New Chick Momma Insecurities!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ladyracheld, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. ladyracheld

    ladyracheld In the Brooder

    22
    35
    44
    Jun 6, 2018
    Harford County, MD
    Hi BYC!! Pleased to be among common chicken loving folk!
    My Backstory:
    My chicken momma-hood was a random thing. I walked into TSC and just fell in love. I told my husband I wanted chickens, he laughed me off, we kept moving. I watched some videos and did light research in the car on the way to our next stop. Informed him "I could definitely do this! I'm have chicken momma potential!" He appeased me and gave me the green light, still not taking me seriously. I asked how many to get (he grew up having chickens) and he told me 4, so they have friends. I took him seriously, but apparently he just threw a number out there. Fast forward like 2 weeks. I was visiting family out of state and as fate would have it, I came across someone with a boat load of chicks they were taking to an Amish farm and offered to give me some for free. So I asked for 4! I came home that day with cardboard box of 4 baby chicks, a large bag of pine shavings, a 7 lb feeder, 5 qt feeder, Dumor Chick Feed, and a heat lamp. I felt so accomplished. My husband just about fainted. I called his bluff. :)

    Fast Forward to Present:
    We have 3 barred rock chicks (I think) and 1 white crested black polish hen. I think the chicks are about 8 or 9 weeks old at this point but I'm not sure. They were pretty small when I got them, I'm thinking no more than 2 weeks but I have no idea honestly. They were full of fuzz but no feathers. I got them on 4/21/18 so it's now 6.5 weeks later, putting them at least about 7.5 weeks old but possibly older. No one has a wattle yet, 2/3 of the barred rocks have tiny combs emerging. Those are Mic and Dezz. The 3rd one has more of a flat spot. That one's Marty. So I'm not sure of their sex yet. The Polish hen is all black with a fabulous white crest, so it's breed is pretty obvious. The crest is fluffed and appears well groomed as opposed to the males who look more dangly and fine. So I'm pretty sure she's a hen. Her name is Cuzz. I tried to pick gender neutral names. My hopes are to have at least two hens and lay a fair amount of eggs. I plan to switch them to Starter/Grower this week. Is that okay?

    Their Digs and My Insecurities:
    I moved my chicks outside about 2 weeks ago. Mic kept flying out of the setup I had to them. it was a large rabbit pen with a tarped bottom. I'm pretty sure (s)he was roosting on the feeder then jumping out. They have a 6-8 chicken coop with run I purchased from TSC. I thought it would be great (not having seen it in person, just online) because it's marketed for 6-8 chickens and I only have 4. But now that I have it, and they're living there, I'm not so sure. I feel like is it really enough space? The run spans the whole coop but I'm not comfortable free ranging them in the yard yet. We have large dogs on two sides of our yard and the other side is just a tiny yapper dog. Plus, I'm just anxious being a first time momma and all. I do let them out to explore about the run after I get off of work until dusk. I worry I'm not getting them enough exercise and I'm depriving my darlings.

    It took them a bit to want to eat and drink after I moved them outside. So in my desperation, I removed the dividers out of the nest box and placed their feeder and waterer in that portion of the coop. They keep pooping in the feeder (which is not new) and pooping all over the floor of the nester box. I am planning to hang the feeder and waterer but I'm not completely sure where is a good spot. I was thinking under the coop. My concern is the nasty wet weather we've been having. It'll be outside now, so I'll let them free into the run when I leave for work in the morning. My chicks and the food will be exposed to the elements all day, is that okay? Is that going to make for soggy food? Do I have to toss the food if it gets wet at all? Also, are my chickens going to keep pooping in the nester now? Did I doom myself? If so, what can I do now?? They've also been sleeping huddled up in a corner of the nest box, on top of the feeding bowl part of the feeder (not the very top of the container). My heart breaks when I see them in the morning. Are they okay? Should I put the heat lamp back out there on chillier nights (like 50 degree low)? My chicken raising friend said they're fine, but are they?

    I don't have a dust bather for them. How do I accommodate one for them? Where do I put it? Especially with this weather. Is that something I can put inside the coop? They have portion of the coop that has the shavings trays and roosting bars. Should I put a dust bath in there somewhere? I didn't realize that I needed one and now I feel like I don't have any space for it!! What do I do?

    I want to be a good chick-momma. All constructive advice and comments welcome!!
    Thanks!
    Rachel

    (attached pic of coop for reference) 00coop.jpg
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    51,739
    32,561
    1,192
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!
    Will hit on a couple of these quick.
    Lots to learn in your first year, like getting a sip of water out of a fire hose.

    You could make a larger run for them.
    Feed definitely needs to stay dry.
    Raise feed/water on a brick or two(or more) to get it off the floor, less likely to poop or sleep in it.
    At 7 weeks they don't need heat, post pics for gender ID.

    Those coops leave much to be desired, should be OK for 4, depending on your climate.
    Best tiny coop mod I've ever seen, click on link and think about it.
    http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1134399/help-hens-roosting-in-nest-boxes/10#post_17749535

    Where in this world are you located?
    Climate is almost always a factor.
    Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
    It's easy to do, then it's always there!

    upload_2018-6-6_18-55-32.png
     
    PachecoPeeps and ladyracheld like this.
  3. ladyracheld

    ladyracheld In the Brooder

    22
    35
    44
    Jun 6, 2018
    Harford County, MD
    Thanks so much Aart!! I updated my location now :)

    I'm in harford county, MD, about 40 min north of Baltimore. I'm hoping to make some adjustments to the food situation today after work! I got some up close pictures of them yesterday after I received your reply! I'll take your advice and post them on the gender forum. I really appreciate you taking the time! Thanks again!
     
  4. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    3,049
    4,138
    372
    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    Going to try to touch on a few points...

    Grower is fine at this point.

    Chicks poop, it;s what they do. They'll stop pooping in food and water once they get older. You'll need to find a way to keep the food from getting wet so it doesn't spoil... mold is dangerous. If you're keeping it under the coop portion at this point, maybe put up temporary walls with plastic sheeting, plastic panels, or plywood, to keep rain from blowing in on the sides?

    Since they're little they're going to want to sleep in random places. They're well old enough to be roosting at this point though. You'll need to go out at dusk and pick them up and put them on the roost bars inside the coop, to teach them to roost for bedtime. This might take a few days or a few weeks.

    Your set up is likely too small if you're planning on keeping them locked up all the time. Get a measuring tape, and measure the following: the coop (enclosed portion) and the run (the wire mesh portion). Per chicken you want a minimum of 4 sq ft in coop not including nest box, 10 sq ft in run,. In cold climates you probably want more space in coop as there'll be days the chickens may not want to come out. So with the prefab you have, you can try turning the entire thing into a coop and then add a new run. A dog kennel is a possible starting point for a run, if you don't want to build one. The dust bath could go in the run.

    NO heat lamp at 50 degrees, they absolutely don't need it.
     
    ladyracheld and aart like this.
  5. ladyracheld

    ladyracheld In the Brooder

    22
    35
    44
    Jun 6, 2018
    Harford County, MD
    Thank you sooo much! This was all incredibly helpful.

    I will start moving them to the roost at night. Last night they were all huddled in the center nest box. I figured they were cold so I let it be, but I'll start moving them.

    Yesterday I moved the food and water on top of blocks under the coop and replaced the dividers in the nest box. We're supposed to have dry weather for the next couple of days so we'll see how it goes!! I plan to get a chain to hang it though. Is there somewhere else I can put the food to better my odds of keeping it dry? I would hate to have to puts walls and kill the ventilation in that area. I see myself having to modify this coop already!! and here I thought I was doing them good by getting a "6-8 chicken coop." I don't know what planet the manufacturers live on!

    Turn the entire thing into a coop? Please elaborate! I'm intrigued! I do plan on adding some sort of run extender...

    Last night they got to "free-range" for a bit on accident! I went to check on them and saw the next box door open!! I took a quick peek around and saw them wandering the yard. Once the saw me, they all began to follow me like ducklings. I guess they were startled by the vast openness too and wanted back in! hahaha. It wasn't as much work as I thought it would be to get them back in! I opened the large run door and once Cuzz figured it out they all followed suit. (She's always the first to figure something out). I think I'm going to start letting them free range during the day til dusk when I'm home. I'm going to start it out tonight! I'm kind of excited.
    But please respond with any additional insights. Much appreciated!!!!!
     
  6. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    3,049
    4,138
    372
    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    Unfortunately when there's not much room to work with you usually have to cobble something together to make do. I had to keep a feeder in the run section of a prefab coop for 2 years, and we get a ton of rain... we used plastic panels to get top and one side covered at least. I actually kept that section when I dismantled my prefab... it's still handy as a covered shelter for rain though we now keep the pellet feeder in the coop.

    If you think you might be free ranging in your yard, then you could see about buying or making some sort of covered structure that the feeder could sit under.

    As far as a coop/run combo conversion, this is a simplified explanation, but it should give you some ideas. Remove/cut out most of the interior walls so that you're left with one large "box" to serve as a coop instead of a small enclosed one inside a larger one. Figure out which direction your winds usually blow from, and panel up the wire mesh facing those directions using plywood, plastic paneling, etc. Run a longer roost lengthwise across this new space. Nest box may have to be moved or replaced (I replaced mine with a ground level one).
     
    aart likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: