New chicken owner

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by BTDMS23, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. BTDMS23

    BTDMS23 New Egg

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    Sep 8, 2016
    Hi, I am as new as new gets to chickens. We have 20 acres and a new home with goats and horses which we have had for a while. I have an old shed like the ones from lowes that we have turned into a very nice coop with plenty of places for the birds to roost and 4 nesting boxes along with hanging water/feeder. We used sand and hay combo sand on bottom about 5inches and a thin layer of hay on top. There is also 2 windows that we have taken out and placed welded wire over for ventilation. The chickens have an 8x8x8 run with plenty of things to climb on/water/swing and lots of bugs. I have 5 Longhorns I believe, one white and 4 brown that have just started laying. We purchased them from a man that fed them all natural food and just wormed them a week before we purchased them. Now that all the background is out of the way I'll get to the point. They keep pecking and eating each other's feathers, they were all toegther before but in a free range environment....is this a lack of protein, establishing a new pecking order, or just bullying. Also I have to force them out of the coop (just by walking near them not scaring them or touching them) once outside they will play and eat bugs or feed on the ground but refuse to eat out of the tin auto feeder inside. They also will run back inside as soon as I open the door and will not stay outside even though they have the opportunity to do so all day long. I sit in the run with them for an hour or two each day and they are fine with me they come to me and peck around me. I've had them for 1 week and would love any advice or tips on this book I have just written. If this is the wrong place or if I did something wrong please just point me in the right direction I looked forms rules forum but didn't see one, it's hard to navigate on the phone.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Welcome to BYC. You have leghorns (maybe). How big is their coop? Do you have an option to let them out to free range? That might make them more content, since that was what they were doing before. The fact that they are feather picking says something is amiss. Perhaps they are feeling crowded due to being used to free ranging. How much perch space do they have? How close is the perch to the walls/ceiling of the coop? What are you giving them for feed? Do you actually see them pecking feathers from each other, or do you just notice them missing feathers? You can start by giving them more protein in their diet: either put them on 20% multi-flock, or give them some animal protein in addition to their layer ration. Limit scratch grains and non protein treats for now. You could even give them an occasional hand full of kitty kibble. Since they've been cooped for a week, they should view the coop as home now, and will return to it to roost if you do allow them to free range.
     
  3. BTDMS23

    BTDMS23 New Egg

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    Sep 8, 2016
    I have witnessed one hen pick and eat another the rest just eat small feathers on the ground and leave the larger ones. I will check the food brand when I get home but it is an all natural 16% layer pellet from tractor supply. They have a coop that's 10x10 with roost ranging from 6" from the wall to a foot away. They have roost all around the coop so about 30 board feet worth to pick from at several different heights the most being about a foot from the roof with smaller ones under it they like to use a stepping stones to the top. Three choose to be on each other and the other 2 hens spread out. The run is 8 foot long 8 foot wide and 8 foot tall and I am currently working on fencing in another pasture for them to be able to have supervised free range time. I am a little nervous with letting them out right now since they were not handled before and I can not get close to them without sitting or they will freak out which is something I don't want them to do.
     
  4. BTDMS23

    BTDMS23 New Egg

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    Sep 8, 2016
    Definitely leghorns btw, I have a few books that I used to find the exact breed. The man I got them from just had them listed as laying hens and through conversation I honestly never asked. I also forgot to mention that we have a lot of predators from raccoons every night to the monthly coyote or bobcat thanks to my land being bunched up between De Soto national forest.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I think 6" from the wall is awful close. They need to be far enough away from the wall IMO so that their tail feathers don't touch the wall. Predators are horrid. You'll want to have them secured in the coop every night, and have all coop openings covered securely with 1/2" hardware cloth. I'm sure you've heard that chicken wire will not keep predators out, but will keep chickens in.
     
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  6. BTDMS23

    BTDMS23 New Egg

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    Sep 8, 2016
    The run wire is thick welded wire 2x2 squares. Ill move the roost out they seem to just want to stay on them though they never want to go outside
     

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