Chicken Stress!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by marbles, May 23, 2012.

  1. marbles

    marbles Hatching

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    Mar 19, 2012
    Hi folks,

    So we got our first three chickens after months of preparations and the first 24 hours has been an adventure to say the least... I'd really appreciate some advice on the following:

    1) When you remove chickens from their first (and only previous) home to a new home/coup, is it best to leave them in the coup for a few days before letting them out? We have 2 x 1yr olds and 1 x 3yr old. We made the mistake of bringing them home at night (car journey), then encouraging them out of the coup the following morning. Within seconds two had flow over the fencing (4ft high chicken wire). We left them to range around all day hoping they would head back, but one roosted in a nearby tree. The one who stayed int he coup all day then decided to join her and flew out. The other just settled down in some long grass. Concerned for their safety we waited until it was dark, expecting they would be easy to pick up, but they stuggled like made and we ended up chasing them round for 3 hours until we eventually got them back in the coup!

    This morning they are *really* nervous and so we've left them in the coup as I think they need to get used to their new home. Is this the best thing to do? My instinct is to let them have a few nights roosting in the coop to get used to it (they haven't slept up on the bar yet). How many days/night should we leave them inside so they know it is their home? It's an airy 4x4 ft coup so they are not crammed in.

    2) As they are not point of lay, and they previously were fed layer pellets, is it okay to give them veggie cuttings, or will that mess up their insides, especially whilst they are stressed out? We somehow want to make them feel at home, but don't want to make things worse for them?

    3) Is there anything you can recommend to help make them less stressed? Also, will they eventually come round to being comfortable around us, or are just some chickens always nervous?

    4) Do you latch down the egg box lid (our nesting boxes are accessible from outside the coup? When I went in this morning to give them some food they all bundled into one next box and it struck me that they might figure out that if they push up the lid will open and they can fly out... I have put rocks on the lid for now, but is it worth latching it? Also, from a predator viewpoint, could they get in this way?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hello! Yes, when I get new hens, I always lock them in the coop and attached run for two weeks. My run has a roof on it though. Since your's can escape the run, and your coop is roomy as you say, then I would lock them in for at least a full seven days, so they get used to things, or you could buy some top flight netting to put over your run fence, to keep them from flying out, then you could let them out into the run each day too, which would be better for them, I think.

    I would clip one wing on your hens, since they're flying. Now, you know your older hen will not lay eggs for long. Chickens are born with all the eggs they're ever going to lay, already inside their bodies like little seeds. So after year two, egg laying decreases and then one day--NOTHING.

    I have a four year old hen that no longer lays, and a five year old hen that doesn't lay. I'm attached to those two though, so they get to retire with me, but I usually don't keep hens much longer than two years.
     
  3. marbles

    marbles Hatching

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    Mar 19, 2012
    Thanks Chickmom.

    I was told that the 3yr old Barr Rock will keep laying for about 5 years, but maybe they are being optimistic? How much does the laying rate drop after year two - is it quite substantial?

    Iroincally, I just had a call for about some point of lay ISA Browns which I wasn't expecting, which I could take today!

    What do most people do with non-layers? I'm assuming older birds are not good meat birds? We also have chicks on the way, and depending on the hatch and female rate, we might need to make space for?
     

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