Backyard Chickens 101: Moving into the Chicken Coop

Monday, February 17, 2014

Backyard Chickens 101: Moving into the Chicken Coop

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In case you are just joining our Backyard Chickens 101 make sure you check out the rest of the series for some fantastic information about raising chickens including how our chickens have grown week by week. This week - moving chickens out of the brooder into their backyard chicken coop.
Backyard Chickens: Moving into the Chicken Coop

At 6+ weeks of age our chickens are more than ready to head outside. The only delay was that we hadn’t built their coop yet. But finally, in March we were ready to move them out.

Backyard Chickens: Moving into the Chicken Coop
Don’t the chickens look so small in their new home!As you can tell by Goofy’s coat ibeing on, it was still cold, but we had prepped the chickens by lowering the temp little by little and they are after all a cold hardy bread.

Moving the Chickens into the Coop

Preparing the Chicken Coop Inside

After making sure the coop had fresh water, organic chick starter feed, the run door was down*, and a roosting pole was up we closed & secured the doors. We clipped each chicken’s wings before we took them out and put them in the coop.

You can still “visit” the chickens and feed them dried works {their favorite treat}, but keep them in the coop.
Backyard Chickens: Moving into the Chicken Coop

We have our bars about every 6” and I think that is about right for the chickens. You don’t want it to steep or grips to far apart of the chickens won’t be able to get back in the coop.

During the spring, summer, and fall we leave the run door open. Since our entire coop is surrounded in hardware cloth they are completely safe. It saves us time every night & morning, plus allows the girls to get out and enjoy the run more.
Toddler and Chickens

Our kids sure missed not having the chickens inside {but Mom & Dad were glad to not have to clean up or catch them with they flew their indoor coop anymore}. So Tinker Bell enjoyed hanging out in the run with the chickens.

We’ve been surprised by how quiet they are. If they are chasing a worm they might make a little soft noises. And later on when they lay they cluck or “sing” but they are way quieter than a dog.
Cleaning out the Chicken Coop with Scoop

We choose to use sand in the coop and run as we heard it was cheaper and easier to clean. We are thrilled with our choice. The sand was cheap and does not need to be changed out every week or month. Once a week we use a kitty littler scoop and just pull out the poop that has dried up to look like a little stone. We get about 1/2 a large ice cream pale full every week –most of it is directly under the roosting bar. 
Don’t forget to throw the chicken poop in your composter! Chicken manure is the best manure for your garden! It also composts down in a matter of weeks not months!
Backyard Chickens: Moving into the Chicken Coop

We freshen the water and refill the food 1x a week. It usually takes us about 10-15 minutes once a week to clean the coup & add food/water. Chickens are easy to take care of.

Note: When chickens are about to start laying we noticed their intake of food go up and you should check that they have not run out every couple of days (you’ll be looking for eggs anyway).
25 week old Chickens - Black Austrolorp

Our Chickens love to hang out in the shade outside. You’ll notice them taking a dirt bath every couple of days – it’s funny to watch. 

Chickens also love treats! You have to ensure you are not giving them too many (and that you provide grit to help them grind up the food as chickens have not teeth).  Our chickens eat our organic, non-meat kitchen scraps, weeds (not anything sprayed!), watermelon rinds, and all kinds of bugs (including mosquitoes). 
I think if my hubby knew the chickens would eat all his grass clippings we would have gotten chickens years ago!
Chickens roosing in chicken coop

At night the chickens go to bed with the sun. They all pile up on the roosting bar to sleep (that’s why the dropping are concentrated there!)

Learn from our mistake

Sand bedding for chicken coop

Learn from our mistake by limiting the chickens to the coop only for the first 5-7 days. They have plenty of room to move around and it helps them to learn where they are “suppose” to sleep. We didn’t do this and we ended up with chickens chirping as it got dark and they were “stuck” outside not remembering where they were suppose to go. Not wanting to annoy neighbors, Goofy went in the run, caught them all, and put them to bed. {He actually rather enjoyed this part}

To keep the run from getting smelly {and bothering neighbors} you are going to want to put a roof on your run. When the poop stays dry, it hardly smells. Rain just makes it smell.

You can also add Sweet PDZ. This naturally occurring stuff is fantastic as it will dry things out and stop like 85% of the smell almost immediately. You can find it in the horse supply.

Other things to try are cleaning the run often and adding a roof to keep it dry. Wet dropping smell way more!


So what do you think – are  you thinking about getting chickens?

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NEXT Up ………… Backyard Chickens 101: Meet Our Flock & {OOPS!} a Rooster!

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