New to backyard chickens and paranoid!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by taz982, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. taz982

    taz982 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 3, 2012
    Hi all! New to backyard chickens here. While I normally haunt the subreddit: , I figured this is probably a much bigger forum from which to gather valuable thoughts, opinions, and experiences. You can see my haphazardly built chicken tractor here if you'd like:

    I have 9 straight run chickens from the Light Sussex, Copper Maran, Araucana, and Ameraucana breeds. They are around 8-10 weeks old right now I believe. I put them out in their coop maybe a week or two ago.

    Chickens are a weird creature, and so I have a couple questions about them to ease my paranoia that I'm doing something wrong, and to figure out what to do with them.

    My birds seem to stay in their coop a lot more than I expected. I figured once the door to the outside was opened they would stay out all day, except to grab some water/food from inside. This does not appear to be the case as I frequently look out there and they are all inside. Should I be encouraging them to stay out more in anyway? They are layers, and I thought they need to see daylight a lot more to ensure prolific egg production, granted they are a ways away from eggs just yet. I just don't know if breaking a habit would be good now or later, or if it is necessary at all.

    One of the problems here may be that one of my chickens has taken it upon himself to shoo other chickens inside. I don't always see this but I have a few times. I assume this is a likely rooster behavior. Should I be concerned about this?

    When should I be worried about rough housing? I see them play/fight frequently but I am aware there is a pecking order and these things will happen. Are there any good rules of thumb on when to be concerned?

    Finally the age old question of sexing. I already know I'm going to be terrible at this. I also know that many people put pictures of their chickens online to see if others can tell their sex. When would be a good age to attempt that so I have the opportunity to learn from you all what exactly to look for. I know there are guides out there, but without the reference of experience of knowing how pink/red a comb should be at whatever age, I find it is just about impossible to figure it out with any feeling of certainty.

    So many questions. Sorry about that! I'm going to start another thread in coop building as well for a problem I came across. Wheee!

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  2. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2011
    [​IMG] from Virginia!

    I'm pretty new too but lets see if I can help a little.

    They may be staying 'under cover' because they are still pretty young. Give them some time to get up their confidence. Are they going out into a run or loose in the yard? At 10 weeks, you should keep a bit of a close eye on them, they are small enough to be lunch for just about anything.

    When mine were little, they fought a lot. As long as no one was bleeding - and as long as I was sure everyone was getting plenty of access to the food and water I didn't worry about it. As they got a little bigger, I had to put a piece of wire down the middle of the coop and make 2 little coops for a couple of weeks because the 3 bigger ones were getting really too rough with the smaller ones. They worked it out (from the safety of behind the fence) and get along fine now that they're all the same size.

    12 weeks is a good time to post pictures and let folks guess the sex. Best to post on threads about your particular breeds.

    Enjoy the new hobby. Someone has a tag line that says "It's a hobby, not a religion" I like that - it's easy to get carried away with this. [​IMG]
  3. taz982

    taz982 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 3, 2012
    Thank you so much for your response!

    They are staying in a run for now (see the last picture in the series). I will eventually let them free roam, but that won't be until they are 4 months or so. At least thats what I heard is a good time to start letting them free range a bit.

    Only a couple more weeks and I can get them sexed! That is exciting! The lady who I bought them from tried to sex them, but she admitted she is terrible at sexing chicks which is why she only sells straight run. My goal is to end up with 6 chickens, 7 would be stretching it, and maybe one fully free-ranging rooster. However i could've gotten particularly unlucky and only got a few hens, in which case we will see about breeding for a few more.

    I like that. Indeed it is easy to get carried away. You should have seen how much work I put into finding the best dog/cat food for the lowest price per serving (it's Taste of the Wild where I'm at btw). I take treating my animals well seriously apparently lol.

  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Chickens can be very sensitive to change. They are now out in their new coop and might not wander very far at first. When I first got mine they stayed pretty close and gradually went exploring more and more. I would not worry. Staying close is not a bad thing. Make sure to consider the predator situation if they start wandering.

    That rooster behavior sounds normal based on what I have read but I do not have a rooster so hopefully someone else can comment on that.

    As far as rough housing goes I would only worry if they are drawing blood. They can be pretty mean sometimes while they work things out, but it's their nature. If one of them starts bleeding isolate her until she is healed. Once one has an injury they will all pecked at her and can really hurt her. Same if one bird ends up with LOTS of feathers pulled out.

    You can go ahead and post pictures to the "chicken breeds>what gender or breed is this?" forum. The people on here are really good at sexing them if you can get a decent picture of their body and their comb. Everyone just helped me sex an 8 week old pullet. (girl! yay!)

    Welcome to chickens! Ask lots of questions. People here are very nice.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  5. dirtylittlefly

    dirtylittlefly Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 18, 2012
    Vancouver, WA
    Some people say to lock them up in the coop for a couple weeks so they get used to it, grow to love it, and know that it's home. 8 weeks is young to be free ranging w/o constant supervision anyway.

    Our Barred Rock rooster did this before we got rid of him. He controlled where everyone was, and always checked out the situation for safety. Our current roosters are very nice and gentle, although probably useless in the case of an attack.
  6. taz982

    taz982 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 3, 2012
    Because they were stuck in a run anyway, i didn't bother locking them up. They seemed to figure it out after day 3. At first they REFUSED to enter the coop part. Dear god that was fun doing an army crawl through bird poo to shove them into the coop lol. Got rushed and one nearly got away in the process! They are not stupid birds, I will give them that.

    Hmm I like him, he's spunky. He is the smallest of all the birds, but still attacked my hand in the brooder with numerous pecks anytime I went to feed/water/pickup/etc. He's fun to have around lol.

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