Help I'm new to this!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DarleneE, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. DarleneE

    DarleneE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2014
    Riverview, Fla
    Hi everyone! I have two hens, 8 weeks old, a Barred Rock and an Ameraucana. My husband is still building their coop but it's almost there. Now.. for my question. When we start letting them roam around the backyard do we need to clip their wings?? My husband says they'll fly into the neighbors yard. Note: we are NOT on a farm! We live in the suburbs in a subdivision. We have neighbors on both sides and a pond behind us with houses all around it. I'm afraid of them not defending themselves properly if they were attacked by some animal if we clipped their wings.. yet I'm also scared they'll fly away to the next yards.. Can anyone advise me as to what I should do?? Thank you!!
     
  2. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Forest Grove, OR
    I live in a suburban neighborhood and used to have the same fear as you. Turns out my fears were unfounded. I have a 6 foot wood fence and there is no way those fat birds could get over that fence even if they were interested. They have beak to ground looking for bugs anyway and that keeps them interested.

    If you have a very low fence, you might have something to be concerned about.
     
  3. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You have some heavy breeds. I have similar breeds and mine are full grown but I got them as day old chicks a year ago. They can fly up pretty high if motivated. My roost, for example, is 4.5 feet high and they fly up there with no problem. So per the above posters, it depends on how high your fence is and if there are things near the fence that they can fly up on, then fly from that on over the fence. You probably already did this but talk to your neighbors and let them know if they see a chicken in their yard to call you! You can give them eggs when your chickens start laying to thank them for their tolerance as you work through this.

    If it were me, I'd first try the 2 hens out in the back yard while supervising them as much as I could for a few days. I'd not clip their wings until I had a good idea of what they're going to do. Once you clip them, you can't unclip them. You have to wait until they molt before getting full grown wings again.

    Your husband is right about predators. The most common problem in suburbs is dogs and cats. Even a very strong, sturdy, high fence, may not keep your chickens safe in your back yard from dogs and sometimes, cats, racoons, possum, etc. Dogs dig and some can climb, cats and racoons and possums climb. Cats will kill little 8 week old chickens. An untrained dog will kill any size chicken if it can get to it and so will raccoons and possum.

    So.... lots to think about. My advice is to be very watchful with whatever you decide to try and be ready to change to keep your chickens safe.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
  4. DarleneE

    DarleneE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2014
    Riverview, Fla
    Yes you really gave me some good insight as to the situation. I don't plan on leaving them unsupervised at all for a good while that's for certain!! Our fence is 6' tall on 3 sides but only about 5' on the one neighbors side. There's some trees next to the back fence. That concerns me. I will keep them supervised to see what they'll do but I'm pretty certain I'll have to clip those wings to feel safe about them not taking off and maybe even getting lost or some animal getting them. In our yard I feel they pretty safe as there's nothing as far as predators to get them. The only thing would be a stray cat and since I won't let them out ALONE and without supervision until they're full grown I don't think a stray cat will hurt them once that large...no?? I'm sorry to be so ignorant about this but this is just all new to me!! I've never even been around chickens to really observe them and here now I have two as pets!!!! Haha. Also how did you train yours to come to you?? I refer as to for instance when I've let them out for playtime and then need to get them back to their coop such as like for nighttime. I'm trying to train them with snacks but they're still very picky and all I've gotten them to eat so far are meal worms!! They are fairly tame. They will let me hold and pet them and they will jump on my arm or lap..but that's only when I'm either sitting down on the ground with them or when I've been in there for a long while giving them time to adjust. Any other time they will run from me. I'm thinking I'm making some headway but certainly not enough yet to be able to catch them and put them back in their coop!! They're in a temp (but large) indoor coop that my husband made for them while he builds the outside coop. It's nearing getting done and I don't wanna have to leave them in there all the time because I'm scared I won't be able to catch them.. you know?? Thanks for all your time and yourhelp
     
  5. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your fencing sounds good, 6 foot is pretty high, 5 is not bad either and since you'll be watching them as much as possible, that will help.

    I'm not sure if a full grown cat will get a full grown chicken. Maybe search the "Predator and Pests" forum on "cats" and see what pops up. That's what's great about BYC is nearly anything you need to learn, you can find some thread that's discussed it at least to some degree. Every one of us was new once so no worries! And there are so many really experienced people who comment and answer questions, willing to help others.

    Two ways you can get the chickens back in the coop. For nighttime, you want to imprint the coop on them as their home and place to go at night. The way to do this is for the first several days to a week or so when you move them out to the new coop your husband is building, lock them in the coop and don't let them out in your yard. This will help them realize this is their home. Then, when you let them out for the first time, do it late-ish in the afternoon so that they only have a few hours out before it gets dark. They'll go in the coop automatically to go to sleep. Lock them in and you're done. If you do this "imprinting" process, you should never have to round them up to go to be at night. They'll put themselves to bed in the coop at dusk every night.

    If you want them to go in the coop during the day, the way to do this is with treats. If you haven't already, get them used to a certain routine where you give them treats. Mine for example is this white compost type bucket I carry from the house to the barn. The chickens learned very early on that when I have that bucket in my hand, it often means there is a treat of some kind in there and they come running EVERY TIME. Even when I don't have anything for them (like, I just gave it to them out of the bucket and now I'm carrying it empty back to the house) they come running when they see that bucket. So, make it a point to give them treats with some consistent method and they'll learn it on their own. Then... when you want them to go in the coop, you use that method and in they go. Oh, a consistent chicken call helps too. I say, "here chickie chickie chickie" to call them and they come running.

    In general, you don't want to have to catch them. Chasing them just scares them. You want instead, to lead them where you want them to go by teaching them to follow you. Using food! If you ever do need to pick them up, the best way to do this is at night. Just pick them up off the roost. Sometimes, you need to do this to give them medicine or check them for something. Or... if while you're giving them treats, you can grab the one you need to catch. I do this when I need to say, clean the behind of one and I want to do it during the heat of the day so the chicken will dry before dark. I'll give them treats and while they're all gathered around my feet munching away, I just lean down and pick up the one I need to work on. For whatever reason, this does NOT deter them from gathering around the next time I have treats. I guess it's just really not that often that I pick one up so they don't seem to associate treats with being picked up.

    In terms of what they eat, young chicks like yours take awhile to warm up to new foods. Try cutting things up small and dropping just a few on the ground at first. For some reason, that gets them to try things. Mine eat most things, tomatoes, apple cores, bread crust, whatever scraps I have. Even carrots if I cut them up smallish. But not lettuce really. They eat enough grass and greenery since they free range so I guess they don't need any more of that. There are some good articles on what NOT to feed them (raw potato peals are a no no but cooked ones are OK, etc.). Just do a search here on maybe "best chicken treats" and you'll find the articles.

    One final thought on predators... you'd be surprised (unfortunately) at how many predators will show up coming from far and wide when they think they can get a tasty chicken dinner. I free range on the edge of a national forest in southern Kentucky so we have fewer issues with suburb type animals (dogs, cats, racoons) and more real predators (coyotes, fox, hawks). I have 3 good dogs that are the ONLY reason I have not lost a chicken yet (knock on wood) to a predator. The dogs are in the house at night but outside a good deal during the day. I had to teach them to not eat the chickens themselves and once that was done, they've been awesome at predator control.

    Anyway... just want to mention the predator thing again. Nothing quite so heart breaking as a dog who gets lose from some far off neighbor's yard, digs under your fence and kills your chickens you've come to love and worked so hard to nurture and raise. If nothing else, make sure you coop is super secure (hardware cloth, no chicken wire) so at least at night, you'll know they're safe when locked in there. Check out my coop (see the My Coop link under my name) for ideas on how to predator proof a coop. Loads of others have ideas and pics too, under the "coop design" forum.

    Hope this helps!
    Guppy
     
  6. DarleneE

    DarleneE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2014
    Riverview, Fla
    Hey I REALLY appreciate all your help and time here!! Thank you SO much!! The thing is our coop is going yo be inside of our screen porch BECAUSE OF our worry about predators!! My husband knows I'm a total fool when it comes to animals!! I love them SO much.. so if something were to happen to one of my pets, chickens included, I'd go insanely crazy!! So for that reason he decided to put the coop in the porch. That being said.. I think they'll be safe in there from predators. Nothing's ever come into our porch.. It's completely enclosed and also the entire bottom is two feet of concrete block and then the screen on top. So it's pretty secure. Even the door is two feet of aluminum on the bottom half. This being said.. this is why I feel I need to lure them back to their coop. See they'll have to make their way from the yard, around the pool and into the porch to get to the coop. It's a good little ways and I don't know if they'll know how to get back?? We intend to leave the screen door open for them when they're out and will of course lock it when they come in at dark time. Do you think they can find their way back little by little to the coop?? Sorry to keep asking you questions but you really seem to know a lot about chickens!! You seem to be very much like myself too.. a person who genuinely loves animals!!!! Thanks again!!!!
     
  7. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 13, 2013
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    My Coop
    Yes, they'll have no problem finding their way back to your coop on your porch if you do the imprint process on them as I described above. My chickens roam all over the place with zero fencing and no barriers of any kind and they ALWAYS find their way back to the coop at dusk. They go into the orchard, way up into the woods, down by the pond. They go different places depending on the weather and season: hot, cold, windy, shady, sunny. They go to new places when I bush hog to see what new tasty things might be lurking in the freshly cut brush. But no matter, they always find their way home to the coop at night.

    Sounds like you've got a great coop and your chickens will do wonderfully!

    Guppy
     
  8. DarleneE

    DarleneE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2014
    Riverview, Fla
    Guppy thank you so much for all your help!! You've been most kind!!
     

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