First Time Chicken Owner....Questions..........

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by petitesphinx, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. petitesphinx

    petitesphinx Songster

    Aug 20, 2008
    We're newbies here and with chickens...this what we did, if it's wrong, please let us know so we can do it right....:

    We turned an old barn into a coop and nailed shelves up on the wall for nests.

    Used metal poles from chain link fence as roosts in the corners.

    Need to wait till payday to build the run, so we have half a wall made out of pressedwood and the other half made out of chicken wire nailed to the sides.


    When do the chickens lay the eggs-morning, night?

    Do the nesting boxes have to be low to the ground, or lower than the roost pools in the corner?

    How soon can we eat the egss after I see them in the morning?

    How long do we need to let the eggs sit in the nest to see if the hens will hatch them out before we take them to eat?

    We have Bantams (2 poullets-1 rooster), Dominique (4 poulets-1 rooster), and another type of chicken (3 hens) that's really big; they seem to peck at eachother not their own kind. Is this ok, will they work it out or will they kill eachother?

    If you let the chickens out in the property during the day, how do you get them back into the coop at night?
  2. Heather J

    Heather J Songster

    May 29, 2008
    Congratulations on getting chickens. I just love mine.

    OK, I'm going to try and take these in order: Your coop sounds fine. You'll want to put a lip in front of the nest shelf to keep the bedding in. You'll probably want to put dividers between the nests, most people go about 12 inches, but mine are more like 20 inches, and that's fine. They generally like some privacy so some kind of sides is ideal. If there is a rail for them to jump up to, then get into the nest, you can have them several feet off the ground, if you aren't going to provide a rail, lower is better. If you are raising silkies, right on the ground is best since they don't fly.

    The roost is probably OK for short term, but you'll want to change it to something they can grab onto, like wood. Some people use tree branches, but most people use a 2x4 with the 4" side up. If you live in a cold climate, this is important because it allows the chickens to tuck their feet under them at night to keep them warmer. And yes, you do want you roosts taller than the nest or they'll sleep in the nests and poop in them.

    Some chickens lay in the morning, mine mostly lay early afternoon, but I've had them lay into the early evening a couple of times.

    Within about a minute of the egg being laid the shell is dry and hard, they can be eaten immediately after that if you like. As for leaving them to be hatched, most hens start acting like they want to stay on the nest and sit on the eggs--that's your clue that they want to hatch. usually they are on and off the nest for a couple of days before they decide to sit permanently. Some breeds are great at hatching, others, not so much. Also, some people here have said it's best not to let them sit on a clutch until they are about a year old because it is really hard on the birds.

    Chickens have to establish a pecking order, so don't worry about the pecking unless they actually start pulling feathers or drawing blood--it's normal and will continue indefinitely. As long as no damage is being done, it's nothing to worry about.

    Your temporary solution for the run sounds fine. Personally, I like to keep new birds confined to the coop for several days at least before letting them into the run anyway so they get the idea that the coop is where they go at night to sleep. it's possible when you get the run up you may have to go out and find a couple of birds and bring them in a couple of times. this is normal and they will soon get the idea of where they belong.

    If you are going to set up a real run, (you indicated you were) I would let them adjust to the run for at least a week before letting them out to free range, then start with an hour or two before dark for a while before letting them out for longer periods. if they are familiar with their home, they are less likely to try sleeping somewhere else. Mine all come home at dusk andput themselves to bed. if you are concerned they won't, try putting a light in the coop and they will go toward the light.

    Good luck!
  3. greenmulberry

    greenmulberry Songster

    Jul 17, 2007
    Make the nest boxes lower than the roosts, this will help prevent the chickens from wanting to sleep in them. You do not want them sleeping in them, because they poo in their sleep, and a poopy nest box = poopy eggs.

    You can eat the eggs immediately after you find them.

    Most chickens seem to lay eggs in the morning to early afternoon. I have occasionally found an egg laid in the afternoon, but never at night for me.

    Keep your chickens in their "house" for a few days. Then, one day in the late afternoon, let them out to free range. Just when it starts to become early evening, take some feed and toss it in the hen house, calling "here chick chick" and teach them that when you say that, it means you have food for them. This will teach them where to go roost at night. Always, when you bring them treats or food, say "here chick chick", and they will learn to come when you call. This is very valuable if they are free ranging and you see a stray dog! You can call them and they will come running back to you.

    Once they are used to roosting in the henhouse at night, they will start to go in automatically at dusk.
  4. needmorechickens!

    needmorechickens! Songster

    Jul 2, 2008
    West TN
    Well first...[​IMG]

    Sounds like you're doing pretty good.
    The metal roosts won't be good in winter...they'll get cold. It is best to use a 2x4 with the wide side up and the corners rounded or at least sanded smooth.

    the nest boxes need to be lower than the roost and don't let them in them until its almost time to start laying...

    they lay any time of day that they want...each one is different

    you can take an egg directly from the coop to the frying pan

    keep them in the coop and run for at least 2 weeks so they know that's their home..then let them free range late in the afternoon and see if they do well
    Good Luck!


    ****P.S. I think me and GreenMulberry must have been typing our posts at the same time! ****
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  5. Wyo Chick

    Wyo Chick Songster

    My favorite part of having chickens is designing their home! I am new to this website, but have been a chicken owner for 5 years. I can answer a few of your questions. We just did an extreme makeover on our chicken house. The nests need to be at least 2 feet off the ground. You need 1 nest for every 4 chickens. Chickens will lay eggs in the am. If your chickens are new to their house keep them in it for a few days so they know it as home. When you let them out they will come to their home at night. I have had to pull achicken out of a tree and put it in their house! But they learn fast that is where they should be. You can eat the eggs whenever. I am not sure about eating them when you have a rooster. I don't have one. So maybe somebody else can answer those questions better. I hope this helps. [​IMG]
  6. ashyannehand

    ashyannehand Songster

    Jun 25, 2008
    Wade, Mississippi

    Welcome! [​IMG]

    This is a great site for us newbie chicken guys and gals. Take as much time as possible and read the forums. Please ask any questions that you are not sure about and learn to use the search. This will help you get the most out of the wonderful forum.

    Good luck with your chickens and enjoy!


    Wyo Chick

    Welcome to you too! [​IMG]
  7. richnchicks

    richnchicks In the Brooder

    Mar 30, 2008
    weatherford, tx.
    first, welcome to byc. we only have 8 hens and no roo. you will find a tremendous amount of expertise on this website. not mine 'cause i'm still new to this, too. i have found by trial and error and this site that my hens love my 3rd or 4th design. lol. we also put a heater in the coop in the winter 'cause they have us trained!!! they all get on the wood on the left side at night even though they have a 4x4 roost. the roost really doesn't sit over the boxes it is in front of them. anyway, good luck with your design.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008

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