Originally Posted by hen-tastic
Hi all. We are getting our first hens today! 😄 Two are already laying (10 months) and two are 11 weeks old.
1. Do I need to keep them separate?
2. Can they all eat grower feed and oyster shells?
I have a feeder and a water for in the coup. Can I just keep s bowl of water in the run (if I put fresh water in everyday)??
The diatomaceous earth ... How do I give them access to that for dust baths?
They have a ramp from their run (which is fenced with chicken wire not hard wire) into the coop - do I need to close off this chicken door at night?? If so, what's the best way?
I've read some forums for some of these topics but want to make sure I'm not misunderstanding.
Thanks and so excited to have access to such great information!!!
Welcome to BYC! I joined not too long ago as well.
I will also help you with your questions!
here's what I know:
Q: Do I have to keep them separate?
A: 10-12 week old chickens are the appropriate age for them to be with the older chickens. Before putting them together, observe their behavior, and how they physically look. Do they have red or discharging eyes? Runny poop? Do they have scaly leg mites? Do they look uncomfortable?
If you spot something off about one of your chickens, then quarantine is the best step to take. Separate them from the rest of the flock until you figure out what it is and treat them. Diseases spread quickly around your flock. Be wary.
Visit this link if you need any help with diseases etc.
However, if they do not look ill or discomforted, then you can put them all in the run together. One thing to be aware of; don't be alarmed if you see aggressive or hostile behavior which includes pecking, posture. It is simply the pecking order taking place. Only intervene if the birds are causing injury to each other.
Know that once every hens' place is secured, it will reduce conflict within the flock.
Q: Can they all eat grower feed and oyster shells?
A: Your two 10 month old layers need layer feed in order to have a regular laying basis.
Your two 11 week olds, (pullets) on the other hand, need to remain on starter feed until they reach about 12 weeks old. (You are extremely close!). At about twelve weeks, you can switch your pullets' starter feed to developer feed. Developer feed may (and can)be hard to get, so..
Your solution?: Mix in layer feed and starter feed until your two eleven week olds start laying.
As the two are "at point of lay" (around 5-6 months, 19 weeks and older) , you want to give them 100% layer feed and no starter mixed in.
The layers should not have starter feed. This may make their eggs unhealthful for you to eat.
Put the pullets' feed somewhere where your layers cannot reach it. (Place it with your pullets' shelter if you provide one.)
However, if your layers do reach the feed, then discard eggs for a week or two following.
(I know its not good to waste eggs, but it results in a healthy you!)
Oyster Shells: Not yet for your eleven week olds. You can give them some as they enter laying.
For your two layers, consider free-offering oyster shells. This will help give them some extra calcium for their egg laying.
Water: I would recommend placing a fount in the run for the water. You can keep dog bowls of fresh water outside for them if you choose to free-range. If you choose to do this (in which I do) make sure the bowl is not easy to tip over.
Watch for cross contamination, which is the number one chicken killer (may happen, likely) as it harbors disease. Always make sure you fill the fount and bowls; if you have some; with fresh water.
A 2 gallon fount is good enough for 2-4 hens.
Clean the fount, and change its water once every week.
Dust Baths: If your chickens do not have free access to your yard, you can provide dry Sand basin or soil in the run. (considering you've built your poultry palace..?)
Run Question: Hmm.. I honestly don't know how to answer this question, all I can say is if you have a outdoor run, and a opened door is the only way the chickens can gain access to it, shut it. Or put something sturdy in front of it that cannot be smacked to the side. I have lost a lot of my chickens due to the opening from the coop run to the outdoor run. Even with netting above, the raccoons still got through.
Bottom line: Shut or secure ALL doors you have open in your coop and run during the day when night falls.
If your layers are getting too rough on the little ones, consider putting out some shelter resources for the pullets to hide behind. Put food and water in different places.
Would you mind giving a few more details on your run, and what you plan for your chickens (like free-ranging, etc.) It would help a lot.
I hope this will help you, and once again, a warm welcome. I hope I will help you, I wish I will. If you have any more questions, feel free to PM and I will do my best to help you.
🐓 Edited by 1ChickenKeeper - 10/9/15 at 1:37pm