Can you indulge a newbie?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by BedHead, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. BedHead

    BedHead In the Brooder

    Dec 17, 2009
    I hope I picked the right section for this!

    Since i've never kept hens, I am wondering if those of you with experience keeping backyard chickens can tell me a little bit about a 'typical' day.

    What is involved in taking care of your hens? I hope to have 4 or 5 in my back yard this spring, and would really appreciate hearing from you experienced folks about what you do on a daily basis. Maybe list what you do from the time you get up till you go to bed that involves your chickens. Also, how it differs from summer to winter.

    Thank you [​IMG] This place is such a great resource!!

  2. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    When I get up, I make coffee. Then I feed my finches. Then I go out to the girls and let them out of the coop. I make sure they have water and feed. I give them all a look to make sure no one is sick or injured. I check for eggs.

    If I'm home, I go out during the day just to sit with them or watch them, check for eggs, give them a look over.

    Dinner time, I go check for eggs, look them over, give them a snack,

    Dusk I do a headcount, look them over, and lock them up. That's my typical chicken day.
  3. possumqueen

    possumqueen Songster

    Aug 17, 2009
    Monroe, North Carolina
    Hey, Bedhead,

    I, like you, will be getting chickens this spring. But I'm getting back in after a couple years without. I miss the chickens terribly. The addiction is just too hard to resist.

    Here's my favorite schedule for a day.

    get up.

    get dressed.

    let the dog out in the back yard.

    drink coffee.

    read paper.

    walk out to the coop. If it's on the schedule for that day move the coop and pen, then let the girls out -- if it's daylight. If it's winter. If it's summer then I let the girls out before I drink the coffee.

    check their food and water. Look for eggs. Dig around in the compost heap for grubs, and watch the girls munch on them.

    do other stuff, like go to work if it's a weekday, or piddle around the yard if it's not.

    Piddle around the yard means let the girls out to range around. Try to direct their attention to the compost heap if I haven't turned it lately.

    afternoon: redo food and water and check for eggs again. If it's summer and the girls are in their pen then I go out before bed to check on them and say good night and lock the door. If it's winter I do that before dinner.

    There you have it.

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  4. stephhassler

    stephhassler Songster

    Jan 30, 2009
    Eastern Iowa
    I think you'll find a wide range on here from folks who spend a lot of time each day to those who spend less time. I free range my birds, so when I get up in the morning I take out fresh food and water and open the coop door. I go out mid-afternoon and collect eggs. I find if I collect in the a.m., there will be more eggs later in the day, so I just wait and get all the eggs once. Then my husband shuts the coop door when he gets home from work - by then all the chickens have gone back inside to roost for the night.

    I use deep litter method in the coop. So on occasional weekends (maybe twice a winter) I will spend a hour or two in coop turning the bedding and adding fresh litter. In the spring and fall I do a full coop clean and take all the litter out and put it on the garden. This usually takes an entire morning or afternoon. Summer vs. winter is not all that much different. Winter of course is a little harder. I find the water needs to be changed more frequently and the feeders filled up more often. Sometimes the water heater gets unplugged or the gfi trips.

    That's the bare minimum required of me to keep chickens.- it's really not much time. That doesn't include the time we spend out in the coop cuddling with the girls - and sometimes boys. It also doesn't include the time my son spends with them. He has been known to nap on porch swing with a hen on a warm summer afternoon. You may find the chickens to be addicting. I enjoy just sitting outside and watching them - but not right now - it's too darn cold here. Waiting for a spring warm up.

    Confined chickens might take more time? I don't really know, hopefully someone who keeps chickens in that manner will chime in to give you another perspective.

  5. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Songster

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    In mild weather: go out first thing int he morning, and make sure they all have food and water, check for eggs. tend to all the other critters too, and go about my day, usually checking for eggs several times a day.
    Evening, check all critters food and water, and put them to bed. My chickens freerange, so I close the barn door at night. If it is really hot, make sure they have enough water.
    I am outside an awful lot in the summer.

    cold weather: Go out first thing in the morning, feed and water the critters. open up the barn door incase they want to go out.--usually that's a no in the winter. This winter I am not getting alot of eggs, but if I were, I would go out to check one or two times during the day for eggs, cuz you don't want them frozen.
    Evening, feed and water the critters again, and put them to bed.

    I only water my critters twice a day in winter. The horses, sheep and chickens have electric water bowl/buckets, but the rabbits and quail do not. They are fine with twice a day watering.

    Of course, while you are out, make sure everyone is doing okay, and do a head count at night. I do deep litter in the winter, so every now and again, I throw down some extra straw on the barn floor. Taking care of the manure from the other animals is a different story all-together.
  6. LarryPQ

    LarryPQ Easter Hatch!!

    Jul 17, 2009
    Little more work here in the summer. I scrub the water dishes twice a day & check water levels. Too hot to risk it.

    Most days I leave before the sun comes up, so when I get home I put the dogs away, let the chooks out, turn over the bedding (deep litter method), get the eggs, give them treats, then go inside and make dinner. After the sun goes down, I go outside & close up the coop. Most times the chooks have put themselves to bed.

    During the winter, I try to spend as much time as possible outside---since it is too hot for the kids to play outside in the summer. So from October to April, all weekends are spent gardening, playing outside, messing with the coop, feeding the chickens, doing projects, giving neighbor kids cups of scratch so THEY can feed the chickens. The chickens know to come runnig when I open the back door.
  7. Teach97

    Teach97 Bantam Addict

    Nov 12, 2008
    Hooker, OK
    here is my schedule...

    slap alarm....wish i could slap stupid rooster that doesn't know to wait for alarm or that alarms are not needed for weekends

    if weekday....don't do anything when it is warm....when cold...make small people in house take water outside...builds character
    if weekend....holler at rooster to shut-up...usually go out and feed and water and clean something....or yell at smaller people to clean something..depends on behavior during week.

    if weekday...feed water look for eggs...tell rooster that I hate him and he should shut up we know the sun is up
    if weekend....feed water look for eggs...throw something at rooster...yell at the small person because they didn't clean the thing they should have cleaned

    weekends....periodically through out day..wander out with scraps and look at cool birds....occasionally make threatening remarks and jesters and stupid rooster that is still crowing because he is da man

    yes I have a rooster that is currently irritating me....but he is so pretty!

  8. stephhassler

    stephhassler Songster

    Jan 30, 2009
    Eastern Iowa
  9. danielle82

    danielle82 A Good Egg

    Apr 27, 2009
    Tonasket Wa
    Taking care of my chickens on a daily basis involves
    Feeding them in the morning, I run out some layer crumbles in the morning before I take the kids to school. When I get back from dropping the two off at school the 3 year old and I do the animal care. It is about 8:30 by now. We feed them leftovers from breakfast (oatmeal, pancakes etc) as well as whatever else we have produce etc with layer crumbles, then he checks the nest boxes and I dump and re-fill the water. If I woke up earlier I would do that in the morning before getting off to the school, But I don't so I do it when I get back.
    In the afternoon we feed again and check the water, sometimes it has some dirty stuff I pull out.
    At night I go out with a flashlight and count everyone to make sure every one is safe and sound, if its cold out I lock them up tight, lately Ive left the pop door open at night.
    iF its freezing out have to do more with the watering situation. Like change out the frozen water for unfrozen 2 more times daily.

    edited to add that I bleach feeders and waterer one day each week, more often in the summer as needed.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010

  10. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I'm a newbie, myself. So what I tell you may be off kilter some, and more experienced members will probably have a whole lot more and probably better things to share.
    Having said that, here goes my days:

    Weekdays, I work 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and I must be on the road by 7 a.m. So I perform these tasks in the dark right now on weekdays. (Not a lot of fun.)
    -Refill the feeder.
    -Clean and fill the waterer. Or, alternately, top off the 5 gal bucket gravity waterer - after I fix the leak. That's why I'm using a regular waterer right now.....
    -Open the pop door from the coop to let my 7 chickens pile out into the attached, covered pen. The coop and pen are inside a larger, enclosed fenced run area with bird netting over the top at about 6 feet. (I use the small, attached pen for a sense of extra security from predators.)
    -Open the door from the covered pen (it's only 2 feet high, six feet square) to let the chickens out into the larger run area.

    After work, it's dark, and the chickens have put themselves to roost in the coop already. I lift the coop lid to perform a body count, apologizing for disturbing them.
    -Close and lock the pop door.
    -Close and lock the covered pen door.

    Weekends, I let the chickens out of the coop around the same time, actually, maybe a few minutes later.... when it's slightly more light outside. By then, the rooster has crowed from inside the coop. Yah, yah, I'm coming. And I have treats!
    -Toss some BOSS (black oil sunflower seed) into a dog food dish I use for treats I don't feed to the chickens by hand.
    -Hand feed some shredded mozarella cheese to the crew.

    -Clean and fill the waterer. This weekend I'm going to fix the gravity waterer so I can get rid of that little waterer. Then I'll just need to top off the 5 gallon bucket.
    -Clean, dry and fill the feeder.
    -Open the back of the coop and rake out the poop under the roost into a tub, which I'll dump on my compost heap in another part of the yard when I'm all done with morning tasks.
    -Fluff up the deep litter (pine shavings) with the rake and maybe add some more, depending on its appearance.
    -Check the 1 gallon milk jug waterer hung in the corner of the coop to see if it needs more water. (This is in case they are stuck in the coop too long before I can let them out.)
    -Empty and refill the galvanized, metal, strip feeder tucked away at one end of the coop. (So they don't starve, y'know. In the night.)

    -Make a complete check of the run enclosure fence, making sure there aren't any weak places or new openings made by my elderly dachshund who really, really, wants to get in there and kill another chicken.

    -Talk, and listen, to the chickens as they tell me their stories.
    -Pull up a plastic chair, wipe off the chicken poop (Bernadette, Buffy, Greta and Lacey roost on its arms and back during the week), sit down and wait for chickens to hop into my lap. Sometimes I have 3 - one IN my lap and one on each arm of the chair. Give them a good skritch on the back of their necks. Give 'em a good look-over to see how they're doing. Check for external parasites. (Freak out if I find any.)

    I try to make sure I am in the yard when the chickens start to put themselves to bed at night. I just love watching that process; it takes about 45 minutes. A couple of the chickens, plus the rooster, run and out of the coop, holding discussions within it regarding who gets to roost where and next to whom, etc. Occasionally there is a loud BAWK! when an upstart picks the wrong spot and Buffy or Carl lets her know she's made a mistake.

    When the last chicken is settled in and there aren't any more curious beaks poked out the door to see what might be going on outside, I close up the pop door and lock it.
    -Clean and refill the waterer, because the hose is not close and I'd rather have that done ahead of time, instead of dealing with cold water early the next morning.
    -Check the level of the feed in the feeder, just to see how much I need to refill the next morning. (Weekdays I don't have the light or time to do that, so I tend to waste feed on weekday nights, by overfilling the feeder in the dark.)
    -Close and lock the covered pen door.
    -Exit the run and make SURE the makeshift gate is well-secured behind me.

    That's pretty much what I do. I got my chickens as 3-day old chicks in October, so they're not laying yet; the oldest is 16 weeks old.

    Hope this was helpful!

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