New Chicken Mom with Questions & Problems

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Malpower, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Malpower

    Malpower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2009
    Kentfield, California
    I'm new at chickens (always had Malamutes until my last one died in February) -- I adopted two pullets, survivors of a raccoon massacre next door 2 months ago where chicks were not being well taken care of and locked in at night. My two girls are now about 5-1/2 months, New Hampshire Reds. We built a small but secure coop with concrete floor and they have been quite safe at night. I let them free-range during day in my yard -- lots of trees, bushes and shrubs and I never thought about hawks. Well, yesterday I found one of the girls dead and headless and believe it was a redtail hawk I saw flying away. Needlesstosay, I'm simply crushed, so sad. I love those little hens! I found the other girl hidden behind some flower pots and she was fine -- tho she's not anxious to come off her roost and out of the coop today and probably is traumatized (doesn't look like she's pooped at all since yesterday) -- I'm not anxious to let her out of the coop until I can figure out what to do to keep her safe out in the yard without me as a bodyguard. I'm also trying to figure out how to build a portable run of some sort or drape netting around areas of the yard so she can range through the bushes as usual, take her dust baths and so forth. I guess I should save questions of hawk protection and building runs for another forum -- so my question for this one is about adding hens: I have a small coop (about 3.5 x 4 by 4 tall at center with one 4 foot long roost at top, a small outside wire cage attached) about how many hens would get on comfortably in this space? I was thinking of trying to find 1 or 2 new hens, someone said why not get 3 for a max of 4 perhaps. I have two nesting boxes on the floor of the coop (neither of the girls had started laying yet). I am assuming that the one hen probably needs companionship, being an only chicken isn't much fun -- is this correct? This leads to the question -- how easy is it to introduce hens to each other -- I don't have any place to really separate them. If I got a couple of new hens and put them in the coop at dark right off the bat -- would that be pushing my luck? I'm really in a quandary about what to do. I don't want to do the wrong thing and make the situation worse. Should I give my one girl Lucy a chance to settle down before adding new hens?

    Any advice would be so greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

    Kerry
    Kentfield, California
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
  2. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    7,505
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    Jan 30, 2007
    WV
    Well, it will be pushing your luck if you try adding hens with your old girl without seperating them for acouple weeks. Also it's not good to just add new chickens to each other incase of disease. It's best to keep new chickens quarantined away from your flock for atleast 30 days to keep things safe.

    They would do best after the quarantine to be able to see each other seperated by a wire or wire dog crate til they get use to each other.

    Sorry you lost one of the originals.....

    My two cents [​IMG]
     
  3. #1California Chick

    #1California Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2008
    SF Bay Area
    [​IMG] Welcome to BYC!![​IMG]

    Your coop will hold 4 chickens, assuming that you have a run attached. A run should allow 10 square feet per chicken.

    Yes, your hen will be lonely. Chickens are very social animals. Whether you get chicks, pullets or full grown hens, you will have to keep them separated for a while and let them get used to each other before you put them together.

    Sorry about your loss!! You can pretty much count on the hawk coming back for the other chicken!!

    Good Luck!!

    Cindy
     
  4. Malpower

    Malpower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2009
    Kentfield, California
    Thanks! And you are so right about the hawk coming back -- he's been circling about the yard the past hour or so -- darn it all! I'm really worrying about it swooping down to grab the hen even if I'm out there with her -- I've been hearing all sorts of awful stories. Poor Lucy is hiding out inside the coop up on her roost and I'm sure still pretty traumatized.

    I don't guess the outside attached cage would hold too many hens -- it's about 3 x 3 by 2ish high at most with hanging food and water taking up room. I have the feeling that maybe just one more hen might be the best idea for right now -- am working on the people who took 3 of the remaining sisters maybe letting me have one of them -- better chance of the girls getting along perhaps since they've been parted for only a month or two. But the new owners may not want to give me one.

    Now to find out if there's any way to protect from hawks if I ever let the hen(s) out again.

    Thanks for replies and advice.
    Kerry
     
  5. Malpower

    Malpower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2009
    Kentfield, California
    An update, for what it's worth! On the 20th my handyman built a big enclosure (about 20 ft by 16 ft) around the area where the coop is, and put a 7-8 foot high "roof" of bird netting over the top. I had been in contact with a gal with a ranch and lots of chickens and other livestock and immediately went up while enclosure was being constructed and got three 3 month old pullets from her -- intended to keep them separated as you all advised in a small cage hutch and get another coop to use until hens all got to know one another over a month's time. Right off the bat someone left the cage door open when I was away for a couple of hours -- all hens met and no battles ensued. Aside from my having to pluck the 3 new girls out of the trees the first night and place them into the one coop I have, all has gone well. By night two they knew to march into the coop at dusk and by night three they were all up on the same roost with the original hen Lucy. Lucy is top of the pecking order but is pretty benevolent unless I'm carrying a container of meal worms, then she becomes a "guard chicken" -- BUT in the last week I've learned to fake her out a bit and everyone receives equal portions of worms. New chickens are now eating out of my hand and coming when called, and I just couldn't be happier. This turned out to be so easy and I also didn't have to spend money on another coop to separate the girls. And now I can relax when the hawks and other big birds are circling overhead -- none have as yet tried to dive bomb the new enclosure even tho they cruise the neighborhood most days!

    I hope someone will tell me if they have found that bird netting doesn't work as overhead protection from hawks....perhaps they could somehow break through the netting but our hope is if that happened they'd get tangled up in the netting.

    Kerry
     

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