My Dysfunctional Family...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TheGoogleFarmer, Dec 6, 2014.

  1. TheGoogleFarmer

    TheGoogleFarmer Hatching

    Dec 5, 2014
    Ok so here is what's going on....Our flock is not laying eggs, most want to sleep in the run, and I think they are scared of us.

    Let me introduce you to the flock first off and then any advise is appreciated.

    So we have 5 Silkie hens, 1 Silkie rooster, 3 arcana (I think) hens, and 1 blackish with red neck rooster lol. Sorry for the not so good description...they were given to us. I can post pics later and maybe get help with that also...but anyways not to the issues.

    The Silkie hens will not go up the ramp to the coop from the run....they would rather huddle up by the ramp instead and sleep in the run. The Silkie rooster and the others have no problem going into the coop and taking full advantage of the branches we placed up high as roosting bars. Well the Silkie rooster stays on the ground but the others use the branches. Still he is in the coop. How do I get the Silkie hens to go also....I use a heat lamp as source of heat and night light every night and food and water is inside the coop....what more could these gals want?

    Next to get the hens to lay....according to the lady we got them from, the silkies are younger and should be about ready to lay and the others should be laying now.....not sure if this is true, but they ain't laying for us. We have hay in the coop and golf balls in the nexus....only thing is we haven't actually got around to making nesting boxes, but the back area of there coop is off the back of the structure away from "general population" and no I have never been to prison lol. But anyways....helpful tips would be appreciated.

    Lastly, I have seen so many stories about flocks that run up and love on you, eat out of your hand, and just happy to see you....ours run from us...what can we do?

    Thanks in advance for all your tips!
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.

    It sounds like you have not had these chickens for very long. There's not much you can do to make them lay. That will happen when they're good and ready. It sometimes can take up to several weeks for them to adjust to new surroundings and start laying again. I don't know how cold it is where you live, but I would take the heat lamp out. Most chickens don't need additional heat, and maybe the heat lamp is making it uncomfortably hot in the coop for them. Chickens don't need a night light.

    From what I've read, Silkies don't really roost. Or at least they can't get up to high roosts. I don't have them, so I can't say for sure, but that's what I understand. Look around on the forum here, you'll find lots of information on Silkies and other Froo-Froo chickens. :)

    As far as getting them to run up to you, I don't make pets out of my chickens, but those who do suggest sitting quietly among them, bring them treats now and then. They will begin to get used to you, and eventually they may be more friendly toward you. Don't try to grab or catch them to pet them. Just let them come to you.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    You might need to watch the interactions between the silkie hens and black rooster. Really, 8 hens is not a lot of hens for 2 roosters. I would get rid of at least one rooster, and if this is your first flock, I would get rid of both.

    Roosters can be tricky, they can be dangerous around young children, and sometimes a rooster will keep the flock away from you, acting as the go between. If you want friendly pets, do sit quietly with snacks, toss them a bit away from you, and after a couple of days, drop them closer to you. Always call "here, chickchickchick" when you feed them, and they will come running.

    Chickens really don't like change, and they will be off until they get used to it.

    Mrs K
  4. Muttpuppy

    Muttpuppy In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2014
    With silkies you can't really go with a time line. It could take up to a year before the hen could lay. Ours we're almost 8 months old before they started laying. Ours still won't use the ramp when it's time to go to bed. They all just huddle at the effect of the ramp. But, they can go in and out no problem to lay their eggs.
    I've read that silkie roosters can live together rather peacefully. One will be the dominant one and crow, while the other will never. I'm not sure on that part though. Still waiting to figure out the sex of all of mine.
    As for them running away from you, it's going to take a lot of time and treats. Give them time and they should start getting used to you. Sorry so long.
  5. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    How long have you had your "dysfunctional" flock?

    Everything the others have said is accurate, except for perhaps the part about the heat. Most chickens can handle fierce cold, but Silkies don't have the type of feathers that insulate well against heat and cold. They need a more moderate temp. It's probably one reason why Silkies prefer to huddle in a pile when they sleep, beside not being able to fly up to a perch.

    Could your rooster be a Copper Marans? Google Image it and see if that's what he looks like.

    You might try nudging the Silkies up the ramp when it comes dark, and maybe after a week of doing that, they will start going in on their own.

    The eggs will come after the first of the year when days begin lengthening again.
  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    The part of your post that caught my eye was "branches we placed up high as roosting bars." How high? How wide are the branches? You might be better off with flat roosts down lower for your more timid birds. I agree about the heat lamp....they usually don't need too much heat and light at night disrupts the natural sleep/wake cycle. When it's roosting time they like it dark, and believe me, when they sleep, they sleep hard! Lots of people have commented that their Silkies don't really like to roost, but I think just for predator protection you could pick them up and physically put them inside the coop. Doing that a few times might at least get them going into the coop at roosting time on their own, and as the coop darkens with the sunset they'll find a cozy spot in there to settle down. You don't say where you live, but I'm here in Northern Wyoming, we've already had lots of snow and sub zero temps (-17 for a couple of nights even) and mine do fine with no heat or additional light.

    As far as the laying goes, again, the other responses are spot on. They might not be ready yet, and it can take them awhile to adjust to new surroundings. Like this old lady, they don't do change well. You also have the added complication of this being the time of year when they naturally slow down or stop laying. The shorter days trigger that slowdown, although some folks use artificial light to stimulate laying.

    I frankly don't care if my chickens come running to greet me, jump into my arms and lick my face when I got out there. I want them to be healthy, provide us with some eggs, and just be chickens because I enjoy them that way. I spend my fair share of time watching Chicken TV - they are entertaining to watch and seeing their individual quirks and habits is a pleasant way to waste part of a day. Slow and steady is more likely to get you what you want than forcing yourself on them. Move confidently and talk to them quietly when you are changing water, cleaning up, or feeding. They'll run like crazy at first, but eventually they'll look up, say, "Oh, must be time to work out here for a bit - maybe they have food" and continue to go about their business. A few treats wouldn't be amiss, but frankly I've had the palm of my hand pecked hard enough to draw blood when an overeager hen tried to get what I was holding, so I'm over that. I'm not afraid of them, but I'm not stupid either and can't see any reason to risk a finger just to have a friendly chicken. [​IMG] They're friendly enough that I can work out there comfortably, my 8 and 9 year old grandkids can safely take care of them when I'm out of town, and they can wander the yard for free range time and respond when I toss scratch in the run when it's time for them to go in.

    Tons of good information on here, so cruise, peruse, and find what's going to work for you in your situation. Oh, and welcome to the wacky world of chicken keeping. Remember this - just when you think you have it all figured out, one or more of them will throw you for a loop! Just part of their charm.
    1 person likes this.
  7. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Enabler

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I agree with getting rid of roosters if this is your first flock. They can be down right mean.
    My experience with silkies is with roosters only. I got 5 chicks years ago from a tub labeled silkies unsexed. They were all roosters. Four were white silkies and one was a red bantam cochin roo.
    The silkies were horrible to deal with. They would wait until your back was turned and launch right at you. My son was 10 at the time. I had to teach him how to listen for the attack and catch them in mid air. Then into the emergency rooster boxes they went. They beat up my Japanese black tail rooster nearly killing him.
    The Cochin rooster was very gentle and sweet to be around. My son could carry him anywhere and even take him for a ride on the riding mower.
    I waited until the bird swap came up and sold them for 2 dollars each just to be rid of them.
    I had 30 laying hens and some assorted bantams at the time.
    Silkies are NOT on my want list.
  8. TheGoogleFarmer

    TheGoogleFarmer Hatching

    Dec 5, 2014
    Thank you for all of you advise. TO answer a few questions that came up.....

    We just got the chickens about 2 weeks ago

    After scrolling the breeds section on the forums, the black rooster may be a buckeye and the other 3 hens are araucana.

    And our hopes are to raise chicks to repopulate the flock once older hens cannot lay....should we really get rid of the roosters and could they prevent egg laying?
  9. Muttpuppy

    Muttpuppy In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2014
    Not necessarily, it will really depend on their personalities. Just keep an eye on them. Either they will fight, or one will be submissive and sort of be a number 2. If they do get along keep an eye on your hens, just to make sure they're not being over mated. Good luck.
  10. TheGoogleFarmer

    TheGoogleFarmer Hatching

    Dec 5, 2014
    They all seem to get along fine. I do see a little segregation among the 2 breeds of hens, but I assumed that was normal or just a difference in the way they act such as the Araucanas perch, but the silkies huddle....things like that. We have grown attached to the roosters and really don't want to let them go, but we do want to see some eggs soon and right now we are not sure when that will be lol. Thanks again for everyone helping bring all sorts of knowledge to the table. This really helps guys!

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