Ohhh Chokolate... Beware! Lol. Y'all, she's come over to the dark side :P
Well first off if look into getting a small chicken tractor. You'll want to be able to put them up at night and acclimate them to your surroundings when you first get them. There are lots of free blueprints online or you can just buy one.
With all the critters in your area id be cautious and free range them while you are at home. My losses only happen at night though from skunks and whoknowswhats so they are out all day, then locked up tight at night.
Breed? Whatever you like and is hardy for your climate.
I am LOVING Aulstrolops. They are lovely, hardy, great free rangers, and don't lay as many eggs as RIR's. If you have critters you'll want smart, tough birds if you are free ranging.
But why not have a lovely mixed flock? :)
Get this one and that one and two of those... Before you know it you'll have a dozen!
Mamma A is doing a great job sitting! She's on a mixed clutch of RIR's, Orphington's, and A crossed with RIR/Orphington roo. So excited! Posted via Mobile Device
Hi Chokolate. Chickens are fun and practical - I've had them almost as long as I've had horses. The first hens we got were just some old layers that were advertised locally (in the scheme of things they weren't that old but the owners were serious egg producers so didn't keep their hens once they peeked on their production ability). They were leghorns which tend to be flighty.
I have no qualms about keeping different breeds together as the chickens are usually free range so everyone has room to get out of each others way if there are personality differences related to breed type. In fact, unless you are trying to be a professional breeder, half the fun of having chickens is having a nice assortment of colours and body types meandering around the yard.
I use a garden style shed to keep mine in that has been insulated and heat lamps and heated waterer installed (we get very cold winters). Other than that provide a couple of nesting boxes and some perches (mine are broken tree branches as I wanted something 'natural') and you're good to go. You'll need bedding of some description - I use straw because that's what I use in the barn but you could likely use shavings just as well if that is more convenient for you.
I have a run attached to the coop but the chickens are usually free. I do shut them in at night (they return to the coop on their own around supper time - so cute to watch them working their way back) because of predators. I also watch out at certain times of the year, typically late summer/early fall, as we seem to get predators moving in following the food I suppose. In your situation, you may be somewhat handicapped with regard to how free your chickens can be unless your yard is fenced in sufficiently to keep dogs and foxes out (I have never had a problem with cats bothering the chickens although I recognized they may try for little chicks until they get some size on them). If you can't leave them loose then I suppose you're left with building a run for them.
Remember to post some pictures when you get your flock installed.
This is unlikely to happen soon, in fact probably not for several months as we're doing some renovations, but I do like to be prepared and I'm sure everything will be much smoother if we have it planned ahead :)
So I should be OK with free ranging if we're home and we keep them in their coop at night?
Fly, I'd love to do a mixed flock. Can silkies, RIRs and Easter Eggers can be happily housed together or are they a really bad idea? :)
If you buy the chicks all at the same time they will be fine!
I would only worry about introducing the Silkies at a later date as they tend to be a more docile and delicate bird.
The RIR's and Easter eggers are more aggressive, but raised together most birds would be fine. Just avoid "game birds" as they tend to be REALLY aggressive no matter what. Posted via Mobile Device
Hey HF chicken friends- it's been awhile since anyone posted on this thread, but I'm having a problem and could use some help. I also posted over on backyard chickens a couple of different times, but don't seem to get many responses over there.
I am sort of at my wit's end- I have been fighting some kind of bug in my nest boxes very purposely in the past couple of weeks, and am not seeing much progress. I do NOT think they are mites, lice, or fleas, which may be why what I'm doing isn't working. Here's why I don't think its mites/lice/fleas:
1. They are longish, oval shaped grey bugs with two prominent antennea in a "v" shape at their head (they are definitely not little round specks and never look red, even when I crush them. I have checked the roost bar after dark and don't see anything that looks like mites)
2. There are not "swarms" of them the way I would expect with mites- if you picture very tiny ants moving around in an enclosed space, that's what they look like
3. As far as I can tell, they are not on the chickens, just in the nest boxes (so probably not lice?)
4. They don't seem to fly, they crawl around quickly almost like small ants. I do think I've seen some of them jump like fleas, but I don't think they look like fleas to the naked eye.
Here is what I've done so far:
1. Thoroughly scrubbed and vacuumed the coop a week ago
2. Dusted everything, coop, nesting boxes, and birds included, with permethrin powder
3. Reapplied permethrin dust to coop and nesting boxes on Sunday
4. Sprayed birds with Poultry Protector on Sunday
5. Removed all shavings from coop so it just has a sand floor
6. Changed straw in nesting boxes three times in one week, and put the bare minimum of straw back in (much to the chicken's dismay- and at the cost of two cracked eggs)
I see these little grey bugs crawling all through the permethrin powder, which is still sitting on the wooden surfaces of the nest box, so it seems like it doesn't affect them? There were fewer of them when I changed the straw on Sunday than when I changed it today, which seems like a really bad sign- I would guess there were at least double the number today vs. Sunday.
I really want to figure out WHAT these things are so I can understand a) if/how they're bothering the chickens and b) how to get rid of them.
Can anyone help me with this? I could include a picture, but they're so small you really can't make anything out.
Not sure if it matters, but the reason I started looking for bugs was because of some signs I was seeing in the chickens. One of them seemed to have symptoms of mites: most noticably a bald patch on her back (this has been there 2-3 months), but I was checking her faithfully for signs of mites or lice that whole time and never saw any of the symptoms until last week I saw dirty looking residue around vent/at feather base (sounded like what I read about mites). She got a dawn dishsoap bath plus the heaviest permethrin dusting in the areas where I saw signs of bugs.
Two of them seems to be dropping a ton of feathers- I went out to the run just now and it looked like a "feather bomb" had just gone off. But it doesn't seem like a molt, as the feathers seem to be coming off their backs and chests. The two that lost the most feathers are also the two I sprayed most heavily with the Poultry Protector Sunday- that makes me worried I hurt them somehow?
I've never dealt with anything like this before and would truly appreciate advice from more experienced people.
I'm afraid to say I've not seen anything like that around me - perhaps it's a type of bug that's native to your area and not mine??? At any rate, do you have an agricultural agency/department in your area? If so, perhaps you can catch a couple of the little blighters and present to the ag rep for discussion.
How hard would it be for you to trash the current nest boxes and put in new ones? I've noticed that unprotected wood (perhaps it's because we typically use OSB in chicken coop projects) seems to deteriorate and/or become grungy to the point that the best way is to get rid of it and start over.
With regard to the lost feathers it could be an allergy type reaction to the product you used or it could be a stress reaction to suffering the indignities of treatment.
Sorry, I don't have more at the moment. Please keep us updated.
Thanks, Chevaux, some good suggestions. I do think I'm going to call our local extension service and see if they can help me figure out what the bug is.
In the back of my mind, I've been thinking I may need to pull the nest boxes off. They are definitely old and the only remnant of my original coop, which in turn had been moved from my neighbors a couple of years ago when he rehomed his chickens. The rest of the month is just so incredibly busy with travel for both my husband and I, but I think creating a new set of nesting boxes should be relatively straightforward if we can carve out an afternoon to do it.
^Keep us updated on how it goes. Granted, I don't really know anything about chickens (I frequent this thread because I think they are cute xD), but I've never heard of a bug like that, either. Maybe posting a photo will help someone recognize?