Expanding my flock and need advice on a few things....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenHawk12, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chirping

    May 7, 2015
    I use "flock" loosely. I have 3 BOs. We started as newbies last may with 5 chicks. 1 dropped randomly dead earlier this year, another was eaten by an animal overnight (we think a weasel, because it's head was eaten). 1 of our remaining 3 has been broody almost non-stop since about March, with breaks of only a week or two in between.

    They have a 4X8 foot coop raised on posts 3 feet high, and an enclosed 10X16 foot run. Sometimes we let them out in the yard, but not for too long because we have young children and the poop gets too much if they are out too much.

    My dad built the coop and funded it for us, so we didn't have much say in the construction. There was no roost, so the hens got used to sleeping on the floor of the coop. We have since installed a secure board roost about 4 inches wide and steps to get up to it, but I can't get them to use it. I've even tried going out there after dark and putting them on it and they freak out and jump off.

    If I dont block off the egg boxes at night, they will sleep (and poop!) in the egg boxes.

    We have had on-and-off egg eating (I can't figure out who the culprit is), on-and-off egg laying outside the egg box, and pretty much at least 1 broody almost at all times.

    They are just over 1 year old, and I'm pretty much getting like 1-3 eggs per week total between all 3 of them.

    I started them off when we got them on Scratch and Peck feed, but after a year we needed to cut out budget, so I switched to pellets that I get at TSC for half the price. I feel like that's where it all started going downhill, and I recently (2 weeks or so ago) went back to Scratch and Peck.

    I got fed up with constant broodiness and virtually NO eggs, so I finally ordered 4 fertilized eggs from Murray McMurray for the broody to sit on. But as a newbie who's chicken keeping seems to be an absolute mess, I need some advice to get things back into ship shape before these eggs hatch!

    -The eggs won't arrive until sometime next week, and of course, the broody just broke yesterday. If I don't have a broody when they arrive, can I refrigerate the eggs until one goes broody? Or is there a was to encourage one to go broody? I have 2 fake eggs. Will leaving them in the coop or egg box help?

    -Any suggestions as to how to get these stinkers sleeping on the roost? And NOT sleeping in the egg boxes?

    -Once the chicks hatch, how do I put their food and grit out? In the coop or the run? And how do I keep them from eating the big girls' food and grit, and keep the big girls from eating theirs? Or will the mama take care of that?

    -I read that it takes about 23 days to hatch....does that depend on breed?

    -What else do I need to know? Such a mess of trouble, these BO's are. The new eggs I got are a different breed.
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    My first though is to cancel the egg order, and look into replacing your hens. Lots of folks cherish broodies and would love to have them and let them be mommas to their heart's content. Honestly, if you lived near me, I'd swap you for three good layers [​IMG]. Maybe you can find some one near you who would be interested in that?

    Can you post a pic of your coop, including the inside? We may be able to trouble shoot what's going on there, but pics help a lot.

    Getting them to roost where you want is probably a placement/structural issue. Will await pics

    Getting them to lay in the nest box may be the same, or it may be linked to the broody. When I have a broody, sometimes I get eggs outside cause she's too mean for another hen to come lay with her.

    Egg eating---sometimes linked to protein, sometimes to boredom, sometimes just opportunistic when an egg breaks. Any thoughts on which it may be? I'm not sure how much protein your scratch and peck has, or what you're feeding from TSC.

    Back to setting eggs-- you also have a liklihood of getting at least half cockerels, do you have a plan for those?

    Instead of setting eggs, I'd ask your feed stores if they're going to have a fall order of chicks. If you want to raise up some more chicks, I'd to that route. You're getting sexed pullet and they've already survived shipping.

    If you go the egg route--there are good articles about shipped eggs on the learning center. You DO NOT want to refridgerate them. Coolish room temp, pointy end down.

    Baiting the nest with the fake eggs cans ure encourage a hen to go broody.

    Incubation is 21 days.

    I'd feed everyone starter. Momma usually broods her babies on the ground of the run at first, then gets them back into the coop. I feed and water in the run, so that's fine. Just make sure the littles can reach the food and water.

    I hope you get things figured out. Keeping hens is supposed to be fun, sounds like you have more stress than you'd like.
    3 people like this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Contact your feed store, or your county extension agent looking for a local poultry club. This time of year, county fairs are another good place to meet people with birds for sale.

    As Donrae says, a lot of chicken people want one or two good broody hens. However, none of us want a entire flock of broody hens, cause one does not get eggs. In your set up, you probably do not want any broody hens at all, at least not for a year or two. Sell or swap the birds you have for some layers, and a lot of your problems will go away.

    Start over with some layers. This will be a lot more fun.

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    You've been given good advice, but BO's should be better layers than that. Are any molting? Were the pellets you gave them layer pellets? I just have to wonder if a switch in food would help egg production?
    What breed of eggs did you order? With my luck if I ordered four eggs I would have four new cockerels.
  5. Egg production takes proper feeding..Scratch grains do not fill the proper nutrition of laying hens. Layer pellets and oyster shell need to be fed.
    Getting new Chicks will not help...
    Concentrate on the hens you have...I would ....
    To get them roosting, provide proper roosts...I use 2x4s flat side up....
  6. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chirping

    May 7, 2015
    I'm not feeding them scratch.....Scratch & Peck is a company that sells whole grain, non-gmo layer feed at 18% protein. They also get free choice grit and oyster shell. And the6 have a 2x4 wide side flat roost but won't use it.

    It's primarily the one particular hen that keeps going broody. I live in a pretty suburban area. There are a few people in my town that have chickens, but not many and I have to drive 45 minutes to my "local" tractor supply company. Plus my kids are attached to these hens so I don't see trading one happening.

    Thanks for all the suggestions....I got 4 Red Star eggs. If we get any roosters we will try to keep them until the neighbors complain. If they do, there is a guy a few blocks away with a bunch of chickens including some roosters and we will see if he wants them. If not, we're going to learn how to cull a rooster I guess!

    I will try to post some pics tomorrow. My kids have been begging for more chickens and I'm annoyed at buying supermarket eggs so I think we won't cancel the order. Truthfully I think if it weren't for that one headache chicken, it would be better. Any chance she will redeem herself by being a goodmommy? Because I want more eggs bUT I really don't want to brood chicks inside the house again
  7. I see.....Ok.
    Up to you about the broody hen....

    Good luck
  8. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chirping

    May 7, 2015
    I was finally able to figure out how to get the pictures off of my phone and onto my computer, so here are the pics of the coop.

    [​IMG]back door drops down for cleanout

    [​IMG]this is the roost we added, with makeshift steps so they can get up

    [​IMG]the roof isn't ideal. Lots of beams. Hard for them to fly up, and not much to attach a roost to. Hence our makeshift roost and steps.

    [​IMG]Their door to get in is at the far right. I usually leave that open all the time because the run is enclosed.

    [​IMG]View of coop and run. 7 feet tall. Underneath coop is also part of the run, enclosed with buried hardware cloth.

    They still won't use the roost. I've gone outside after dark and put them on there and they hop off. And sometimes they sleep on the far side of the coop where I can't really reach them, especially in the dark. I don't know what else to do. And if these chicks hatch, will the chicks then not roost when they get bigger, either?

    I can't get rid of any of these PITA hens (well, 2 are a PITA, 1 is a sweetie that my kids named Softie) because my kids will lose their minds if I do. So I may as well use the broody ones to hatch chicks.

    Also, now I think they are molting. Feathers everywhere and no eggs at all. Will a hen go broody while molting? Please tell me yes, because these eggs are supposed to arrive this week!
  9. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chirping

    May 7, 2015
    Now I am suddenly finding feathers EVERYWHERE, and not a single egg (whereas before I would get a random one every few days), so I do think they are molting now :-(

    I ordered Red Star eggs. I'm hoping at least half will be hens. They are sex linked so I should know right away at least.
  10. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    A couple of questions hit me.
    With my own eggs, my hatchability is close to 100%, in the high nineties. My figures with shipped eggs are dismal (Are you picking your eggs up or having them shipped?) , around 25%. My one good figure is that with shipped eggs I've gotten mostly girls, about 70% Very few cockerels have hatched. (Wondering if they are weaker and die off in the egg or don't grow?
    So my thought was since sex link production birds around here are pretty reasonable, Usually $3.00 sexed for day old pullets. If you got from a hatchery the price is similar except shipping would be added on and often they can be as low as 2.45. With that in mind would it be easier to just get sexed day old pullets? You would have all the right sex and wouldn't have the hatching problems of shipped eggs.
    I've never had a molting hen go broody. Often a hen will go from being broody to molting.

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