Bunch of questions, new to chickens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Creat8, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Creat8

    Creat8 New Egg

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    Mar 8, 2012
    Hello, I am new to the world of chickens,
    I lovingly received as a gift 4 week old baby chickens, I have only taken care of baby ducks before but they are obviously different. Right now they have a heat lamp and a broad spectrum poultry feed ( I am confused on what to give them ) as well as clean water. There are two road island reds and two ameraucana's, super cute and already have names. Now I wanted chickens a few years down the road but now they are here and I want to know how to care for them properly. For their coop I wanted to build a small A line structure, I honestly dont want more then 4 girls. However it will be in northern Idaho so I know it gets cold what temp should I start turning on a heat lamp for? I know the reds will do fine but the others I am worried about. Also right now I am living in WA but am moving to Idaho in 2 weeks ( a 6hr drive) what is the best way to transport these little guys? Also do they need regular vet check ups? And I want these girls to make eggs lol many of them what kind of feed should I put them on and when? Any tips on egg production and such I have been trying to read a bunch of these threads to see what I can learn.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

    I'll try a few of these. As to feed, you can get as simple or complex as you wish. And you have a whole lot of options. A "normal" sequence is to feed them a Starter (probably around 22% to 24% protein) the first 4 to 8 weeks, then switch to a 16% Grower until you switch to Layer. At about 20 weeks or when they start to lay, switch to a 16% Layer. The only real difference in the Grower and Layer is the amount of calcium. Growing chicks should not eat excessive calcium. It can cause health problems.

    But many of us don't do it this way. I can't get some of this stuff at my feed store, so I feed a 20% protein combined Starter/Grower for the first few weeks. Somewhere around 12 weeks (it really does not matter exactly when, just when the bag of feed runs out about that age) I switch to a 15% Grower/Developer. Or if those are not in stock when I need them, I use a 20% Flock Raiser.

    Don't get too hung up on it. The "normal" sequence is what the commercial operations do to get the right growth and development while minimizing costs. For us, since we are not feeding thousands of chickens, a little bit of inefficiency is not a disaster and they will still be healthy as long as you don't get carried away. Thge two things I'd advise against is don't feed them excess calcium until they are ready to lay and don't give them a really high protein feed. I've seen studies where feeding them more than 30% protein can possibly cause them harm. But that is a lot of protein.

    You may hear a lot about "medicated" feed. To try to keep my post shorter I won't go into details on it, but many of us don't use it. It does not hurt a thing to use it, but if you keep the brooder dry, it is probably not necessary.

    As far as a brooder, I suggest you make one big enough that you can keep one area fairly warm and let the rest cool off quite a bit. There is a rule of thumb on this forum where you start with the temperature in the range of 90 to 95 degrees the first week and drop it 5 degrees each week, but that is ultra safe. They don't really need it that warm. I keep my brooder in the coop where I heat one area but let the rest cool down to ambient, whatever that happens to be. They find their own comfort zone and I don't have to worry about keeping the whole thing a perfect temperature. They do need to be protective from drafts, though. If your brooder does not have solid walls, put something around the bottom foot or so to keep breezes off them.

    If the chicks are huddled under the lamp and peeping very plaintively, they are too cold. If they are crowding the far edge of the brooder as far from the heat as they can get, they are too warm. Anything in between is perfect.

    Many peope in your climate do not provide heat in the coop after they are feathered out. Chickens have a permanent down coat. They really handle cold a lot better than heat. As long as you provide good ventilation and keep direct breezes off them while they are sleeping, heating the coop is not necessary. How do you provide good ventilation but keep breezes off them? Put your ventilation openings at the top of the coop and put the roost lower down.

    Mine never see the vet. Many vets don't do poultry anyway. Chickens are pretty hardy. As long as you provide the basics of food, water, shelter , and predator protection, they usually thrive.

    I suggest you continue as you are doing. Read up on things, but don't overstress on what you read. You will see a lot of conflicting opinions and viewpoints on this forum, simply because so many different things work and we leep them under so many different conditions.

    Good luck and again, :frow
     
  3. chickensinwasillaAK

    chickensinwasillaAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll throw my 2 cents in here. I'm in Alaska, obvious it gets cold here. Hens can put off about 40BTU of heat from a study I read somewhere, I believe it from my experience. I have two houses, one was down to 16 birds mid winter (12x16 house). No heat provided, they kept the house about 35 degrees. No frostbite, no frozen water. Now, when it got -30 I did turn on a heat lamp and kept the pop door closed, they wouldn't go out in it anyway. I've put a humidistat in both hen houses, if humidity gets to high, it turns on and vents the moisture out. Keeps the windows clear of moisture, hens seem to like it.

    Do what works for you and just watch your birds, they'll let you know if it's to hot or cold. I don't think any special house is needed, I've seen everything from pallets and plywood to small apartments for chickens here.
     
  4. Creat8

    Creat8 New Egg

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    Mar 8, 2012
    Alright I got them some starter they seemed to appreciate it :) Thanks guys for really helping me out.
    Sense my city has a ordinance on the size of a coop and how big it can be. The size of the land I am on now I could only build a coop for 2 maybe 3 birds.... I know that bigger is better and I will probably want more birds later on but I have 4 birds. Basically the coop will sadly be about 5X5 feet inside the outside much bigger, I dont want them to be squished but is there any humane way to fit 4 birds in there or should I try to find a home for one. Even though I have kinda grown to liking them already.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  5. DanEP

    DanEP Chillin' With My Peeps

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    5x5 will be fine for 4 birds and a run of 40 square feet will keep them just fine. A little bigger on the run would be nice tho. I startd with a 8x8 coop with a 8 x 20 run and had 16 buff orps in there and they did fine.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Some of those city restrictions can be rough, but if you can, I'd suggest a 4 x 6 instead of a 5 x 5, simply because most building materials come in 4' and 8' dimensions. You'll get a lot less waste and have less cutting if you can build to the materials' dimensions.

    There are a lot of different ways of building coops and runs. The "Coops" tab on the top of this page can give you a lot of ideas. Check out the Learning Center up there too.

    In your climate, I'd suggest you try to build at least part of your run where it provides shelter in the winter from wind and snow, including blowing snow. It's an effective way of increasing their living space during the bad weather. Don't forget to design for snow load if you put a roof. Some people use tarps on the sides of the run to stop blowing snow, but in the city you probably want something more attractive.

    I'll also give you some more reading homework.. I think these articles are really good for someone building a coop. The lady that wrote these was in Ontario, so she was familiar with colder weather. And she said she lived in a swamp, so she is familair with wet conditions.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run
     
  7. Creat8

    Creat8 New Egg

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    Mar 8, 2012
    Thanks guys so much they are super cute and their tail feathers are growing in. They are eating so much now and love exploring although the rain seems to freak them out.
     

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