and touch the roof above. There is a wood sill that the metal sheet is attached to at the top, then the gap a little smaller than the height of a 2X4, then the roof panel.

                            Been trying to figure out how to best enclose that small space. I was thinking foam insulation. But if it is best to leave that open, really heavy screening or hardware cloth would work. I guess I only need to do that for the feed and coop areas - not all the way around two sides X 40 feet. - because that would be really labor intensive (which is why I was thinking spray foam, which is cheap, easy and simple! lol
                            I haven't read closely enough to know. You can't have anywhere that anything can get in. From wild birds robbing your feeders to snakes and minks robbing you of eggs and chicks and chickens, it has to be impenetrable. Ours is about 12 X 16, all 2x4s and HW cloth. It has a buried skirt of HW cloth. HW cloth meets the metal roof everywhere.

                            If it has a way to enter, it will find it.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                              Could you block that as framing in a house, with odds and ends of wood left over from other?

                              Nail pieces up there to fill that small gap.
                              Yes, wood would work as well. Its just not a perfectly consistent space between each rafter and the metal siding - some have more of a gap than others.

                              When you make a window opening through the siding, and cover with the hardware cloth - does that stay "open" all winter? Or do you have plexiglass or acrylic covers for them (so they let in light, but not cold breezes). I'm not in a truly horrible winter climate here in Middle TN, but it can get cold - and downright freezing for a week or more where the temp doesn't get above freezing day or night.

                              How do you make sure you have decent ventilation, but your chickens don't freeze to death in winter? Or do you use some sort of heat lamp (I shudder to think of using one in a barn) or some other way to make sure chickens are warm?
                              ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by 4LeafCloverFarm View Post

                                Yes, wood would work as well. Its just not a perfectly consistent space between each rafter and the metal siding - some have more of a gap than others.

                                When you make a window opening through the siding, and cover with the hardware cloth - does that stay "open" all winter? Or do you have plexiglass or acrylic covers for them (so they let in light, but not cold breezes). I'm not in a truly horrible winter climate here in Middle TN, but it can get cold - and downright freezing for a week or more where the temp doesn't get above freezing day or night.

                                How do you make sure you have decent ventilation, but your chickens don't freeze to death in winter? Or do you use some sort of heat lamp (I shudder to think of using one in a barn) or some other way to make sure chickens are warm?
                                Why not just frame an opening for a regular, little cheap window you can get anywhere:

                                https://www.kmart.com/shed-windows-a...-SPM9454018917

                                Then you can use hardware cloth attached to the window frame to have predator control in that opening.

                                Comment


                                • Chickens wear down coats--they'll be just fine in your temps in winter Ventilation is really important, so best to cover those openings with hardware cloth all the way around. Don't seal them up entirely or it may start raining in your barn from condensation

                                  clint I hatch black copper and bbs birchen marans, and olive eggers from my crested cream legbar and isbar hens. The marans x ccl cross is especially nice since those chicks are sex linked. Have black coppers in the incubator now! Fun times!

                                  Comment


                                  • You want fender washers for attaching hardware cloth, took me ages to learn what they were called (the ones with the small center hole).

                                    Chickens do not need added heat, but you need to make sure that the roost area doesn't have any actual drafts across it.

                                    Agree with getting a used window. You'd frame it in and attach the hardware cloth to the framing.
                                    It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

                                    Comment


                                    • The thing about chickens is on a day-to-day basis, they really are very little work. If you have a big enough waterer, you basically fill the water once a week ish and feed every morning and collect eggs, and that's about it. Open the pop door, close the pop door, etc. So takes a little time twice a day, but no real big effort. Clear the bedding out every so often, etc.
                                      BUT to get set up for chickens initially, and do it WELL, it takes quite a bit of effort. The things like the framing and the hardware cloth and building roosts and nests and deciding where everything goes, that can be quite a bit of work. But if you're going to keep the chickens, you want to do it right the first time because at some point you'll end up doing it over if you don't. And that may be the day you come out and find all your birds dead because a weasel or a raccoon or an opossum squeezed in overnight, and we don't want that. I'm still moving and changing and re-doing things because I didn't know as much initially as I do now about how the setup affects the daily chores etc.
                                      It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

                                      Comment


                                      • 100% agree Mosey! Well said!

                                        Comment


                                        • Agreed. I lost too many and killed a ton of snakes and shed a lot of tears. Now it's no work and all fun ( 2 D'Uccle hens and a roo, and 3 barred rock hens).

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