Hello everyone! First time poster here, but not my first experience with chickens.
Wow, what a forum you have going on! Lots of information is available – almost too much. Glad I found you all!
15 years ago I got my first chickens. They were about 6 months old given to me from a neighbor. They were “tools” for insect control on my wooded lot (eradicated the tick/spider population). Egg production did not matter to me. Had them for 13 of the last 15 years. Just before my 2 year hiatus, over a 6 month period I lost 7 of my older birds all due to seemingly old age. 7 of my 18-20 birds over that 12 year period lived over 10 years, so I guess that is not too bad. Not sure… All the “old” birds died peacefully in the coop, and all but one was at nighttime. Once I got down to my last two, I gave them away to a local woman who is an animal lover as I was going away for a 1 month vacation who never had more than 4 birds at a time.
Compared to all the information here, I did things much more simple. They always had a supply of pellet food, they all got any and all table scraps and “expired” food I had around. I only had simple waters which I kept from freezing in the winter by a IR heat lamp when nighttime temps dropped below 20-25F. They free ranged when I got home from work and on weekends, and had access to an enclosed run of 2” chicken wire. Only had two raccoon break-ins, and only lost one bird one of those times. I did lose a few to red-tail hawks when they were free ranging. I had the best rooster ever (based on what I have read here) who was trained to fly into a cat carrier where he was put in the garage for the night to avoid annoying the neighbors in the morning. He would hop on my lap and eat any treats I would give him. He never charged me or for that matter even pecked at me. I guess I did it the “old school” way. No apple cider vinegar or garlic in the water, no electric fences, I did not supply grit, oyster shell, or incorporate hardware cloth in the run or use water nipples….. “Water nipples???“ Really???
I missed my birds, and decided to get birds again. Over the last 2 months, I have rebuilt my two run areas and enlarged my “open run” from 4x16 to 15X20. They are fully enclosed (overhead as well) by 1x2” nylon coated 14 gauge wire, stapled to 2x10” which are buried 8” into the ground and have a 24” skirt of the same wire extending out from it. It was a labor of love, and it was fantastic building it side by side with my father. I would post a picture, but have to get my post count up first. This weekend, I am going to trick the place out with branches, rocks and some decking that they will be able to hide under and play around. Oh… and I now have water nipples ready to go. Yep – water nipples.
My current situation:
I never had chicks. I always had mature birds and “new birds” learned from the “old birds” in the flock. This time, I started with 12 chicks. What an experience. I think the most amusing is when they play “keep away” with something. Very entertaining….. I got them the Friday before Easter, so that makes them 7 weeks old this week. They have been out in the coop/run for about 2 weeks now.
1) 1) They are still sleeping in a big pile. They are not roosting. I have the roost only about 18” off the floor, and I know they can get on it because I have seen them get on it, but they choose to sleep in a pile on the floor. Do they have to be taught to roost? If not, when is the normal age for them to start roosting? I do not think they are cold. I am in SE PA and it is only going into the 50’s at night. The few times I did put the heat lamp on, they were on the other side of the coop from the red heat lamp far away from the heat – yep – in a pile. Seems odd to me. But again.. I am new to chicks
2)2) I have come across somewhat conflicting information on feed. I am giving them the purina Start and Grow” right now. Do I really feed them this to week 16? They have also been free ranging when I am right there with them. As you can image, they are eating everything, which brings us to ….
3)3) Grit – since they are free ranging, they are getting it as needed and I do not need to supply anything additional. They are close to and regularly scratch and are pecking at my crushed limestone driveway, so I am assuming they are eating all the grit they need. I am assuming that since my previously mature birds never got anything, the chicks will be fine as well
4) 4) Finally, are Cookoo Morans a ….ummm… a “not to intelligent” breed? I have two, and except for a black silky that had a vision problem and I think was too inbred, these are the two dumbest birds I have ever seen. They are the only two who can not find their way into the coop, are the last two out, never get treats because they are too slow, and they are well… just dumb compared to my other breeds. Not to mention, I made a point to handle each bird the same each day so they would be friendly. The other 10 birds are super friendly and approach me readily. The morans refuse to be handled and have disliked it from day one. Even if I have treats in hand, the morans are morons and will not eat them because they want to get away.
It is good to have birds back on the property. Tonight they should learn that if they follow behind me as I cut the grass, there will be a feast available for them. But I have little confidence that the morans will get any….