It’s been a long time coming, after numerous predator attacks, and no way to keep my coop comfortable in Phoenix’s ridiculous heat, I’m finally doing something about it. I’m digging deep into my pockets and considering these two options. Option #1 is to have my covered corrals enclosed by a local company that specializes in custom enclosures. It will be done with wood framing and hardware cloth and have two entry doors. Or, option #2, building an entirely new coop by a local custom builder. The builders are coming in mid-June to discuss these options. I’m open to their suggestions, but I’m leaning towards enclosing my corrals because of our summer monsoon storms. It was built in 2013 and I know it can withstand winds that exceed 70 MPH and stays dry in heavy rain.
What Age Is a Chick Fully Feathered & What Does That Mean?
Ideal Outdoor Temperature For Fully Feathered Chicks
The timing for moving chicks from a brooder to a coop depends on several factors. In general, chicks can be moved from the brooder to the coop when they are fully feathered, usually around 6-8 weeks of age. However, if you’re raising chicks in winter, they may need a heat source much longer, and in summer they may only need a heat source for a few weeks. You can determine the chicks’ comfort zone by their behavior. If the chicks are huddled together it’s most likely they’re cold. If some are eating, others active, and a few are resting, that’s a good indication they are quite comfortable.
What Does Fully Feathered Mean?
A fully feathered chick means its downy fluff has been replaced with real feathers. This usually occurs around 6-7 weeks of age, but not all breeds get their feathers at the same time. It’s better to observe the feathering process rather than the age of e bird. As a guideline, and in my opinion, when moving fully feathered chicks from the brooder to the coop, the ideal temperature would be around 65 -70 degrees. To achieve ideal climate conditions, the best time to start chicks is in Spring.
Adjusting Temperature Control in the Brooder
An important reason for having temperature control on the brooder is that it not only keeps baby chicks warm but also to prepare them for cooler temperatures as they grow. Each week the temperature in the brooder should be lowered by 5 degrees. The rule of thumb is as follows: Week 1: 95 degrees Week 2: 90 degrees Week 3: 85 degrees Week 4: 80 degrees Week 5: 75 degrees Week 6: 70 degrees Week 7: 65 degrees
If your birds are ready to be moved to their coop, happy moving day!
A New Way to Keep Your Chicken Coop Clean & Smelling Fresh
Coffee grounds chicken bedding is a new type of bedding material for chicken coops that utilizes used coffee grounds. Instead of disposing of the coffee grounds, they are repurposed as bedding material for chickens. The idea behind using coffee grounds as chicken bedding is that it is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional bedding materials such as straw or pine shavings. Not to mention, the coop certainly would smell great! It’s important to note that coffee grounds should not be the only source of bedding material in a chicken coop. They can be used in combination with other materials such as pine shavings to provide a comfortable nesting box for egg-laying and broody hens. I haven’t found this new product anywhere in Phoenix, but other chicken keepers have found it available at Rural King. Unfortunately, we don’t have that store here. Some people have found it at Tractor Supply, but our neighborhood TSC hasn’t gotten on board with this new product yet. Therefore, I haven’t been able to try it, nevertheless, I wanted to at least keep my readers informed with new products that might make chicken-keeping chores easier. Using a long-handle litter scoop would be handy in keeping the coop clean on a daily basis. The litter scoop is available on Amazon.
Here’s what Rural King Farm & Home Store Says About Recycled Coffee Grounds Animal Bedding
Our 100% All Natural Animal Bedding is made from 100% recycled coffee grounds. To answer the question you’re asking yourself – Yes! It is completely safe for your animals. There is no caffeine or anything harmful in our coffee grounds. Our bedding makes your coop smell like your favorite local coffee shop, it doesn’t decompose and break down into dust, and it acts like a cat litter for your animals’ droppings, making for a quick and easy clean up! When you’re ready to swap out your used bedding for new, go ahead and toss our grounds in your compost pile or in the yard! Here are the Benefits: Grounds All Natural Animal Bedding is made from recycled coffee grounds and is great for chickens (chicks), ducks, and turkeys! Grounds bedding has a great coffee scent. Pet bedding has no dust and does not break down like traditional wood shavings. Small pet bedding is easy to clean and scoop out unwanted waste Natural pest repellent. Longer-lasting clean coop, less maintenance required. Made in the USA from recycled coffee grounds with virtually no caffeine. Spread 0.5-1 in. depth in the chicken coop.
There are a few videos on YouTube to help you decide if recycled coffee grounds for your coop is something you’re interested in. Check them out! Happy chicken keeping! 🙂
Natural Sand May Be a Better Choice for Your Coop, Here’s Why
Drainage: Sand allows for excellent drainage, which helps to keep the chicken coop dry and prevents the buildup of moisture. This is important for maintaining a healthy living environment for chickens and preventing issues like fungal growth or ammonia buildup, which can lead to respiratory issues for the birds. Cleanliness: Sand is easy to clean and maintain. Chicken droppings and other debris can be easily scooped out using a long-handle litter box scoop, available on Amazon. It would only take a few minutes to scoop up poop every day, this will keep the coop much cleaner. No more raking out a ton of smelly shavings every week, and replacing it with clean expensive pine shavings. Comfort: Sand provides a soft and comfortable surface for chickens to walk, stand, and rest on. It is gentle on their feet and joints, which is important for their overall health and well-being. Chickens are also known to dust bathe, and sand provides a suitable medium for them to engage in this natural behavior. Pest control: Sand can help control pests in the chicken coop. Sand does not provide a suitable environment for many common pests like mites, lice, or fleas to thrive, as it is not conducive to their life cycle. Additionally, sand can be easily raked or turned over, disrupting pest habitats and helping to keep them under control. Cost-effective: Sand is often an inexpensive option for bedding in chicken coops, especially when compared to other materials like wood shavings or straw. Sand can be sourced locally in many areas, making it a cost-effective choice for chicken keepers on a budget. Longevity: Sand is a durable material that can last for a long time with minimal maintenance. Unlike other bedding materials that may break down or decompose over time, sand can remain relatively stable and functional for an extended period, reducing the need for frequent replacement. Natural look: Sand can provide a natural, aesthetically pleasing look to the chicken coop. It can mimic the natural environment of chickens, allowing them to engage in their natural behaviors and feel more comfortable in their surroundings.
Not All Sand is Created Equal Where to Buy
Sand for your coop and/or run should be natural, consist of variable particle sizes, and shouldn’t be manufactured by crushing quartz. Sand can be purchased in bulk at local quarries, or anywhere that sells rock for landscaping, construction sites, etc. Delivery will most likely be available, but there will be an extra charge for the service. The sand will be dumped on your property, and it will be your job to move it into your coop and/or run. NOTE: Keep in mind that sand is not suitable for all climates or situations. In areas with heavy rainfall or high humidity, sand may become excessively damp and muddy, which can lead to issues such as increased ammonia buildup or difficulties with drainage. Sand is best used inside a coop, or a covered area. It’s essential to consider the specific needs of your flock, climate, and management practices when choosing bedding material for your chicken coop. Pine Shavings are Still Useful Pine shavings are best used in nest boxes, chickens seem to prefer nesting on fluffy pine shavings, not hay, or straw which can be an irritant to the vent area.
Your start-up cost for raising chicks & chickens can be costly, but you can plan ahead and buy a little at a time. There is plenty of time to have chickens, it can be next season or even the one after! Expect to pay somewhere around $1,000+ for a modest set-up… or better yet, take your time and build the coop of your dream. Chicken Coop A sturdy, weatherproof coop is essential for providing your chickens with shelter and protection from predators. Make sure it’s large enough to comfortably house your desired number of chickens, with nesting boxes for laying eggs, perches for roosting, and proper ventilation. How Much Space Do Chickens Need? Chicken Run A secure outdoor space where your chickens can exercise and forage. It should be fenced & covered to prevent them from escaping and protected from predators. It should be tall enough for you to easily access it for cleaning. Bedding Chickens need clean and dry bedding to keep them comfortable and to help manage waste. Pine shavings are a good choice and are readily available at feed stores. Use a good amount of the floor of the coop and in the nest boxes. Chicken Feed A balanced and nutritious diet is important for healthy chickens. You’ll need to provide them with good quality chicken feed that’s appropriate for their age and stage of production. Organic feed is available if that is your choice, although it is substantially higher in price. Waterer Chickens need access to clean, fresh water at all times. Use a waterer designed specifically for chickens. If you start with chicks, you’ll need a special smaller waterer for them. Feeder A feeder designed for chickens or chicks will help keep their food clean and prevent waste. There are various types available. Nesting Boxes Hens need nesting boxes where they can lay their eggs. These should be clean, dry, and comfortable, with some privacy for the hens. You’ll need one nest box for every two hens. First Aid Kit It’s always good to have a basic first aid kit for any potential chicken health issues. It should include items like poultry vitamins, electrolytes, wound care supplies, and poultry-safe insecticides. Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth To keep your chickens safe from predators, you’ll need to cover any openings in your coop or run with chicken wire or hardware cloth. Make sure it’s sturdy and predator-proof. Cleaning Supplies Keeping your coop clean and sanitary is important for the health and well-being of your chickens. You’ll need tools like a rake, shovel, broom, and a putty knife for regular cleaning. Perches Chickens need perches to roost at night. Provide them with sturdy, rounded, or flat perches that are at least 2-3 feet off the ground. Dust Bath Chickens love to dust bathe, which helps them clean their feathers and control parasites. You can provide them with a designated area filled with sand. Avoid using food-grade diatomaceous earth anywhere in your coop, this can cause serious health and respiratory issues in chickens. Egg Collection Basket If you’re keeping hens for eggs, you’ll need a place to collect and store the eggs. An egg collection basket or egg cartons are good options. A Brooder for Baby Chicks A brooder is an enclosure or container designed to provide a warm and safe environment for newly hatched chicks to grow and develop until they are fully feathered. Heat Source If you’re raising chicks, they’ll need a heat source to keep warm. This can be a heat lamp or preferably, a radiant heat brooder plate. Thermometer for the Brooder A thermometer allows you to monitor the temperature and make adjustments as needed to ensure that the chicks are comfortable and healthy. Grit Whether or not chicks need grit to help digest their food is controversial. Today, it is said that if feeding commercial feed, grit isn’t necessary. I’ll leave this option for you to decide.
After months of cold weather, the coop is probably about as foul as it ever gets, so it’s that time of year for deep cleaning. That means bedding, nest boxes, roosts, feeders & drinkers, and scraping up all the soiled material from the floor. Confine the chickens to an outdoor run for the day with a sandbox or fresh dirt to have a nice dust bath while their coop is being cleaned. It’s best to let the coop air out & dry for most of the day before adding new shavings and bedding. Choose a sunny breezy day for this not-so-fun chore because the coop will air out and dry quicker. Don’t forget to wear gloves, boots, and a mask when cleaning, there’s going to be all kinds of nasty dust and muck stirred up that can’t be healthy for you… so gear up and protect yourself. If your chickens are in a shed or enclosed structure, avoid harsh cleaners, vinegar & Dawn dish soap is a suitable cleaner and safe for you and your birds. Use a putty knife to scrape off hard-to-clean areas, and sweep out all the old bedding and pests that have probably been hiding in there over the winter. If you have windows, brush off the cobwebs and all the feathers stuck in them, get the Windex, and make the glass shine. There are always repairs or needed improvements on chicken coops, and this is the time to address them. Duct tape, zip ties, and baling wire go a long way to fixing things, so make sure you’re armed with these valuable tools. 🙂 After the coop has been thoroughly cleaned, add your fresh bedding, feeders & drinkers, and nest boxes, and don’t be afraid to move things around and make changes. Chickens don’t mind change, and a little change of scenery might even be welcomed. Before returning your birds to the coop, this is a good time to check their individual overall health and address accordingly.
The Simple Version: Here Are the Six Spring Cleaning Steps to Follow:
Empty the coop: Start by removing all of the bedding and nesting material from the coop. This includes any straw or wood shavings, as well as any old eggs or feathers that may have accumulated. Scrub the coop: Use a scrub brush and mild detergent to thoroughly clean the inside of the coop. Pay special attention to the corners and crevices, where dirt and bacteria can accumulate. Rinse the coop with clean water and allow it to dry completely. Treat for pests: Check for any signs of pests, such as mites or lice. If you see any, treat the coop and chickens with a pest control product that is safe for use around poultry. Inspect and repair: Inspect the coop for any signs of wear or damage, such as holes in the walls or roof. Repair any damage before adding new bedding to the coop. Add new bedding: Once the coop is clean and dry, add fresh bedding to the floor and nest boxes. Choose a bedding material that is appropriate for your chickens, such as straw or wood shavings. Restock supplies: Check your supplies of food and restock as needed, make sure you have extra in case of a shortage.
How to Keep your Flock Safe from These Common Natural Predators
Biggest Threat: Coyote
Coyotes are common in urban areas of Phoenix and are known to prey on chickens. These animals are highly adaptable predators that can thrive in a variety of habitats, including rural, and highly populated urban areas. They are opportunistic hunters & it’s almost certain the coyote will eventually find your chickens. Note: The coyote rarely takes one bird, they are known to kill the entire flock, take one or two birds and leave the dead behind.
Note: The coyote rarely takes one bird, they are known to kill the entire flock, take one or two birds and leave the dead behind.
The Harris Hawk is a bird of prey that can swoop down and carry off small animals, including chickens. They are known to be skilled predators, and they hunt a variety of prey. They hunt in groups, which is uncommon among raptors. They often hunt cooperatively, with one bird flushing prey from cover while another waits in ambush. This allows them to take down larger prey than they could handle alone. The Harris hawk is a skilled and adaptable hunter that has evolved unique hunting behaviors to maximize its chances of success in capturing prey.
Bobcats are carnivorous animals and are known to prey on a variety of animals, including chickens. When hunting chickens, bobcats use their keen senses of sight, hearing, and smell to detect their prey. So it’s especially important to keep your keep clean. Bobcats typically wait until dusk to hunt, but keep in mind, I have experienced an attack during the day, so always assume your birds are at risk if unprotected. Bobcats aren’t known to be greedy, they usually take just one bird.
Note: Bobcats aren’t known to be greedy, they usually take just one bird.
Raccoons are known to be skilled at breaking into chicken coops and killing chickens. They are not a huge threat in the city, but I have seen them on our urban farm. Raccoons are a type of mammal that are known for their distinctive “hands.” Raccoon hands which are very dexterous and have long, flexible fingers that can grasp and manipulate objects with ease, such as latches on coop doors.
Rattlesnakes can pose a threat to chickens, they are venomous snakes that are found not only in desert areas but the city as well. They are known to prey on small animals which includes birds. Chickens are potential prey for rattlesnakes because they are small and often forage on the ground, which makes them vulnerable to snake attacks. If a rattlesnake can get into a chicken coop or other chicken enclosure, it may be able to kill or injure chickens.
How to Protect Your Backyard Flock From Predators
Secure your coop: Make sure that your coop is secure and predator-proof. This includes using sturdy materials for the coop, such as wire mesh or hardware cloth, and ensuring that all openings are covered with tight-fitting, predator-resistant material. It is also important to have a strong lock on the door, as many predators are quite clever at finding their way in. Provide a secure run: A run is a fenced-in area where your chickens can roam during the day. Make sure the run is secure with a sturdy fence that is buried at least 6 inches into the ground to prevent predators from digging underneath it. Cover the top of the run with netting or wire mesh to prevent hawks or other birds of prey from swooping in. Keep the area clean: Predators are attracted to areas where they can easily find food, so make sure to clean up any spilled food or water and store feed in a secure container. Also, remove any debris or brush around the coop that predators could use as cover. Droppings from your birds are also an attractant, clean the coop at least once a week. Use lights and sound: Some predators are deterred by lights or loud noises. You can install motion-activated lights around the coop or a device that emits sound to deter predators.
Congratulations! By learning how to protect your birds, you have done your part to help keep your flock safe from predators. 🙂