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backyard flock advice

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
We have a sizable free range backyard flock, We have 3 RI reds, 1 RI white,1golden seabright, 1 buff silkie rooster, 1 black Silkie Idk thought it was a she but looking more like a he, a very tiny he, 1 buff silkie girl, 1 sultan bantam, 1 black cochin bantam.
2 silver wyndottes, 1 speckled sussex rooster, 1 speckled sussex hen. 2 chocolate female Indian runner ducks. 16 birds total we got them in may as chicks. The problem is only one bantam is laying the golden sebright. In addition to her egg we get two duck eggs everyday but only 3-4 brown eggs from the rest I'm pretty sure the white RI and 2 RI reds and the both silver wyndottes have been laying at some point. But not everyday and at least 1 RI red and the speckled sussex haven't layed but maybe once. I'm wondering why we feed them all flock feed 18% protein and mix in calcium and mineral shell. We live in Florida plenty of warmth and light plus they free range on a quarter acre fenced. We're contemplating getting rid of the roosters the buff bantam is always annoying the ladies and the roos fight over the golden sebright bantam constantly only her, whole flock of hens and the only one they go after is her. The sussex roo is wonderful with the hens never a picked feather from his attention. But he's very protective and goes after my 2 year old son and my husband. Never me or my 6 year old daughter, but the guys, so for my toddlers safety he will have to go. We're also planning to vacation for a week at some point and are having trouble getting a chicken sitter. We don't have a run because with predators being plentiful (we live in a wooded area) we thought it better not to give them easy targets. We never leave food out we feed them multiple times a day with scoops and a dish to avoid attracting bears. Any suggestions?
Edited by AGmom - 12/10/15 at 8:53am
post #2 of 3

I'll make an attempt to answer your questions and make some observations.

 

Have you checked around the yard to see if the hens have a "secret" nesting area? Are there any hens that could be getting stressed? Either could be why you haven't seen any other chicken eggs. How you handle the roos is up to you. Ideally it's best to have 1 per approx. 10 hens and if any are aggressive or causing injuries or undue stress to the hens then they should go.

 

All flock is fine since you have roosters and possible non-laying hens but both the oyster shell and grit should be supplied in separate dishes (not mixed together).

 

Predators can just as easily get free range chickens. Years ago I had 22 hens free ranging on 5 acres and a single fox took them ALL but 2 out in less than 15 minutes at dusk but before it was dark. I got out there just in time to see the culprit running away across our pasture and dead chickens all over the place. A hawk got one of the remaining 2 two weeks later. So all but 1 hen (out of 22) was killed (lesson learned).

 

Here is a list of predators and information about each one:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-predators-pests-how-to-protect-treat-your-flock

 

The best defense against predators is a secure coop and a secure run. There are lots of great ideas in this forum and plenty of members to offer excellent advice to build one.

 

Because of my hard learned lesson I now have 164 feet of electric net fence around my ducks (and geese) and their coop.The chickens have a secure coop and secure and wire covered run. The net around my waterfowl can be moved around and reset up in about 10 minutes. It works very well AND it will also deter bears (I don't have bears but do have persistent raccoons, fox, and many other predators). For my waterfowl the only thing I have to watch out for is hawks and owls but my run has tree cover for shade and some protection from aerial predators in addition to me locking them up during the night. My geese have been great at sending out alarms when they see a hawk.

 

Bear vs fence videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHWor9tMvL4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLnIvXF_Dck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv2G-aRDvyY

 

If you go on vacation then you will need someone to check the birds daily to let them out in the morning and again to lock them into their coops at night, make sure they do not run out of water or food, and check for damage, injuries, or deaths from predators.

 

I wish I could be of better help and advice but wanted to put in my two cents worth. If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask. :)

You win some and lose some. When at first you don't succeed: try... try... try... try and try again.

 

How to Provide Emergency and Supportive Care        

Maintaining a Healthy Flock

Chicken Injuries & Diseases

Poop Chart 

Emergency Helpful References & Links

Reply

You win some and lose some. When at first you don't succeed: try... try... try... try and try again.

 

How to Provide Emergency and Supportive Care        

Maintaining a Healthy Flock

Chicken Injuries & Diseases

Poop Chart 

Emergency Helpful References & Links

Reply
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
We check the yard for secret nests daily if the have a place we haven't found it yet. They don't all seem to lay everyday to me it seems they must take turns laying or somthing. We've discussed building a run but since we're fairly far from most residential areas finding someone willing to drive to our house twice daily is virtually impossible we might be able to get someone once a day to collect eggs, check the birds and set out fresh food and water. Do you think they could safely occupy a secure run if the coop just stayed open inside a large run?
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