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colettedeann

how many chickens?

I am almost half way through building a chicken coop - measuring 2.4m x 1.2m

I was thinking about keeping 10 chickens but after reading a bit more online am thinking maybe it is a bit small and maybe should settle for 8 chickens

My plan is for the winter run size to be approx double the size of the coop - I have decided to keep ex-bats and need to put 'an order' in - and need to be precise with numbers.

Anyone have any suggestions based on their own experience please
Liz in Ireland

If that's about 7ft long I have 6 hens in an ark type coop that length, and when they are in a row on the perch there is no room for anyone else! The nest box area is separate and not really big enough. I've an Eglu they claim would take 4, but even with a run extension 3 is enough.And a small garden shed which houses 6 and a cockerel with a home made run. The ark is in a bought dog run.
Not sure if that helps. I think I would err on the side of less. 6 ex batts is a lot of eggs, and then when they grow old its a lot of geriatric chicken and no eggs Very Happy
And then you can get more, because acquiring chickens is addictive Embarassed
colettedeann

thanks for the info liz

allotment allows max of 10 chickens so will be unable to upsize Smile

the dimensions in feet are 8ft long by 4 ft wide
the winter run which will be completely enclosed around 3 sides and accessible in all weathers is planned at 16ft x 8 ft
colettedeann

btw i am not really doing it for the eggs - i only use them for baking - so most will be given away - the idea is really a retirement home for ex bats
Liz in Ireland

Then I think I'd go 5/6, and get another 4/5 after a year/18 months, or when the eggs have waned to less than you want.
The last time I went for ex batts I ordered 2 and came home with 4 Rolling Eyes
Liz in Ireland

btw i am not really doing it for the eggs - i only use them for baking - so most will be given away - the idea is really a retirement home for ex bats


I have a disabled one Smile Hence the eye wateringly expensive eglu as she can't manage ramps or steps. I was going to wring her neck, but so glad I didn't. She has such a personality, and has had a very happy 6 months so far. And lays an egg on alternate days Smile
colettedeann

awww that is sweet - allotmenters have said about how to get rid of if they don't lay Shocked

hopefully they gonna be happy and lay as and when they feel like they want to - no neck wringing for my little henrietta (name suggested by one of the p-taking allotmenters when i said i don't mind if they lay Very Happy
dpack

this might not be to your liking but :

a coop that size will seem huge to ex bats especially with a run as well.

it could take 10 but as a couple will probably die quite soon that would give 8 which would be comfy and far bigger that they were used to.
a couple more might well pop off during the laying season making it roomy for 6 (an ideal number of fairly small chooks for that space) .

you then have the choice of getting a few more and picking up the originals as they pop off over the next year or so
or
getting a couple of gallons of soup from the survivors when they go out of lay in the autumn,thoroughly cleaning the coop,moving the run and starting a new batch of ten.
i would favour the latter, they will have had a nice retirement , they get a kind end rather than getting ill or suffering the old chook things, they wont infect the next ones with anything or fight with them ( introducing new birds to an existing flock is a bit of an art form if one is to avoid unpleasantness) and you get a few very good "stock cubes".

it might seem rather brutal but battery hens are short lived critters and unlike some of the old breeds dont really do old age as matriarchs.

lps when building your pen think vermin as foxes can climb and dig so a roof is a good idea as is pegging/slabbing at least a couple of feet of netting to the ground outside the fence line ,rats n stoats etc are also an issue but require a different approach.
a pen that is easily dismantled and moved is sensible as rotating the ground is not only good for the birds health but good for growing stuff as well .
the frass from under the perching area is ace in a mixture tub but needs either that or composting (avoid too much leaching with a cover to keep rain off) , if used directly in the "raw" state as a plant feed it is a bit harsh on roots.
colettedeann

thanks for being frank dpack

i have been thinking of laying under the whole coop and winter run area in wire and roofing it in exterior plywood


- however the internet seems to suggest it is better to lay the wire are a 90 degree angle at floor level and about 45 degrees at top - i really do not like the idea of an open top run as foxes are a big problem on the allotment and a few people have lost loads of chicken - and i do not want to add to this
dpack

the advantage of a ply roof is that they keep dry they donít like cold rain and mud is bad for their feet (and various other damp related problems).

a wire roof can be fox proof .
the 90 degree outwards along the floor does make the wire last longer than digging it into a trench,it is easier to move and if it is well held down tis more than a nights digging to get in ( a few inches into a slot is no great problem to radjel.)

the other advantage of a roof is that with open pens you will probably get very plump sparrows and pigeons (at your expense ) and the flock is more exposed to wild bird pests and diseases.
colettedeann

Doing the 90 degree outwards along ground will save me a good few metres of wire - and a fair bit of time - so win-win. I just don't understand why it is the fox proof chosen option rather than wire laid under the who hen coop and pen area.

I may put some pics up tonight and show what i have done so far - as it has come along people have added ideas of what to do so it is ever evolving (improving) Smile
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Wire as a "floor" under the whole pen is good until it rusts, or gets buried completely, or catches your shovel corner as yu muck out... Smile
Mutton

Having once kept ex-bats they did OK as free range on a sunny day, but stared miserably out of the door whenever it rained. So roof is a good idea for wet weather, but if they can get some sun too they'll love it.

One in particular was a great character - in the habit of pecking our toes when we wore open sandals.
Woo

Wire as a "floor" under the whole pen is good until it rusts, or gets buried completely, or catches your shovel corner as yu muck out... Smile


I found wire on the floor was a bad idea for the same reasons. I had a small run originally built for bunnies with a wire floor. I used it for my broody hens to keep their babes in when too small for general population. chickens as you know like to scratch for food
one got its foot caught in the hoop of wire.
also they poop on it and it rusts quickly.

sadly foxes will be a problem no matter what you do to keep them out. an allotment must seem like a fast food restaurant for them. waste fruit and veg and chickens to boot.
shutting them into the house at night has kept my chickens safe.
touch wood!
colettedeann

I got a huge chuck of the coop done this weekend - and did a 13ft (4m) side of the run - with a 60cm 90 degree (doubled because I am sceptical and think maybe there is a bigger more agile devil fox out there with superpowere Evil or Very Mad Loads of work and aching arms now but I was pleased with the result

BUT after coming home and reading the comments, I am worried again - maybe I should have the whole area covered in chicken wire (the idea was to cover the wire 3-4 inches of earth)

so now i am thinking of covering the night/winter pen in concrete slabs instead - i have research and it seems that 30cm of wire turned out is sufficient, but what if it is a really determined fox?
colettedeann

I got a huge chuck of the coop done this weekend - and did a 13ft (4m) side of the run - with a 60cm 90 degree (doubled because I am sceptical and think maybe there is a bigger more agile devil fox out there with superpowere Evil or Very Mad Loads of work and aching arms now but I was pleased with the result

BUT after coming home and reading the comments, I am worried again - maybe I should have the whole area covered in chicken wire (the idea was to cover the wire 3-4 inches of earth)

so now i am thinking of covering the night/winter pen in concrete slabs instead - i have research and it seems that 30cm of wire turned out is sufficient, but what if it is a really determined fox?
dpack

if you cover chicken wire in earth even the stuff with thick galvanising does rust away quite quickly.

as far as security goes the more the better ,a determined fox can and will open almost any box.the idea is to make it difficult and time consuming so you get a chance to notice the attempt and take ant necessary measures.

a basic electric fence kit, battery and pv panel is about the same price as half a dozen "posh"chooks and can be another layer of security .if well thought out they can reduce climbing and jumping (i have seen one go 12 feet up a smooth rendered wall and with a run up a six foot fence is no problem, climbing chook wire fencing is quite easy but the overhang can foil most of them).
colettedeann

another week's work done so back to getitng on with coop and run - nrly finished coop is on slabs and i have laid mesh 20 cm under the soil with 30 cm of wire coming out around the whole perimeter to attach to the fencing - there will be a 20 cm skirt around this run as well Neutral - i am paranoid of sean reynard paying a visit!!

- this weekend I have to get the fence done that will be permanently accessible to the hens - as well as making a gate for the run - have looked at plans online and think i know what i need to do



Click to download file
colettedeann

doesn't look like i managed to download coop pic Sad i am so technocrap dpack

it seems to link to your facebook page rather than a specific photo. colettedeann

quick update - i have had the hen for 2 weeks now - i got 10 - and they all survived - no visits from fox or badger Smile

we average 5 eggs a day - mostly i give them to other allotmenters and people at work - and use them for baking Smile they are a lot bigger than the ones from the shops

they are a lot more robust than i was led to believe - mainly through the BHWT site - they jump to the top of the ramp rather than walking up and jump into the coop when i take the ramp away to clean - so i feel their legs are strong enough to roost and i have put one in the coop - not they use it to sleep - occassionally they get onto it and sit there in the day - but they all sleep in the nest boxes i made!!! and lay in hte open area and below the roost!!

i will get my son to help me put a few photos up or i will just end up directing to my fb page Sad
colettedeann

colettedeann

the coop is not pretty - but is very study

- my concern is the roofing - but will only find out once the weather turns - it is all waterproof as it rained before hens arrived and there were 2 small holes i had to go over with blackjack

thanks for all the advice while i was building/agonising Smile
dpack

nice, hope they and you are very pleased with it, pretty is not as useful as sturdy but it actually looks quite tidy .

the do look in pretty good health ,were they given tlc between the unit and arriving with you?

my ones were strait from "work" and took a while to look that good or get used to an outdoor life.
Chez

That's great, so pleased it's worked out - they really are addictive! colettedeann

morning Smile

the hens came straight from the farm - i think there is a difference between battery hens from the past and what they class as caged hens now -

lol and coop looks tidy in pic as it was day they arrived - they are messy little beggars Smile
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