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HELP!!! I'm new to this, and I need some advice on Coop, Care, and possible sickness

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Good Evening!

 

My name is David, and my wife and I decided to start raising a flock of our own 2 months ago. We started with 5 Rhode Island Reds that were 5 months old at the time. This would make them roughly 7 months now. They haven't started laying yet. They were having a hard time breathing so I've started treatment for them. That is issue #1.

 

Issue #2: I have a Black Ameracauna rooster (age unknown) that I introduced a few weeks ago. His eye has become matted shut, and he has stopped crowing altogether. After some research online, I narrowed the issue down to an infection and have since introduced a cream applied to his eye daily. Also, because the other 5 hens were in the coop with him, I am running a round of antibiotics on all of them as well. 

 

I am using Baytril for the respiratory issues with the hens, and Terramycin for the rooster's eye. 

 

https://poultrykeeper.com/poultry-medication/baytril-used-to-treat-respiratory-problems/

 

http://www.phibroah.com/Phibro/Products/Catalog/Terramycin-Antibiotic-For-Poultry.html

 

Now, for some of the mistakes I've made along the way...

 

When we started caring for the flock, I did not know a dust bath was a major necessity. A week ago, I introduced a tub with soil, sand, ash, and diatomaceous earth. They love it, and use it almost every day.

 

Also, I was using hay/straw for the bedding. This, I soon realized, was a mistake. It doesn't absorb well. I switched over to pine shavings a week ago as well. 

 

CURRENTLY, I've added a few more to the flock but they are all kept completely separate from each other. The 5 RIR and rooster in the large coop. 4 Amerecauna pullets, aged 2 months, in a smaller coop. Also, I have 4 3-day olds in the house. I want to make sure I get these issues resolved before introducing the young ones to the flock. 

 

I included some pictures just to give an idea of what I am working with now. HELP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 9
Some of your respiratory issues could be from your dust bath ingredients. I refuse to use DE, it's a known respiratory irritant. If you aren't careful hay and straw can mold which can cause pneumonia, or aspergillous. Also you coop is very small and I don't know how good the ventilation is, though you said you had other coops. I would look to be giving them more room especially in their runs, and providing good ventilation without drafts.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 9

Welcome to BYC!

Sorry to hear it looks like you've dove into a shallow pool, time, research, and some changes, will get you back on your feet.

 

Sounds like you may have acquired sick birds, an unfortunate occurrence but common when buying older birds.

Some respiratory diseases can be carried by a great many birds without symptoms showing, 

unless they are stressed-then the disease can bloom into symptomatic distress.

 

You'll need to read up on respiratory issues and especially antibiotic use, I can't help much there never having to administer them.

Only can caution to use antibiotics carefully so as not to engender resistance.

 

There a great Chicken Vet learning group on Facebook that I would recommend,

not an emergency get an answer right now, but lots of good information for browsing thru:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/552851661524633/

 

I agree with OHLD, your spaces are very small and crowded, and that could be contributing to the problem,

either directly and from the stress of crowding lowering the birds natural ability to fight the illness.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #4 of 9
I third the small spaces. Are your older chickens leaving those coops and small runs to enter a larger run or to free range?

I also agree on the diatameceous earth. The way DE works, even food grade, is that it make microscopic cuts on the bodies and shells of bugs, which the de enters (or various other things can enter like salt or baking soda or lots of things people use) and dries out or continues to cut and bleed out the bug. Organ tissue is delicate. There is a lot of research on both sides, but people fall into one camp or the other-1. Believing a material that can cut through an exoskeleton can cut through lung, stomach and intestinal tissue 2. Believing bugs are less resilient than organ tissue and that the benefits of pest control outweigh the perceived risk. You'll have to make that call for yourself. Dust baths are a critical part of chicken hygiene, and it does sound like at the moment you would be wise to err on the side of caution.

What we put into our dust bath area was old ashes and dirt.as a side note, i LOVE watching dust bathing! It reminds me of chincillas and the birds looks so ridiculous.

I dont know much about antibiotics with chickens. I do agree to use the antibiotic as it is dscribed through whoever you got it through, and it does sound like antibiotics are a good idea.

When you get new chickens to add to a flock who are older than 6 weeks old, you want to quarantine for a month. Meaning they shouldn't be sharing a space, even in separate coops in the same run area. The new birds should go to a different spot and get used to the flora and fauna of your property and you need time to see what different bacteria they are bringing in. I assume you are keeping the baby chickens in a completely different location, but if you aren't, you should consider it. They have no defense against bacteria that can take down the big birds.

My next suggestion is going to possibly be a little rude, but it is to not get any more chickens for a bit. You might already be in that mindset! But it's going to be so important to get to know your current flock really well as they heal, to let everyone merge however you are planning to merge them, and to get to a steady state for them and you. Right now it's chaos to some extent, and chickens get sick when there is chaos. They need to get their pecking order in place, get healthy, develop a social dynamic, and a routine. That will help you diagnose problems in the future better than you can imagine!

Chicken keeping is an adventure and a steep learning curve! Mistakes are going to be made a million times over, and chickens will be lost and things will go wrong! But if you keep asking, and taking it one problem at a time, it will start moving into a smooth cycle as long as you learn from the mistakes as you go?
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the input so far! I think I am at the limit for chickens right now, until I add on to their living space. I provided some really bad pictures before. Check these out, and let me know what you think. 

 

There are two coops, one I built and the other was purchased from ACE Hardware. The box said it would fit 6 hens, but I've only been keeping 4 3-month olds in there currently. To put it into perspective, the coop itself is 4ft x 4ft, with the attached run sitting at 4ft x 7ft. Yes, during the day they all free roam and come home at sunset. 

 

Given the space shown in the pictures, along with the yard, do you think they have enough space?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 9

I'm sorry, but I can not believe the coop by itself (not counting the run) is 4 x 4.  I'm visually comparing it to the size of the feeders and watermelon.  It could be 4' tall but that does not count in square footage for the birds.  You need to measure it yourself.  Do not include the nest boxes.  I had a similar coop and it could hold 2. 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

To be fair, I purchased the largest feeder/waterer that I could find when setting everything up, so that may help distort the visual relations there in those pictures. Just to reassure you, I have included pictures with measurements! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 9

Hello NrthrLghts,  chickens should not be such a struggle:(!  I did notice that your perch is smooth, round and small and probably not to their liking.  Find a 1 to 2 inch diameter tree branch with bark that will fit and take down your old perch.  Maybe a good nights sleep on a very solid perch they can hang on to will bring them sweet chicken dreams and a return to good health. 

 

Also we have 9 hens and a rooster in an 8 by 8 coop 64 square feet, nights for lock down only, and since it has excellent ventilation I probably could double that number which is 18 hens in 64 square feet which leaves us at 3 1/2 square feet per bird. (they sleep all together in a bunch anyway lol)  If you have a 4 by 4 coop 16 square feet  you would want no more than 4 birds and that is if they have access to your large yard in the daytime.  

 

Just clucking!  Your coop is cute and you will get things figured out in time because you obviously care about your birds.


Edited by daisygirlfp - 4/24/16 at 3:38pm
post #9 of 9

I am sorry.  I was referring to the coop you purchased, not the one you built.  It looks as if the one you purchased is 3' 4" deep.  Probably about that in width I'd guess.  That would give you about 11 square feet in the coop.  Ideally a chicken should have 4 square feet.  This would give you a coop large enough for 2 or 3 birds.  At fully 4x4 with the one you built you have 16 square feet or area for 4 birds.  As someone else said, that skinny dowel is not a great roost for a chicken.  A much better roost would be a 2x4 with the 4 inches up.  If you want to stay with round, get a nice fat branch from a tree.  When I was raising canaries and parrots years ago I'd often use tree branches but only from fruit trees.  I read that fruit tree branches were best for some reason. 

 

It's also hard to tell from the pictures but I could see little in ventilation.  My coop has minimal ventilation but so far it's working so I'm not going to change it yet.  I have 2,  3' by 8" vents under the eaves.  Then I have a 2' x 2' in the back of the coop where it gets no wind.  There is also the pop door.  All these stay open year round.  I also have a window that opens when it's not winter that is about 1' by 18".  The ventilation allows for better air flow and less likely for the birds to have respiratory issues.  My coop is a fairly roomy 8' by 6' by 5' high built for 12 chickens. 

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