Chickens are something we've always wanted to get involved in, and we're finally going to bring a few home. A friend sold her house after being on the market for only two weeks, and we've always told her we would take her hens when she moved out. Now that the time is closer, we're trying to learn as much as we can about them. Congrats new chicken mum! They are great to have around.
They would be free ranging during the day and put in the coop at night. We have two obnoxious, loud geese, and predators don't come anywhere near them. Her hens (she has seven) are extremely sociable and have no problem going in the coop at night. She says they're very content and each lay 2 eggs, sometimes double-yoked, a day. Not sure about this... The average chicken's egg cycle takes from 20 to 36 hours per egg and she lays the egg before she starts making a new one. Or in other words it takes that amount of time to make one egg from tiny spec to a finished one with a shell and then lay it. If these chickens lay two a day, each... that would be highly unusual. Just FYI.
We have several neighbors and friends lined up who will buy as much as we don't use ourselves. Uh huh... you are fixing to become very popular with those ffiends.LOL
A few questions:
Since they'll be free ranging, how much food should we give in addition to whatever they find on our land? Mine are free range and I usually put out fresh food morning and again at night. I try to only put out about as much as they will eat within 30 minutes to an hour, otherwise I end up feeding every wild bird in the neighborhood. If they seem to leave a lot during the day, cut back a little. I don't mind leaving a little extra at night as they are up and about long before I get to feed in the mornings.
How much transition time do they need to move from their old property to ours? We have a large chicken wire pen we can put them in during the day while they get accustomed to living here, and we can put them in the coop at night, but how long should we give them before letting them out to free range? I would give them a couple of weeks to figure out that this is their new home. It also gives them time to get used to the sights, smells, and sounds around your place. That way they don't spook as easily from the normal goings on and want to run off or get lost. Also, expect the eggs to slow down during this transition time and depending on where you live, late summer and fall (shorter daylight hours) signal the body to molt (grow new feathers) so the eggs will slow way down and there will be feathers everywhere.
In another thread, someone mentioned leaving a few real or fake eggs in the nesting boxes so they don't come to see the coop as unsafe. Will plastic white easter work for this? Generally it is only new (or new to a new place) laying chickens that need a guide like this. My birds all lay in the coop despite that I gather each and every egg... everyday. They know the coop is a safe place, but if they decide to hatch eggs, they will seek out a more dark and secluded area. Some hens are more broody (momma like) than others. A plastic egg, so long as it won't come apart, is just fine, or golf balls, or wooden ones from a craft store.
Anything else we should know would be great. Our neighbors all have chickens, so we have help nearby if we run into problems. I'll post some good links to chicken sites below.