New Member- New to Chickens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by pfewless, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. pfewless

    pfewless Out Of The Brooder

    92
    6
    43
    Oct 31, 2014
    Hi all I am in SW Michigan. I am a first time backyard chicken "farmer". I have had 2 Isa Browns and one Leghorn Hen for three weeks. I bought them from a local breeder. He said they were about two weeks from laying for the first time. They are just finished molting and have the two finger spread between the bone and the egg hole that he showed me. I don't know if that means anything to all of you but it sounded impressive to me. He and his wife were very available for questions. Even helped with choosing fencing for the yard/run. I purchased a starter coop from tractor supply that has a easy clean roosting box and an easy clean tray. It is for 2-4 hens. I was not very impressed with the roosting sticks that came in it. It looks like their rolIing one but I dont have wheels. I have started them on an all natural commercial crumb feed. So far I have the coop inside a 15x15 fenced run for them. they get closed inside the coop which has a tiny run in it. I am doing a lot of reading and learning but have a few questions I will be posting as I read through to see if they have already been asked and answered. One question I have not seen asked yet is should I put straw on the ground in the screened in enclosure of the coop for them over the winter? I ask this because I have a Yard/ run for them outside of this. So far I have straw in the nesting boxes and commercial bought bedding in the slide out easy clean tray. I have read that the material needs to be about 4-6 inches deep for winter but if I do that it will cover the roosting sticks and there is no other place to put them with the way this was designed.
     
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

    31,932
    4,447
    581
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    So glad you could join our community!

    First you might want to stop by our learning center. LOTS of good articles on all the aspects of keeping your new flock...https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

    Yes, they say when you can get 2 or 3 fingers between the pelvic bones, the bird is getting close to laying. However the sure fire way to tell is when the combs, faces and wattles are full and bright red. The birds will squat down when you lean over them, as if to accept a rooster, and this means the eggs should be coming down the pipe fast! When you see the squatting, get them on layer feed and oyster shell on the side should they need extra calcium. It also helps to keep fake eggs in the nest boxes so they know where to lay their eggs.

    Those tiny prefab coops are usually way to small for only a couple birds. They will claim you can stuff 6 birds in there and many times you CAN put 6 bantams in those, but not standard large breeds. As you saw, the roost bar was for bantams. So if you do keep large breed birds, replace that with a 2x4, with the 4 side up. As long as the birds are off the floor, it doesn't matter if the roost bar is right near the floor. Just pile in the bedding and you can keep the bar a few inches off the floor. Make sure there is good ventilation in the roof or ceiling. Birds make a lot of moisture with breathing and pooping all night and this moisture needs to go somewhere or will fall back down on them as water or frost.

    As for the tiny run, you might consider some sand. If you get a lot of snow in the winter, the straw is going to get wet and mat, breeding bacteria and parasites. I use sand everywhere....coops, runs and even nest boxes! Stays dry when wet, absorbs poop smells, repels flies and you can hose it down in the summer to keep the birds really cool.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Welcome to our flock!
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

    28,340
    4,222
    516
    Apr 23, 2014
    At our lodge
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    Two Crows gave you some good advice.

    Red faces, squatting and singing are all signs of laying hens. Make sure they have calcium and nest boxes with fake eggs.

    Ventilation is probably one of the most important things to have in winter. Without proper ventilation your birds will get frostbite, respiratory illnesses and other problems.
    Chickens can survive brutally cold temps as long as they are dry and out of all drafts. Sealing up all cracks in the coop and putting in about 1 square foot of vent space in the eaves per bird. Wind chills are merciless on chickens sleeping at night so make sure your coop is draft free.

    Other things to do to help keep your chickens snug this winter include using straw as a bedding, using the 4" inch side of a 2x4 roosts. I also put a towel that has been in the dryer and put it on the roosts to warm their feet. Make sure that there is no water spillage or moisture collection on the bedding as this can also result in frostbite. On the very cold nights you should rub vaseline on the chickens' combs and wattles to help prevent freezing.
    Here's a link on frostbite and ventilation.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/frostbite
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-coop-ventilation-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    36,684
    4,692
    566
    Feb 18, 2011
    Ohio
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! You've gotten some good advice from TwoCrows and Mountain Peeps, good luck with your flock, hope those first eggs show up soon.
     
  5. matt44644

    matt44644 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,490
    111
    168
    Sep 14, 2014
    Sanilac County,Michigan
    [​IMG]
     
  6. cherokeebird

    cherokeebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    171
    2
    51
    Oct 4, 2014
    Mount pleasant nc
    Welcome!! Awesome place to ask questions and gather information!!
     
  7. pfewless

    pfewless Out Of The Brooder

    92
    6
    43
    Oct 31, 2014
    Thank You for the advice. Working on the 2x4 roost sticks as we speak. I will be placing fake eggs in nesting boxes tonight. This coop will get me through my start I hope. I plan to build a permanent coop next spring if I find this works out well for me. I am thinking I can turn it into a chick coop if I get that into it and get a rooster.
     
  8. pfewless

    pfewless Out Of The Brooder

    92
    6
    43
    Oct 31, 2014
    After reading up on this we are going to raise the roof off this coop with some 2x4's and put a steel roof on it. I have some scrap roofing we can do it with. I am also going to shelter the chicken run area under the coop with clear plastic for the winter and put either straw down. I am going to have to read up on sand as we have clay soil and I am worried about water retention. If the straw gets to damp I can easily replace it.
     
  9. cherokeebird

    cherokeebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    171
    2
    51
    Oct 4, 2014
    Mount pleasant nc
    Give some thought to pine shavings instead of straw. Sometime chooks will eat the straw and become impacted. The shavings are better and easier to clean. Use stall dry with them to keep down ammonia. It's available at most farm supy stores
     
  10. pfewless

    pfewless Out Of The Brooder

    92
    6
    43
    Oct 31, 2014
    Is there a particular brand that is better than another? I was reading the reviews at tractor supply and a lot of people say theirs is not so good. I also have a family farm and home near me and they carry WAYNE DAVIS premium kiln dried pine bedding.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by