Now that you have a more defined goal in mind and have found out if you are able to keep chickens in your area it is time for the next step.
In part 2 we will take a look at planning and initial costs.
Where and or how are you going to house your chicken(s)
It is time to decide where you plan to keep your chicken(s).
For a more in-depth look at the right chicken coop, we have a few good articles that may help you.
The first decision to make is what type of coop are your wanting to have?
- There are coops that are permanently positioned in one spot with their runs attached to them.
- There are coops that are in a barn or shed type structure with the runs in the open.
- There are coops that have runs located in a different position
- There are coops that are called tractors that are easily moved about the garden
You can have a look at our articles on chicken coops to give you an idea on some designs.
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when deciding where to position the coop/run:
- Make sure it has adequate shelter
- It is not too close to any perimeter walls will in some way affect any neighbors
- There is little to no runoff or at least adequate drainage during rainy weather
- Ensure that where you decide to place them are within the various ordinances that may govern keeping poultry in your areas.
They will need some sunny patches for the cold days and shady ones for those hot days. But do not panic if your spot is not perfectly positioned for these as there many ways to get around a problem.
Sizing the coop/run
Once you have decided on the where to place the coop and run it is time to decide on the coop/run size that will best fit.
The size of the coop is a big determining factor on how many chickens you will be able to house, the breed, size, etc.
For the coop a few rules of thumb to follow are:
- It must have a minimum of 2 to a 3-square foot per standard sized chicken in the coop. They need space to be able to move freely.
- The coop should be lifted at least 2 – 3 feet off the ground. This will keep the birds dry in wet weather, safer from predators and is easier to get into to clean, maintain and collect the eggs.
For the run a few rules of thumb to follow are:
- It must have enough room for each chicken to move around freely which is a minimum of 8 to a 10-square foot per standard sized chicken.
- If you live in an area that has known predators it is best to plan to have the coop completely covered. This is usually the best practice as most chickens can and will fly. This may cause a problem if you are in a suburban type environment.
- If at all possible it is a nice thing to include a dust bath and maybe an old tree stump as a rooting perch.
For both the coop and run a common rule is to ensure that they are built to any ordinance or regulatory requirement governing your area.
The table below lists the average square feet that would be required for different chicken breed sizes
|Coop Run requirements
|Very large breeds
|10 to 12
|Standard large breeds
|2 to 3
|8 to 10
|4 to 5
Keep in mind when deciding on the size of your coop that most chicken breeds like to be able to free-range and forage about.
Each chicken needs approximately 250 square feet of free-range space regardless of them roaming free or having permanent fencing to roam in. The bigger chicken breeds you should probably look at a little more like 300 to 350 square feet of free-range space.
Initial cost outlay
Once you have established the position and maximum size of the coop and run it is time to but some initial costing figures down.
Having the size of the coop will give a basic idea of how many chickens you can have in your flock. Of course, this is also dependent on the breed(s) of chicken you have decided upon.
You will need to cost:
The price of the chicken breed(s)
Feed – you can get the feed with extra nutrient and supplements or cost these separately.
Cost of the coop and run
- Materials if you are going to make your own chicken coop and run
- Materials and labor if you are going to contract someone to do it for you
- Cost of one already/custom made to order for you
Accessories for the coop:
- Nesting boxes
- Roosting rails
- Bedding for the nesting boxing
- Water bowls
- Feed bowls
- Heating lamps
- Cooling fans
- Other accessories such as toys, roosting perches, etc.
Supplements and or medications such as worming medicine, a deterrent for pests such as mites, lice, ticks, etc.
Vet costs and or vaccinations.
License(s) you may require in order to keep poultry, sell eggs, chicks or poultry meat
The table below is an example of costing out the initial outlay (please note that these are not actual costs but examples):
|Chicken Breed 1
|Chicken Breed 2
|Chicken coop material + Labor
|Chicken run material
|Coop Accessories (list them out individually to be able to cut costs if needed)
|Feed – 1-month supply
|Treats (such as oyster shells and or mealworms)
|INITIAL OUTLAY TOTAL COST
For average pricing of all the breeds, we have listed on our site read our “72 Chicken Breeds Recognized in America” article. It lists the various breeds and average costs per chicken along with some other useful information about each one. If you already know where you are going to purchase your flock from a quick call or an internet search will provide their cost. Check out some of our other articles for advice on where to buy items such as feed, supplements, etc. and other handy tips.
This concludes the second part of our seven-part series guide for the first-time chicken keeper if you have not already done so please read Part 1 of the series.
In Part 3 we look at choosing the correct birds for your flock and the best places to buy them.