A few questions from a beginner

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mrsgibber, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. mrsgibber

    mrsgibber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all. I am getting ready to bring my first flock of hens home this spring. They are still on the farm growing but I have my four babies all picked out and tagged! Though I have a feeling I'll be leaving the farm with at least one more. We purchased a coop with three nests and a roost. My questions are:

    1. How often do I need to replace the hay in their nesting boxes and when I remove the hay can it be composted?

    2. How often would I need to change the shavings or hay from the floor of the coop? I've heard of a deep litter method but not sure I understand it. I don't want the coop to get too smelly.

    3. Should I offer my hens scratch every day?

    Thanks for the support! [​IMG]
     
  2. sewincircle

    sewincircle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome, I replace my hay in the nesting boxes only when it gets dirty. They get it all nice and rounded for their butts (no pokey pieces) so I hate to disrupt that. They really dont mess it though. So I would say I change it once a month. The coop, you can clean it as often as you want. We do ours 3 to 4 times a year. I does make good compost. You can leave grit in a free choice hopper for them and oyster shells for calcium.
    I know you will enjoy your journey. Have fun!!! What kind of chickens did you pick?
    I am sure we all do things differently. So others may have different advice. Which ever works for you. [​IMG]
    jeanmarie
     
  3. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi and welcome!

    1. How often do I need to replace the hay in their nesting boxes and when I remove the hay can it be composted?

    I use hay though some people prefer other nest ing material. If it stays clean it will last about 10 days- sometimes all you need to do it tip off any droppings and put it back in place. It's a good idea to use some food-grade diatomaceous earth in and under the hay as precaution against 6- or 8-legged pests.

    2. How often would I need to change the shavings or hay from the floor of the coop? I've heard of a deep litter method but not sure I understand it. I don't want the coop to get too smelly.

    Depends on the floor. Traditional deep-litter method is for earth floors, but variations are used. You'll probably spot-clean as well, and a bale of shavings should last about a month if you do. Trick is keeping everything dry and using things like food-grade DE or powders like Stable Boy or Stall-Dri with the bedding.

    3. Should I offer my hens scratch every day?

    Probably not. Offer the appropriate commercial food for their age and give a little scratch when it is cold or you want to give them a treat. Scratch is an extra rather than a basic.

    Hope this helps!

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    When to clean is highly variable. It will depend on the size and number of your chickens, the size of your coop, how much time they spend in the coop, and the behavior of your chickens. Some will dirty the next boxes sooner. Free range birds will spend more time outside and less pooping in their coop. A few bantams in a large coop is a big difference from a flock of standards with the minimum space required.

    Some people with small flocks strip their coop down weekly. Some with deep litter methods never really clean. Personally I don't like doing the deep litter method so I can't give you detailed info on it. The basic is that you keep adding fresh bedding on top of the old and through natural processes the lower layer breaks down into pretty much dirt. It kinda composts in the coop itself. Microscopic critters will live in these layers and break down the fresh poop faster too so that there is less/no smell. Having a coop with a nice wood board floor and just due to the design of it I prefer not to do that. I follow the schedule of twice a year complete cleaning and then clean as dirty in the summer that most farms here use with their animals. In the fall you strip, clean, and refill with extra warm bedding for winter and in the spring you strip out the winter bedding and bed lightly for summer so you can clean more frequently until the weather turns cool again.
     
  5. mrsgibber

    mrsgibber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sewincircle - I am getting a Cochin, a Partridge Rock, Easter Egger & Buff Orrington. I may want to add a RI Red but we'll see what we get for eggs first.

    Thanks for all your advice. I'm so glad there is a place to go to ask these questions. Can't really find everything in a book. [​IMG]
     
  6. sewincircle

    sewincircle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is better than a book. Books dont talk back. (If it does...run) [​IMG]
    Send in pictures of your new birds. The breeds you picked are great.
     
  7. mrsgibber

    mrsgibber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll be sure to post as soon as we get them home. They are still maturing on the farm where we purchased them. I should have them by end of March or early April. I am so anxious to get them home!
     
  8. cdeans

    cdeans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally I am picky, I have a lot of chickens in different coops, but I clean my coops and nesting boxes out weekly. I probably do not need to clean them as often but I hate a dirty smelly coop. And it keeps the chickens cleaner and happier also.

    You don't need to give you chickens scratch all the time but I do. It is mainly to add warmth. I mix scratch with some pellets and all my table scraps and they have at it! '

    Hope this helps!
     
  9. sewincircle

    sewincircle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is exciting. Cant wait to see them. Here is one of my new babies.
    [​IMG]
     

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