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equiniphile 08-16-2012 04:33 PM

Talk to me about chickens
 
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.

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. We have several neighbors and friends lined up who will buy as much as we don't use ourselves. A few questions:

Since they'll be free ranging, how much food should we give in addition to whatever they find on our land?

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?

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?

Anything else we should know would be great. Our neighbors all have chickens, so we have help nearby if we run into problems.

texasgal 08-16-2012 04:39 PM

1. Make sure your coop is predator proof. That means no chicken wire, and fasten the hardware cloth or welded wire mucho securetly.

2. Put hens in coop with plenty of food and water and their new nest boxes. Do not let them out for about a week. They should settle in and will probably start laying during this time (if they have been laying at your friends).

3. Once they have settled and are using the nest boxes, I would let them out a couple hours before dark the first day or two, to ensure they are comfortable with going back in the coop. They will do this right at dark.

4. If your egg count goes down while they are free ranging, look for alternate laying spots.. mine have several .. lol. If it gets out of control, I will lock mine back up for a few days to re-establish the 'habit' of laying in the coop.

I always feed and water in the coop. This way they aren't mugging me at the door or on the porch of my house begging for food.

Have fun!

equiniphile 08-16-2012 04:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by texasgal (Post 1648212)
1. Make sure your coop is predator proof. That means no chicken wire, and fasten the hardware cloth or welded wire mucho securetly.
We're having a secondhang one delivered this weekend. It looks to be really secure, but will double-heck everything.
2. Put hens in coop with plenty of food and water and their new nest boxes. Do not let them out for about a week. They should settle in and will probably start laying during this time (if they have been laying at your friends).
Would it be okay to put them in the coop at night and the chicken wire pen near the house during the day?
3. Once they have settled and are using the nest boxes, I would let them out a couple hours before dark the first day or two, to ensure they are comfortable with going back in the coop. They will do this right at dark.

4. If your egg count goes down while they are free ranging, look for alternate laying spots.. mine have several .. lol. If it gets out of control, I will lock mine back up for a few days to re-establish the 'habit' of laying in the coop.

I always feed and water in the coop. This way they aren't mugging me at the door or on the porch of my house begging for food.

Have fun!

Thanks for the tips!

Lockwood 08-16-2012 04:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by equiniphile (Post 1648205)
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.:D

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.
:think: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.

Replies are in bold.

Lockwood 08-16-2012 04:56 PM

My Pet Chicken: About Chickens -

http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/BRKPoultryPage.html

texasgal 08-16-2012 04:58 PM

Is the chicken wire pen not attached or around the coop?

I would hesitate to put them in two separate places initially. They will lay and eat during the day and roost at night.

If they are in the pen during the day, they will lay and eat there, and that might be where they want to roost.

I would leave them in the coop. Is the coop plenty big?

Delfina 08-16-2012 05:24 PM

Chickens don't lay 2 eggs a day.

It's a possibility but it's an anomaly and a sign that something is a bit off with their system and if they do, you generally get a medium to normal sized egg and an itty, bitty, teeny, weeny one. My Cuckoo Maran who has something going on with her, gave me two eggs the other day. One medium, one the size of a marble. She's also been laying soft-shelled, no-shelled and all sorts of deformed eggs.

I keep food/water in the coop as well (to keep goats out of it) but mine still mug me as I hand out cracked corn as a treat. I don't mind.... I love that when I get halfway across the yard waddly, waddly, wadlly, flap, flap, flap here comes the MOB!!

jaydee 08-16-2012 05:33 PM

chickens
 
We had a lovely collection of chickens in the UK that I had to leave behind - they all had names and kept us and some of our neighbours in eggs
You do have to keep them predator proof and foxes in particular are really good at getting into places and I think over here that snakes are also attracted to coops
I have been trying to get my son & husband to build me another set up here - dont think I would trust them free range though as thye'd be fair game to our dogs who see anything that moves as a 'hunt' opportunity
If you get your chickens before me Equiniphile I will be forced to make a wax effigy of you and stick pins in it just for spite lololol

equiniphile 08-16-2012 06:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by texasgal (Post 1648242)
Is the chicken wire pen not attached or around the coop?

I would hesitate to put them in two separate places initially. They will lay and eat during the day and roost at night.

If they are in the pen during the day, they will lay and eat there, and that might be where they want to roost.

I would leave them in the coop. Is the coop plenty big?

Chicken wire pen is right next to where the coop is, but no, not attached. I'll probably leave them in the coop, then. It's good-sized (4x5?) with nexting boxes somewhat off the ground.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Delfina (Post 1648273)
Chickens don't lay 2 eggs a day.

It's a possibility but it's an anomaly and a sign that something is a bit off with their system and if they do, you generally get a medium to normal sized egg and an itty, bitty, teeny, weeny one. My Cuckoo Maran who has something going on with her, gave me two eggs the other day. One medium, one the size of a marble. She's also been laying soft-shelled, no-shelled and all sorts of deformed eggs.

I keep food/water in the coop as well (to keep goats out of it) but mine still mug me as I hand out cracked corn as a treat. I don't mind.... I love that when I get halfway across the yard waddly, waddly, wadlly, flap, flap, flap here comes the MOB!!

I must have heard her wrong, then. Her eggs that we've bought are fantastic, though, so I'm excited to get these guys home so they can settle in.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jaydee (Post 1648284)
We had a lovely collection of chickens in the UK that I had to leave behind - they all had names and kept us and some of our neighbours in eggs
You do have to keep them predator proof and foxes in particular are really good at getting into places and I think over here that snakes are also attracted to coops
I have been trying to get my son & husband to build me another set up here - dont think I would trust them free range though as thye'd be fair game to our dogs who see anything that moves as a 'hunt' opportunity
If you get your chickens before me Equiniphile I will be forced to make a wax effigy of you and stick pins in it just for spite lololol

Not many foxes around here; I've never seen one on or near the property, and our snakes are no more than garter snakes that stay back in the woods. Our main problems are coyotes and raccoons--the latter are way too brave for my liking!

LOL, bring on the wax! :twisted:

What exactly do you feed them, typical chicken scratch from the feed store and cracked corn?

Delfina 08-16-2012 06:26 PM

Chicken scratch is basically a treat... it's not a nutritionally complete food.

I feed a layer feed (I prefer a higher protein content one but not a game bird feed) and the plain cracked corn as a treat in small amounts. The layer feed (I buy in pellet form, less waste) I have about 25lbs in a metal feeder that hangs in the coop.

The cracked corn I have in a metal trash can outside and whomever is out there will toss a handful. Having the chickens trained to come when you open the can is handy.... there's been a few times I've seen a stray dog or other danger and I can go out, bang the can and then put everyone in the coop.


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