adopted chicken questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by busymomma12, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. busymomma12

    busymomma12 New Egg

    Sep 12, 2012
    We got back into chickens about a month ago, by adopting a set of laying hens that are 1 1/2 years old. There are 14 of them:

    4 Bard Rocks
    2 Aracana
    1 Buff Orpington
    5 Rhode Island Reds
    2 White Leg Horns

    I have several questions about these ladies and a set of 4 Americanas that were given to us free, along with a free somewhat mobile coop:

    There was definitely a lot of pecking going on, most of them had a lot of neck feathers missing, when we got them. They seemed to adjust well to our place, laying eggs the first day even. We were getting 4 - 5 eggs a day at first. Now we are getting 2 - 3 a day. Now I am finding holes in my back yard (dust bath?) with feathers all around the holes and the chickens are definitely losing massive amounts of feathers (several have naked butts!). Can I be safe in assuming that they are moulting?

    We have one white leghorn who is larger than the other, has more of a comb and is not moulting at all, and one rhode island red who is also looking fine and full feathered and has a bit more comb than the other reds. Are these my non-layers or could they even be roosters?? There has been no crowing, but the healthy looking red was way more vocal/loud this morning...

    I read that good layers tend to moult severely, so I'm thinking that the ones that are really mouting are my good layers. I'm thinking about putting a few birds at a time in another coup that i have to see if they are laying or not, but I think I should wait until the mouting is over - right?

    Also, we adopted a second set of 4 Americana hens that are just 6 months old and have just started laying. We have kept them separate from the other set of older chickens and they are now laying 2 - 3 a day, so they are doing great! We are now adopting one more hen (1 1/2 year old buff) that hatched a batch of chicks at my friends house, but she is a nuisance to their neighbors because she takes her chicks up on their porches and poops everywhere. She has 4 chicks left and is coming here today. We put the 4 Americanas in with the other ladies last night after dark, and this morning they were taking quite the beating until I allowed them to range outside their fence (we have a fence for their safety when we aren't home and usually wait to let them out until late morning so they will lay their eggs in the coop). I allowed them to range as soon as I noticed that the older birds were being really mean to the new birds. I really need to keep the new hen in the other coop until she gets acclimated to our property, so that means that I need the 4 Americanas to be with the original set of 14. What can I do and how can I fascilitate blending the two "families"

    We have been giving the chickens a ton of kitchen scraps and letting the free range the majority of the day, so we've only been giving them around 4 - 6 cups of feed each day for the original 14, and the 4 Americanas have still been getting chick feed in crumbles, around 3 cups a day. Since they are moutling, should I start giving them unlimited feed, and should I just let the Americanas learn to like pellets, or should I have a separate feeder with the crumbles for a little while?

    And lastly, we are going to put permanent roosts in the coop today - how many feet of roosting space will I need for 18 chickens? For 23 chickens?

    Thanks for any and all help.

  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    Defiantly molting. Wait till after the molt is done to see who is laying.
    Leghorns have large combs normally, the red with the bigger comb may have some leghorn in her. There is normally some variation in comb size.
    Integration can be tough. Normally I have them in separate side by side quarters for a while before throwing them together. If you have seen no blood at this point leave them together. The pecking order needs to be worked out, it is something only they can do. Distractions so no one gets picked on to much help. As does more room, as you found out leaving them out to free range. This will take time the lenght of which varies with the nature of the flock.
    With the varying amount of scraps being feed have regular feed available at all times would be the way to go. I'd mix the pellets and crumbles, till I ran out of the one I wasn't going to feed.
    Eight inches is minimum per bird, they really should have a foot per bird. So twenty three chickens is twenty three feet.

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