Help!! First time chicken what when why??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' 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. Shared Acres

    Shared Acres Songster

    Aug 10, 2008
    Northeast Fla
    Good questions, I'm new too.

    Mine seem to lay in the morning. Your coop sounds nice. I'm sure someone else will answer your questions.
  3. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    Good questions, I will try to help with some of the answers.

    The metal roosts, will be to cold for the chickens in winter, especially if your in a colder climate. As well they probably wont be able to grasp them , and may end up hanging upside down...[​IMG] Use 2X4's or 2X2's (smooth down the corners) or a nice round branch, if your on a budget.

    The roosts are usually higher than the nests, but can be on the same level, which should be 18 to 24 inches off the floor. You don't want the chickens sleeping in, or over the nests, (they get too poopy) so you should have a sloped roof over them.

    You can eat the eggs minutes after they are layed if you want to.

    Pressed wood is not a great material for a hen house. It tends to come apart after a time from getting wet repeatedly. This may happen when you go to sterilize the coop.

    They will return to the coop at night on their own, as long as you keep them in the coop for the first few days. Always provide food and water in the coop. They will know where dinner is.

    If the chickens all arrived at the same time, they should work out a pecking order in a few days, and hopefully the attacks on one another will ease up. If you still have one or two birds always attacking the other birds, then they are good for soup.

    Since you have roosters, you will probably have some fertile eggs. If you leave them in the nest long enough to see if they will hatch, which I think is 21 days roughly, I wouldn't bother to eat them after that. Somebody else may be able to correct me if I'm wrong here?

    Eggs are usually laid in the am, but some birds will lay later in the morning, or even in the afternoon. It is rare for a bird to lay at night, although I have heard of it happening.

    Good luck![​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Welcome to the joys of keeping chickens! I hope you'll have as much fun & success as most of us have found with them.

    I suggest you go to the main page of and check out the pages titled Raising Chickens 101 and also visit the Learning Pages.

    There are also some great books on chicken care, my 2 favorites are Keep Chickens! by Barbara Kilarski and Living With Chickens by Jay Rossier. Look for them at your library or buy them on Amazon.

    It sounds like you're off to a good start. Your mixed flock should settle in together once they figure out their poultry politics & their individual positions in the new pecking order. I wouldn't be surprised if your bantam roo turns out to be the Big Boss of the flock.

    Your first concern should be safety from predators for your birds. Especially at night, when they're more vulnerable in the dark while asleep. Try to build the most secure place for them at night. I'm afraid some things may have to be learned through trial & error, sometimes it takes a crafty predator to point out the weak spots in our construction...

    You also need to know what's prowling & patrolling your yard during the day before letting them out to range. There can be neighbors' dogs & cats and hawks swooping down from above. Some folks' yards are more prone to predation than others. I hope yours turns out to be a haven of safety for your birds.

    Keep your birds confined for several days or more until they get acclimated to their new home, then they should bring themselves back to it each night.

    Collect your eggs every day and don't hesitate to eat them right away! You don't even need to wash them, just wipe off the dirt, if any. If the floor is dry the eggs should be found clean & lovely and ready to eat.

    Read up on broody hen behavior, it usually doesn't happen that often and when it does you can always give eggs back to the hen to hatch.

    Keep reading the Forum and continue to post any more questions you might have after the research you'll do. The more specific you are in titling your posts the better the response you'll get. Not just "Help! Trouble with egg!" but "Hen laid golden egg, is it edible?"

    Happy chickeneering!
  5. chilisweet

    chilisweet Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Vancouver, WA
    Hi and welcome to the BYC!!

    Firstly congratulations on getting some chickens. They are a lot of fun to have. I am no expert but heres some info we learned on here recently.

    If you just have shelves on the wall for nest boxes you mught need to change that. Usually they are enclosed like a box and are about 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. 1 box is usually sufficient for 3 hens. There are lots of pics of next boxes on here. Also you can use buckets or plastic totes too.

    As far as the roosting poles, it will be a better idea to use 2x4s for those than metal poles. When it starts to get cold those metal poles will suck the heat right out of your chickens. They need the wide part of the 2x4 to roost on. If they have to grab on those metal poles it will tire their feet quickly.

    Question 1 : They will lay at anytime during the day. No set time for it.

    Question 2: Nest boxes usually 14 to 28 inches off the ground but yes they need to be below the height of the roosting bars. Although we have ours on the ground inside our coop since its an A frame design and does not allow any height.

    Question 3 and 4: Im not an eggspert on this but I would think you can take them right away if you want to eat them. I have never heard of a set time before you can eat them. Also, if the hen is broody which means she will want to hatch them, you might need to distract her in order to get her off the eggs. Some breeds want to hatch all the eggs all the time. Perhaps someone with a bit more knowledge than I can help on this one.

    I hope I provided some answers that are helpful. We are new to this too but the more you read here the more you will learn about your birds. Good luck!
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Quote:You should have fertile eggs if your roos are doing their jobs well, but you can eat them like any other eggs, you won't see or taste ANY difference. If you want to hatch some you need to incubate them in an electric incubator or under a broody hen. You don't just leave them in the nest unless you have a hen ready to brood. That's just wasting good food. Some of your hens may someday go broody, probably not right away, so you have time to educate yourself on that aspect of chicken keeping.

    Enjoy all those fresh eggs, that's our big payoff for serving these birds!
  7. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    I guess I forgot to mention the part about the hen sitting on the eggs for the 21 days....[​IMG]

    Thanks for getting that part straight Sunny Side![​IMG]
  8. petitesphinx

    petitesphinx Songster

    Aug 20, 2008

    Thank you, EVERYONE for your answers and tips!

    I forgot a question: How long can the egg sit in the coop before it's considered bad for human consumption?

    We had our FIRST egg yesterday!! It's teeeeeny tiny, and light brown though. I almost thought it was from the Bantes, but the old man we got the big white chickens from said they're just starting out, so maybe they lay tiny eggs at first?

    Our Indian Runner ducks lay 1-2 a day, and I left them alone to see if they'd sit on them and hatch them out.......Allen (hubby) is excited to eat a duck egg for the first time!

    21 days to hatch into a chick? Really??

    Thank you again for your time, answers and comments! What a great group of peeps on here! hehehe
  9. mgibbzzz

    mgibbzzz Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Somerset, OH
    Our nesting boxes are from an old office. You know those wooden cubbies that are square? That's it.Great if you're on a budget. We set them up and put a small strip of wood along the egde to keep hens from knocking them out and lined them with wood shavings. Our girls love em! We have eggs from 6 am to 6 pm any given day. I wouldn't eat any eggs that are more than a day old, so make sure when you put them to bed to check for any eggs. If in doubt, feed it to the dog! That's what we do. When the days are shorter, we set up a timer with our lights to give the girls more light in the day or they won't lay as well in the winter time. If they are just starting to lay, the eggs will be smaller and will eventually get bigger. The birds that are picking at each other, are they the roos? They will sometimes 'argue' to see who will be the boss of your coop, so be patient. Good luck.

    DMK Ranch
  10. Jayare's Chicks

    Jayare's Chicks Songster

    Aug 25, 2007
    Florence, Alabama
    Welcome to BYC and where do you live in Alabama? I am up here in the NW corner of the state in Florence.


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