New. Questions and comments--Silkies

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Shared Acres, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. Shared Acres

    Shared Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2008
    Northeast Fla
    So, I bought 3 baby silkies last weekend and got 3 adults this week.

    Finished up a big 6x12 chicken coop this weekend (having a rooster in the bathroom over night is a nightmare!). We used a dog kennel and covered it with a tarp and then ran a green chicken coop fencing around it so the holes would be too small for the baby chicks to come through.

    The owners of the adult silkies said they were in a moveable cage and so they didn't really get to have nests and she never saw them sit on a group of eggs.

    So now that they have a permanent home I made them nest boxes out of Rubbermaid containers. I put hay in them and they are loving them. This morning they even had an egg in it.

    1---But..... they aren't sitting on the egg. I went and got golfballs this morning and put it in with the egg, and both hens went and saw the nest with the golfballs and eggs but noone sat on it.

    So tonight I took the golf balls out. (They were only in there today, don't know if I took them out prematurely, or not.)

    When they crawled into their house to go to bed tonight, the 2 females put the male in the middle of the house. So he appears to be sitting on the egg, whether he likes it or not, lol. Or at least he was earlier.

    Can they tell when things aren't real eggs? Will it take them some time to realize that they have a permanent home now?

    2---I put the 3 babies in the chicken coop and kept an eye on them. The adults will peck at them if they get to close but other than that they leave each other be and the babies try to keep their distance. The babies have their own special house out there I made for them. Should this be ok? Will they grow to get along?

    often do your silkies lay? I have 2 females and am getting 1 egg a day, total.

    4-Thinking of getting some more adult females. How many females should there be for every one male?

    5---None of the chickens seem to really like me. Don't they they were really hand fed or anything. The babies have become more distrusting of me after seeing the adults go balistic (wings flapping, squaking) when I pick them up.

    I gave the 3 adults a bath this morning and that went well. (They did a dust bath in red mulch turning themselves pink.) One of them has calmed down towards me, but still runs a bit.

    Will they eventually get used to me and not mind being pet?

    6--I'm in North Florida, we have a fairly open 4 acres next to some woods. I haven't seen any hawks or anything over our area in a couple of weeks. But that doesn't mean there aren't any. Should I be concerned about hawks taking off with the adult chickens? My neighbors have full size chickens that run the street (Private road, no real traffic or anything) and they seem fine.

    Any help or advice would be helpful! Sorry so long!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2008
  2. Heather J

    Heather J Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2008
    1-First, they usually lay a clutch before they sit on them, which means you'd have to leave them there to collect. Part 2 of this is that you can't make hens broody so they want to sit on the eggs, it's a hormone thing. From what I've heard about silkies, it'll happen soon enough. just keep collecting the eggs until one of them start acting like she wants to sit on the eggs all the time, then let the eggs collect. I would leave the golf balls ( at least one) in the nest to encourage them to lay there all the time.

    2-How old are your babies? Are they actually integrated with the adults? If they can see each other, I would let them get to know each other better before mixing the different ages, but it sounds like you're having general success anyway. Most likely they will grow to get along eventually. As long as the pecking doesn't draw blood, it is a normal part of establishing who is top in the coop. The fact that you have so much room in there is probably why everyone is getting along so well at the moment.

    3-I don't have any yet, mine are in the bator, but I understand they aren't the most amazing layers in the world--you may be getting the max for those birds.

    4-One male can handle 15 females, but I would definitely finish getting everyone who is already in the coop adjusted before adding more birds. You also will want to quarantine any new birds for two (preferably 4) weeks before adding them to your flock, to ensure they aren't carrying some disease that will kill them all. You have enough room for another dozen or so females, if you want.

    5-It may take quite a while for the birds to adjust to you. Give it some time, and take treats out with you and soon they'll understand that you're friendly. Move slowly if they act skittish and be patient. Remember, things have really changed over the past couple of weeks for them and chickens don't like change very much.

    6-I always figured my adult birds were too big for a hawk to pick up, but that's not true. You might want to talk to the other chicken owner and find out what predators you will have to deal with. She'll probably be able to give you a good idea. Also, if you have wodds, you might have to deal with daytime predators, that I only have to deal with at night because of the good cover trees present. In any case, I wouldn't let them run for a couple of weeks at least until they get a good feel for where home is. If you have a protected run you plan to use occasionally, this is a good time to try it out. That way the birds will see the coop as home and return rather than nesting somewhere else on your property at night. I know I plan to be much more careful about free ranging my bantams to start out with until I have a better feel of how big they'll be. I worry about cats getting my juvie birds, but so far the adults have been enough of a deterrent and the wild cats in the neighborhood haven't bothered them.

    Hope this helped!
  3. Shared Acres

    Shared Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2008
    Northeast Fla
    Thanks soo much for all the info!

    I have been keeping all the eggs under a heat lamp, not sure what temp it is though. My husband got frustrated this morning and told me to go put all the eggs in the nest and let nature do it's thing.

    LOL, so I did.

    He went out to the coop to get it ready for the storms (we're in Fla) and said they weren't laying on them, but when I came home tonight one was in there on the nest. She came out when she saw me. And then after a bit went back in with the rooster. Soooo, I'm HOPING she'll stay on them. A friend's kid picked up 3 chicken eggs and a duck egg at a neighbors so I threw those in there too.

    We are trying to get them used to the call we do to all our animals to get their attention and I think they are starting to associate me and that sound with food.

    I was thinking of keeping them in their for another couple of weeks then making a temporary fencing around their cage and let them "free range" out about 20 feet or so. And then see if they will come back in the coop if I call them.

    The neighbors have smaller chickens and theirs seem to be fine. But both of their yards have more trees than ours. And the lady down the road has soooo many ducks and chickens, I don't know that she would even notice if a couple came up missing every once in awhile.
  4. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    If it were my hen, I would collect the eggs for eating, or incubate them yourself, until your hen goes broody. Ours didn't go broody for the first year, but now she lays about 15 eggs, then wants to sit. You can't keep her off the nest. So we let her hatch someone else's eggs for a while, then a couple of weeks after that she's laying again. 3 weeks, and she's broody again. Of course, now people want her eggs, and I don't have any... [​IMG] *sigh* But you can't force them to sit on the eggs. Silkies may be the best little brooders out there, but if they're not in the mood, there's nothing you can do. But trust me, you'll KNOW when she is broody.

    If you're near any fishing areas, you might be able to find recycled fish netting to cover your runs to keep the hawks out. Our local transfer station has a bin for old gill-nets - we found a couple of brand new ones in there that were at least 100 feet long, and it works great. Just a thought. [​IMG] We have eagles, and yes, they'll carry off chickens and bunnies if they can get to them. :eek:

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