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Best Way to Introduce First Hens to Their New Home?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lolliegee, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. Lolliegee

    Lolliegee Songster

    Dec 8, 2008
    Cottage Grove, OR
    Hi All,

    I'm just getting my first 2 hens tomorrow and although there is a ton of information on this forum, I'm having a hard time finding this info. I can find plenty of info on bring home chicks and how to introduce ready to lay hens to an existing flock, but what's the best way to bring my first ones home?

    I have a 6 x 4 coop in a converted dog run. It's not a covered area, but there coop is fairly good sized for the area. I have a cat and there are neighborhood cats as well, plus one dog next door.

    I know the best thing is to bring the home in the evening and put them on their roost, but what else should I do? Should I let them out the next morning or leave them in the coop for a day or two.

    One other question...Do I leave their pop-hole open all the time, or should I close it at night?

    I am so excited to finally be getting chickens...I want to make sure I do things right.

    Thanks so much! [​IMG]
  2. A.J.'s

    A.J.'s Songster

    Nov 11, 2008
    I dont know how your roosting plans are.. but I always try to lock my chickens up for at least 24 hours when I have them in a new situtaion.
    With the run un covered, I would cut the wing feathers from one wing to keep them from flying away. they can almost fly.. certainly they can get out of a 12 foot high run. Mine can.
    Check out how this is done before you do it. do not attempt without studying the procedure.

    I close my pop door at night. its cold out there and Im certain that some coon would love a warm meal and Im just not going to give him an easy entrance. Also i keep a trap..(have a heart type) set at the pop door just incase one comes along and tries.
    I put a timer on a 40 watt bulb and it comes on at 3am and goes off at 7am. I fear that that light would certainly help mr coon or fox pick out the meal of the night if I lefft that door open.
    sure wish i had an automatic opener for it. ive seen them but that is more advanced than I can go. but it does get me out of bed each day to let them out. that can be a good thing... ohhh i dread it already.
  3. Hobbley_Farm

    Hobbley_Farm Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    Pilot Mountain, NC
    I have seen many on this board suggest keeping them locked in the henhouse for a day or more. I never have, but that was because I had SMALL chicken houses before. I would just go out in the evening and gather them up and put them in the coop until they learned it on their own. If you have a larger coop where you can have feed and water, and some places for them to scratch, I would DEFINITELY suggest locking them up for a while so they learn it's their home. MUCH easier. [​IMG]
  4. too much fun

    too much fun Songster

    May 4, 2008
    Happy Valley, Utah
    I would keep them inside for a day or so
  5. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member 10 Years

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    I would also keep them inside for a few days. They will get used to using the roost as their sleeping place, and, as creatures of habit, will naturally return there after a while.

    Definitely shut the pop-hole door every night. Your converted dog-kennel run will serve to keep the chickens in (or should), but will not necessarily protect your birds from anything that can dig or climb. Additionally, weasels (notoriously voracious killers) can easily fit through those big holes in the wire.

    Good luck with your new chickens!
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I agree. Keep them locked in the coop for a few days for starters. Close your pop door at night. The safest place for chickens at night is locked up in a coop.
    As for the cats, you might want to consider rigging some sort of top for your run. Some cats might not climb, but mine is a climber. When we started free-ranging our barn cat had to become a part-time indoor cat. We let her out after the chooks have been locked up in the evenings. I've gone out to the coop at night and found her on the roof! The coop is over 9 ft. high and she jumps from a 15 ft. plus tree to get on the roof. So even if you can control your cat, there's no telling what a neighbors or stray cat might do.
  7. Lolliegee

    Lolliegee Songster

    Dec 8, 2008
    Cottage Grove, OR
    Thanks for all the great advice. My new girls are in a huge box (covered, so they can't get out) in my kitchen. I got home so late today, that what with, making dinner, taking care of kids, getting them off to bed, I didn't get to get out and get the doors put on the coop. That's the last thing I have to do, so I'll be doing that tomorrow.

    I'll definitely be keeping in the coop for a few days to give them time to get used to their new home.

    But, now I've got another question. I've just heard it's likely to snow this weekend. Very unusual for this time of year and not very common for our winters here. We usually only get a few days of snow spread out over the whole winter...not normally more than 2-3 inches at a time. So, the question is...should I let them out if it does snow? Since they're so new to our home, will the snow throw them?

    Thanks all!

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