New pullets, New owner

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bills, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    I have ordered some laying pullets, and am in the process of finishing off my coop and run for them. Being a rookie as a chicken owner I had a few questions.

    The feed store orders several hundred pullets in from a breeder to fill his orders. The birds are approx. 18 weeks old, and sex-links. The breeder is supposed to be gov't regulated, and has had the birds checked for, and/or inoculated for the common diseases. I really don't know what to expect when I go to pick them up.

    1. Do you usually get to choose your chickens from the bunch or does the seller just go in and grab the number you ordered?

    2. Do you get to inspect them before taking them home, and what should one look for in particular to know you are getting a healthy bird in the few minutes you may have?

    3. When you get birds from a breeder that raises such large numbers, are they usually floor raised? I wondered if the birds usually need to be trained to use roosts, as I want to build a dropping box under roosts.

    4. I have no idea if the birds are kept under artificial lighting at the breeders at this time of the year. If I want to lengthen the hours of light to get them laying, do I increase the light time gradually, or can should I start giving them 16 hours a day right away? In addition, should I wait till they are a bit older before before lengthening the light? I don't want to rush the laying cycle if they should be a bit more mature, but then I don't want them to moult, if such a thing is even possible for such young birds.

    5. Should you need to de-louse them right away. I thought coming from such a large breeding facility they might very well already be infested, and don't want the coop infested right from the get go.

    6. Do you keep the new birds in the coop for a couple of days before letting them in the run, so they know where their, bed, food and water is?

    7. As the birds may be slightly traumatized from the handling and the moving homes, should I avoid them for a couple of days, other than making sure they have fresh water, so they can settle? If the answer to question 5 is yes, de-louse them right away, is this extra handling going to make them suffer more trauma unduly?

    Sorry about all the questions, but I want to do things the best I can, and hope that the forum members experience may settle some questions that I can't seem to find in any of the books I have read. Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    I'll take a shot at some of these...
    1. Definately ask if you can shoose the birds yourself. If they are reluctant to let you see their operation, I would be suspicious (although if they have a large operation, they may want you to put on foot coverings and such).
    2. Choose birds that are perky and active, and that have bright, clear eyes. Nasal discharge is a bad sign, as is poop build-up around the vent. Avoid birds that are sneezing, shaking their heads, or showing other signs of respiratory distress.
    3. They probably are floor raised if they are from a big breeder. However, birds don't usually need much encouragement to roost. You may need to show the few who don't get it.
    4. I would increase the light gradually. I only give my girls about 14.5 hours of light in the winter, and they lay just fine for me.
    5. I'll leave this question for someone else - happily I've never had a mite infestation.
    6. That's up to you - are you going to be leaving the run open all the time for them or closing it at night? If you plan to close it every night, I'd let the girls out from the start and just make sure they all go to bed every night. If you plan to leave the run door open all the time, I would confine them the first day so they do know where to go - otherwise the more timid ones may not go inside the first night.
    7. The best way to initially acclimate older chicks to you is just to spend time with them. You don't have to be interacting with them, necessarily, just let them see a lot of you and get used to you moving around and doing stuff. You can drag a stool out to your coop and read out there, bring a radio and sing to them, stuff like that.

    Have fun with your new girls! It's so exciting! [​IMG]
  3. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    Thanks Chickbea![​IMG]

    I am looking forward to the fun, and what would seem to be the challenges of being a new flock owner.

    I have managed to get a lot of answers to my concerns from reading through the different threads on this great forum, although I am suprised at the single response to the particular questions I had on this thread.[​IMG]
  4. jeaucamom

    jeaucamom Songster

    Oct 1, 2007
    Ophir, CA
    Bill, sorry you didn't get more of a response to your question. I think part of the problem is, we don't usually get to go pick up large quantities of older birds down here. We usually get chicks or eggs, but not usually older birds like that on a large scale so I don't think many of us are familiar with the process. Maybe you could call the place where you are getting them and ask if you will be able to pick.

    The only question I would be able to answer would be to suggest leaving them locked in for 2-3 days if they have adequate room so they do get used to where their home is. And I agree with Chickbea that the best way to acclimate your birds to you is to spend time and handle.... and the more treats the better. They love oatmeal or scratch or table scraps etc. When they associate you with treats, you will have the friendliest birds in the world. [​IMG]

    Enjoy your girls and don't forget the number one rule around here... POST PICS [​IMG]
  5. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    You got a single response because Chickbea pretty much gave you all the info that anyone else would have given. [​IMG] Plus, once a post has fallen off the main page, it tends to get lost. Just gotta give it the occasional bump for it to get noticed. [​IMG]

    I'd like to add to it, if I may, and suggest that you also check for any crooked toes and abnormal leg positions (if you're wanting breading stock).

    As for the delousing, if it was me buying the birds, I'd do it right away and keep them in quarantine away from their new clean coop for a few weeks. It's best to get the un-pleasantries done with up front. The birds will settle down afterwards and you'll have your opportunity to get them used to you. [​IMG]
  6. crysmom

    crysmom Songster

    Sep 24, 2007
    I might be wrong here, but if the pullets are infested, that to me sends up a warning flag that the operation isn't being run properly and I would be concerned about other health problems cropping up. I think they will come clean and free of parasites and diseases. Not sure where you are getting yours from but is in alberta and they ship (although not rtl pullets) I would expect from a hatchery like this that the birds are free from lice or other parasites [​IMG]

    Welcome from a fellow bc'er [​IMG]

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