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img: First time starting newborn keets in the coop: (1) HOUSING (Incubation & Brooding)

by steve, Western Massachusetts, Saturday, July 22, 2017, 12:09 (86 days ago)

I've got 25 keets coming this week in the mail (I'm going to keep about half of them, and sell the others when they get a little older). It's been a while since I've had this situation: My starter order was 6 years ago, and only a dozen. There was no existing adult flock, I kept them in cage with a lightbulb to heat them in a very controlled environment. Since then, most new birds have been hatched and raised DIY by the hens in the coop.

Now, I've got a flock of (15) in an 8x12 shed coop. My plan is to start the keets in the coop on day 1 (well, technically day 3!). I've never done it this way, and I realized as the time approaches that I have a LOT of questions (surprise, surprise coming from me). So, I'm going to break them down into separate topics in several forum posts (and repeat this intro in each one). Here's the first topic (it's about 2-4x longer than all the other topics) -- which housing option do I choose and how do I set up some critical elements:

2 HOUSING OPTIONS:

I've attached pics of the area I'm planning to keep them in. It's not going to be easy to keep to them in there, honestly, without risking them escaping, because it's just got one big door that opens. When I've kept them in a bird or rodent cage, it at least has doors on the top or raised off the floor about halfway up the side; and it's not just one giant door.

Another possibility is just putting a kennel cage in there -- I have one that I've used to introduce older keets into the flock. It's a free-standing cage made of black metal bars. And it's doors do go all the way down to the floor, but they are not just one giant side of the enclosure like the coop area door. I've attached photos of that too (not easy to see - it's still shoved in a small storage area and I don't want to pull it out unless I'm using it).

In either case, I need to wrap the bottom level of the bars or chicken wire with hardware cloth so they can't squeeze through.

SIZE:

The coop area is 48" x about 27", but with that feeder (attached to the wall, so not moving it) taking up some space. The floor beneath the shavings is painted PT plywood.

The kennel cage is about 40" x 28. The floor of it consists of the bars forming 5.5" squares of open space.

FLOORING:

The main coop is full of about 1+ foot of pine shavings. The separate area in the picture has just naturally been kind of ground down to less than 6" deep of shavings. I wonder if I should keep it that way, or make it even shallower?

If I use the kennel cage, that will just sit in the main coop on top of the regular floor of deep shavings. I guess that will probably be fine, but I wonder, because there will be bars over the shavings (5.5" apart, as I said above), will that damage their delicate feet? Should I cover that in a layer of shavings? If so, I wonder if that will either be too shallow and they will still hit against the floor bars...Or, if I make it deeper, won't they just kind of drown in that? (When I've had them in a cage in my basement, I usually used newspaper over the plastic floor of a birdcage, with a light layer of shavings on top -- I can't really make it that firm in the coop.).

PLACEMENT:

The coop area is the opposite end of the 12' long coop from the adult roosting bars. You can see there's a small roosting bar in it, and that is generally used by a few of the "lower" members of the flock at night. So perhaps this is perfect to keep the keets not TOO close to the main flock, so as to not encroach and threaten them "too soon" before they've gotten use to the keets?

The only area I can fit the kennel cage (and where I've placed it before) is just in front of the roosting bars (everywhere else has a door or feeder or things like that). On the floor at the other end of the 8' wide roosting bars, underneath the roosting bars, is where the hen is sitting on eggs. Could putting the keets cage this close to the flock's "bedroom" speed up the adults getting used to the new arrivals? Or could this be the "too soon" scenario that makes the flock react aggressively and never quite accept them?

PICTURES OF COOP AREA:

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PICTURES OF KENNEL CAGE AND WHERE IT WOULD SIT IN THE COOP:

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