Episode 21 Show Notes
Whether you buy a pre-built coop or build your own, there are some features your layer coop should have.
My Three-Year-Old Loves the Chickens [02:30]
Karyn emailed us from Virginia to say “I have a 3 year old who just can’t keep her little hands off the chickens when we let them out of the coop. (We have 2 red sex links and 2 buff orpington pullets) the reds should be laying soon. Could my little girl’s “enthusiasm” for the ladies stress them out to the point of reduced production?”
The attention of a three year old can be harmless or could be stressful, depending on her level of enthusiasm and how long she persists. Stress can cause a laying hen to slow down or stop laying, and could cause a pullet to delay reaching her point of lay.
That being said, there are many other issues that could delay their first eggs, so it’s difficult to say if your little girl is the reason. As long as she is causing obvious harm, we say let her do her thing. The pullets will lay when they are ready.
We have spent the last few weekends rehabbing the first two coops we built. Both were an A-frame design with the coop on top and the run underneath. Our third coop was an 8′ x 12′ A-frame, but with the coop on one end and the run at the other end. Neither section has a built in floor, so all the chicken dropping fall into the grass and there is no need for shavings.
We decided to rebuild the first two coops to match that design.
Coop number 1 was completed this last weekend, so we decided to move the sixteen New Hampshire Reds and Black Jersey Giants out of the brooder and into the coop.
In the News [09:08]
Unilever, the third largest food manufacturer, buys more than 350 million eggs per year. They are spending money to research a way to determine a chicks sex while in the egg. This has the potential to curb the practice of destroying all of the male chicks that hatch.
Important Features of Your Chicken Coop [12:05]
Whether you buy a pre-built coop or decide to build your own, there are features you should make sure are included. This list applies to a layer flock. Hybrid meat birds would need some modifications.
For standard, or heavy, breeds, a coop should include 4 square feet of space per bird inside the coop and 10 square feet per bird in the run. Bantams and young pullets or cockerels don’t need quite that much space.
When chickens do not get enough space, you may start to see aggression and illnesses in your flock.
If you have standard sized breeds, do not go by the occupancy claims of the coop manufacturers. If they say it is a 6 chicken coop, that generally means 6 bantams, not standard breeds.
Predator Protection [21:34]
Make sure your coop can keep the chickens in and the predators out.
Avoid using chicken wire as it is not strong enough to keep predators out. Instead, use 1/2″ hardware cloth.
Chicken are very susceptible to respiratory problems. Most chicken breeds can handle cold weather better than you think, so ventilation is more important than warmth.
Roosting Poles [25:30]
Your flock will need at least one roost pole to sleep on at night. A bamboo branch, a 2″x2″ or a 2″x4″ can all be used for roosting poles.
Plan on 8″-10″ per bird and at least 8″ of dead space where the pole meet the walls.
if you need more than one pole, space them about 12″ apart.
Nesting Boxes [28:48]
You will need one nesting box for every four laying hens. For most breeds, 12″ x 12″ x 14″ tall is big enough.
Feeder & Waterer [30:33]
A hanging feeder should be hung 8″ to 10″ off the ground.
For water, you can use a bell waterer or a chicken nipple system. A closed system will gather less debris and keep the water cleaner.
It is always a good idea to make sure that neither the feeder or waterer are under a roost pole.
Oyster Shell [31:30]
The hens need a small amount of oyster shell so they have enough calcium for nice hard shells.
Entry Doors [32:12]
Make sure there is a way for you to easily access the coop and the run.
Painted Wooden Surfaces [33:30]
Make sure and wooden surfaces are painted to protect them from the elements. Painting the interior surfaces will make the coop easier to clean, as well as deny mites of a hiding space in the nooks and crannies of the wood.