help for a newbie

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jgarzasr, May 7, 2008.

  1. jgarzasr

    jgarzasr Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2008
    Hi,

    I am looking for some info. We purchased some chics this year for the first time. We have never raised chickens before - but wanted to give it a try. We moved - and at our old house a nice woman would come by and sell fresh eggs - and we loved them. Now that we have moved - we wanted to be able to have the same fresh eggs - but from our own chickens.

    We purchased - 4 sex links, and 3 RIR. We've had them now for a few weeks - we are keeping them in a box - and I have been weaning them off of the lamp - not totally yet.

    I built a coop - and just have to put up the walls. It is an 8' x 4' x 5-6' tall - shed roof coop.

    My main question for anyone that can answer is:

    When should I move them from the box we have them in now to the coop? Also - our plan is to let them free range - however - how do we keep them near the coop to keep them from wandering off. Also - is there a certain way to introduce them to the coop as now their home?

    I guess we just need some info on transition from box to coop.

    Also - I read that they will eat table scraps (veggie scraps) - so far we have just been feeding them start & Grow. Any info on diet outside of the feed would be helpful?

    Thanks for any info you guys can give!
     
  2. meriruka

    meriruka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2007
    Congrats on your new chickens!
    I would have to say that it's time for them to go out to the coop when they will no longer stay in the box you have them in now. Seriously though, when they are fully feathered out (no more fluff) and looking like little vultures, you can safely put them out.
    As far as keeping them close by, I'm not sure how you'd do that unless you supervise them all day and chase them back when they wander too far off.

    Their main diet should be feed, you can give them treats like kitchen scraps once a day, and if you let them roam around, they'll eat bugs, grass and dig up your flowers.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    First....WELCOME to BYC!

    Now to the questions....if you haven't already, be sure to click the link at the VERY tippy-top of the page for the 'learning center'. There's tons of info there for newbies, as well as sticky threads at the top of each forum topic.

    Start and grow is what they need - I'd hold off on feeding any table scraps until they are fully feathered out and moved out where they are doing more free ranging/grazing. Still, you never want to replace their feed completly with treats like table scraps or scratch/corn. Even free ranging, they should have the appropriate commercial feed available at all times, free feed.

    They need constant heat until they are fully feathered out - around 6-8 wks. If your night time temps are at least 70 degrees then you can move them out a 4-5 weeks. If not, you will need to provide a heat lamp in the coop/run where they can go to warm up when they need to, OR wait a bit longer to put them out.

    General rule is to provide 90-95 deg heat for day olds and then lower by 5 deg each week until you hit 70.

    As far as transitioning them to the coop...

    Put them in the coop and then keep them penned up in there for 3-4 days before letting them out (some would say a full week). Once they get used to roosting there, then you can let them out to graze/range and they will put themselves up at night.

    Keep in mind without some reasonable precautions, you may have losses due to predators, especially when they are young. Even in urban areas, cats, racoons, possums and flying predators are common and can devastate your flock. Probably the most common predator in urban neighborhoods of both young and older chickens is your friendly neighbor's (or even your) dog. Stick around here long enough - like just a day or two - and you will see thread after thread about people losing their chickens to dog attack.

    I keep my girls in a covered run (20x80) until they are fully grown, and even then they can only 'free' range in my fenced in back yard.

    Have fun with your chickens!!
     
  4. zatsdeb

    zatsdeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2007
    Lincoln, Illinois
    my babies are out, they were out at 3 weeks, and they have a light in their house and only come out in the day, they are fenced in with welded wire 2"x4" and doubled with chicken wire so they are very protected. they will squeeze right through the 2" spaces! even when they get bigger, it is funny how they squeeze through!
     
  5. ArcticFox

    ArcticFox Out Of The Brooder

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    May 3, 2008
    I don't think there is anything you can do to keep them close outside of putting up a covered enclosure. I too built the base of my run with strong 2"X4" horse wire and will put 1" chicken wire around that. I'm also planning on digging a trench all the way around, putting chicken wire in the trench and up the sides and then cementing that to hopfully discourage digging under. Good luck with your flock [​IMG]
     
  6. jgarzasr

    jgarzasr Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2008
    I finished up the coop this Monday - and moved them out to it. They have been doing fine. I also chicken fenced a 4' x 8' section outside of the coop - they definitely like it better outside - but they also want to continue foraging outside the fenced area. I would like to let them loose. My question - would it be safe to open up the fence and let them out - and will they stay around it?

    Never raised chics before - or been around them - so this is all new to us. but thanks for the advise.

    - Jason.
     
  7. jgarzasr

    jgarzasr Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2008
    alright. So I have let them free range - and they are doing fine. But another question if someone can answer....

    I thought these chickens were supposed to head back into the coop once it starts to get dark? Instead - they huddle up outside the coop - either on the ground near it - or on some of the logs stacked not too far from it. I then have to grab a couple and put them in the coop - in which all the others follow. This coop is a 4x8 w/ perches - so they have room and should be comfortable - but it seems they like it outside better? Any ideas?

    Also - something has been by to pay visit at night. There are paw prints all over the roof of the coop. my guess is a raccoon - as we have not cats in the area.
     
  8. meriruka

    meriruka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2007
    My own chickens prefer some light at night. Maybe the coop is darker than outside so they are more comfortable where they can see a little bit?
    Sooner or later I think they will learn to go in on their own.
     
  9. jgarzasr

    jgarzasr Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2008
    That may be it - as the coop is totally dark. I was thinking about getting one of those solar shed lights. Would that help? or is it even needed? Thanks.
     
  10. meriruka

    meriruka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2007
    Most people will jump on and say their chickens do just fine without a light. That's probably true, but I know that mine have a little nightlight and they are much more calm and go in by themselves when the coop becomes lighter than the outside. So, no, it's probably not necessary, just a nice perk.
     

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