I am proud to add “chicken mom” to my accolades. I have been wanting a chicken coop for over a year, given how many eggs we go through daily between Josh, Oakley, and me! Fortunately, my best friend and her husband have egg layers and they gave me a ton of tips on chicks, the coop set up, what they need / don’t need, etc. I also have a lot of followers on Instagram that provided helpful tips as well- which is what has led me to compile this blog (as I know it can be extremely overwhelming as it was for me).
I purchased our chicks directly from Hoover Hatchery- I got them in November and many Tractor Supply stores do not carry chicks during these winter months (some may, depending on the breed you want). I did a lot of research on egg-laying ability, immune systems, personality, etc and we landed on wanting Easter Eggers. I originally wanted 10 chicks but after a lot of messages about how many could possibly die, I decided to go with 15. Luckily- none of ours have died and they are over 2 weeks old. Chicks are shipped to you the day after they are born and the hatchery I went through offered routine vaccines for less than a few dollars per chick- which I went with (maybe this is part of the reason none of them have died).
Many hens will start laying at about 18 weeks so we have a few more months before they start laying eggs. They will be inside until they are at least fully feathered (which can happen around 6 weeks for many breeds). As it’s winter for us until basically April, our coop will have electricity so once they are too big for the brooder, I will run the heat lamp out to the coop until it gets a little warmer for them- even though, as you will see below, fully feathered chickens are fine in 30 degrees (but it can get much colder than that here).
I am unsure if all hatcheries provide as much information as ours did when it comes to chick care, so here is their informative packet for first-time chick owners (no affiliation, I am a full time paying customer- just want to share a great company).
Their Set Up
Their brooder is simply a 40 gallon stock tank that we have had for years- many farming stores will carry what you need for tanks. If you are like me and get overwhelmed easily, I highly recommend this starter kit for the chicks- it comes with literally everything you need (minus the bedding and food). It comes with a heat lamp, two feeders (one for small chicks and one for when they are a little older), a gravity fed waterer, and a booklet on chick care. It really helped alleviate my anxiety over what to order for them.
I personally clean their brooder in the morning, every morning. I add new bedding daily and I also add a “recoup” product that is made of natural scents to absorb odor. Pine shavings make the best bedding for chicks. For their food, I use a medicated crumble that is vitamin fortified to support healthy development and growth. I also add electrolytes to their water for a healthy digestive system. If you would prefer to get another kit for their health, this is a great option as well. Once the chicks get to be a little larger, we will move them to this larger brooder before they are moved to the coop. At the moment I am feeding them three times per day and also trying to pick them up as much as possible to get them used to being handled as that is inevitable with Oakley.
I started a note in my phone on when they were born (they arrived the next day), and what their temperature should be set at each week based on their age. I use a room thermometer in their brooder to ensure the temperature is perfect for them.
- Heat Information:
- Week 1- 95°
- Week 2- 90°
- Week 3- 85°
- Week 4- 80° – this is when I will start to take them outside for a few minutes at a time, allow to explore outside longer as they get older
- Week 5- 75°
- Week 6 through 8- 65-70° (wean from heat lamp essentially)
- After week 8 and if they are fully feathered, they can be in a coop as long as the temperature doesn’t get below 30°
My plan is to have our coop plans available for sale, along with a building material list, very soon! Until then, here are some of the coop details:
- 6×6 with a small loft for feed and other items
- Fully electric
- 8 nesting boxes- 4 on the north wall and 4 on the south wall
- South wall nesting boxes are accessible with a lift from the outside of the coop, double insulated and sealed so raccoons can’t get in. Lift is chained as well
- Door to the runner that can stay open for chickens to come in and out as they please during the day
- Roosting bar inside the coop
- Chicken swing inside the coop
- 2 chicnik tables, one to stay in the coop and one to be in the runner to keep the feed off the ground
- Roof has an overhang to prevent any water from sitting on the roof as there are no gutters
- Inside the coop is painted white to give chickens more light during the winter months
- Windows are double insulated with screens on all 3 sides to create a draft during the summer so it doesn’t get too hot
- Double vented at the top as well to release heat during summer months
- Roof is double lined with aluminum to expel heat from the black roof during the summer
I love following all the pathways your life leads you to!! My mom used to have chickens many years ago and I’ve been sooo eager to get my own & this spring it’s happening! But I want to prepare ASAP, is your chicken coop plan available for purchase yet? Or do you have one you got inspiration from? Does it have the size of your chicken run too? I love how it it is!
We are working on getting all the details!