New(ish) to hens and have a few questions...of course..

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kaycejones, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. kaycejones

    kaycejones New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Mar 6, 2015
    So, probably get these a lot but it's easier to try to get advice in one post than sifting through the masses.. Sorry if it's obnoxious old business.

    I have had these hens for about 8 months. I have 3 10 month old Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes and a 3yo Australorp. They have just started laying (hit winter before the young girls started and Old Lady just re-started every week or so). My young girls are on the wild side as they were raised by mom and didn't get enough handling. I think it's for this reason that none of them will lay in the coop but have found their own, exceptionally inconvenient and painful, locations (ie holly hedge.. sigh.) They have always had free range of the yard as they are so darn noisy in the mornings when they're locked up that I've considered getting rid of them. Unfortunately now my dislike of their morning noise has been pushed aside by my despise of crawling under the holly, and the scratches and cursing that ensues each day. I'm also moving to a place where they are not allowed to free range and will have to be cooped up and tractored so am trying to get them used to the idea too. So.. here are my actual questions in case you want to skip the above and get to the dirty work...

    1. Tips on keep the brats quiet?! I live in a neighborhood and though others have chickens, which I can't hear over the freeway, I am concerned that they are too loud especially as it starts before dawn. I also personally can't stand it as I'm not a morning person and get pretty darn irritated being woken before I have to be up. I understand that they make noise, and often unbearably so for many, and will re-home or cross that bridge when it comes but I'd like to exhaust all my options first. I also plan to try ear plugs and have read that a radio can help though I'm not sure how I can make that work here but I'll try anything! Shoot your suggestions, no matter how crazy it may seem! Help!

    2. My coop is a tractor style but is too heavy so is stationary. It's mesh floor on dirt and has design flaws. I'm considering other options, and hoping when I move to get a different style coop. The biggest issue I'm having is that the enclosed area gets super smelly when I open the door for eggs. I'm trying to be diligent on cleaning but it seems no matter what I do the enclosed area smells. I don't have the tools to add ventilation unfortunately and am not going to buy them for this project. How can I add ventilation, bed or clean in order to keep this smell down? The floor is mesh in the enclosed area as well and it's impossible to keep it drier in there as I live in Western Washington and.. well it's wet and the ground under the chicken coop is wet after rain even though the chickens themselves are not. I am considering adding a mesh panel to the door opening so that I can either open it and still keep them locked up, or have a constant air flow but still accessibility to the nesting boxes. Any ideas how I can add mesh to a door, still be accessible, and use limited to no tools short of a hammer and sheer will?

    3. How can I get these girls more comfortable with me? They are very stand offish! I have offered treats and they'll come close..ish.. but the young girls are flat jumpy and terrified of me no matter what I do. Will they maybe calm down in time, maybe if I am diligent and pushy about my treat giving?

    Any other tips for the newb would be awesome!
    Thanks all!

    Edited to add.. Can I use the Deep Bedding Method on a mesh floor or on the wet washington ground? Any experience with mesh flooring or should I just remove it and give it a try? Predators are non-existent in my yard except my own dogs who are unlikely to put in that much effort and aren't out unsupervised much.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  2. cluckcluckgirl

    cluckcluckgirl Queen of the Coop Premium Member

    2,978
    262
    276
    Jun 16, 2012
    Tending to my chickens
    Your hens should calm down as some time goes by. I notice that when I give mine treats in the morning, they get quieter. I don't know much about tractor coops, so I can't be of much help there. To help socialize them, it will take a while since they are mature. Just pick them up often, pet them gently, and talk soft around them. I've used that on mine to much success, so I hope it will work for you.
     
  3. kaycejones

    kaycejones New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Mar 6, 2015
    Thanks for the advice! I'll try tossing them something tasty when they wake me up. Hard for me to think that won't make them more obnoxious knowing I'll come out if they are but trying to remind/hope they're not smart enough or rather don't learn that way like my 3 dogs or 2 cats would haha

    Picking them up is a long way off, if ever. They're wild enough that it's impossible to even lean in their direction with out them freaking out, stressing, flapping and squeaking by no matter how hard I try. I've given up on trying to touch them lol
     
  4. kaycejones

    kaycejones New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Mar 6, 2015
    Also, I've been reading about the deep litter method but am not understanding how that'd be plausible with a mesh floor. If I removed the mesh flooring is it ok to do it on the bare ground though being in a wet climate it's always wet? Options for that?
     
  5. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    10,845
    4,324
    501
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I'm afraid the Wyandotte breed is just a standoffish one, and it requires immense patience and YEARS of them getting used to you for a Wyandotte to come around, if ever. I have them, and each one of mine is, "Don't TOUCH me!" and one hates me, and is capable of outsmarting me whenever I try to coral her. To handle any of my Wyandottes requires careful planning and trickery. This says a lot about Wyandottes because all the rest of my chickens are as loveable and tame as one would want, even my four Sussex thugs.

    Your Washington climate precludes being able to do much about the smell. When ground that chicken droppings have been in contact with becomes damp, it smells, even when the poop has been removed. Some people have had good luck with Stall Dry and Sweet PDZ to keep smells from overwhelming. It's worth a try.

    Your problem with them laying in inconvenient places should be moot once you move and the hens are confined. But if it's going to be a while before you move, try cooping them up for a few days to get them to imprint on the coop as their nesting place. It's a matter of re-training.

    As far as the noise, hens make a lot of noise around laying time. The rest of the time, they should be pretty quiet. Mine get real noisy when they see me coming because they associate me with food, and food is the most exciting thing in their lives. The rest of the time, it's as if I don't even have chickens, they're so quiet. There's not much you can do to keep chickens quiet when they want to make noise. But it shouldn't annoy the neighbors like it does you, so I wouldn't worry if I were you.
     
  6. kaycejones

    kaycejones New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Mar 6, 2015
    Thanks for the advice! I had no idea wyandottes were so ...independent lol I'll give the pdz a try! The coop currently smells alright and they've been locked up in it for a few days. They're not happy so I'm looking into some coop enrichment for them. I also tried a white noise app on my phone last night and want woken by their protests to being cooped up this morning so that was nice :)
     
  7. cluckcluckgirl

    cluckcluckgirl Queen of the Coop Premium Member

    2,978
    262
    276
    Jun 16, 2012
    Tending to my chickens
    azygous did give you some nice advice. I'm not much experienced in the deep litter method, but I've heard it works great in some climates. I've heard that Manna Pro makes a coop de-odorizer, but I've never used it. That's very good that your girls are getting better and more adjusted. It's rather tricky to socialize adult hens (I have 2 that I got as adults and all socializing attempts have failed, but I've gotten 4 social). Hopefully they'll warm up to you over time. [​IMG]
     
  8. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

    74
    1
    48
    May 11, 2014
    My coop is quite close to our bedroom window, and we run a fan every night, all year long, to drown out the rooster's crowing. It provides a nice white noise.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by