I Have 3 Questions..

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by nicolemac, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    My first question, as it is worrying me most, is about my 5 chicks eating grass.
    1. I put them outside into a small coop about 1 week ago. They don't peck at it bit by bit like i thought they would, they tear up long strip of it and toss it back like how we eat spaghetti! I raised them from a week old myself and just suspected it is because they had no mother hen to copy. Is this harming them? Whenever i notice one has a piece hanging out of her mouth, that she can't get with her feet, I take it out myself. Sometimes it's a good few inches long!! What can I do about this...?


    My second question, is about heat in the coop.
    2. I'd love to let nature do it's thing when they go to bed. But it's cold! They are all huddled up and only 5 weeks old, bless them. It was lovely and sunny here - warm for the first few days they were out, i actually was sitting in the garden on a sun-chair with them! The sun has gone now and although it isn't frosty anymore. I'm worried about their health. Should I use artificial heat in the coop at night? (if it helps, I live in Isle of Skye, Scotland, so it gets very chilly)


    3. Lastly, one of the chickens is very scared of me and has been ever since i got her. She is a very beautiful Rhode Rock. Is this okay? The slightest hand movement startles her if it's close to her and she makes one hell of an argument if i pick her up . At first i though it could be something wrong with her, and it maybe hurts her to pick her up. But she pecks about quite happily with the others and seems perfectly healthy... Anything i can do to be friends? I tried treats, she takes them and speeds off. I'd love to not be seen as just a big scary monster!

    Thanks for any help!

    Oh, and ps. will the neighbours cats be a problem? We don't get foxes in our town so i'm not worried about anything wild except eagles and buzzards and whatnot. I'm just worried that the chicks aren't big enough to defend themselves against a cat yet..

    Thanks again!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  2. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    Chickens love grass and will clear a patch for you in no time. [​IMG] Birds are like people and each has its own personality. Feed and care for them and they will be your friend..... Uh.. until you swipe their eggs! :-o

    Chicks need your help and care as their mother starting out. We have a brooding pen in the garage with a heat lamp. They stay there until they are at least 6 weeks of age. You will need to provide daily fresh water, chick feed, and warmth. 90 deg for the first week and decrease the temp 5 degrees each week. Place the brooding lamp at one end of the pen so that they can huddle underneath or move away to regulate their temperature. After 6 weeks or so they will be feathered out and be ready for the outside world. We add a brooder lamp in the coop isolation area for another 2 weeks if temperatures go below 50 deg. After that they are ready to be introduced to the flock.

    The young are especially vulnerable to predators. Our birds free range and know when to hit the coop when the roosters sound the alarm. You should have a predator secure run for your birds. Hope this helps!
    6 week old birds in their isolation area. After 2 weeks, it is opened up and they can join the flock. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    On the Isle of Skye, where are you getting grass this time of year? It seems so early!! I visited there a few years back in late spring. Beautiful place.

    Is that grass growing or have you cut it for them? Normally when they eat grass with its roots still in the ground they tear off smaller chunks. If you cut it and put it in there, they can’t tear it but will eat it like spaghetti. It’s possible the long strands of grass can ball up in their crop or even the gizzard and cause a blockage called impacted crop or impacted gizzard. This is possible, which means it does not happen each and every time. Since they are on the ground they are getting grit from the ground so an impacted gizzard is not very likely. If it is growing I don’t have any answers for you. If you are cutting it and giving it to them, either chop it up more or don’t give it to them. I know, probably not much help.

    I’m not going to be real precise on your second question either. I’ve left 5 week olds outside overnight without heat in weather just over freezing. I’ve had 5-1/2 week olds outside when the overnight low was a few degrees under freezing. But a few things to consider. My unheated coop had really good draft protection. They were protected from a direct breeze hitting them. I had about 20 of them. There were enough to huddle together and keep each other warm if they needed it. Mine had been acclimated. My brooder was in the coop. It was fairly large and I only heated one end. The rest cooled off really well, so they were used to playing in the cooler portions. I think that helps them feather out faster. And mine were the regular full sized dual purpose breeds. Some of the fancy chicks may not be as hardy.

    It won’t hurt to provide some heat if you really want to as long as you can do it without starting a fire or electrocuting someone or something. It won’t hurt. Do they really need it? I can’t say for sure. I don’t know what you call chilly, the facilities you have for them, or how well they are acclimated.
     
  4. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    Oh thank-you, this has reassured me a lot :) As for the grass, it's everywhere! I live in the main town - Portree. Although the hills are brownish just now with heather, they will soon blossom out again now that the frost has gone. Most gardens here, have nice green grass even at times like this.
    The chickens are enjoying about a third of my garden and the grass has roots in ground... I give them plenty grit and they can pick whatever natural grits are in the garden themselves.

    About the coop, there doesn't appear to be any breeze. no areas where a draft can enter. I will leave it for now. They peck around all day in the cold weather so i suppose they should be fine at night too. If it gets to a point where they seem very uncomfortable, i will get a heat lamp out there. I don't have any fancy chicks, just ones that I was told were hardy. I thought it would be important as our winters are getting record breaking temperatures.

    While I have you, can a hen this young show signs of guarding a coop? The one that is timid, now seems to think shes a rooster. I heard that a hen sometimes takes a protective role when there is no rooster in the flock. Usually everyone follows the Bluebell hen into the coop when she goes in. This time, everyone followed except the rhode rock. She keeps on checking on the hens in the coop, then darting back out and running around, checking everywhere. I guessed she is probably checking for possible dangers. Is it normal for a 5 1/2 week to do this?

    Thanks!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    I can’t help you with that. I practically always have a mature dominant rooster with the flock. The one time I haven’t had that in recent memory was when I lost him and several hens when someone dropped dogs off out here in the country. At that time an older hen took over the flock while I was raising a new rooster. She did take over the roosters duties, even going so far as to go through the mating ritual with some young pullets to show her dominance.
     
  6. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    Hmm, that's really interesting. Sorry to hear about your rooster and hens. It's really unfortunate when other people don't think about other animals safety when they let dogs loose. I had my own dog involved with the chicks from day 1 to avoid any surprises later. He barely even notices them now - only when they peck at him for stealing their porridge. But he's a big pansy and just lets them have it. Other dog's are a worry though, especially when the chicks aren't afraid of them because they are used to my own dog.

    I suppose I will have to do some research on this hen taking over rooster duties. Just a bit shocked that it's my little timid runt of the litter Rhode Rock.

    Anyways, thank-you for your assistance, it was very helpful! :)
     

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