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New To Chickens Have Some Questions!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Brandyberry_Chick, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. Brandyberry_Chick

    Brandyberry_Chick Out Of The Brooder

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    First of all I just wanna say I never thought chickens could be fun...I was actually kind of scared of them after being attacked by a rooster! I have a few questions. First of all let me tell ya about my ladies! I have 2 RIR, 1 Cherry Egger, 2 Isa Browns, and 1 Barred Rock. All have WONDERFUL names! They are in a coop with a run where they can go outside whenever they want. I want them to eventually be free range because we have 6 acres and a TON of bugs! Here are my questions:

    1) When can I let them out to be free range to where it should be easy to get them back to the coop at night?

    2)When I am ready to do this how long should they be out and how should I "lure" them to bed?

    3) When should they start laying eggs? (They are all over a year old)

    4)How do I get them to lay their eggs in the coop rather than all over my 6 acres?

    I am so excited to have these new members to my family and can't WAIT for that first egg! I will definitely keep everybody posted and will hopefully get pictures up soon!
     
  2. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

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    You should keep your birds enclosed in the coop for several days to allow them to imprint on that being their home. Providing them with nest boxes will encourage them to lay where you want however, outdoor nests are always a problem with free ranging birds. Plan on losing some birds to predators if you free range. Typically chickens will be laying at 26-28 weeks although some will lay sooner and others somewhat later.

    ETA I forgot the most important part.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009
  3. CHIC

    CHIC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just let mine out to free range when I am out there with them. If that is what you have your heart set on, I would get a rooster. He would protect them, and herd them in at dusk. They should be laying, how long have you had them? They may just be stressed and it's molting season so that doesn't help either. They will lay once they get settled in.
     
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    [​IMG] and welcome to the wonderful world of chickeneering!

    Since you have adult birds you should keep them confined to their new coop for at least a week or two to get them reprogrammed to that being their new home. That will also get them accustomed to laying their eggs there. What do you have for nest boxes? Put some fake eggs in the nests to encourage them to lay there. It may take them several days or more to settle in before they feel comfortable enough to begin laying again.

    After a week or two you can start letting them out into the yard to free range. You can begin in the hours just before sunset so they won't be too far from the coop when it's time to roost. Then gradually start earlier & earlier each day. I keep mine in the coop until about 2-3 pm, so they'll lay in the coop & not the yard. Hens will put themselves back to bed, you don't have to have a rooster for that.

    Have fun!
     
  5. rcentner

    rcentner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When my husband suggested getting chickens I knew nothing about them. In fact, I screamed the first time one flew by me. He insisted that we could make a coop out of our shed and throw them some corn everyday. Well, we learned a lot of stuff. Keep them in a fence with their coop for a week and they will automatically return to the coop every night for roosting. close the door at night. Start with older chickens..they seem to know where to lay eggs and how to act. the chickens helped us make the right choices. They layed in the boxes we provided, even though they were nothing like what I have seen on BYC. This website helped a lot. Predators are a whole other problem, depending on your area. Our chickens were free range, but after the hawks discovered them we had to build covered runs to keep them in. Too many hawks around here as we live by a swamp. And then we discovered bears in the neighborhood. I am still waiting to see what happens when the coyotes get hungry this winter. good luck...use this website and read chickens for dummies. I love my chickens, perhaps more than my husband expected!
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009
  6. Brandyberry_Chick

    Brandyberry_Chick Out Of The Brooder

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    I just bought them today. I actually have an old shelving unit that we made into nesting boxes but I am going to build better ones. Should I get more chickens if they are going to be dissapearing due to predators? I only have 6 right now. I planned on keeping them in the coop for about a week or so. I think all that we would have to worry about predator-wise would be raccoons, maybe hawks, and maybe an owl. We do have coyotes nearby but I think we have enough dogs around to keep them away(the dogs are all contained).
     
  7. rcentner

    rcentner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We started with 6, and now we have more, never lost any to hawks, but came real close. I saw one come 2 feet from snagging one, I thought our chickens were too big for a hawk! (standard size). If you have some broody hens you will have more anyway. You'll see...getting more chickens is never a problem. [​IMG] Just be sure, with hawks about, that they have tree/bush cover to run under. Again, read chickens for dummies..good book.
     
  8. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    First off, [​IMG] Happy to meet you! Glad you're here! [​IMG] Hope you enjoy your stay with us!! [​IMG]

    Listen to Opa, he's smarter than the average bear!

    I free range mine all the time, I let them out around 9am and they come to roost every night at dusk on their own as will yours if you do as has been suggested as far as locking them up for several days. Mine tend to come inside to lay their eggs in the nests, one insists on an outdoor nest, but I watched where she hid everyday and wait till she's out foraging and go get her egg.

    If your coop is buttoned up tight, they will be safe from night time predators, which are the most dangerous IMO. We have hawks in the area, but since there's lots of hiding places, shrubbery, trees etc, they seem to hide when danger is near.

    Stray dogs, or loose neighborhood dogs may well be the most dangerous predators.
     
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Quote:Like you had to ask? YES!!! [​IMG]
     
  10. ChickenCharmer

    ChickenCharmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've had free-ranging chickens for over a year (seriously free-range-- no fences whatsoever). I have a large barn where they go in at night. You don't have to herd them in-- they will go all by themselves. They must be trained to do so, however... just keep them locked up in the barn and after a few days they will go in by themselves. After they're all in, I simply lock the doors against predators and in the morning I open it to let them free-range all day long. The major drawbacks of free-ranging is predators and egg hiding. I have not found a way to solve these besides keeping them fenced in (which is what I do now).
    [​IMG]
     

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