Where to Build Your Chicken Coop

So you just received your new round-top coop and now have to decide where to put it. You may have a beautiful location in mind, but before you begin assembly…it’s important to take a few considerations. Below are 4 tips for selecting the ideal coop location.

1) High Ground is Dry Ground: Be sure to place your coop in an area that does not flood or is prone to runoff during torrential rains. Placing your coop on level solid ground that drains well is ideal! We recommend dirt floors in the runs of coops so that chickens can dust bathe and so that decomposition of poop can occur utilizing natural microbes in the soil. Part sand part soil is great, and in almost all instances, the native dirt in your area will work great! 

2) Water Access: Place your coop in a location with access to a water hose to easily refill your flock’s EZ-Fill Waterer. 

3) Sunlight: Did you know that hens need about 16 hours of daylight? Anything less than 12 can slow down and sometimes even stop egg production from your flock! Make sure your coop faces in a direction where it receives maximum sunlight during the winter months.  Sunlight will allow for any wet dirt to dry quicker. Make sure to view our other blog posts to learn how to properly protect your flock from freezing winters and high summer temperatures

4) Electricity Access: Live in an area that is prone to freezing temperatures? If so, keeping your flock’s water from freezing is critical. Each coop waterer comes with a slot to insert an aquarium heater during the winter. Most aquarium heater cords only extend a few feet, therefore an extension and cord cover is necessary. Wattage will depend on how cold it gets where you live. Generally, something 50-100 watts will work in most locations. If you have questions, just contact us and we will share with you what we’ve learned from 100’s of customers.

Tip: Before you begin predator-proofing your new coop, we highly encourage having your coop in the perfect location. Our coops weigh between 125 – 1,000 lbs once fully assembled. Therefore, choosing the perfect location is critical to prevent future relocation. If you are looking for additional predator protecting tips, visit our blog post “How to Predator Proof Your New Coop” for guidance and examples. 

Live On An Incline?

We understand not all backyards are level. We recommend building out a platform using landscape or cinder blocks to create a level ground for your coop. This in turn serves as additional predator protection as well.

We hope you found these tips helpful as you begin assembling your flock’s future coop. Have questions or comments regarding anything mentioned in this article? Please feel free to email us at support@roostandroot.com or give us a call at 877-741-2667. 

6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Cheap Chicken Coop

Are you considering investing in your very first chicken coop or perhaps a new coop? If so, you may find plenty of cheap coops at big box stores. At the time, these low-priced coops may seem like a bargain…but they never remain a bargain for long. Before you choose your flock’s future home, consider a few of the following reasons why we don’t recommend a cheap chicken coop. 

1) Quality

If there is one material that you don’t want to skimp on, it’s the construction material of your coop. The lack of quality in imported chicken coops is why their lifetime never lasts long. Simply because a coop refers to using “real wood” doesn’t always mean it’s an ideal and great wood. Cheap chicken coops will always use flimsy, easily warped, thin wood that can effortlessly be damaged, regardless of being advertised as weather-resistant, these coops will eventually split. Most cheap coops are built with a thin sheet of softwood known as fir, which is far less resistant to decay and wet conditions. Often, big-box store brand coops will have a maximum lifetime of 2 years or less, regardless of the outside elements. 

What we Recommend:

Cedar is known as one of the most rot and weather-resistant woods available. Commonly used for outdoor construction such as decks, cedar is made to withstand harsh outside elements. This wood, however, does come at a premium due to its sought-after qualities. A Cedarwood coop will last outdoors up to 5x longer than your average “bargain” coop. For more information on why we recommend cedar, visit our blog post here

 

2) Customer Support

Nobody enjoys being left on hold while requesting help from a company. Even when you are able to reach someone finally, the aid you receive tends to be limited. At large brick-and-mortar stores, the staff does not know much about chicken-keeping. Even worse, they often don’t know much about the products they sell! It’s likely that if you order a bargain coop that needs missing or replacement parts, you’re better off fixing it yourself, buying an entirely new coop, or dealing with a return!

 

3) Safety

A majority of “bargain” chicken coops weigh between 50 to 85 pounds, all unevenly distributed from the nest/roost to the run area. In most cases, these coops can easily be knocked over or shaken up on a windy day. Even worse, a coop under 85 pounds can easily be knocked over by a large and curious pet. When you add in the fragility of the fir wood with the low-cost wire enclosure, your birds are susceptible to a number of unexpected or accidental dangers.  

 

4) Comfort & Ease of Use

Small bargain coops tend to be constructed narrowly leaving little space for your growing birds as they mature. In addition, adding your bird’s waterer and feeder will only take up what little run space your birds have. 

When it comes to the nest box of these coops, there is little privacy for your birds to lay in comfort as most are not separated and enclosed from the roost bars. When it comes to the roost bars of these small coops, most are in level with that of the nest box. Roost bars should always be placed higher than the nest box or else your birds will sleep in and leave droppings in the nest box instead. 

 

5) No Climate Consideration

Winter:

Many of your commonly seen bargain coops won’t come prepared with additional instructions or parts to protect your birds during winter or heavily forecasted rain. You will likely find yourself constructing additional pieces to shield the elements or even using a tarp with the hope that your birds remain comfortable and dry. 

Summer:

If you live in a state prone to receiving triple-digit weather forecasts, your birds will need a coop that distributes as much heat away from the coop. In addition, you will need a ventilation system that allows adequate airflow all day. Most cheap coops come with an asphalt-like roof that can be hot to the touch. It’s for this reason that we always use galvanized roof metal to reflects heat. Unlike asphalt, galvanized metal stays cool to the touch and reflects heat away, even on the hottest of days. 

 

6) Ventilation

Ventilation is by far one of the most important features of a coop. Birds will need adequate ventilation near their roosting space to prevent heat exhaustion as well as frostbite. In addition, adequate ventilation will allow for easier and more bearable coop clean-ups. Live in an area that experiences a majority of the year with warm temperatures? You’ll want a coop that isn’t fully enclosed in wood to prevent any overheating. 

We hope you find our blog post helpful as you consider your flock’s future home. Remember, although cheaper, the quality of a coop will always show through the price. For help in learning more about backyard chicken keeping, make sure to visit our other blog posts. Have a question regarding what was mentioned in this article? Reach out to us, we’re real people and enjoy helping new and existing chicken and coop owners everywhere! support@roostandroot.com, phone: 877-741-2667.

Chick Brooder Set-Up Guide for Beginners

Whether you’ve recently committed to ordering your very first flock or your incubated eggs are nearing their hatch date, preparing your future flock’s temporary home will certainly be the next step on your to-do list. If you are new to backyard chicken keeping, your brooder will serve as a safe space as your flock continues to fully develop before being old enough to transition to their future coop. Fortunately, your brooder can be easily put together by following a few simple steps and safety precautions listed below!

Container:

Brooders can be fashioned out of a number of large containers, some of which you may already have at your disposal. You may also follow our dimensions guides to easily construct a brooder of your own as well! Below are a few ways to repurpose a few items as a brooder for your future flock.

Galvanized or Plastic Stock Tank:

Often found in most local feed stores, galvanized stock tanks may range in a number of sizes. Although often used as a water system for livestock, stock tanks can be a great brooding container for chicks. Tanks are available both in a circular and oval form and can be easily repurposed for years. Additionally, it’s important to note that as your flock grows, you’ll need to create a simple wire covering to prevent your flock from jumping out once older as well as to protect them from any surprise pet visits.

Doggy PlayPen:

Doggy Playpens are a great, inexpensive, and space-saving brooder option for growing chicks. Most playpens come with a detachable top and are easily moveable. We suggest going with a fabric or plastic option as opposed to a metal pen. Before selecting this brooder option for your flock, it is important to note that this brooder choice will not be as strongly structured like that of a stock tank or wooden set-up. If you have a concern with anything that may disturb your brooder set up, we would suggest going with a more stabilized structure.

Plastic Storage Bin:

Plastic storage bins similar to those used to store items are another great alternative! A plastic storgae bin will require a few customized adjustments prior to being used for your chicks. Although this repurposed option works well for chicks, it is important to note that when selecting a plastic storage bin, the bigger the better to accommodate your birds as they age. Additionally, depending on the breed you are brooding, this easy brooder alternative may serve as an excellent option for up to 3 to 4 weeks. For tips on how to repurpose a storage bin as a chick brooder, we recommend visiting the helpful tips shared here.

Repurposed Baby PlayPen:

Have a stored away baby playpen that you’ve been meaning to sell? Before putting it on Facebook Marketplace, consider repurposing it as a chick brooder!

If you’ve recently purchased a Walk-in Model Roost & Root Coop (Loft, Walk-In, Stand-Up), we suggest repurposing your shipping crate and following along on our simple step by step video shared below!

Brooder Dimensions:

Have a few pieces of plywood to repurpose? If you are considering building your very own brooder at home, we suggest building with the following recommendations in mind.

Depth:

Once your flock members reach 3 weeks of age, the possibility of them jumping out of their brooder becomes almost inevitable. To prevent any escapees we suggest building with a depth of over 12 inches.

Size:

Again this all depends on the number of chicks you plan on raising. For beginning flock owners, we always suggest starting off with 4 to 6 chickens. Depending on the season in which you plan to raise your flock, you may need to build a brooder to account for more. In the Spring season, many hatcheries will allow for minimum orders of 3 chicks, however during non-hatch seasons such as Fall & Winter, minimal orders range from 20 to 25 chicks.

Location:

When you’ve chosen your ideal brooder container, it’s time to select the right location for placement. Chicks are easily susceptible to a number of environmental factors and dangers, and as a new flock owner, it’s vital to prepare the safest space for your flock to mature. We highly suggest placing your flock’s brooder in a space that is free from pets, high moisture, and low-temperature drafts.

It is also best to take into consideration the noise surrounding your chicks, although you may want your flock to be near as to supervise their safety at any time, it is best to select a location with the least commotion to allow for your flock members to rest peacefully. As chicks slowly transition out of their fluffy plumage, you may notice a significant amount of light dust, this is in part due to the turnover of feathers and skin cells.

Bedding:

Regardless of the number of baby chicks in your brooder, it’s important to be aware of the consistent cleaning of your chicks brooder that will be required for the next 6 to 8 weeks. To make cleaning up less bothersome, it’s helpful to select the right kind of bedding for your flock. Selecting moisture absorbing and non-slip bedding is ideal for your flock’s health and comfort. It is also important to select bedding that is non-aromatic to prevent any respiratory harm to your chicks.

Untreated Pine-Shavings:

One of the most popular bedding options, untreated pine-shavings serve as great moisture absorbing, inexpensive, non-slip option for brooders. If you plan to use a container with a slippery bottom surface, consider adding a base layer of non-slip material. When using pine shavings, we recommend using a layer of 1 to 2 inches.

Construction Grade Sand:

When chosen correctly, sand can be a great absorbent in your brooder. It is important to ensure that the sand in your brooder is not fine-grade sand, such as that used for children’s sandboxes. Brooder sand should have large grains to create traction and prevent dust accumulation. When used correctly sand will act similarly to that of cat litter, allowing you to sift any waste. For tips on how to implement sand in your brooder, consider the following method visit the following link.

***Health Note: Non-slip bedding becomes vital as to prevent your chicks from getting Spraddle Leg. Spraddle leg is an injury or birth complication that affects the tendons of your young chick’s legs. Although simple to correct, Spraddle Leg will leave a chick unable to walk correctly, resulting in a chick being unable to carry its own weight. It is for this reason that we only recommend shredded newspaper and never full sheets as a bedding option.

Heat:

A heat source for your chicks is one of the most important necessities when it comes to brooder preparation. The right heat source is best chosen with the consideration of your chick’s bedding and brooder container in mind. Two of the most common and recommended heat sources include a heat lamp and a heat plate.

Heat Lamps:

Heat lamps work well with shredded newspaper and untreated pine shavings. For the best cautionary care, it’s best to avoid this heating method when it comes to the use of sand. Lamps should always be securely clamped to a brooder wall or arranged overhead with a secure and adjustable chain. Most brooder specific lamps will have a metal guard around the lightbulb for safety and have a recommended wattage capacity.
To select the correct lightbulb, it’s important to consider the size of your brooder as well as the number of chicks you have. To adjust the heat each week of your heat lamp, simply raise the heat lamp and or switch to a lower wattage bulb. It is best to evaluate the conditions of your chicks heat lamp a few days prior to placing chicks in their brooder to ensure accurate heating. Oftentimes you will be able to immediately note your chick’s comfort by their behavior. If chicks are panting or are very quiet, your heat lamp is drastically too warm. If your chicks are huddled together, then your chicks are cold and you will need to adjust your heat lamp’s height or bulb.

250 Watt Infrared Light Bulb: Recommended for brooders holding over 25 chicks.
125 & 175 Watt Heat Bulb: Recommended for brooders holding 13 or fewer chicks. To ensure that your brooder is acclimated correctly, place a thermometer at the bottom of your brooder. Newly hatched chicks should have a heated space of 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. Temperatures will need to be decreased by 5 degrees as each week passes until your chicks reach their recommended coop age of 6 to 8 weeks. When beginning, we suggest adjusting your heat lamp to 18-20 inches above your brooders bedding.

For reference, make sure to refer to the following temperature recommendations.
Newly hatched – 95 degrees F°
1 to 2 weeks of age – 90 degrees F°
2 to 3 weeks of age – 85 degrees F°
3 to 4 weeks of age – 80 degrees F°
4 to 5 weeks of age – 75 degrees F°

Heat Plate:

Although more costly than heat lamps, heat plates can be a much safer and well worth investment. Heat plates are suitable for every bedding choice and brooder container option and can be easily adjusted. Heat plates will often come in various sizes and will have adjustable heights to accommodate your chicks as they age. A good rule of thumb to ensure that temperatures are accurate is to once again observe your flock’s behavior. Chicks should be able to easily enter underneath the heat plate to lay. If chicks are standing and chirping often, your heat plate needs to be adjusted lower. If your chicks cannot enter underneath or refuse to remain under their heat plate, a height adjustment will be needed.

Cleaning:

Cleaning your chick’s brooder will depend on the bedding you select and the amount of waste and odor. Maintenance may be minimal in the beginning, but may increase to a daily regimen as your flock grows older. Once your flock grows old enough for their coops, frequent cleaning will become a thing of the past.

Feed:

When it comes to your flock member’s nutrition, it is important to start your chicks with a Starter crumble feed. Starter feeds provide a high content level of protein that will aid in your chick’s growth by including a number of minerals and nutrients needed to develop their immune system. Starter feed may come as a medicated or unmedicated option. Medicated feeds are chosen as supplemental and optional protection for chicks as a means of preventing any chicken specific illnesses.  Oftentimes unmedicated feed will be fine, especially if your chicks are raised from your very own flock members.

Waterer Container:

Chick waterers can come in two popular options: a waterer nipple and a poultry jar with a screw-on poultry waterer dish. These two waterer options are quite inexpensive and can easily be put together and maintained over time. Poultry nipples are common in large hatcheries and are helpful when transitioning your flock to a larger poultry nipple watering system. Poultry nipples can also become a cleaner and space-saving alternative compared to the commonly seen red dish poultry jar. To ensure that your chicks do not scratch bedding and waste in their poultry jars, we suggest slightly elevating your chick’s waterers either by using a thin cement block or a block of wood.

Feeder Container:

Most feed containers for chicks will either be available in a circular or long rectangular form. All chick feeders are made with small openings for chicks to peer inside and eat without dispersing feed everywhere. Include links to both options.

 

We hope you find this article helpful as you begin or continue your backyard farming journey! If you ever have questions regarding anything mentioned in this blog post, reach out to us at 877-741-2667 or email us at support@roostandroot.comWe’re real people and always happy to help!

5 Beginner Tips for Raising Ducks with Chickens

Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? In this case, chickens and ducks. Two similar yet very different birds that are loved by a number of backyard farmers everywhere. If you’re a beginner flock owner looking to add ducks to your existing chicken flock, then there are a few key tips that are important to learn beforehand. 

Ducks can be messy.

For a bird that LOVES water, it’s no surprise that they will leave a muddy puddle. A pond or small water bath is necessary for ducks to be able to maintain healthy plumage, maintain body temperature, digestion, as well as clean both their eyes and nostrils. It’s always best to have a designated area separate from your duck’s pond and your chicken’s run to prevent any muddy disasters. Additionally, duck poop does not dry as quickly as that of chickens, thus making it more of a hassle to clean. To minimize the hassle of cleaning duck poop, ensure that you do not use hay or any moisture collecting bedding in your duck’s run, instead make sure to simply use sandy dirt that may be easily raked.

Duck appetites.

Although you can feed ducks the same chick or layer feed as that of a chicken, it’s important to know that your ducks will consume a greater amount of food. Having space for your ducks to forage for other sources of protein will be helpful in supplementing their diet. Additionally, ducks will need Niacin (Brewers Yeast) to aid with development. When feeding your two flocks, it is important to separate their feeds if you choose to implement Niacin or any special medicated food.

Ducks laying eggs.

When it comes to collecting duck eggs, ducks will often lay in the same place that they sleep or elsewhere that they deem secluded and predator safe. Similar to chickens, you do not need a male duck (drake) in order for your female ducks to lay eggs.

Duck Gender Ratio.

Although an even amount of both female and male ducks may seem reasonable to begin with, it can create a great deal of complications sometimes. It is important that you have a ratio of more female than male ducks. A ratio of 1 male to 2 – 5 females is suitable if you are beginning. A high ratio of male ducks will be a danger to female ducks as the males may attempt to over mate and severely injure your females. If you have a drake, but no rooster in your chicken flock, then it may cause your hens to be vulnerable to any injury the drake may inflict, and vice versa. Again, you can easily choose to only have all-female ducks and chickens, but if you are certain you want a rooster or drake, then it is important to take your flock ratio into account. 

Ducks are chatty, especially at night.

Unlike chickens, ducks only need a safe space on the ground to rest. Ducks also put themselves up at night a few hours after chickens. Although you may choose to have your ducks sleep in the same coop, is it important to note that ducks can be noisy at all hours, especially at night, making it difficult sometimes for your chickens to rest. If you are looking to have a special coop for your ducks only, then our Duck coop (as of September 2022 we have discontinued our duck coop) may be of consideration, with a built-in pool, drying mat, and nesting space, your ducks will be well protected. 

Fisheye View of the Run Area
Duck Coop Pool Picture
Duck Coop Drain Pan
Fowl Weather ;-) Hangout

We hope you find this article helpful as you begin or continue your backyard farming journey! If you ever have questions regarding anything mentioned in this blog post, reach out to us at 877-741-2667 or email us at support@roostandroot.com. We’re real people and always happy to help!

 

Beginners Guide to City Chicken Keeping

For the longest time, chicken keeping was considered as an activity only possible in wide open, large acre spaces. Eggs were something you only sourced from the grocery store and waking up to a Rooster was something that only happened in the countryside. The idea of keeping chickens is now evolving and with it are many misconceptions that are easily debunked when it comes to raising these feathery friends in the city! If you’ve been hesitant on how to welcome a flock to your backyard space, then we encourage you to follow along as we share everything you need to know to begin your backyard chicken-keeping journey in the city!

City Ordinances

If owning chickens has been crossing your mind lately…then it’s important to first know if your city will be accepting of your future flock first. To find out if your city codes allow backyard chickens, we recommend visiting https://library.municode.com/. Simply select your municipality and search for the term ‘chickens’ to see if there are any restrictions in your area. Sometimes you may find that some locations will allow hens, but prohibit owning roosters, which is okay if you don’t want fertilized eggs! It is also important to speak with your HOA to further ensure that your backyard flock will be allowed. 

Note: A common misconception is that Roosters are needed in your flock in order for your hens to lay eggs. This is not true! 

Neighborhood Predators

Dogs:

Unlike the countryside, predators are not much of a concern in the city. The most common and curious coop visitor will likely be your dogs. Although they may pose a danger to your flock at first, with a little bit of training your pet can become one of your flock’s best protectors. 

Raccoons:

If raccoons are an issue when it comes to your trashcan, they may also pose an issue to your flock. Raccoons are curious critters and will not hesitate to visit your backyard flock. A secure latching system is crucial to protecting your flock from a nightly visit from your curious neighborhood raccoon. 

Note: Worried about predators digging around your coop? Visit our Predator Proofing blog post for great ideas and solutions. 

Best Chickens for the City

Depending on your backyard farming goals, you may choose to start with a small flock. For most beginners, a beginning flock of 2-6 birds is a great start. Before you start putting together your dream flock, it’s important to know which birds will best be suited for their backyard environment. Below we’ve put together our favorite and most popular beginner birds that are perfect for backyard spaces. If you prefer to raise your flock as chicks, visit our blog post “Your Guide to Ordering Your First Backyard Flock” for help on how to begin. 

Barred Rock: Excellent brown egg layers with a calm temperament

Easter Eggers: Colorful egg layers that are quiet, yet active

Speckled Sussex: Cold climate strong and calm

Australorps: Quiet and gentle breeds that don’t mind staying inside their coop for long periods

Brahmas: Beautiful large chickens with feathers on shanks and toes

Rhode Island Reds: Hardy, curious, and friendly to be around!

Silkies: Known for their fluffy plumage, will happily raise ducklings and even poults

Note: Chickens will always make some noise. Especially when they lay an egg or see a possible danger. 

Backyard Space

If you plan to let your flock out to forage, then it’s important that your backyard space is safe. Do you have any plants in which you would prefer your flock to avoid? Does your entire backyard have a fence or a majority of cement? Do you have a pool? 

If you have a growing garden, having chickens can be both a great and complicated addition. Your flock will help eliminate any gardening pests, like grasshoppers, who can wreak havoc on your precious greens. If you have fallen fruit, your flock will clean up before the fruit can turn into mush. If you need an extra boost of fertilizer, your flock’s run area can be a source of organic help. However, it’s important to note that your flock also enjoys a good flower and vegetable salad if available. Therefore creating a protected space is necessary to maintain a balance between your chicken and gardening goals. 

Having a fenced-in backyard is a must to prevent any nuisance calls from your neighbors. Although chickens can fly, they will stay in their backyard space if kept occupied. If your flock’s curiosity worries you, then we would suggest training your flock to understand when treats are available. You can train chickens, like other livestock, to immediately return when you call them, encourage this behavior with treats and you will have a flock that comes at your command.

Chickens love to dust bathe, therefore leaving areas of sandy dirt is necessary to allow your flock to do what they love. Additionally, keeping chickens near your cemented space may prove to be a hassle when cleaning their stained droppings. If you have a pool, make sure your flock doesn’t have unsupervised access, although they are able to swim, chickens, unlike ducks, do not have feathers that secrete the oil needed to remain dry, causing them to become waterlogged and drown. 

Our chicken-keeping experience says 4 ft2 per hen is an acceptable number for healthy averaged sized hens that are caged 100% of the time and for things not to get too smelly. Space for chickens is a very, very personal decision that takes in factors of perceived humaneness which we of course cannot measure. If you plan to consider free-ranging your flock, then it is important to think about the mentioned space precautions and considerations. Additionally, each of our coops has a recommended coop space that can be found on our coop and egg capacity chart

Pros of Keeping Chickens in the City

Aside from enjoying fresh and organic eggs from your backyard, there are a number of positives that come from raising chickens in the city.

Food Appreciation.

Often times we forget where our food comes from, especially when it comes to the foods we often enjoy. Owning a backyard flock brings a certain awareness and appreciation for nature that is provided by owning and raising a backyard flock.

Community Education

Depending on your neighbors, your backyard flock may spark some interest and curiosity for those who have never considered raising something other than a dog, cat, or fish. Sharing what you’ve learned with them can be both inspiring and interesting to them. Additionally, if you ever find yourself with excess eggs, you can always share them with your neighborhood friends.

Entertainment

Have you ever wanted to encourage yourself or possibly your children to enjoy their time outdoors more? Chickens will create a type of environment that is both peaceful and entertaining. You’ll quickly find that not all chickens are the same and that each flock member will have a unique and fun personality. Watching chickens catch grasshoppers or use a chicken swing is something so simple yet entertaining to watch.

We hope you find this article helpful as you start or continue your backyard farming journey! If questions regarding anything mentioned in this blog post, reach out to us at 877-741-2667 or email us at support@roostandroot.com.

We’re real people and always happy to help!

5 First Time Backyard Chicken Keeping Tips

Chicken Keeping doesn’t have to be complicated for a first-time backyard flock owner. Whether you’ve found yourself dreaming of looking out your backyard to see a feathery flock of your own roaming around, or if you’ve committed yourself to purchase your first chicks, we’ve put together a list of 5 of our best and helpful First Time Backyard Chicken Keeping Tips to help you along your new backyard farming journey!

1) Begin with chicks or mature birds 

For new or future backyard chicken keepers, we always recommend starting off with either chicks or mature birds. If you have a preference for raising baby chicks, you can easily order your future flock by visiting a reputable online hatchery such as idealpoulty.com or murraymcmurrayhatchery.com. Baby chicks require extra care and need to remain in an enclosed area until they reach a recommended coop age of 6-8 weeks.

If you have a friend or know of a sustainable and reputable farm that may offer pullets, this will also serve as a great way to begin your chicken-keeping journey. Keep in mind that chickens will typically begin laying eggs at 18 weeks of age. For more information on how to properly order your first flock, visit our blog post Your Guide to Ordering Your First Backyard Flock where we mention breed recommendations that are great for beginners! 

2) Establish a Routine with your chickens

Make sure to establish a daily routine with your flock to ensure good health. Our daily routine always includes checking to see if the flock has clean water and plenty of food. Make sure to also schedule regular times to check your hen’s nest box to collect eggs, if eggs are left uncollected for long periods of time, this may result in broody hens (a hen that will sit on eggs in an attempt to hatch them), unwanted predator attention, or a broken egg in the nest box. To make this routine simpler, our coops feature optional  EZ-Fill Waterers and Feeders with a simple, no-poop feeding system.

For a weekly to monthly basis, make sure to clean your hen’s nest box area by replacing or cleaning the bedding. You can also add chicken-safe nest box herbs that your hens will love! To view a list of chicken healthy herbs that we recommend, visit our blog post 8 Chicken Healthy Herbs To Grow Next to Your Coop. Additionally, it’s important to always schedule a time to rake the dirt or sanded run area of your coop to ensure that the natural microbiomes in the dirt work their magic in decomposing your flock’s poop. For Roost Bars use a plastic bristle brush and/or a wired brush for wired panel sanitization. For a natural wood friendly, water-based formula use a spray bottle filled with half water and half distilled white vinegar, feel free to use as-is or add rosemary or lavender to your formula for a natural scent boost.

3) Plan for the Seasons

Winter:

Depending on where you are establishing your new backyard flock, your weather characteristics may require some seasonal coop preparation. Almost all chickens are fairly cold hardy and can withstand temperatures below freezing as well as snowfall. To assist with the cold temperatures in your area we always recommend using an aquarium heater and Freeze-Guard Poultry Drinker that will prevent waters from freezing. For open airway style coops, like our Roost&Root Coops, we always recommend preparing during wintertime with our Snow/Storm Panels, made to allow airflow while protecting your flock from snow and harsh rains that may reach 50-60 MPH+.

* DO NOT attach a heat lamp to your coop during the cold, this is a very high fire risk.

 

 

Summer:

Compared to winter, the summertime proves much more of a precautionary season as chickens may get heat exhaustion. We always suggest providing your flock with loose topsoil to allow for dust bathing. Rolling around in dust will not only help cool chickens off but will also help eliminate any mites. As an optional choice, you can also include a separate natural electrolyte water formula for your flock. For more summer flock care tips, visit our blog post How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat

4) Have an Out of Town Plan

A common misconception that comes with having chickens is being unable to plan vacations. Chickens are by far much easier to care for during long stays away from home. A trusted family member or friend can easily maintain your flock’s feeding system with our EZ-Fill Watering and Feeding System, which allows for easy outside coop feedings. Many of our coops allow up to 3-4 days of feed and water before having to replenish. Additionally, having your flock inside their coop during the time of your vacation will not cause any harm. 

5) Have Fun!

Chicken keeping doesn’t have to be complicated, once your routine and flock are established, the work required to maintain your flock’s health and safety will seem minimal compared to that of a cat or dog. You will find that each flock member will have recognizable characteristics and quirks that will set each one apart, and make them a part of your family. The responsibilities of keeping a flock are simple to remember and will soon become a new and fun task on your backyard farming journey. 

We hope you find these first-time backyard chicken-keeping tips helpful as you begin your backyard farming journey! Have any questions regarding anything that is mentioned in this blog post? Reach out to us at 877-741-2667 or email us at support@roostandroot.com.

We’re real people and always happy to help!

Your Guide to Ordering Your First Backyard Flock

Buying your first chickens is an exciting moment, that at the same time, can bring up a lot of questions! That is why we decided to create this helpful resource to help answer some of the biggest questions you may have when purchasing your very first flock. We’ll help answer questions such as which birds to choose, where, and how to order your birds, as well as important housing considerations once you receive your first chicks. 

1) “What Birds Should I Get?”

It’s easy to immediately get overwhelmed with the various breeds available, each with unique characteristics that set them apart, from the color of their eggs and feathers to the nature of their temperament and hardiness. To help make your decision easier, we’ve listed below 10 of our favorite breeds loved by beginner backyard flock owners everywhere for their excellent egg production, their calm and docile temperament, as well as the color of their eggs.

  1. Rhode Island Red – Brown Egg Layer (Cold Hardy)
  2. Barred Rock – Brown Egg Layer
  3. Easter Eggers – Green/Blue/Multi-Color Eggs 
  4. Orpingtons – Brown Egg Layer (Cold Hardy)
  5. Australorp – Brown Egg Layer (Cold Hardy)
  6. Wyandottes – Light to Rich Brown Eggs (Cold Hardy)
  7. Gold Comet – Light to Rich Brown Eggs 
  8. Buckeye – Light to Rich Brown Eggs (Cold Hardy)
  9. Speckled Sussex – Light Brown Eggs 
  10. Maran – Chocolate Brown Eggs 

*Listed in no specific order. 

If you live in a cooler climate that is prone to subzero temperatures and snow, we would advise getting hardy breeds, a few well-regarded cold-hardy breeds not mentioned above include Dominiques, Welsummers, Delawares, and New Hampshire Reds.

Not listed, are Bantam chickens, although not recognized for their egg production, are still favorable among beginners for their excellent temperament, some of which include Polish, Frizzle, Sizzle, and Silkie Chickens. Note that although these chickens are known for their kind temperament, roosters may show some slight aggression by nature.

2) Where to Order/Find Birds

We recommend ordering your birds either in person at a local feed store, over the phone using a catalog, an online hatchery (Murray McMurray Hatchery & Ideal Poultry), Craigslist, or a sustainable and reputable local farm via this directory. If picking up a bird online from Craigslist, make sure to note any unhealthy signs such as any breathing abnormalities (rasping, sneezing), swelling or lesions, physical impairment (limping, hunching, excessive feather loss), or odor. These may be signs of illness and should often be avoided. 

3) How to Order Your Birds

If you plan to order through your local feed store, be certain to reach out and ask when they begin accepting orders for chicks. Often there are two seasons for ordering chicks, the Spring season and the Fall season. For the Spring season, chicks will arrive late January up until May, Fall season chicks will arrive around September to October. To ensure your birds are ready to handle lower temperatures, we recommend ordering your chicks 6 weeks before your first freeze. 

Minimum orders vary based on the hatchery you select and the time of year. Spring chicks tend to sell out faster therefore we recommend placing an order as soon as you learn when the shipping dates are established by the hatchery of your choice. 

  • Sexed vs. Straight Run Birds: When ordering, you may be required to select between sexed or straight run birds. Sexed birds mean a hatchery will do their best to give you the gender you prefer. Straight Runs are an assorted gender and may result in having roosters.

 * Note that you do not need a rooster for hens to produce eggs, a rooster will fertilize eggs thus leading to the possibility of baby chicks if you have a broody hen in your flock. 

The majority of post offices accept mail-order chicks, however, it is best to call your post office first to ensure that they do, as well to learn how they require you to go about pick-ups, often at-home deliveries are available as well. Ordering via a local feed store will allow you to pick-up your orders in person or pick and select from the available chicks they often bring in during the season. 

* Most hatcheries offer a live arrival guarantee with a time-frame window in which you will need to report a loss so that a hatchery can credit you. 

4) Housing Chicks

One important factor when ordering your first flock is the consideration of the nightly temperatures of where you are located. 6 Week Old Chicks should not be let outdoors if nightly temperatures are below that of which are shown in the image below. As you raise your flock, we recommend keeping your chicks indoors until they reach their recommended coop age. For more information on how to house your baby chicks until they reach their recommended age, reference our blog post-Simple Ways to House Chicks While Your Chicken Coop Is Being Built. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope you find this guide helpful as you begin your backyard farming journey! Have a question regarding what was mentioned in our blog post? Reach out to us at any time, we’re real people and enjoy helping new and existing chicken and coop owners everywhere! support@roostandroot.com , phone: 877-741-2667.