Beginner Advice - We got our chickens today!!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by brooky, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. brooky

    brooky Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2010
    Hooray we got our chicken today. But we are completely new and have a few questions.... VERY EXCITED!! Apparently they should start laying in two weeks or so. We got three to start. A BlueBell, Sussex Line & Goldline.

    Below is a picture:
    [​IMG]

    We would be really grateful if you can help us.

    1. The poultry center told us that we had to section off the nesting boxes to begin with. Does anyone know how long we should do this for?
    2. We were told to mix half an egg cup of grit in with their feed. What they didn't tell is was whether we fill the feeding thing to the top with the grit in or just a few scoops for the day with that amount of grit in?

    They were shy to come out at first but with a little persuasion they came out and seem to be very happy.

    Thanks for all your help. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  2. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    Syracuse, NY
    1. it isn't necessary to block off the nesting boxes at all, just make sure they are "roosting" at night and not trying to sleep in them.

    2. it's not necessary to put grit in the feed either. Just leave a dish of grit where they can eat it as they want. You can also sprinkle grit on the ground.

    Do you live in the UK? Don't know that we have Bluebells, or Goldlines here in the states.

    From the looks of things your Goldline should be laying any day. I put fake wooden eggs in the nest boxes and leave them there so they get the idea of where to lay their eggs. Don't be surprised if they all lay in the same box. That's fine. It's just the way chickens are.

    Wishing you the best

    Rancher Hicks [​IMG]
     
  3. GwenDellAnno

    GwenDellAnno Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Water Valley, AB
    1. Sectioning off the nest boxes just gives them a bit of privacy. They like darkened hidey holes. Perhaps it will encourage them to lay their eggs in there!! I'd keep them sectioned off permanently.
    2. Grit. Since you have them enclosed and they need grit in their crop to help them digest their food, you will need to provide it somehow. I find it easiest to use a small feeder fastened on the wall. I keep it filled and they take it as they need it. If you "free range" around your yard at all, then they can pick up stones where they find them and you will need less grit.

    Your chickens will become less shy as you provide them with treats. They will come running when they see you.

    Your set-up looks nice. I really like the look of your coop. Some folks will tell you that hardware cloth is much more predator proof than the chicken wire if there's any chance of coon, possum or weasel in your area, as all can get break through chicken wire or pull your chickens through one piece at a time. However... if you close them in the coop at night, I personally have found this not to be necessary.... so far!!
     
  4. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Congratulations on your new hens! How exciting!

    1. There's no hard and fast rule about blocking off the nest boxes. The only reason i can think of is to keep them from sleeping in the nest boxes at night, instead of on the roost. If they sleep in the nest box, they'll also poop in it, and that's gross when they start laying eggs. So i would say that if you're going to block them off, it's not really necessary to do it very long - just until you see that your girls have gotten the hang of sleeping on the roost.

    2. Most folks offer grit free choice in a separate container. They'll get it when/if they need it.

    First rule of raising chickens: not everything the feed store tells you is true is really true. [​IMG]
     
  5. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    I think since they are outside on dirt they don't need grit, they already have access to it. I would feed them layer pellets or crumbles (for good egg shell developement) and possibly some oyster shell in a separate pan. You can feed them a handful or two of scratch (mixed corn, seeds, sunflower seeds) everyday and they will come to like you! Don't over feed the scratch though, not nutritionally balanced. Scratch is just a treat! You can also give them black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS-in the shell). Again, just as a treat. Once they eat all the grass etc in their run, you can let them free range in your yard, or, if you cant free range, toss them weeds, old veggies, etc. out of your garden, grass clippings (not treated with chemicals of course), leftovers from what you eat (not potato peelings), etc. If they are supposed to lay soon, I probably wouldn't block off the nests unless they sleep in them and poop them up. If they have a roost in their coop (2x4 with 4" side up) they probably wont use the nest boxes until they start to lay. Raise your feeders to about the level of their backs and there will be less scratching the feed out and wasting it. Dont feed them anything moldy or spoiled (leftovers, etc). Dont fill the feeder all the way full, it will spoil unless your feeder is real small. Is your feeder inside the coop or out? You could hang the feeder from the bottom of the coop to make more room in the coop or leave it in the coop. If you hung it outside you would probably need to put plastic or plywood around a couple of the sides to protect from blowing rain. I would probably only put about 1 scoop (scoop size about the size of a 1 lb coffee can or a little bigger) of feed out a day until you can see how much they are going to eat. You want food available pretty much all the time, but not so much that it sits there long enough to mold or spoil. Of course, fresh water at least every other day, every day if it is real hot and humid. You can put about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water in their waterer, helps digestion (can't remember exactly, but good for them). Uhhhhh....if predators are a problem in your area (coons, possums, coyotes, dogs, etc) you will need to replace that chicken wire with hardware cloth or welded wire that is no bigger than 1"x2". Chicken wire keeps chickens in, doesn't keep anything out! Seriously! Extend the wire about 18" out on the ground and stake down with tent stakes (or bury it about that deep) to keep predators from digging into your run. Do you lock the girls into their coop at night? If not, you need to, or something will get them at night if it gets into the run. Pine shavings in your coop with some DE or Stall Dry sprinkled over them. The DE (diotamaceous earth) and Stall Dry (used in horse stalls to eliminate ammonia odor and help dry things up) will lengthen time between coop clean outs. The DE is supposed to help prevent mites also, but will not get rid of them if they already have them.

    Well that is about all I can think of at the moment for things that will help out a newbie chicken owner. Congrats on your girls, you coop is cute and I hope you get eggs soon! Oh yeah...read, read, read everything on here you can. I learn something everyday.
     
  6. D'Angelo N Va.

    D'Angelo N Va. Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2009
    Welcome and Congrats...your chickens are beautiful. That is some house you have for them also. Grit will be available outside on the ground and no need to rope off the nesting boxes, in fact if they will start laying soon, you want them to find the boxes. You might want to add a fake egg to the nest, it helps some hens, some will automatically go there. I have one hen that insists on laying on the ground although the others in the hen house use the nesting boxes. Good Luck!
     
  7. brooky

    brooky Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2010
    Wow you guys are amazing thanks for your feedback. Brilliant advice. The poultry center also said chicken wire was useless. Ill be gutted if we have to replace it as it cost a fortune!! We only have foxes to worry about here. Stuipid townie government banned fox hunting. Morons. Ill open up the nesting box. I gather golf balls are good, us that true? Should we put straw in the nesting box? Its specual dust free treated straw.

    Thanks again. [​IMG]
     
  8. grandmaof5

    grandmaof5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Straw is hollow, allowing mites a good place to live; hay is better.
     
  9. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    Syracuse, NY
    Sorry I took the "section" off as meaning to block them off. My mistake. Mine arent' though.

    And I forgot to say "Nice coop" , Brooky


    All the best
    Rancher
     
  10. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    Quote:You could try an electric fence wire strung around the bottom, or maybe put welded wire or hardware cloth around the bottom 3 feet or so. If you decide to replace, you could still use it on the top for protection against hawks and owls.
     

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