owning chickens - Page 2 - The Horse Forum

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post #11 of 34 Old 04-10-2014, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
 
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seeming that might might not be free range, would it bee good to get the oyster shell? Would the oyster shell be used more for egg calcium or grit for breaking down food?

I was also thinking about putting fencing around the run so they can have some controlled free ranging. Could they fly over any fence, or is 3-5 good?

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post #12 of 34 Old 04-10-2014, 11:20 PM
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The smaller the area, and the less diverse the ground - the more they will benefit from grit. And let's face it, grit is not going to break the bank.

The chunkier the breed, the less likely they will be to go over the fence. The more bantam-like they are, the more likely they will to escape. You will be better off with five foot fencing than three.

If they have a peaceful life they will not go over the fence - if they are scared, they will go over, and if they are hungry they might...

Once a hen has discovered that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, she will go over every day as regular as clockwork. For creatures with very little brain, they are very clever indeed

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 #13 of 34 Old 04-11-2014, 12:59 PM
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-good breeds for cold weather?
I love my orpingtons and cochins - I also have some lighter breeds, but those two are large and seem to generate more heat for the coop.

-do you use pine shavings in the next boxes or straw?
I have a roll out nest box, so the baskets that the hens lay in are plastic, and the eggs gently roll away from the bird so they won't be soiled - no bedding is necessary. I have tried pine shavings, but they just kick it all out.

- is sand ok to use in the run?
They do like dust baths in sandy areas, but I wouldn't put food out on the sand, to keep them from ingesting it. I have head that crops can get impacted, but not sure how common that is, seeing as I do not live in a sandy area.

- what do you feed your chickens?
An egg layer mash mixed with scratch grains by a local feed co-op. I have found that feather picking and cannibalistic behaviors have increased when feeding only pelleted feeds.

- what do you do with them in the winter? (heat lamps?)
I have a heater that hangs from the ceiling, along with heat lamps, and my larger breed hens help to generate some heat in my insulated coop. You'll likely need a heated waterer as well.

- what is the best time to get chickens?
I get mine in the late spring, because it is so cold where I live. Chicks need to be kept quite warm, and that can be a challenge if it is cooler outside. Depending on the breed, you will start getting eggs in the late summer or early fall.

- is it better to get chicks or adopt chickens?
It depends. Chicks are quite fragile, and it is not uncommon to loose one or two - but they are a lot of fun to raise. Adults are more hardy, but it can be difficult to integrate existing flocks of birds. If getting adults, you will know what genders you are buying (with chicks, it is never 100% accurate, unless they are a sex-linked breed). If buying unsexed chicks, you could end up with 50% males, and more than one rooster is usually not a good idea.

As far as fencing goes, I have 1" x 1" square mesh, buried 1 foot underground. It stands about 4' tall, and I put a cheap, plastic deer fence over the top as a roof, since hawks and owls are common in my area. My medium sized chickens can fly up in trees, so a roof of some type on the runs is necessary for most chickens, unless you are diligent with trimming wings or have extremely heavy birds.

Last edited by Rialto; 04-11-2014 at 01:07 PM.
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post #14 of 34 Old 04-12-2014, 11:26 PM
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Welcome to addictive chicken keeping.

Cold hardy breeds: most heavy feathered breeds such as Wyandottes, Cochin, Orpingtons, Americauna...... Some of these the roosters get big wattles. Rubbing vasoline on those wattles helps keep them from getting frost bit.

Sand in run is good as it helps with drainage and is fun to scratch around in and take dirt bathes.

Chickens also sun bathe so even though the first time you see it and think they just croaked have no fear they are entranced by the sun.

I have a large coop with a sand dirt floor. I use deep litter method and muck mine in the spring then in the fall.

My girls prefer hay in their nest boxes. Yep this birds really can be picky.

Never feed them any strong flavored food scraps like onion or garlic as this will affect the taste of the egg. Beware of sodium in people food as this is bad for the chicken to get too much of.

I use Purina Flock Raiser crumbles as my goofy bunch prefers crumbles. I buy the calcium shells and mix into their food. This ensures the most finicky hen is getting her calcium. I did offer it free choice but always had 1 or 2 that refused to eat it. Now that it is in their food they eat it.

Ventilation is important when designing a coop even cold climate coops need ventilation. If a coop is too closed up the amonia from their droppings can build up and hurt their lungs.

Chicks versus older: well this depends on how soon you want eggs.
With chicks there is no risk of disease coming into the flock.
Adding older birds increases risk of disease depending on what they were exposed to in their last home. Always quarentine older birds for minimum of 30 days before introducing to the flock.

Enjoy your new additions.
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post #15 of 34 Old 04-13-2014, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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What exactly is the deep litter method?
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post #16 of 34 Old 04-13-2014, 10:04 PM
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You are going down a slippery slope getting chickens. You will find they are totally addictive!!

This video is required watching for anyone even considering getting chickens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll187f27Pxg
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post #17 of 34 Old 04-13-2014, 10:14 PM
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BTW, I absolutely love my chickens. How could you not?


Phyllis



Amelia



She decided she liked my chair better than her roost


Ebony



Some of my eggs and no, they are not dyed.

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post #18 of 34 Old 04-14-2014, 12:07 AM
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Amelia is one cool chick
Allison Finch and egrogan like this.

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 #19 of 34 Old 04-14-2014, 02:58 AM
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We have chickens that are ' rescued ' from the local battery.
We also find that we need a cockerel to keep the girls from spreading out too much - he also helps deter predators - we once saw one of our boys chase a fox away.

We keep ours in a home built house that is off the ground to keep rats away - they also use it to lay in as well as a night coop - straw is our main source of bedding ( we get ours from the outside of bales that we deem is no good for the horses )
Also no heat lamps are used during winter ( and it can get to -20 here ) with no problems - the girls go off lay so we don't get so many eggs but that is not a problem for us - one of our girls even got to 8/9 years old.

If your birds are kept in the open you will need to control mites - they will get them from the local bird population . We use red mite powder on both the birds and the house.

Keeping chickens is great - we haven't bought an egg in 9 years and the birds themselves are easy to keep - we do have the odd escape artist now and then which makes roundup fun but other than that they are no problem

Good luck with yours
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post #20 of 34 Old 04-14-2014, 07:41 AM
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Beautiful chickens & lovely eggs, Allison! Yes, chickens are addicting-I'm not having much luck finding a semi-made run to add to my coop, so I think we may have to do the whole thing from scratch-at least then it will be the dimensions we want- 10'x20' for the run, and we want the nest boxes built w/outside access to them. And I'm thinking at least a foot or two above ground level. We have a couple of dying shrubs to remove also that are right where I want it to be. There will also be a storage shed near it at some time in the future-projects always on a ranch! LOL!
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