Got a few questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by p575, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. p575

    p575 Hatching

    Jun 27, 2011
    I'm fairly new to this whole game, just got 6 chickens early March.

    They live in my backyard, about 1/4 acre, a garden in part of that. I built a small coop for them, with a run attached. For the first few weeks, we'd let them out during the day, and usually around 8 pm they would put themselves in the coop and I'd seal it up for the night. My property has a fence around it, about 4 feet high. Here lately they've been getting up on the fence rail, and occasionally going over the other side into the field behind me. I was out of town last week, and the wife said a few times she would only find 4 or so in the coop at night, so she started leaving it open so the others could get in if they needed too. Tonight, I was outside and watched 4 of them get up in trees, one tree in the yard, and a few on the other side of the fence, they are probably at least 10-12 feet off the ground. Question is, is it ok to just let them sleep in trees or are they at a huge risk of being eaten? I have no problem with them being there, I'd just prefer not to lose them...
    If this isn't ok, how should I get them back in the coop? I'm kind of fast, but I can't catch these guys...
    If they are 3 months old, it should be time to clip there wings I assume. How high should they be able to hop or jump after clipped? Maybe that'll be enough to fix this problem.
    Another problem I have is they keep getting in my garden. Right now I have a 2 foot chicken wire fence around it, but that doesn't slow them down much? How high do I need to go to keep them out?
    As far as feeding, If I have them roaming the yard all day, how much food should I have to add in to whatever they are foraging?
    I screwed up when I bought these, they are Tetra Tints from TSC. They are all solid white, so there is no way to tell them apart. Anybody have any ideas for easy ways to distinguish them? I'm thinking about colored zip ties around there feet...

    I know this is poorly written and a lot of questions...thanks for any replies...

  2. AuntieE

    AuntieE Chirping

    Mar 11, 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    I'm pretty new, too, but I'll give your questions a shot [​IMG]

    For id purposes, I use colored velcro strips that you can find at a craft/fabric store. Each one has their own color- avoiding red. You just have to make sure they aren't too tight, and check frequently, especially while they are still growing.

    From what I've read on here, I think most would say that having them outside a secured coop at night is high risk for predators. Not sure how to get them to the coop...could you bribe them with treats? That sometimes works for me when I need to move them. Or I could send my 5 year old daughter over- we call her the 'chicken whisperer'. She can get them to do anything! lol

    With them getting 10-12' up into trees, I think it will be difficult to keep them behind a 2' fence. Clipping wings would probably help with them getting into the trees, but not out of the garden. Depending on the breed, they can still fly/jump quite a distance. So I'm thinking more of a 4-5' fence- if their wings are clipped. I have heard that you clip only one wing, and that will keep them off-balance and unable to fly.

    Not sure about the feed- I'm not very familiar with tetra tints.

    Hopefully some more experienced folks will have some feedback for you. You can also use the search box at the top. If you type in "clipping wings' it will give you all the posts that have been about that. etc...

    Hope this helps!
  3. JLS

    JLS Love my feathered babies! 9 Years

    May 29, 2009
    My Coop
    [​IMG] Okay I will try to answer some of your questions.

    Yes, it is a huge risk to let them roost in the trees. Even if some birds do not return to the coop you should advise your wife to close it up anyway. It is better to loose 1 or 2 instead of the whole flock to preditors.

    I usually clip one wing of the birds that make it over the fence. When they try to fly they are more unstable with one wing clipped.

    If they free range you should still have food available in the coop. Flock blocks are nice to keep them busy while in the coop too.

    I would scatter corn inside the coop just before roosting time. Make sure you call for them while you throw down their treats. If you do this everyday they will quickly learn that going to the coop at night is a good thing. As soon as everyone is in lock up the coop.

    I believe that most heavy breeds find it difficult to scale a 6 foot fence.

    Legs bands are great for identifying birds. Choose the type that you feel is most appropriate for your flock.

    I hope others will add more info for you if I have given the wrong advice.
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Crowing Premium Member 7 Years

    Hello p575,

    Welcome to backyardchicken land.

    I've only had chickens since April---so my replys will be based on my own research. You came to the right place with your list of questions because there are tons of people here who know an awful lot about chickens.

    I'm not sure where you are living, and how 'wild' the countryside is, but there are predators who will finish off a chicken -- and can easily climb trees....I can particularly think of raccoons that I often see in huge tall trees around here. If you are in a more urban area, a stray cat could also get a chicken and there are owls. At night chickens are not alert at all. Your flock would most definitely be safe in a run or in their coop.

    I think that you are facing one of the dilemmas of chicken owners. How 'free' should they be. Here is a plan for an enclosure that would keep them safe during the day-- It was on my clipboard from another post.

    your chickens free-range, they will put their eggs wherever they think is a good place. For your convenience, you would rather they laid in a nest box...and it sounds like in a little while, (a few months) you will have them ready to lay eggs.

    I clipped the wings of two of my birds and there is pretty much nothing to it. Basically you shorten the 'flight' feathers of one wing so they are unbalanced, and cannot fly. On one of my hens, I left the feathers totally intact, because she is so tame I can catch her easily.

    When your chickens associate you with really great treats, they will come running to you---so rather than chase them down, you could lure them into confinement. for the most part...even if they protest, I would keep them in the run if I were you.

    Leg bands of different colors would be the way I would choose to tell them apart, if they have no distinguishing characteristics...

    confining the chickens will protect the garden....conversely a shade cloth over the top of your garden fence may keep them out---- but I think that confinement would work better.

    Regarding foraging versus feeding--- the more you feed them...the more they will be tame... It partly depends upon what your goals are for your flock.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

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