Beginners questions

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bobdmann, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. bobdmann

    bobdmann Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 27, 2009
    Chesterville O-H-I-O
    My husband and I are new to the chicken scene.:DHe just got done building the coop it holds 4 chickens.They will be in a fenced in yard (5 feet long five feet wide four feet tall)
    1.Should we put the Rooster in w/the ladies?Some one told us not to if we were wanting eggs to eat.
    2.What should we put there water and feed in if we keep the feed and water outside instead of in the coop.
    3.What can we feed our chickens?
    4.Do they have to have hay or straw?
    5.How big should their nesting boxes be?
    6.Should I leave the coop door open all the time or close it at night?
    7.What time should I feed and water them?
    Sorry for asking so many questions:p I just want to be prepared we're getting the chickens this weekend.I just want to make sure I'm ready.Thanks for any info.And feel free to give any extra pointers I may need to know.
     
  2. Southern Chickens

    Southern Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
    OK, I'll try!
    1. You can eat fertile eggs, no big deal. Just make sure to collect and keep only fresh eggs. Wash and into the firdge.
    2. I would suggest keeping the food under a cover to protect it from rain.
    3. Laying hens will eat laying mash. I feed my layers, 15% layer feed and three grain scratch.
    4. I use pine shavings, like for horse stalls. I put it in the bottom of the cage and they stir it up good.
    5. Nest boxes don't have to be fancy. I use plastic milk crates. I think that they are like 1 foot square.
    6. Mine don't even have a door! It is just open to the run. Depends on your climate and any night predators, I guess.
    7. The feeder and waterers are designed so that they have free choice of food. Keep them full at all times. The scratch can be given by hand if you wish. I have a feeder of both, for them to choose from. Sometimes I buy them crickets from the bait shop, by my work, they love their crickets!

    [​IMG]
    MY TURN
    What kinds of chickens are you getting?
    What age will they be? If chicks, are you hatching your own?
    Where are you located?
    Different breeds of chickens, lay different color eggs. You could have white, brown or green! Yes, I said green. A leghorn for the white eggs, a Rhoad Island Red for the brown and The Araucana for the green eggs. PS you don't have to have a rooster to get eggs, just to get baby chicks. Hope, I helped. [​IMG]
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Other than washing eggs, I agree with what Southernchick said. Eggs are coated with something called "bloom". This helps keep bacteria out of the egg. The egg shell is porous so the developing chick can breath. If you wash an egg, you remove this bloom. Also, if you put an egg in water colder than the egg, the egg will absorb water and any bacteria in the water. If you plan to store the egg any length of time or incubate the egg, it is best to not wash it. If it is dirty, just try brushing it off. If you are going to eat it soon, you can wash it.

    1.Should we put the Rooster in w/the ladies?Some one told us not to if we were wanting eggs to eat.

    There is no difference in the taste of fertile eggs or the how long they will keep. Hens will lay eggs whether a rooster is present or not. Unless you really want a rooster or plan to hatch the eggs, you may not want to feed an extra chicken.

    2.What should we put there water and feed in if we keep the feed and water outside instead of in the coop.

    Do a search using the search feature. You'll get many different ideas. This site has some.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=109158

    3.What can we feed our chickens?

    There are a few variations, but the normal progression is starter until they are about 6 weeks old, grower until they start to lay or 20 weeks old, then layer ration. This site has a chart on treats that can be fed to chickens. I've seen recommendations that you don't feed more treats than they can clean up in 10 to 20 minutes to help keep them ona balanced diet. In my personal opinion, it won't hurt them but it might make them less "efficient" in egg production as the diet is not scientifically balanced.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-Treats_Chart

    4.Do they have to have hay or straw?

    You can use many different things as litter. Hay or straw tends to mat together and it makes it heavy to clean out of large coops. It is better if it is chopped first. Some people use dirt floors and some have droppings boards under the roosts that they clean off daily. It depends on your coop and your poop management plan as to what would work best for you.

    5.How big should their nesting boxes be?

    You can get a lot of different opinions on this. I think the minimum recommended is 12"x 12" for a single nest. I saw where someone said a 2' x 4' community nesting box would handle 35 hens. I made mine 16" x 16" with the thought that hens often like to lay at the same time and the bigger nest may reduce the chance of them breaking an egg if they are crowding in.

    6.Should I leave the coop door open all the time or close it at night?

    It is easier to predator-proof a coop than a run. Usually, if you lock them in at night, they are safer. If you feel your run is secure, you don't have to lock them up, but I think your risk level goes up. Purely depends on your confidence in your run and your risk tolerance.

    7.What time should I feed and water them?

    They need free access to water from wake-up to sleepytime. Chickens drink a lot of water and lack of water will cause egg production to drop. Chickens do not eat meals. They will gorge themselves on some treats, but they snack all day long. They need access to food during daylight hours. Food is not as critical as water, but it is important.

    I suggest going to the Learning Center at this site and reading things at random. Also, go to any of the hatchery sites and see what they say about preparing for and taking care of the chicks. Most of them have very good information. You can also use the search feature at this site for specific information or post a question.

    Good Luck and welcome!!
     
  4. ScrambledGreg

    ScrambledGreg Out Of The Brooder

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    North Charleston, SC
    Gonna add my two cents [​IMG]

    1.Should we put the Rooster in w/the ladies?Some one told us not to if we were wanting eggs to eat.

    I had a rooster once. The crowing at 4am got old fast, plus he was hen-pecked until he got some size to him - then he finally built up his courage and "had relations with" one of my older hens one day. He went crazy and basically rode her to the point where she was broken down and eventually died. He ended up in the freezer after that incident.
     
  5. Lil Chickie Mama

    Lil Chickie Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    California
    My husband and I are new to the chicken scene.:DHe just got done building the coop it holds 4 chickens.They will be in a fenced in yard (5 feet long five feet wide four feet tall)
    1. You can put him in there with them if you want to, but you don't have to have a rooster to keep them laying, they will lay either way. Oh, and you CAN eat a fertilized egg. If he bothers your girls too much by being too amorous (during mating he can pull out their back feathers and bite them)
    2. You should put it up off the ground by hanging if possible or up on a brick or something if you can't hang it. The trough part should be at chicken breast height (then they can't easily poo in it or spill it). I'm using a 5-gallon bucket with holes cut into it, do a search for homemade feeders and waterers. You will want to make sure that the coop is critter proof as much as possible though as mice and bugs will try to eat the food.
    3. It depends on their age, but give them chick starter until they get to about 12 weeks then give them grower feed until they are able to lay eggs. Once they lay eggs give them layer feed. Don't let the rooster eat layer feed though. You can give them some treats and scratch, do a search for it there is a treat chart.
    4. They don't HAVE to have hay or straw, but they like it in the nest boxes. Don't use it for chicks though as it is too slippery and can cause sprattle leg. For the litter use something like pine shavings-nice and absorbent.
    5. For standard size birds you should have about a 12" cube- 12" tall, deep, wide
    6. Close it at night, PREADATORS WILL EAT YOUR BIRDS. If you see any birds that didn't go inside when they were supposed to and fell asleep outside, you can pick them up (they are practically comatose) and put them on the roost.
    7. The time doesn't matter really, but most people seem to feed in the morning so they can open the coop up and let the girls (and guys) out for the day. They should have enough food and water (that cannot fall over) to last them for 2 days even if you plan to feed and water make sure there is plenty, those cute little feather butts eat and drink more than you'd think. Also, make sure they have even MORE water when summer heat rolls through.
    You don't have to be sorry for asking questions, but there is a pretty good search feature that would have answered all your questions. Good luck, I'm getting some chicks this weekend too!
    Extra pointers: Call around to local feed stores to find FOOD GRADE diatomateous earth. You can use it sprinkled in the bedding to rid mites, ants, fleas and other bugs (including flies- it helps dry the doody). You can mix in a little with their food and it will help with internal parasites. You could even give it to your dog or cat or yourself! Just make sure it's FOOD GRADE the kind, the other is altered with heat and chemicals and is poisonous to you and your birds. Hmm, I thought I had something else, but now I forgot. Good luck!
     
  6. bobdmann

    bobdmann Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 27, 2009
    Chesterville O-H-I-O
    Thank You everyone:frow.After I posted these questions last night I then saw the FAQ's page I read it and got a lot of my questions that I posted answered(should've looked first).Anywho:The chickens we are getting are called bantam buff Brahma(2 ladies and 1 rooster).They already grown so I assume that'll be a lil easier(yes/no?).My son wants to show the roost(until he sees all the work involved i'm sure
    We are located in chesterville OHIO.we have a house way out in the country.We have 3 kids a 9yr 8yr and a 2yr old.[​IMG]
    My husband is going to make the feeders and waterer out of a 5gal bucket and a planting tray.as for the nesting boxes I'm all about cheep so the milk crates sound good.All really great ideas.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  7. Bobo

    Bobo Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 19, 2009
    As to the nesting box size...I had my husband make them 12x12. I had temporarily used an old platic recycling bin with hay in it. As it turns out, I bought one grown Barred Rock and one Buff Orphington to go with the Bantam and the little white hen I bought two weeks ago. The big girls have trouble with the nest box and have taken a liking to the bin. So I'm leaving it in their house even though it takes up some room. The small white hen layed in the nest box today and the bantam isn't laying.
     
  8. lelisabeth

    lelisabeth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Elverson, Pennsylvania
    Quote:Definitely easier! I just got my first hens, three Wyandottes, and I am SO GLAD that I got them at 9 weeks old! They are already to go in the coop, so I didn't have to buy all that extra chick brooding equipment. It kept the cost down, and the amount of information I needed to know before hand! I'll get day-olds someday, but for now there is much less to know starting with older girls.

    Brahmas are BEAUTIFUL! I just love their furry legs, and the bantam ones are just precious. You'll love them! But watch out for hawks when they are free-ranging, they are perfect bait.
     
  9. Lil Chickie Mama

    Lil Chickie Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    California
    Hey, all of us were newbies once (look at me, I just started on this site at the beginning of the month!). I agree that adults would likely be easier when you know less, but I ordered day olds because I want to bond with them when their just wittiwe guwys [​IMG] (my goofy chicken/baby voice saying little guys...yes, I'm crazy)
    Good luck and enjoy being a chicken mom!
     
  10. lelisabeth

    lelisabeth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 20, 2009
    Elverson, Pennsylvania
    Quote:Good point, its nice to hand raise them, and get them used to you when you get them as babies (and aren't they adorible?!?). I also have a friend who gets day olds because she wants to know exactly what they eat their whole life. This is more important when you are using them for meat birds. I got mine at a chicken swap from someone who raised them and held them from baby on, so I knew they would be gentle. I definately plan to raise some from egg up some day, just starting off with the easier route!
     

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