Help! New chicken owner (inherited them with the property!) -

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Amethyst_skye, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. Amethyst_skye

    Amethyst_skye New Egg

    Jul 31, 2011
    Somebody please help! I inherited chickens with my new property in the southern Arizona desert. When i first saw the house and decided to buy it, there were 9 chickens all in a large approx 16 x 16 x 8 coop. When i came back a few months later to settle on the property, there were four chickens in separate fenced enclosures within that original coop. When i asked why, i was told "they were fighting with each other." Shortly after that, before i moved in, a dog dug it's way underneath the coop and killed three of the chickens. [​IMG] So when i finally moved in, there were six chickens, four in enclosures and two free-ranging within the coop. I noticed those two were pecking at each other some, but not a lot. I thought i'd try leaving the other three out, one at a time to see how they did. I left the 'little' one out (I think she is a bantam, but have no idea what any of the others are). The three seemed to get along fine, but then i noticed the gray one pecking on the little one. I would shoo her away, but one morning i went in and the whole side of the little one's face was all bloody! My heart dropped (she is my favorite) so i picked up the gray one and put her in the spare enclosure and told her she was NEVER getting out again! But now the little one and the other one (a solid black one) peck at each other and the black one hardly has any feathers and the ones she has seem to be broken, although i never see loose feathers in the coop. I have been told that if they peck each other, they are lacking protein. I talked to one of the local feed stores and they recommended a different feed, which i tried, but the chicks wouldn't eat it, or ate very little of it. I would like to have a new coop built, but would love not to have all the chicks in separate enclosures - it must be boring for them and more work for me! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

    Also, i seem to have a problem with ants or mites or fleas or something - i am being eaten alive when i'm in the coop, as i am sure the chickies are too. I got some DE and spread it around on the ground rather heavily today. Any thoughts on that too??

    Thanks everyone!

    City Girl trying to be a Country Girl![​IMG]
  2. chics in the sun

    chics in the sun Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2010
    It sounds like they have plenty of room, so I don't think it's over-crowding. You could try giving them some cat food for extra protein, and you also need to treat the fleas or whatever they are with some something stronger than DE. Try 7 dust or ask your feed store what they have available. They may also be bored. Mine have never gotten bored (or at least don't appear to be), but I have heard of other folks hanging a cabage or throwing brush or wood with bugs in it for them to peck apart and entertain themselves with. Good luck!
  3. Chick named Lola

    Chick named Lola Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2010
    Give them fresh water every day in that heat down there! I would suggest getting a good comprehensive book like Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow.
  4. phasian

    phasian Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lots of good suggestions. For the buggies I would recommend spreading aromatic herbs in your run and their bedding. Greens like lavender, rosemary, oregano, chamomilem fennel, etc. I RARELY ever have parasite problems. It keeps things smelling nice and also has the added benefit of deterring flies.

    I would not recommend spreading DE around. Birds scratch and create dust. DE is not something you should NEVER inhale, nor should your wee chickens. You can spot treat birds by covering their face and giving them a thorough dusting, making sure you shake off the excess residue. Make sure you wear a mask too! If you choose the chemical route, don't eat the eggs until well after you complete your regimen.

    To add protein naturally, cooked lentils are excellent, cooked eggs whether scrambled or hard boiled are also a good choice. Kelp is wonderful for adding iron and trace minerals which can also cause pecking and I find kelp keeps my girls in lay. A handful of dried nettles added to their food can also be a bolster.

    Running a water mister can help keeps things cool, and if it lightly moistens the soil, often brings insects to the surface which will keep chickens engaged.

    If you live in an area where roosters are permitted, they are your best bet for keeping the peace in a flock. My boys do not tolerate the ladies bullying each other. (I have a lot of roosters and they all get along with each other just fine-- they are a mix of bantam and standard breeds.)

    Guinea Fowl are wonderful at removing insect pests-- but only if you are in a rural area with room to range and neighbours who don't mind loquacious birds. While I keep a range of poultry and I love them all, my guineas rule.
  5. geekgurl

    geekgurl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2010
    Dallas, TX

    I use DE and dust my coop and run with it. Most important to make sure it's food grade DE and NOT the stuff people use in their swimming pools. 5% Sevin dust is another option to combat the bugs. I found a recent thread where someone had bugs on their chickens. Have you inspected the chickens for any creepy crawlies?

    Do you have any pics of your chickens? If you post them in the "What Breed or Gender is this?" forum, then I'm sure people will help you identify them. Good ideas from others about getting something in the run to entertain the chickens. I give mine slices of watermelon and BOSS(black oil sunflower seeds).

    Lots of good info here and it's easy to search for it or ask questions.
  6. Amethyst_skye

    Amethyst_skye New Egg

    Jul 31, 2011
    Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions! The DE i used is food quality DE and after spreading it around the coop two days ago, there seem to be very few flies and ants! I don't know what else might have been there, but i'm hoping they're gone as well! I have given them scrambled eggs, some like them, some not so much, but eventually they eat them. I will try the lentils - i'm not sure where to get the aromatic herbs. I give them greens on a regular basis, but am thinking about the cabbage-hanging trick. I also have bought worms, but they are rather expensive here. Does everyone think the lack of protein is the cause of the pecking? Another question - since i am thinking about having someone build me a new coop, i am considering putting it on a concrete base because the wind is so strong where i am and we have so many critters here in the desert that love to tunnel underneath the coop and create havoc that i will need to put hardware cloth over the entire area of the coop. I have heard that chickies need to scratch in the dirt though - and concrete would be a bit rough on the toes i would think! I would love to only have to do a good clean-out once or twice a year as i have seen other people say. Any suggestions as to what i would use to cover the concrete, but still allow them to peck at scratch, etc? Thanks! More questions to come, i am sure! [​IMG]
  7. mikensara

    mikensara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2011
    New York
    i have seen other people posting they use sand versus the shavings in their coop. I think you can try a health fod store for herbs if they are not carried in your local supermarket or a farmers market.
  8. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    I also live here in the AZ desert and we use sand in the coop, run, and parts of the pen for easy cleaning and it works very well in our dry climate. I also use DE and it works well for us in the food and coop as a bug killer and deterrent since we do not like using poison if we don't have to, but sometimes it can't be avoided and in those cases we also use 7 Dust.

    Adding protein to the diet will also help as mentioned as the pecking and feather eating is often a sign they need it.

    Good luck and the folks here are very helpful and should have you chicken trained very soon... [​IMG]
  9. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 10, 2010
    Have you thought about doing a concrete apron around the run to prevent digging, but then leaving the interior of the run as sand, grass, or dirt for the chickens.

    We did that for our 6' chainlink dog fence, to keep the dog from digging out. It was 2' of concrete outside and 1' inside of the fence. The bonus was that the grass didn't grow up into the wire and everything looked neat and tidy. We even used one of those concrete forms for paths that you fill with concrete and it creates "rocks" in a 3' wide pattern.

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