Help! 4 lovely ladies just moved in, coop and all
Our neighbor is moving and needed to rehome 4 chickens- granted, the middle of January in New Hampshire, with 6 inches of snow on the ground, is not ideal for this sort of relocating, but the timing is what it is. The ladies moved in last night, complete with their coop, some food, and a heated water pan, but that's about it.
These are our first chickens, so we are feeling a little clueless about how to keep them looking fat and healthy as they appear to be now. The coop is essentially a fairly roomy plywood structure with a front door, 4 windows, a roosting bar, and 3 nesting boxes, and hanging feeder, and heated water pan. Here are my questions:
1. The coop's just set on the ground right now- it's about 30F today, but the temps are supposed to go to 0-15 degrees F this week. Would pine shavings help keep their feet warm? Is there a better floor material in terms of cleanup and sanitation? How often do we change the bedding?
2. They came with about 1 weeks' worth of pelleted food. Is this all they need to keep going? I know friends have fed free range chickens vegetable and fruit scraps- is this ok for them? Is there something better?
3. There is nothing in the nesting boxes- if I bring some loose hay I sweep up at the barn and add it to their boxes, is that appropriate? Is it a problem if I use the dusty sacrifice hay that the horses aren't eating?
4. 3 of the 4 windows are currently covered in plexiglass, but the 4th is just chicken wire, which is not secure. I didn't see the coop last night when it was dropped off, so I'm not sure if it was already broken when the coop arrived, or if something tried to get to them last night. Is this window left with just wire (and not plexiglass) for ventilation? If I rescreen with a heavier wire, is that enough to keep them safe?
5. We don't have a pen or any yard fenced in for them right now- it's pretty much impossible with the snow on the ground. Can I let them out without a pen, but supervised? Can they be unsupervised during the day? Will they know to come back into the coop or will I have to physically put them back in?
I know that's a million questions, and I will be reading up today, but anything people want to add based on experience would be super helpful!