Just a few more answers......????

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FingerLakesChick, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    OK, now that I'm ready (I think) and have compiled tons of information, I still have a few questions before I embark on this brand new adventure.

    1. Is there another reason (other than for a heat source) for the bright light in the brooder? Don't the chicks think it's day all the time? And if not, why not? And how do they transition to a day/night (light/dark) environment? Or is this not even an issue?
    2. Is it OK to have a penned in coop and let the chickens out for a few hours a day to free range? I'm thinking of only allowing my chickens out of the pen when I am home. This means permenantly giving up a section of my yard. How much space do you think is needed for a pen to contain 6 - 8 chickens comfortably? And the coop should have 4 nesting boxes?
    3. Will the chickens know enough to go in their penned in coop at night, or do they have to be put in their coop each night and locked in until morning? Or can we just leave the door to the coop open and they just do as they please? Also we live in upstate NY, do I need a heater for our coop?
    4. We're going to have a garden, do I need to keep the chickens out of the garden? Or just until the plants are hearty enough to endure chicken scratchin' etc.? I'm thinking they would be good at keeping the bugs down and they would be able to do some dusting, but I'm not sure.
    5. I've decided against roosters for now, until I'm more experienced. So I'd like to start with maybe a total of 6 - 8 hens of various breeds. I would like a few good egg layers like RIR's. But I love the cochins and crested breeds and would also like a few of those. Am I reaching too far for my first time out? I realize I may have to purchase 25, and I imagine 50% will be roosters. I feel terrible that they may come to an early demise though? But not sure how to prevent it. Unless there are sex-linked breeds of RIR's, cochins and cresteds? I can probably find that out for myself, but what are your thoughts on the best sort to start with? I really want chickens that are sweet by nature and not afraid of people.

    I would appreciate all of your thoughts and advice. Finding this website/forum was a wonderful gift and has convinced me to pursue a dream I've had since childhood.
  2. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    Here's some answers for you:
    1) Chicks need the light for the heat. When I had chicks I'd cover the box with a blanket. Most of the time, the birds learn that it's night time when you cover up the box.
    2) I have house chickens. They have the run of a 10X6 enclosed porch. In the summer, when I'm home, they're out most of the day with me. In the winter, when I'm working, I try and let them out for an hour or so when it's not snowing or too cold.
    3) For the first few weeks you will have to go and put them in their coop. When I had Jerry and Slifer and Obelisk, Jerry and Obelisk would perch ontop of the railing until I put them in. Slifer was a bigger bird and couldn't make it up with her buddies. After a while they know to go in at dark.
    You'll probably need a heater only in the dead of winter. I have a heater and don't use it until the water freezes in their bowls.
    4) Slifer helped plant the cukes last summer. She threw herself right ontop of them...[​IMG] She and Obelisk dug wallows in the garden at the bottom of the back stairs and one in the raised bed where my lilies are. You could try fencing the garden.
    5) Sexlinked birds are a good start to get just pullets. My babies have all been mixed breeds. 2 Leghorns, an Easter Egger, a Brhama mix, and a Silkie mix. If you have all crested birds, they should all get along. If you have all feather footed birds, they may get along also. If you have a mixed flock, there may be problems since they don't all look alike.
    I've only been Chickening for, it'll be 4 years in June and I can't imagine not having them.
  3. CranberryBirds

    CranberryBirds In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2007
    You sound just like me--owning chickens was a childhood dream of mine, too!

    If you just want a few hens, post a thread with your location asking if anyone wants to split an order. I did this last year with a friend of mine. We ordered from Murray McMurray, and I told MM which chickens were mine and which were my friend's, and they were nice enough to mark which chicks were mine! Other hatcheries might do this too. Another benefit is that you can order all hens. PLUS, you could get 8 different breeds, one each, if you want. You might still get a random roo (I did) but your chances are much better than 50/50 (more like 90/10).

    I think 6-8 hens is a great number to start--I started out with 10, one died shortly after delivery, 2 turned out to be roos. I get about 5-6 eggs a day. That's A LOT of eggs but I NEVER have trouble giving them away.

    I have 2 nest boxes for my 7 girls. This is working well.

    My henhouse is 6' by 6'. They come out in the day and go in on their own at night. I'd strongly advise you to close the door each night--unless your whole yard is very secure. There are a lot of things that would like to eat a chicken -- racoons, skunks, weasels, coyotes, cats, dogs, etc etc. I haven't lost a chicken to a predator yet because I've been very careful to shut them in. Daytime predators (hawks) can be a problem, too, but generally don't wipe out a whole flock like a raccoon can do in one night.

    I live in a similar climate to you (NW PA) and I just put a 250 Watt red lightbulb in my coop this winter. That, and some minor insulation accomplished with hay and cardboard, kept my chickens alive and well despite the amazing, extended cold snap we had this winter.

    Leave the light on in the brooder all the time. The chicks will go through many, many waking and sleeping cycles throughout the day. Only later, when they don't need the heat, can you shut the light off at night. I followed the instructions in Storeys.

    The yard issue--the larger a space you give them, the longer it will have grass in it. NOTE, it will eventually have no grass. The other option is a portable chicken pen. I made one out of PVC that I can put the chickens in if I'm gone the whole day. Just google PVC Chicken Pen and I'm sure you'll find it.

    Good luck. You're going to be just fine!
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I probably won't answer all your questions, but first of all, you can buy sexed pullets and not get any roosters, unless the hatchery makes that rare sexing mistake. So no problem there.
    The babies will grow better with the light and will pile up in fear at first without it. It also shows them where their food and water are. Transitioning is not an issue at all.
    You can pen them up and let them freerange when you're home to supervise-that's what I do. BUT, do you mean keep them in a coop all the time or a pen? I have a coop with an attached pen so I let them out into the pen even when I'm not home. When I am home, I let them out onto the property to freerange. They shouldn't stay in a coop, especially in the summer, or they may die of heat prostration, depending on where you live.
    They will go in to roost at night, but you will have to lock them in or they will be eaten by raccoon, possoms, etc.
    You have to keep them out of your garden if you want to keep the garden. Not much stands up to chickens scratching.
    For that many chickens, you only need two or three nest boxes at the most.
    The heater thing depends on alot. Is the coop insulated, draft-free? Are your breeds winter-hardy?
    Hope this helps you some.
  5. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    FLC, Welcome to BYC. I will try to help you with a few answers to your questions.

    1. I always use the red heat lamp to avoid pecking.
    Day and night doesn't matter to the peeps, except if you totally remove the light, problems with piling will occur, because they need to see to stay content.

    2. One nest for every 4 hens is correct.
    The more room the better when talking pen space.
    I allow mine 12.5 sq ft per bird. That is more than the recommended space, however I'm after happy healthy chickens. The result is no problems.

    3. If the chickens are kept in the coop and attached pen for at least 2 weeks so they know where home is, it is easy to allow the birds out for a few hours befoe dusk to start with and once one stars to go in the rest will usually follow. Patience is the key here and no need to chase and upset you and the flock.

    4. Best to fence the garden off . Chickens love tomatoes, beet leaves,and others.
    Dusting is important and needs to be part of good chicken hygiene, the garden is always a favorite spot even when another location has been designated.

    5. You can order only pullets, with about 90% correct sexing, and some hatcherys like cackle will alow you to order only 15 after a certain date.
    Other places will allow you to pay a extra fee for less birds shipped also.

    Being prepared is more important than starting and I think you are on the way to success. Finding a home for the extras before they arrive might be a good thing. Good Luck.

  6. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    Wow... this is some amazing community that so many people come together to answer questions in such detail!

    The greatest thing about this group is that as new members become more knowledgeable they can then help people that were in their shoes not too long ago!
  7. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    The chickens wouldn't be in a coop 24/7 unless we were having some pretty awful weather, which has been known to happen up here. So I will be seriously thinking this fall of straw, heat and insulation. The coop we have is one my husband had when he was a kid, it needs some work, but it is sound.

    My plans include a penned in area (15'x20') with coop inside, that way my little girls will have the best of both worlds. And I can let them out to free range a few hours each day when I'm home and I can keep my eye on them when they're out of the pen. Our new home is in the country and the coyotes and fox are plentiful. We have a huge yard with plenty of space for a big pen. So I believe I'm right on track here.

    In other words, Speckled Hen, I would do the same as you.

    It never dawned on me to get pullets - perfect and therefore no roos go to the gallows. And no brooder necessary? Will these teenagers still bond with me? I read also that Red Stars are sex linked. This may be the way to go too. So many wonderful ideas and answers from all of you folks. Maybe I'll wait for the little peepers until next year.

    Can't thank you enough for saving my garden!!

    I hope someday I can be as helpful to newbies as all of you have been to me.

    Good night and God bless.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  8. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    Quote:Hi Finger Lakes-
    Welcome to the forum!
    Teenage chickens are just like human teenagers. Get them what they want (in this case, it's meal worms, lettuce, tomatoes, etc) and they will be your best friend! [​IMG]
    But seriously, just being around them will make them get used to you. Some breeds are a little friendlier than others, though.
  9. cornishman

    cornishman In the Brooder

    Feb 27, 2007
    get rhode island reds and you will never be sorry...everyone likes these and if you got more roos than you need you can always sell them. they lay big eggs. or maybe get red sex links...the roos are white with red wing patch{yellow when hatched}...the hens are red with white underneath[red when hatched}...easy to tell the roos from the hens when they are chicks! a rhode island red roo crossed over a white rock hen will make these for you...or you can order them from a hatchery. go to feathersite. com and look at the sex-link pics they have...these are nice chickens...cornishman. [​IMG]
  10. Llysse

    Llysse Songster

    Mar 11, 2007
    Also be sure to get a breed of chicken you think is beautiful. [​IMG]

    There are lots of choices out there--LOTS of chickens that lay well and breeds that are friendly and fun. But it will be even more fun if you think your birds are beautiful. [​IMG] You may want to get a stereotypical red or barred breed, or you may want to get some of the beautiful laced Wyandottes... or Easter Eggers that all look unique... or speckledy birds or birds with Einstein crests or birds with beards and feathered feet. (Or maybe one of each!)

    The only real problem is that once you realize how neat and interesting all these different breeds are, you'll start to want a few of each, like the rest of us. [​IMG]

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