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New to keeping chickens. Bombard me with info.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Texashatching14, Apr 15, 2017.

  1. Texashatching14

    Texashatching14 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello, I am in Texas and I am wanting to get started on keeping a couple laying hens. I have incubated and hatched chicks for a friend but have never kept them past the brooding stage so I am pretty clueless about everything. How do I set up the inside of the coop? What bedding do I use and how do I keep it and the ground outside clean? I don't have a huge piece of land in the country. It will literally be backyard chickens haha, so I am wanting to keep it small with maybe 2-3 hens. I have the coop/run like the one pictured. How many would fit comfortably in there? We do have a couple feral cats around which is what I'm worried about. So I will want to lock them inside at night. I am thinking during the day they would be able to be free in the yard, right? I have a chain link fence. But how do you keep them from escaping? I have someone with a couple 2 year old buffs, barred rocks, and RIR's, and then someone else with 8+ week old pullets (mostly barred rock and doms). Should I go with the older ones or the younger ones? Or one of both? Would the younger ones still be on chick starter or laying feed? How would I get them comfortable enough to start laying? Would they have to settle in for a couple weeks first?
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  2. Chicken Chat

    Chicken Chat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are only planning on having 2-3, that coop is plenty big. Nice by the way! As far as what age to get, kind of depends if you want to wait till the little ones get old enough (I think it's 20-24 weeks old before they lay) or have eggs now, then go with the older ones. If you go with the younger ones, DO NOT give them layer feed until they are 20-24 weeks old. The additional calcium in the layer feed I have heard is not good for them. Definitely lock them in at night, all kinds of critters would be willing to eat them.
    I can't free range at my place, tried it several times but I have too many stray dogs that come thru. If yours will be in a chain link fence, they should be ok from dogs, however this fall I lost 3 hens to a fox that climbed my 5 foot fence in the middle of the afternoon before I grabbed a gun and ran out there. I was too late.
    Be careful, chickens are addicting. Gotta love the fresh eggs, nothing beats them.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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  4. Texashatching14

    Texashatching14 Out Of The Brooder

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    Would letting them in the backyard would be considered free range? So they could stay in that coop and run for their lives? Isn't it too little space for them to live comfortably?
    And I read you're supposed to shut them in the coop for a week or so when you first get them so they realize that's where they live. How long do you do that and does that mean just the coop or the fenced run attached to it?
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    When you move chicks into the coop, you will move them in the morning and let them explore the coop before it gets dark so they get familiar with their new home.

    I'm of the opinion it doesn't matter how long you coop up the chicks before you let them into the run section. Whether they stay in the coop for a day or a week, once they venture out into the run, which may take them a while, the coop is going to appear much different to them than when they were inside. They will be no more likely to understand that they need to go back inside the coop at night whether they've spent one day inside or one week. They will still need to be taught to go in at night.

    Free range is when the chickens are allowed out of the confines of coop and run, whether it's a backyard or an acre.
     
  6. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Once your chickens are grown, I'd think by the time they're laying for sure, I don't believe you'll need to worry about cats.

    That could depend on the particular cat, and just how brave/tough it is. I also don't know enough about bantam breeds to speak to those (doesn't sound like you're looking at bantams anyway).

    In general, cats are a threat to chicks.

    If you had chicks, cats don't really care about the time of day, so it wouldn't help to only lock them up at night.

    If you got 8 week old chicks, you'd need to keep them secure for a bit to protect them from cats.

    I believe in locking up birds securely at night, regardless of the perceived threats.

    Others commenting are far more experienced than I am, so I won't try to answer your other questions.
     

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