Does this sound right? Need advice.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
I'm new to owning chickens and I need some advice. I've read a lot, and asked a lot of questions, but I want to make sure I'm taking good care of my chickens. I recently bought one barred rock and one partridge rock. They're 7-8 weeks old. They're beautiful little chickens. I'll post some pictures below. They live in my back yard here in Chapel Hill. I've got about a third of an acre for them to roam around in. Theres some low branching trees and plenty of shady areas and leaves for them to scratch around in. Temperatures here right now reach the high 60s during the day and drop to the 40s. At night I close them up in their coop which is 3ft by 4ft. Inside they have a roosting pole, water, and food. The floor is covered with straw. When I wake up in the morning I let them out. They're always down the ramp before it hits the ground. Outside they have a nesting box attached, although they wont need it for sometime. During the day I leave them in the backyard. They never try to get out of the fence and are always scratching around in the leaves and eating bugs when I check on them. Right now I feed them canned peas and corn and scratch. This is what the 'chicken lady' at Southern States told me to do, although I worry they're not getting enough nutrition.

Does anything I'm doing sound wrong? Is there anything I should be doing that I'm not? Are they too young to be in the backyard all day? Should my nesting box be on the outside of the coop? Will they use it when they get bigger? Is it getting too cold at night for them? I worry about them a lot and want to make sure they're happy.

Also, only one of them is named. The Barred Rock, her name is Sadie. Any ideas on chicken names? I had the Partridge rock named Helga, but my house-mates didn't approve, so as of now we call the Partridge Brown Chicken.

Sadie seems like she's being mean to Brown Chicken. Whenever I go outside with something for them, they come running, but Sadie has to get to me first and if she doesn't, she'll peck at Brown Chicken. Also, whenever Brown Chicken finds worms, Sadie will try to steal them from her. Is this something I need to be concerned about? I worry that Brown Chicken isn't getting enough to eat.
The chickens are at the end of the album. There's also a picture of the coop and quite a few of the backyard.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.

First of all Welcome!

A couple of things:

Do you have a heat lamp for them at night? I would think that because there are only 2 of them and it is still chilly at nights, I would run a heat lamp. From what I have read on here, you should probably run one until they are between 8-10 weeks of age.

As far as food, they must have the chick starter/grower feed until they are laying and then should be switched to layer pellers/crumbles. I think that scratch is a treat. There have been quite a few posts on her lately about canned corn. If you go to the seach function, maybe you can find some information about it. From what I have read, it has too much sodium and should not be given to your chicks/chickens at least not regularly.

Have fun! If you have more questions, don't be afraid to ask. Again, Welcome to BYC.
Right now I feed them canned peas and corn and scratch. This is what the 'chicken lady' at Southern States told me to do, although I worry they're not getting enough nutrition.

A prime example of feedstore personnel being ignorant! No, they are getting completely inadequate nutrition. They need starter/grower or just plain grower if you can find it at that age and NO scratch, NO corn at all. Scratch is candy basically. If you want them to have proper growth and be good layers, they need much better nutrition.​
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Hi, Dylan! They are both so pretty and TAME! The brown chick has some auburn in her so I would name her Aubrey. I also like the name, "Nutmeg", which I will probably use some day myself.
I read last night that canned corn (probably peas, too) have too much salt for chickens. Most universities that have departments that study chickens will advise you to feed them a well-balanced complete chicken feed and NOTHING ELSE!!!!! Most of us on this forum can't resist feeding them treats, and the key is MODERATION! Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) are a healthy treat you can feed by hand or scatter by the handful (one for just two birds) daily. When I have sweet seedless grapes, I let each chick have a couple. They need to be cut at least in half. I quarter each grape because I have some bantams in my flock. Your chicks should probably have an additional source of heat at night if the temp is 40 deg. F or below, but they don't look as if they're suffering!
You do have that one picture of them huddling together in their coop for warmth and the brown bird would still be chilly on its exposed side at night. One thing for certain...your chicks aren't hurting for attention!
By the way, cracked corn and scratch are cold weather treats which are best given on cold mornings sparsely and roost time. They make the birds hot, so don't feed that in hot weather. Starter/grower feed until they lay their first eggs then switch to layer crumbles or pellets.
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I assume by Chapel Hill you mean...NC?

I'd forget totally what the lady at the feed store told you...she's on the wrong page this time.
Get them some chick starter to give them the needed nutrients they need at this time in life.
As for heat...that is totally the decision of the owner. Yes it gets chilly here, in fact, about the same as there. (If you were referring to Chapel Hill, NC I'm an hour North of you.)
If the coop you have built is draft free, IMHO, they will be fine. At 6 weeks of age, my chicks go into the big pen and I've never had any light/heat source there...but again, that decision is yours and the ones I"ve lost have been older birds, not the younger ones.
The nest box on the outside MIGHT become an issue due to the fact with them free ranging they will have so many chances to find a "better" location to lay.
Personally...I'd move it inside, where when they start laying you can keep them cooped until they learn that is where you want them to lay.
None the less...other than the feed...I do believe you are on the right track!
Enjoy them Dylan

I should have looked at the photos first!!!
New suggestions...when they get close to the point of you a little fence around the front of the coop where the nest box is located where they will be confined to that area or you might want to try putting the "fake egg" in the nest box and from time to time as they get older placing them in the nest to get acqainted with what it's there for.
Chickens are nosey by nature so they might just take a liking to the set up you now have!
And, it looks like they've found a home where people ENJOY them!
That rocks!
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Thanks for your suggestions. I didn't think they should just be eating scratch. I'll go get some grower feed asap.

The man I bought the chicks from had them outside with no heating lamp. He told me they're used to sleeping outside at night. I figured they'd be warm enough and that's why I didn't get them a lamp. Is there any way I can tell if they're too cold? Will they feel cold if they are?

What if I opened the nesting box from the inside of the coop and closed it off in the back? Would they be more likely to use it then?

Also, what about grit. The southern states 'chicken woman' told me they wouldn't need it until they're a few months old. Was this right? Will they get the grit they need now from the backyard?

I'm pretty worried about something getting at the girls. The dogs are now banned from the back yard unless on a leash. When they get bigger will the dogs still be a big problem or will they leave them alone or does it depend on my dog? Is there a good way to train your dog that chickens aren't to be eaten? I check on them about every 45 min because I worry about them. Out cat, Silly, was in the back yard the other day. She's quite the hunter and I was very worried about what she'd do. She didn't notice them until they got close to her. She hissed at them and ran away. She's a small cat and I worry a stray whose bigger might bother them. Will cats bother little chickens? Also, I now we have hawks in the area. How worried about them should I be? The backyard as a lot of cover with the deck and the low trees. When they're bigger do I still have to worry about them being eaten by hawks? Are they smart enough to run away? I notice when I'm trying to catch them, they forget pretty fast that they're being pursued and go back to scratching.

How long will it take them to look like mature hens? They look too much like Hokies right now for my taste.

Last night when it was getting dark I went outside to see if the chicks would go into their coop on their own. When I got out there, they were on their way to the ramp. When they got there, they stood in front of the opening for a minute, and then both tried to simultaneously walk through. Needless to say, both their chicken butts didn't fit through. It was quite funny.

I am in Chapel Hill, NC.

From what I see of the coop, it looks like it's all enclosed? There is no window in the back for a light source is there?
The lack of light might be a problem for the girls, because chickens do not see well in the dark and they will avoid going into very dark places. I'd consider cutting a hole in the side and putting in a window or even screwing on a piece of plexiglass. Anything that will allow light to go into the coop where they can see how to move about in it right before dark.
Most chickens will mature into pullets at from about 16 to 20 weeks of age and begin to lay. Some might lay a little sooner and some even start laying later. There are so many different variables that come into play. But when they get about a year or so old, they will normally be that size.

Moving the nest box inside just might get their fancy and encourage them to lay in the box. While it's not 100% correct, a lot of chickens will lay befor noon, so when (IF) you put the light source in, make sure the nest box is not directly in front of the opening on the other side. When it comes time to lay...the chickens enjoy a darker place for laying, but again they have to be able to see enough to get around.
They are two pretty pullets...looks like to me a dominique and a speckled sussex...two very hardy breeds.
They needed grit the moment they ate anything other than starter, but if they were outside, perhaps they were getting some on their own. At their age, they're probably already feathered out and if they've already been without a heat lamp, it may not be necessary now, depending on how cold it's been getting. Till they're about six weeks old and fully feathered, they should have had heat, though. Seems not too many people around there know much about chickens, Dylan. Wish people could have given you better advice. NEVER listen to that woman at the feedstore again! She's clueless. I'm sorry to seem angry, but it's not at you, but at these people dispensing the absolute WRONG advice who should know better!
I've never trusted my dogs with chickens, so I can't comment on that. You should be worried about hawks for sure, even when they're grown. They cant run fast enough to escape a hawk's dive, most likely, even if they see it coming.

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