New Chickens...and I have quite a few questions.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Dee5385, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Dee5385

    Dee5385 Out Of The Brooder

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    So I went to a poultry auction and bought my first chickens. I wanted to have chickens at different stages of their lives so I would always have eggs. So I came home with 4 chickens but I'm not sure of their age. Two of them were called Pullets at the sale which means less then 1 year old. The other two they didn't really say so I'm clueless. I have done some reading in the forum as to how to figure out a chickens age and from what I found it's pretty hard to tell. Did I miss a huge hint somewhere?

    Another question...one of the chickens went out in the run through their little door yesturday late morning. Anyway, She hasn't made her way back into the coop and she was out overnight. (got down to 34 degrees overnight) I'm worried because it is cold outside and this "space" (coop & run) is new to her. I'm not sure if she just doesn't know how to get back in the coop. I do have a friend and she says she has a chicken that prefers to sleep in the run no matter how cold it is. Thoughts?

    Next...since I'm new to this...how often should I be giving my chickens fresh produce? They have a full bucket of feed (pellets) and oyster shell but I know giving them fresh stuff is good too. I just don't know if I should do this everyday or only a few days a week. Also, what's a good ratio for a mix of pellets to oyster shell? More pellets then oyster shell?

    Next...one of my chickens keeps her left eye closed A LOT. I've been looking at it but it doesn't seem to be hurt in anyway, she just keeps it closed a lot. Every once in awhile she'll open it but I just don't know if I need to do anything about it.

    Ok, I think this is my last question...Since we just brought these chickens home saturday how long should it be before we get an egg? I know that's going to depend a lot on their age, stress level, temperatures etc. But it's been 2 days and still nothing. Trying to be patient but I'm excited for my first egg:)

    Thanks in advance for reading my rambel and answer any of my questions.
     
  2. chickenlover80

    chickenlover80 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am not very good with seeing how old a chicken is. You should get someone with a little more knowledge then me. But i can answer the second one. I am sure your little chicken will be ok :) Chickens can survive under 8 degrees and sometimes more if they have good ventilation and body heat. And I can answer you last question. If you get good layers they normally start egg production at around four months :) Feel free to ask more questions. It's hard to learn everything so fast. Sorry I couldn't answer all your questions. :)
    -chickenlover80
     
  3. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    1. Lets assume that the seller was honest. Pullets could mean anything from fully feathered female to one year of age. Hens have characteristics that can assist in determining age, but many of these are breed specific.

    2. The hen that stayed outside may need some adjustment time. Put them into the coop each night for a few nights. then they should know that that is where they are supposed to be at night. But, some like other spots better, and if they choose another spot outside the coop, then so be it. She will be fine at that temp.

    3. Fresh produce is fine, but you may want to consider rationing it out, a little each day. Give the oyster shell as free choice. If they need it, they will eat it.

    4. Just watch the chicken with the eye issue. If its not swollen or bleeding, it may just be a minor issue.

    5. It may taske a few days for them to lay. Also, you don't know how old the pullets are or any of them for that matter. They may have just come out of a molt (where they lose their feathers and grow them back). Be patient.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I have no idea on how to tell a chicken’s age. Some pullets can look old. Some older hens can look pretty young.

    It’s usually a pretty good idea to lock the hens in the coop for a day or two to get them used to the idea that this is now home. Some catch on pretty quickly and some may tale a week or so to catch on.

    Don’t worry about the cold. 34 isn’t that cold to a grown chicken if it is not raining or is not getting hit by a strong wind. Of more concern is how predator-proof is your run and is she safer locked in the coop at night.

    The general rule of thumb is to make produce or other “treats” no more than 10% of their diet each day. 90% should be regular chicken feed. That way they get a balanced diet. If they can clean it up in about 15 minutes, you are not giving them too much produce. It’s not an exact science but it gives you something to go by.

    You hit on the real problem of mixing oyster shell with their feed. How much oyster shell do they need? That’s going to vary wildly between flocks from none to a fair amount. They can get some calcium from plants like the produce you feed them. Creepy-crawlies they catch often provide calcium, especially if they have bones or a hard shell. If your native rock is limestone they will get a lot of calcium from the pebbles they eat for grit. If all you fed is Layer, that should have somewhere around 4% calcium, which should give them all the calcium they need if all they eat is Layer. If the calcium in their feed is around 1% and they don’t get more from what else they eat, you need to supplement their calcium. Their egg shells will tell you what they need. If the shells are thin, they need more calcium. If they are thick, they don’t.

    A hen that is laying seems to instinctively know how much calcium she needs. If they don’t need any, they tend to not eat any. What I strongly suggest is to offer the oyster shell on the side, not mixed in with their feed. If they need it they will eat it. If they don’t need it they won’t eat enough to harm themselves.

    When will you get you first egg? If I could answer that and be right, I’d go buy a lottery ticket. Like you said it depends on a lot of different things. If they were laying it really should not be very long, but who really knows if they were laying.
     
  6. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dee5385,

    Congratulations on purchasing your first chickens! They can be a great source of joy and enjoyment.

    First... Not trying to scare you, but, I want to make you aware that many new chickens can bring in diseases to each other that you may not see at first. So, any and all new chickens should be considered "in quarantine" for at least a month, even chickens from breeders and reputable sources.

    Hatching eggs and day old chicks are really the only safest to bring in as diseases don't pass from hen to an egg. And keep a very careful eye on the girl who keep closing her eye.

    Do you know anything about their background? Do you know if they have been wormed? Is anyone skinny where you can feel a sharp keel bone underneath?

    Check their poos carefully, daily if you can. They should be solid, tannish/ brownish with some white on top, or, pumpkin colored and runny possibly with a small amount of white. Chickens do not urinate separately. If you see anything else than described, runny, green, etc., post a photo and ask for advice. Again, you need to be aware of their poo health all the time. You do not want outside illnesses passed to your established flock.

    3 weeks ago we purchased a flock of full grown French black copper Marans from a breeder showing birds at a show. They looked and acted very healthy. We got them home, then, found one had expelled huge 4" Roundworms (the most common type of worm.). That meant all of them were infested with worms, so they had to be dewormed to make sure our established flock will not get their worms after quarantine, since they are so contagious. Very important to keep up a worming schedule about 2X a year, as worms can kill chickens.

    Worming takes 2 doses at 10 days each. Eggs should not be eaten during this time. We have to wait 5 extra days after worming time to eat the eggs, so that will be 25 days total for hens, 20 for roos. There are some excellent threads here on worming.

    As for age... post photos, maybe someone could guess if they are pullets or hens.

    Here's one way to guess at ages. If you pick them up, feel around the vent area, feel for the small bones on sides of vent. If they are together, then she's a pullet and not laying yet, so probably 5 months or less in age. One finger's width part, a pullet nearing point of lay (POL) (4-7 months usually). A two finger's width part... this is a hen who's laying (5+ months- much older).

    A hen might take some days or weeks to start laying after stress, or just start right in. You never really know. During winter, laying can be depending on how much light they are getting each day. Put a golf ball in your nesting box- they should get the message when they are ready.

    Okay, oyster shell should be made available all the time as "free eats." Much as they want.
    Greens and treats depend on if they will eventually free range, and if you are feeding them layers pellets (16-18 percent protein.). Our established flock freeranges, supplemental daily pellets, and I like to give them some treats a few times a week.

    Hope this helps...
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  7. Dee5385

    Dee5385 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok, so I can't post a picture on this forum. I'm not getting the Picture icon. (I looked in the FAQ forum) I was also having issues creating a new thread until I changed something in the account settings. (the body of the thread kept disappearing when I'd try to create a new thread) Any ideas on the picture thing?

    I do not know if anybody has been de-wormed. Might be a silly question but would I see worms in their poo? What I've seen so far looks ok. I didn't read anything about worms when I was preparing for chickens....eck! Nobody is too skinny/boney
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Sometimes you have to have ten posts to post pictures, it's an anti-spam thing. Maybe go to the intro section, or just reply to a few threads to get your post count up, then try pics again.
     
  9. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is a chicken poo chart. Although everything isn't here, it is still pretty handy to look at.

    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html

    What does roundworms look like? (Sorry GRAPHIC photo.) Ick. It's a decent photo of what it is though.[​IMG]


    This is the worms the cockerel expressed on the ride home. You'll see where there is food that wasn't digested, and a pink worm looking thing on the upper left. This is shed intestinal lining. It happens even in chickens without worms from time to time... not something to worry about.

    I'm actually glad to see this happen now at the quarantine beginning, rather than a few months later. If he hadn't done expressed this, we might not have realized the severity of his intestinal worm load for months. The new flock could have infected the established flock and then we'd have to worm everyone (and 96 chicken is a lot of mouths to worm!). FYI, not every poo in an infected bird will express worms- just once in a while.

    During quarantine time (or molt time and winter) is the best time to worm or use antibiotics when needed so the flock isn't being medicated during peak egg days in spring and summer.

    Your birds may not have worms, but just be aware that most chickens get them, as they are found in soil. (Some arid areas get them less than wetter areas I'm to understand.) One roundworm can lay 1000 eggs!
     
  10. Dee5385

    Dee5385 Out Of The Brooder

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    WOW! That picture is gross. But at least I know know what to look for. I'm going to get stuff to de-worm them....just to make sure I'm starting off with healthy birds. I'll do some research on BYC to find teh best de-wormer. I'd rather use something I can put in their water just so I don't have to stress them out by catching each one.
     

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