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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wish to start with roughly 30+ fully grown chickens for eggs only and harvest the manure for my compost bins
Which type of chicken should I buy?
What food should I give them?
They will live free range in a totally enclosed covered 1/4 acre area outside under deep litter conditions
The coop will be18ft x 10ft x 7ft high with roosts and 8 nesting boxes
Cleaning will be done daily.

Am I on the right track?
Your comments and help will be appreciated
 

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Talk about jumping in with both feet. We can try to help but the fact you're in a different country could get really frustrating for you because the breeds of chickens available and the feed if probably different from what we have in the states.

Your coop should be plenty large enough.

You don't want older adult hens. You want pullets. Birds that are right at the point of being old enough to begin laying.

Get your birds from someone reputable so avoid issues with disease.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Talk about jumping in with both feet. We can try to help but the fact you're in a different country could get really frustrating for you because the breeds of chickens available and the feed if probably different from what we have in the states.

Your coop should be plenty large enough.

You don't want older adult hens. You want pullets. Birds that are right at the point of being old enough to begin laying.

Get your birds from someone reputable so avoid issues with disease.
Thank You
 

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Personally, if you have never owned chickens before, I would start with fewer chickens, perhaps between 6-10. Raise them for a year, and then start expanding your flock. I started with 6, and I thought that was the perfect number for a brand new owner because when problems arose it was much easier for someone with no experience to figure out how to solve problems than if I had 30+ chickens to care for. That year of a just a few chickens let me gain experience without overwhelming myself and making me regret getting chickens!

Also, remember chickens only lay eggs regularly for 3 years, sometimes less. After that, they start to taper off or might stop laying altogether. If you have a coop filled with older chickens and you don't have room to add more, you can expect to be getting very few eggs in just 2-3 years and be unable to "restock" because your coop is full! This only applies if you don't plan to do mass slaughters every year or so. Otherwise, you should consider staggering your age groups. I have about about 3 different age groups in my coop right now, as I don't regularly slaughter and don't really want to, and I want to keep getting eggs. I get a new batch of chicks to replace those who have died off about every other year, depending on on what my chicken population is looking like in the spring.

A commercial feed you purchase in farm stores is perfectly fine. If you get chicks, you'll want a "Grower Feed" or "Starter Feed" (there are numerous different names different companies call it, look for something with a baby chick in the photo, haha) until they are about 18 weeks old or when they start to lay. Then you switch to a "Layer Feed". You will want to have oyster shell in a SEPARATE dish for your laying hens so they can get all the calcium they need to lay eggs.

As for what breed of chickens you should get, I think it depends a lot on what is available to you. For me, real chicken breeders are few and far between, and hatcheries that mail day old chicks are difficult for me because I live in a very rural location and most of the chicks seem to die in transit because it takes so long for them to reach me! I usually purchase baby chicks from farm stores, and they usually have a selection of common heritage layer/dual purpose breeds, some hybrids, and more ornamental breeds like Silkies or Polish. You can often purchase pullets that are almost ready to lay from breeders and even some large mail hatcheries, but note they are way more expensive than chicks.

I think birds like Orpingtons or Rhode Island Reds are really good for just starting. If you want something really friendly, Orpingtons are good, though my friendliest birds are a California Tan and an ISA Brown. Also consider if you want to butcher for meat. Some birds are good dual purpose, where they lay a good number of eggs but also are heavier of body for butchering when they are done laying. If they're going to be mainly pets, it doesn't matter so much. But, like Robin said, you might have a different selection of breeds than what is available to me! You'll just have to do some research on your options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Personally, if you have never owned chickens before, I would start with fewer chickens, perhaps between 6-10. Raise them for a year, and then start expanding your flock. I started with 6, and I thought that was the perfect number for a brand new owner because when problems arose it was much easier for someone with no experience to figure out how to solve problems than if I had 30+ chickens to care for. That year of a just a few chickens let me gain experience without overwhelming myself and making me regret getting chickens!

Also, remember chickens only lay eggs regularly for 3 years, sometimes less. After that, they start to taper off or might stop laying altogether. If you have a coop filled with older chickens and you don't have room to add more, you can expect to be getting very few eggs in just 2-3 years and be unable to "restock" because your coop is full! This only applies if you don't plan to do mass slaughters every year or so. Otherwise, you should consider staggering your age groups. I have about about 3 different age groups in my coop right now, as I don't regularly slaughter and don't really want to, and I want to keep getting eggs. I get a new batch of chicks to replace those who have died off about every other year, depending on on what my chicken population is looking like in the spring.

A commercial feed you purchase in farm stores is perfectly fine. If you get chicks, you'll want a "Grower Feed" or "Starter Feed" (there are numerous different names different companies call it, look for something with a baby chick in the photo, haha) until they are about 18 weeks old or when they start to lay. Then you switch to a "Layer Feed". You will want to have oyster shell in a SEPARATE dish for your laying hens so they can get all the calcium they need to lay eggs.

As for what breed of chickens you should get, I think it depends a lot on what is available to you. For me, real chicken breeders are few and far between, and hatcheries that mail day old chicks are difficult for me because I live in a very rural location and most of the chicks seem to die in transit because it takes so long for them to reach me! I usually purchase baby chicks from farm stores, and they usually have a selection of common heritage layer/dual purpose breeds, some hybrids, and more ornamental breeds like Silkies or Polish. You can often purchase pullets that are almost ready to lay from breeders and even some large mail hatcheries, but note they are way more expensive than chicks.

I think birds like Orpingtons or Rhode Island Reds are really good for just starting. If you want something really friendly, Orpingtons are good, though my friendliest birds are a California Tan and an ISA Brown. Also consider if you want to butcher for meat. Some birds are good dual purpose, where they lay a good number of eggs but also are heavier of body for butchering when they are done laying. If they're going to be mainly pets, it doesn't matter so much. But, like Robin said, you might have a different selection of breeds than what is available to me! You'll just have to do some research on your options.
I thank you for your comments - very informative and useful
I forgot to add that these chickens will not be pets but working manure producers for my many 1m x1m x1m wooden compost bins and will not be handled due to our allergy problems just fed and watered. There is only my wife and I and being retired spend all our time with our many raised garden beds growing flowers so even the eggs are not of great importance as we will most probably give the majority away to neighbors So good manure producing chickens is the important factor for our gardens
Would Rhode island / Orpingtons still be good for this purpose
Your views would be welcome
regards
 

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I thank you for your comments - very informative and useful
I forgot to add that these chickens will not be pets but working manure producers for my many 1m x1m x1m wooden compost bins and will not be handled due to our allergy problems just fed and watered. There is only my wife and I and being retired spend all our time with our many raised garden beds growing flowers so even the eggs are not of great importance as we will most probably give the majority away to neighbors So good manure producing chickens is the important factor for our gardens
Would Rhode island / Orpingtons still be good for this purpose
Your views would be welcome
regards
Just about any chicken will produce more than enough manure for you, don't worry about that!

If you are wanting to collect manure for compost, I would suggest something called a "poop board" or "droppings board". It's basically just a board, or sometimes a tarp, beneath the roosts that collects poop. I first read about it here:


I have one beneath my roosts, and I find it very helpful in keeping the litter cleaner for longer. I just shovel the poop off every 3 days or so, load it in a wheelbarrow, and roll it over to my compost. I didn't particularly like too many shavings in my compost, it just wasn't what I wanted it to be, so using the poop board allows me to have more control over how much carbon goes in the compost bin.
 

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I'm guessing you don't want to replace birds sooner than you need to. If you get birds that are nearly at the end of their laying life chances are they won't be around for long afterwards.

With 30 birds you could have an egg business on the side too. Being that you are not in the states you might be able to sell the eggs to the local market for them to sell.

RIRs can be a difficult lot personality wise but are pretty good layers. Orpies are pretty laid back and equally good layers except they go broody which drops egg production down.

I like Lillith's idea for the board to make it simple to remove the what they drop overnight. Where you might struggle is trying to collect anything from outside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm guessing you don't want to replace birds sooner than you need to. If you get birds that are nearly at the end of their laying life chances are they won't be around for long afterwards.

With 30 birds you could have an egg business on the side too. Being that you are not in the states you might be able to sell the eggs to the local market for them to sell.

RIRs can be a difficult lot personality wise but are pretty good layers. Orpies are pretty laid back and equally good layers except they go broody which drops egg production down.

I like Lillith's idea for the board to make it simple to remove the what they drop overnight. Where you might struggle is trying to collect anything from outside.
Thank you for your comments
Money is of no problem to us so we would never think of selling eggs
We just want to produce high volumes of compost for our flowers which we give away to people as well
we require about 10 lbs of manure a day for the compost bins so we calculated that 30 chickens would suffice
It takes nearly a year to produce I cubic metre of compost and we have 40 compost boxes to fill until we meet our reqd quota for the raised garden boxes
Someone suggested keeping the chickens in cages in a large shed -interesting thought I am looking further into this idea What do you think?
 

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I absolutely hate that thought of keeping the birds caged. It would be far kinder if you bought commercial compost rather than lock them up in a small area. The birds are smart enough to learn their names. They know their humans.

I'm not so certain you're going to get those kinds of amounts. I kept 80 birds in one of my coops. They had outdoor runs. They never added up to 10 pounds of manure in one day.

If you can, look at getting some other type of animal to provide that volume because 30 chickens isn't going to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I absolutely hate that thought of keeping the birds caged. It would be far kinder if you bought commercial compost rather than lock them up in a small area. The birds are smart enough to learn their names. They know their humans.

I'm not so certain you're going to get those kinds of amounts. I kept 80 birds in one of my coops. They had outdoor runs. They never added up to 10 pounds of manure in one day.

If you can, look at getting some other type of animal to provide that volume because 30 chickens isn't going to do it.
I absolutely hate that thought of keeping the birds caged. It would be far kinder if you bought commercial compost rather than lock them up in a small area. The birds are smart enough to learn their names. They know their humans.

I'm not so certain you're going to get those kinds of amounts. I kept 80 birds in one of my coops. They had outdoor runs. They never added up to 10 pounds of manure in one day.

If you can, look at getting some other type of animal to provide that volume because 30 chickens isn't going to do it.
I respect your views on keeping chickens in cages but agree to disagree as I do not see chickens, rabbits, cats and dogs and most farm animals at the bottom of the ecological system as they have no eco value other than feeding humans and, as such, can never feel any affection to any of them

I read on the internet that rabbits and chickens each produce a half lb of manure per day that is where I got my figure of needing 30 chickens. We don't like rabbits and as we live in an upmarket suburban area getting horse or cow manure is not easily obtained and I am sure our 3 neighbors would not appreciate the aroma. We currently buy bags of rabbit droppings from our supermarket for use on our garden beds and roses
Maybe we will just continue with this as this chicken idea all sounds so messy and just another inconvenience to our lives.
 

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Thank you for your comments
Money is of no problem to us so we would never think of selling eggs
We just want to produce high volumes of compost for our flowers which we give away to people as well
we require about 10 lbs of manure a day for the compost bins so we calculated that 30 chickens would suffice
It takes nearly a year to produce I cubic metre of compost and we have 40 compost boxes to fill until we meet our reqd quota for the raised garden boxes
Someone suggested keeping the chickens in cages in a large shed -interesting thought I am looking further into this idea What do you think?
Like battery style cages? Each chicken with a few square feet or less for the rest of their lives? I mean sure, you could...but it's not a great life for a chicken. At that point you're better off just buying manure off of large scale chicken farmers or purchasing it commercially...probably cheaper, and you don't have to do all the work to keep the manure producers alive. Also, if you keep them in a shed just to poop I guarantee your neighbors will get a whiff of the aroma when the wind is right and its hot and humid out. Just because they are small animals does not mean they aren't capable of producing foul odors, especially when confined in large numbers. You would also have to run exhaust fans during the day, or they'll get sick and die from heat or inhaling their own poop fumes. It's lots of work and money for the initial setup fees no matter how you choose to keep them.

So yeah, if you don't actually enjoy the chickens (which is perfectly fine), it's probably better and just as cost effective to continue purchasing manure commercially. Chickens are expensive to feed, especially if they're not foraging for food, they do require extra work every day, and despite their small size the volume you want/need would smell just as badly as larger livestock. I do not view my chickens as pets, per se, but if I did not enjoy keeping them and find some form of entertainment from them, I absolutely would not keep them. I barely break even after factoring in their feed and the time I spend caring for them, even after adding in the money I make from egg sales, save not purchasing eggs from the store, and the compost I get from them.
 

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I wish to start with roughly 30+ fully grown chickens for eggs only and harvest the manure for my compost bins
Which type of chicken should I buy?
What food should I give them?
They will live free range in a totally enclosed covered 1/4 acre area outside under deep litter conditions
The coop will be18ft x 10ft x 7ft high with roosts and 8 nesting boxes
Cleaning will be done daily.

Am I on the right track?
Your comments and help will be appreciated
Isa Brown, Golden Comets, cinnamon queens. They are hybrids and are bred for egg products.
 
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