Adult chickens in new home

chickens in VA

In the Brooder
May 5, 2015
18
0
22
Virginia
Hi,

I am about to adopt my first chickens - 4 3-year-old Golden Comets. They belonged to a friend who's trading them in for younger models since they don't lay much anymore, so it's either the foxes get them or I do. My friend treated them pretty well, but definitely as livestock, whereas I view them as pets and want them to live as fulfilled little chicken lives as possible in their remaining years. At my friend's house they've spent probably about 98% of their time in a tractor, though she occasionally let them out to free range. I plan to let them free range more, eventually possibly most of the time in a large enclosure with a llama or two to guard them. Neither the llama(s) nor the llama pen are here yet, though, so for now the girls will only be free ranging when I'm around to supervise. They're not trained to go into their coop at night, since they've always just been in their tractor, and they're used to having food available 24/7. I'm not sure that it's safe for me to leave food out all the time for them since there are more bears, etc. where I live than where my friend does.

The girls are already bonded with each other, as they've been together since they were chicks, and I'm taking all of them, so that should help. I have also been offered (by a different friend) various roosters, but so far I've said no since these girls have never encountered one and I'm afraid even a nice rooster might be too traumatic for them! Does this make sense, or am I being overly protective?!

I'd appreciate any advice on how to get the girls used to their new home, and also how to bond with them as pets when they haven't really been brought up to do that. I figure that if it's possible with battery hens, it should be possible with my friend's chickens, who at least haven't been abused! I have a fair amount of experience with other types of birds (parrots, wild bird rehabbing), including traumatized/neurotic birds, but this is my first attempt at chickens. :)

Oh, also I have cats! The friend from whom the chickens are coming has cats herself, and says the chickens hold their own nicely, but I have more cats than she does (11...gulp...they're a former street cat colony I was feeding where I lived before, and they moved with me). They're all pretty tame, not remotely feral anymore, and they don't hunt in a pack or anything. Actually they know I don't approve of their hunting at all and most of them more or less respect this despite thinking it's completely idiotic of me. However, they've never seen chickens before and I do anticipate intense interest, so I'm hoping the girls won't be too upset by a circle of fascinated furry faces, and poking paws, round their run for the first week or two. I could of course chase the cats away from the run (they learn pretty quickly when water from garden hoses is involved), but my instinct is that it's probably best to let them and the chickens get used to each other asap.
 

gillisjordan

Chirping
Mar 31, 2015
111
6
68
Antigonish County, NS
They cats may go after the chickens, however I would keep a close eye on them and let them get use to each other. We have two large dogs, they tried chasing our chickens once and one swift kick in the rear end ended that for good haha.

The roosters and chickens will be fine, they will fight and peck and by the next morning they will all be friends. The roosters will become protective over the hens eventually and they will protect them. A good rooster would fight to their death for their flock.

If you want to have them free range, make have an open coop where they can have water available and food 24/7. its very important to have these things available for them and if its in an open coop with a roost, they will go in at night and sleep on the roost out of the elements.
 

chickens in VA

In the Brooder
May 5, 2015
18
0
22
Virginia
They cats may go after the chickens, however I would keep a close eye on them and let them get use to each other. We have two large dogs, they tried chasing our chickens once and one swift kick in the rear end ended that for good haha.

The roosters and chickens will be fine, they will fight and peck and by the next morning they will all be friends. The roosters will become protective over the hens eventually and they will protect them. A good rooster would fight to their death for their flock.

If you want to have them free range, make have an open coop where they can have water available and food 24/7. its very important to have these things available for them and if its in an open coop with a roost, they will go in at night and sleep on the roost out of the elements.

Thanks!! In the beginning (until the llamas arrive and the enclosure for everyone is built), the chickens will only free range when I'm around to supervise. I'll have them in their run during the day with the door to the coop open, and then locked in the coop at night. Do you think I need to put food and water inside the coop for the night? It's an Eglu Cube (plastic, with slatted floor for roosting) and there isn't really anywhere obvious to put food and water inside, but I don't want the girls to dehydrate overnight! During the day I was planning to have the food and water in the run, though I'll have to see if it's okay to leave food out all the time. We have bears around here and I gather they're attracted to chicken feed!!
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,755
36,836
1,096
southern Michigan
Welcome! Pictures of your coop would help; sounds like it's pretty small. Four hens might manage with ONE polite rooster, but definitely only one! Chickens have many nasty diseases that can spread from a 'healthy' carrier to other birds. I'd be very cautious about getting any other birds for that reason. I keep food and water in my coop, because my run isn't roofed, and isn't safe enough for overnight. The birds are locked in their coop every night, and I'm not out there at dawn, when they get up and want to eat. Only electric fencing will keep bears out! Llamas might keep some predators away, but aren't going to think that chickens are worth protecting. Few cats will attack adult chickens, but some will go after bantams, and most would eat young chicks. The cats will be happy to catch the mice though! Mary
 

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