Help, inheriting a flock of chickens soon.....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mac, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Mac

    Mac Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    South Central PA
    I have purchased a tiny farm (I close in mid-July) and the thirteen
    chickens (eight Rhode Island Reds and five bantams) convey. I am
    delighted, but need some information. So I bought two books about
    chickens (Keep Chickens by B. Kilarski and Living with Chickens by J.
    Rossier) but still have some questions. I'm not completely unfamiliar
    with "big birds" since I grew up with my grandparent's chickens, and
    have successfully raised guinea and peafowl in the past. Also
    understand I have only been to the farm for a few minutes to observe.
    Any help on these items would be greatly appreciated. 1. These chickens
    have never been out of the hen house/ small wired coop area. The hen
    house is great, well built and with some renovation work I'll be happy with
    it. The wired in coop is very small. I would really like to let the
    chickens out during the day to forage around the barn, outbuildings and
    pastures. We are well away from a road. I understand about predators,
    but I will be with them a lot and I have a huge dog. I just think they
    would be healthier and happier. That said, how do I get them back in
    the chicken house in the late afternoon? Do they just walk in? My
    guineas preferred roosting in a specific tree (even though they had a
    coop), my peafowl just roosted on the roof of my house. 2. The other
    reason I'd like to let them free during the day is I am inheriting two
    roosters with the flock. One is the alpha guy and the other poor guy
    spends most of his life high up on a perch in the hen house. I thought
    maybe more room would make everyone happier, more space, less boredom.
    I also noticed a few of the hens had lost feathers on their rumps, which
    I didn't have time to see if it was from picking, insects, breeding or
    what. I don't think I saw any blood. Does any of this make sense? I'd
    like a calm happy flock and want to try to work/modify their enviroment
    before doing something drastic like getting rid of the rooster. And to
    be honest, I'd like the chickens around to enjoy. Right now I feel like
    they are all cellmates. 3. Feed - now they get laying pellets, grass
    clippings and water. I plan on adding grit, oyster shells, scratch feed
    and good stuff from my house. The owners say they are aound 3 years
    old. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in
    advance, Mac
    Sorry if this is posted in the incorrect place.
  2. Yonaton

    Yonaton Songster

    Jun 28, 2007
    West TN
    I just think they
    would be healthier and happier. That said, how do I get them back in
    the chicken house in the late afternoon? Do they just walk in?

    They will be happier, that's for sure. If they've been raise in that coop as you said, yes, they'll normally go back in on their own. There might be one or two once in a while that linger when you don't seem to have the time to wait for them (they plan this, I'm sure of it!), but they'll eventually head inside the coop to roost.

    3. Feed - now they get laying pellets, grass
    clippings and water. I plan on adding grit, oyster shells, scratch feed
    and good stuff from my house.

    Sounds like a well-rounded diet and your additions can't hurt anything at all.
    Enjoy your new farm!​
  3. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Well...if they are indeed 3 yrs old, and have been there thier whole lives. I say....let them out. They will instinctivly go back to the hen house at night. Mine were just over a year old....when I opened the door I thought...well, there they go...I will probably never see them again. But, that evening....they came right back.
    Sounds like you have a great feeding plan for them as well.
    Congrats on the new farm. And, welcome to BYC
  4. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    First, and foremost, Welcome to BYC!!! You have come to the right place to get your fowl questions answered!

    1) Well, ya got the space issue. There should be about 4 sq ft per standard bird of floor space in the coop you lock them up in at night to give them enough room so they don't cause problems. I think it's 2 or 3 for bantys. Then there should be around 10 sq ft per standard bird of outside fenced in run space. This is for those times when you can't let them free range. It is always good for them to free range when possible but you must understand first that there will be losses to preditors. It can't be helped. I'm sure you have a wonderful big dog, but most of the losses you read about on this board is from folks own dogs or neighbors dogs running loose, so please consider your dog and never ever never leave him/her alone with the birds for one second until you know absolutely it safe. As for the birds coming home, just wait for it to get dark and they will on their roosts all by themselves. lol. Especially considering that they are 3 years old and have never been out, you can be sure they will come back to their familiar home on their own. Also, always leave their water in their run and, because of weather, their feed in the coop. This will also insure their desire to return.

    2) Yes, it would be better for your roos if they free range, but alpha will always remind beta who is in control. The hens may have feathers missing because of breeding or with the hot summer weather they could be beginning to molt. If they stop laying eggs you'll know they are molting.

    3) The laying pellets, water, and oyster shell for calcium are all they need. That said, anything else they need they'll probably get free ranging. If their current pen has a dirt floor and when they free range they'll get all the grit they need. Please be careful with the scratch this time of the year, depending on your climate. Corn, which is in scratch, as it is being digested in birds creates body heat. That's why it is fed in cold climates in the winter. But it's not good to give much, if any, in the hot summer months. That said, I do give mine some, mixed half and half with BOSS (black oil sunflower seed), but only late in the day. The BOSS adds needed oils to their system which makes for good eggs and glossy feathers. And it cuts down on the amount of corn they're getting. I like to always feed mine their treat late in the day and only in their pen. Now they watch for the bucket and when I call them they know what's coming and usually beat me to their pen. This comes in handy if I suddenly or unexpectedly need to leave for a while and I don't want to leave them vulnerable to preditors while I'm gone.

    Welcome to the world of chickens and welcome to BYC!!

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