owning chickens - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 04-09-2014, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
 
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owning chickens

I might be owning chickens soon (yay!) and I would like to learn more about them :) I do know a good amount of info, but I am always willing to learn more! Some things I am interested knowing:

-good breeds for cold weather
-do you use pice shavings in the next boxes or straw?
- is sand ok to use in the run?
- what do you feed your chickens?
- what do you do with them in the winter? (heat lamps?)
- what is the best time to get chickens?
- is it better to get chicks or adopt chickens?

Thanks! Any additional info is appreciated :)

You may be out of my sight, but never out of my mind. ~RIP Angel
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post #2 of 34 Old 04-09-2014, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovepets View Post
i might be owning chickens soon (yay!) and I would like to learn more about them :) I do know a good amount of info, but I am always willing to learn more! Some things I am interested knowing:

-good breeds for cold weather
-do you use pice shavings in the next boxes or straw?
- is sand ok to use in the run?
- what do you feed your chickens?
- what do you do with them in the winter? (heat lamps?)
- what is the best time to get chickens?
- is it better to get chicks or adopt chickens?

Thanks! Any additional info is appreciated :)
Breeds - I can't comment on what's around you. When I was getting mine I just looked at kijiji and then did some research on what seemed popular.

Bedding - in my time I have had a v small next box which I lined with newspaper and shavings, and a huge old pigsty which I lined with straw. Whatever you can get hold of, and is cheap, and easy to dispose of works.

In the UK I did nothing special in the winter, though my neighbour used lamps to keep them laying.

Here in Alberta they have a heat lamp, in an insulated hen house.

If you get chicks you will need a heat lamp to look after them until they get their feathers. Point-of-lay hens would be the best (just about to start laying for their first time), but also the most expensive. I would have no qualms about taking some 3 years olds - they generally keep on laying.

Best time to get them is always! Now would be good because they will start to lay soon.

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #3 of 34 Old 04-09-2014, 05:33 PM
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I'll just fill out the list :) I love love love my chickens! Congrats!

Any breed with a small comb. Do some cold hardy breed chicken searches online then find what suits your needs... Pretty, exotic, egg layers, meat birds?

I use the deep litter method with straw. Clean out every three months and compost. Fresh straw in the nest boxes.

Sand is great they'll love bathing in it. I have dirt and free range in the yard all day.

I don't need a heat lamp this far south. For really cold weather I'll put them in the big barn or use an eco glow brooder (safer) to keep them kinda warm.
The key to no frostbite is low humidity, so keeping the coop dry with some sort of warmth is important.

Get them whenever you want. :). Nobody here will suggest otherwise, LOL!! ASAP?
But personally I like to get them in the fall when there aren't snakes around to eat the little ones.

Get chicks or even better hatch eggs. You don't want any possible disease coming from another farm. JMHO. I bought a Brinsea mini incubator with clear sides, love to watch the eggs roll around and hatch.
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post #4 of 34 Old 04-09-2014, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
 
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great!

Ok so how about free ranging? I know that the eggs taste better and the chickens are healthier. If I am correct, you keep them in the coop for about a week and then let them out for the first time in the afternoon/ evening or just before they would naturally go back (which I am guessing that they would naturally go back). Other than having a rooster (they scare me! One too many attacks...), is there a way to keep free ranging chickens safe from dogs or foxes? Is is better to have a [friendly] rooster? I know to help prevent attacks from hawks, you can buy "chicken saddles" and sew big eyes on them so they are 'scary'!

I am so excited!!

You may be out of my sight, but never out of my mind. ~RIP Angel
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post #5 of 34 Old 04-09-2014, 08:50 PM
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I'll second the Eco Glo Brooder and the heaviest extension cord you can get if you find yourself using one. Once bit twice shy when it comes to extension cords! I had a tragic fire just over 2 weeks ago and lost all of my chicks.
Sand makes a fantastic floor cover in both the coop and the run. Just scoop with a kitty litter scoop every few days to keep it clean. Straw in the nesting boxes and make sure that the roosting bar is above the height of the nesting box. Check out the Backyard Chickens forum theirs loads of chicken info their!
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post #6 of 34 Old 04-09-2014, 08:53 PM
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Also be warned that Chickens are like potato chips you can't have just 1! Or 12 I'm at 15 chicks this year. After loosing the first 12 in the fire.
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post #7 of 34 Old 04-10-2014, 12:36 AM
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is there a way to keep free ranging chickens safe from dogs or foxes? Is is better to have a [friendly] rooster? !
In a word, no. If you've a dog that will chase small feathered running things, then it will chase your chickens and get them. I have a greyhound cross and I know this to be an insurmountable truth.

We have an old dog-run which has 5 ft fence and I keep my chickens free ranging inside of that. They have oodles of space and are safe from my dogs. Also, safe from coyotes and anything else that wants to eat them.

Cockerels are nice (in my opinion), handsome, and amusing. They make the hens feel safer because they do a a lot of standing around guarding, letting the girls get on and eat. But they are chocolate-teapot when it comes to protecting against dogs. They are also noisy and will wake you up if they are anywhere near the house.

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #8 of 34 Old 04-10-2014, 01:22 AM
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Congratulations ilovepets on taking that step towards full fledgling status (pun intended). My comments in bold:

-good breeds for cold weather

Generally, the dual purpose breeds are a bit more hardy and certainly the breeds that have small wattles and combs so frost bite isn't a problem. It will depend on what's available in your area.
-do you use pice shavings in the next boxes or straw?
I use straw because it's handy for me. I think shavings would work too - in fact I was going to try it this winter but just didn't get around to it.

- is sand ok to use in the run?
Sand should be OK. I confess to just fencing off an area for a run and not worrying about it as the chickens will scratch around in it and put their droppings on it so it ends up taking a beating.
- what do you feed your chickens?

I feed a combination of wheat, complete laying hen ration, oyster shell along with various veggies and bread products that doesn't get eaten by the house humans.
- what do you do with them in the winter? (heat lamps?)

They're mostly inside but will come out on a warm, sunny day for a short while. I have two heat lamps - number one for most times and additionally plug in number two for the really cold days. If you've got a well insulated coop you probably won't have to leave a lamp on during the day.
- what is the best time to get chickens?

If your coop is set up and you're ready to go anytime would work.
- is it better to get chicks or adopt chickens?

If you can come across some pre-owned chickens that might not be a bad place to start as they should be more independent. Chicks require more work as you have to watch that they're eating, drinking and staying warm (not too hot or not too cold) - if you went with chicks you'd want to get them in spring or early summer as it's easier on them and they have a chance to mature before the cold weather hits.

Thanks! Any additional info is appreciated :)[/QUOTE]
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post #9 of 34 Old 04-10-2014, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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jayknee- I have actually signed up to backyard chickens forum before I started this thread!

Ok so being a bird owner I know that they need lots of calcium for all of those eggs. Is this the type of grit they need? Do you mix it with the food?

DuMOR® Oyster Shell, 5 lb. - Tractor Supply Co.

And I was thinking about getting this pellet feed to laying hens. Is rumor a good brand, or should I get the Purina "layena"?
DuMOR® Layer Pellet 16%, 50 lb. - Tractor Supply Co.

You may be out of my sight, but never out of my mind. ~RIP Angel
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post #10 of 34 Old 04-10-2014, 04:52 PM
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In the UK my hens free-ranged in a variety of grass, soil, gravel, woodland etc and so never needed grit added to their diet.

Here in Alberta they are slightly less free, and the soil has less mineral crunch in it. So mainly I just crush up all eggshells and scatter them for them.

If the shells ever got thin I would add grit but that hasn't happened yet.

Feed - I just buy whatever layers pellets my local feedstore has in, and I give them ALL the kitchen waste except

- chicken (because whilst they would eat it, that's just not right)

- onion, because they won't eat it

- salad, ditto, and it goes slimy.

And I only give them the volume of kitchen waste that they will consume that day so as not to attract rodents.

They love spaghetti...

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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