My first chickens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by SNJchickens, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. SNJchickens

    SNJchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here in Southern New Jersey I have finally realized my dream of having chickens in the backyard. Since my husband's heart attack I've been home quite a lot, so I thought that getting chickens was "now or never." I live in a development on less than 1/4 acre, so I polled the neighbors for permission. All of them were very supportive.

    I found a local breeder and bought 2 Spangled Hamburgs born April 15th plus a S. Hamburg x Cochin and a Cochin x Barnavelder.

    Currently, at 7 months old none of them are laying! I feed Flock Raiser and Layena plus a small amount of scratch and sunflower seeds for added calories in the cold. In the evening the girls get a treat of cheese bits. Grit is available and there are 2 sources of fresh water. The run provides grass. The girls have access to the back yard every evening until sunset when they go to bed. We have never used chemicals on the lawn so I have no worries about residual polutants.

    My coop is small (rated for 5 hens) and my run is large. I have to net the top to protect from the local hawks during the day. At night the girls are safely locked in the coop in a "fortress" with carabineers locking down every possible access to predators.

    Other than the frustration of not having even one egg so far, I love having the girls. They are entertaining. Each one has a unique personality. All of them are used to being held and petted. Well, the Cochin crosses are more amenable to handling than the S. Hamburgs.

    Since the coop is small I have insulated it but I don't heat it. The water doesn't freeze over night inside.

    I look forward to being a part of the backyard chickens community.
     
  2. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't realize that The Chicken Channel came with them either LOL...aren't they fun?? Sounds to me like you're doing everything right. Do you supplement their protein at all? Extra protein and calcium are needed for egg production. We also give some cheese, but also yogurt, meat scraps, cooked dried beans and when we get an egg that's cracked or punctured, I scramble it up for them. In addition to a free choice grit container, we also give them ground oyster shell or eggshell. They're good about knowing what they need.

    Light is an issue at this time of year as well. They need about 16 hours of light a day for optimal production. We have a light in the coop on a timer. It comes on at 1am and off at sunrise when we let them out. It helped production quite a bit but not as much as I'd hoped. Think I figured it out though...there are feathers all over the place, so I believe they're molting so more of the protein is going to replacing the feathers.

    It's normal for production to fall in the winter and since yours are just at the starting to lay point, I'm sure it's having an impact. Be patient...come spring you'll be seeing the eggs! :)
     
  3. SNJchickens

    SNJchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you for the welcoming post.

    My girls have oyster shell mixed into the Layena along with some DE. Grit is free choice using a quart mason jar and one of those screw on "chick drinker" tops from Tractor Supply. I do give hardboiled egg all mushed up, shell and all. Also, some rolled oats mixed with dried mealworms in the mornings (two saucers so no squabbling.) During the evening outings the girls find suet bits that the wild birds have dropped, peanut bits and lots of safflower and nyger seed. They also scratch around in the gardens for grubs, etc.

    I hadn't thought of beans as a treat. Generally, there are no left-overs from the table when I serve beans! I do buy cheese ends from the deli counter for the girls. They would walk through fiery hoops for cheese!

    Part of my run is 50 ft of portable plastic fencing (4 ft tall) on step-in posts every 7 feet. I move the run to give the girls fresh places to scratch and forage (though once the ground freezes I doubt I'll be able to move the fencing.) I use bird netting across the top to assure safety.

    I don't have a light in the coop. Since the coop is quite small I don't want to chance "fried chicken" by adding a light. I think even a bulb as small as a night light may overheat. In the Spring I'm thinking of acquiring a larger coop, but for now the cozy coop (no window) will have to suffice.

    Each morning I hopefully check the nest boxes and the bedding for eggs. Some day I will be rewarded.
     
  4. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Greetings from Kansas, SNJchickens, and [​IMG]! Great to have you here. Sounds like you are doing everything right and are a very responsible chicken parent. Seems like your girls should be laying - but some breeds get cranking a little later than others. Plus I think chickens just lay less frequently in the cold. Should be any day now. Oh, and also look around their free range for little hidey holes one of them may have deposited an egg or two. Best of luck to you!
     
  5. SNJchickens

    SNJchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Redsox??? I'm originally from MA and a big fan of the Sox and the Pats.

    Thanks for the encouragement and advice. When the girls are out in the yard I am with them every second because we have nesting redtailed hawks across the road (I can see the nest from the coop!)

    I await that first $500 egg!!!!
     
  6. DDNONIN2016

    DDNONIN2016 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello and welcome from Ohio....so glad you joined. Mine arent laying either :(
     
  7. SNJchickens

    SNJchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I was worried since my friend got her chickens at the same time I bought mine, but then I did my homework - which I should have done first, of course - and found that her RIR girls are bred to lay early. My S. Hamburg and my crossbreeds are not "early layers" but they are absolutely gorgeous.
    Two of the S. Hamburgs are glossy black with shades of blue and green and a few cream colored dots. My other S. Hamburg is black and white in equal proportions and she is very showy.
    The "odd woman" is a lovely pumpkin colored Cochin x Barnavelder. She's my gentle giant who likes to be held but is the bottom of the pecking order. I guess she is a "meat chicken" in size and weight.

    That first $500 egg is going to taste delicious. Meanwhile, my husband points out with good humor that eggs are less than $2 per dozen at the grocery store.
     
  8. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  9. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Hello and welcome to BYC [​IMG] You won't get an egg as nice as one of your own hens' at the grocery store!
     
  10. liz9910

    liz9910 Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG] from California, hope you get your $500 egg soon :)
     

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