Basic Information for beginner please

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Kerrianne, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Kerrianne

    Kerrianne Hatching

    Dec 14, 2009
    Hi. These may seem like simple questions, but I am new to chickens and would like some help please. I have 3 pile bantams (1 male, 2 female) and they are 12 weeks old, and 3 isa browns (I think they are all female) and they are 8 weeks old. How long can I leave the male in with the hens? He has started pecking one of the isa browns. What is 'brooding'? How will I know when they are ready to roost and about what age? What age will they start to lay? Are they too young to be fed layer pellets? My chickens and I thank you for any advice you can give us. Kerri-anne

  2. the males should be removed at about 4 months if you are wanting unfertilized eggs or to breed pure-breds. if that doesn't matter, then you can just leave the males. fertilized eggs will only start to develop under the right set of conditions, so if you are collecting them everyday they are just fine to eat.

    the picking could be crowding or boredom or the wrong kind/amount of light or several other things. try a red light if you haven't already. make sure they have plenty of space and food. if it continues, you need to remove him.

    brooding is when a hen gathers a clutch of eggs of decides to sit on them. a lot of chickens don't get broody, but some still do. they will lay eggs over several days, often hiding them, and then start sitting on them. if you aren't collecting those eggs daily you may end up with a broody hen. in that case, you have to "break her up" by removing the eggs (she won't lay while she's broody) or let her hatch them. don't eat eggs that you think have been sat on for a few days (well, i wouldn't but some people do).

    yours should be roosting by now, if they want to. just offer them roosts and they should know what to do. if not, try placing them on the roost a few times until they get the hang of it.

    again, 4 months is kinda the age to watch for when it comes to laying and breeding. some chickens will take longer, some will start early. just watch them and have everything ready for them by around 3 1/2 months, just to be safe. they shouldn't get layer feed until they are 18 weeks i think it is, or they start laying.

    good luck!
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  3. ps: i would highly suggest Storey's Guide to Chickens by Gail Damerow. it's a wonderful book for beginners. it helped me a TON.
  4. Mine didn't start laying until 6 months, but it sounds like you have breeds that are real reliable layers so maybe they will lay earlier. Good luck!

  5. Quote:oh god, don't say that! i'm coming up on month 3 and the countdown in my head has already started. i hope your chickens haven't been talking to my chickens.... [​IMG]
  6. Kerrianne

    Kerrianne Hatching

    Dec 14, 2009
    G'day Leah and Bawkbawkbawk,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I will look into getting that book. I think they may overcrowded. And I will keep on eye on them for more pecking and roosting. I didn't realise there was so much involved with chickens - I'm learning a lot and I must say, loving it.

  7. Quote:i knew next to nothing about chickens until i read the Storey's Guide, and then i knew just enough to know that i didn't know enough! so i joined BYC. it's been insanely helpful. but be careful, chickens and this site are ADDICTIVE!

  8. newchickmom09

    newchickmom09 Songster

    Jul 15, 2009
    Quote:SO true! [​IMG]

    Don't give them layer until you see your first egg.
    The pecking is probably from being over crowded, see if you can expand there run or coop and I bet the pecking stops. Also the age diffence could be affecting them, they are trying to establish there pecking order and the roo is trying to be the top chicken. If you do give them enough space and he still pecks on everyone then I would suggest making chicken noodle soup with him.
    The average laying age can very huge from 15 (if you are really lucky) to some have 38 week old chickens that have still not layed. But 20 weeks is usualy the norm but since winter has come on us that can throw everything off and make them wait longer.
    Mine were roosting when they were still in there brooder and I had a little branch in there for them to play on. If your have a roosting pole and aren't using it them every night once they fall alseep put them on the roost. They will adventualy get the hang of it. If you have a pole and they aren't using it them try to lower it and see if that works.
  9. Kerrianne

    Kerrianne Hatching

    Dec 14, 2009
    I went to the hutch this morning and the rooster had attacked a hen - quite badly - all the feathers have gone from her head and it looks like one of her eyes are missing! I moved the rooster to a seperate cage. Any ideas as to why? It may be overcrowding - I have 5 chickens in a 9 x 4 enclosure - this might be too small. But I don't understand why he only attacked one hen.

    I've been watching the other hens today and they do seem to be slightly pecking at each other.

    And is roosting when they nest? They have 5 perches, but no boxes - do they need boxes to sleep in?

    I am beginning to see why I was told not to get chickens - unless I lived on a lot of land.

  10. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    Just as likely to be one hen attacking another or all the chickens attacking one. If you don't give them enough space, food (they should have unlimited food 24/7), and water they will only get worse until you only have enough chickens left to get along in the space you have. The lowest one in the pecking order will usually receive the most injuries but it could be 2 of near equal rank that decided to fight it out for space. Even removing the male won't help eventually and most roosters won't harm a hen even if crowded. They may over mate the hens if there are too few for them or too little else to do but not usually attack and cause such injuries. They don't actually need much land but they need at least 2 sq ft per bantam and 4 sq ft for standard in the coop plus more in a run that goes outdoors. Usually closer to around 10sq ft per chicken minimum. There are over 43,000 sq ft in an acre so even a fraction of an acre yard could hold a pen for several chickens if there wasn't a lot of other stuff in it. A 50sq ft chicken pen would only be half the size of just my herb garden in the dogs' yard. My total dog yard is smaller than my friend has for her dogs and she lives in a duplex in town. There are several people within city limits that have small yards with little moveable pens called chicken tractors for 3-5 hens. I doubt any of the problem is coming from putting 8 and 12 week olds together. If kept under proper conditions are only likely to have problems if you get very different breeds such as very laid back bantams and a standard breed that's known to be agressive. I mix and match ages that far apart all the time keeping in mind any major size or temperament differences. They lay eggs in nestboxes or hatch chicks in them. They should not sleep in them or you will get dirty eggs. They sleep on roosts but can take awhile to roost. I've never had 8 week olds roosting and many times 12 week olds that weren't. They are even less likely to roost if the height is limited.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009

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