new to chickens

trailrider

Hatching
10 Years
Aug 28, 2009
4
0
7
I need help!! We have purchased a house in Clovis, New Mexico and the previous owners are leaving their chicken coop complete with 8 chickens. We are moving in on Nov. 1st and I know nothing about chickens. They have a covered run and coop (covered because of the hawks I am told). They say just to feed them mash & water. I don't know how old they are, but am I supposed to graduate to crumbles or pellets or something? Also, how cold does it have to get before you put a heater in the coop, or do you need a heater at all. Any tips or help would be great, I don't know what kind of chickens they are. Thanks!!
 

Louise's Country Closet

Songster
9 Years
Feb 5, 2010
867
5
148
Garrison, MN
Laying mash is what we feed our girls starting a couple weeks before they start laying (or when I think they'll start). You'll have to see how big/little they are when you get there to determine how old they are. Some people put heat lamps in their coop during the winter but up here, where it gets to -20 or so, we don't give them anything. They keep each other warm snuggled up in their coop. It kind of all depends on how old they are and what breed they are, I wish you had some pics to share
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Btw, you'll be surprised how easy they are to take care of.. even though some of the cleaning chores aren't always the funnest
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Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,735
21,536
907
Southeast Louisiana
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Welcome to the forum!
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Glad you are here!
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It would help to have an idea about how old they are. If they are laying, it doesn't matter but if they are not laying, it would help. There are still lots of things you can do, even if yu don't know how old they are.

Food comes in three textures, mash, crumbles and pellets. Just because it is one or the other doesn't really tell you a lot. They make it in pellet form, then crush it to get it down to crumbles, or may grind the pellets to get a finer texture for mash. What is important is that they have different requirements based on age. Texture really does not matter. From hatch until 6 weeks old, they need Starter. That is around 18% to 20% protein, can't remember exactly. From 6 weeks old until 20 weeks old or they start to lay, they need Grower, which is about 16% protein. Then, from 20 weeks or when they start laying, they need Layer. It is also 16% protein but it has just over 4% calcium which they need for the egg shells. Too much calcium can hurt young growing chickens. Grower typically has a little over 1% calcium, which is plenty for bone development but not enough to hurt a growing chick.

If you really don't know their age and they are not laying, I'd suggest feeding them 16% Grower, but also offer them oyster shell on the side. Oyster shell is really high in calcium. If they need calcium, they'll eat it. Some people will make it more complicated, but this is the simplest way I know of to give them what they need and not give them anything that will hurt them. Most Grower comes in crumbles form around here.

There is a lot of discussion on heat in the coop on this forum. I'm in the group that believes you do not normally need to provide heat unless you are really in extreme circumstances. Freezing weather is not extreme. Remember that chickens are wearing down coats. They really can handle pretty cold temperatures as long as they have good ventilation and are not in a direct draft. My chickens will go outside and play in single digit temperatures as long as they are not in a wind. To me, the risks in winter is when a breeze is hitting them when they are sleeping or the moisture or ammonia builds up in the coop due to poor ventilation. I don't know what the coop they are in looks like so I can't definitely say you won't have any problems, but I suggest you talk to the owners about what they do. You may find out that the chickens do OK with minimal help.

Hope this helps some and again
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DutchieWannabe

In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 18, 2010
97
0
39
Idaho
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I hope you enjoy ur new chickens, this website has so much information and friendly peeps to help with questions. when you can, post pics of your birds in the breed section, and others (more qualified than myself) will take educated guesses on the breed and age of ur ladies. good luck and I really hope you enjoy the chickens!!!!
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