Newbie questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MD Chicken chic, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. MD Chicken chic

    MD Chicken chic Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
    Maryland
    Hey all! Just starting out here, so I have some newbie questions. Hope I put this in the right place.

    I am planning on a very small flock consisting of Ameraucanas, Barred Rocks, Silkies, and Welsummers or Marans, probably no more than 4 or 5. I have a small coop for them with an attached enclosed run. But I'd like to let them free range sometimes. I live in a neighborhood with about a half an acre, and my husband is afraid to let them out in our yard because he doesn't want chickens all over the front lawn and wandering into the neighbor's yards. [​IMG] We're trying to be semi-discrete here with the neighbors. We do have a large dog run, however, that is fenced in with chain link fence. It's about 4 feet high. The coop/chicken run is going to be right up against one side of the dog run anyway, and I was thinking of cutting a hole in the chain link fence and putting a little "door" in there and then letting them free range in the dog run (when the dog is not out , of course!). My question is, will they fly/jump out of it? My neighbor's yard is on the other side of that fence. It's a very large run with lots of room. I wouldn't leave them out there unsupervised, only when I'm home to watch them. I'm not sure how much flying/jumping those breeds do. Hopefully, I could catch them when I need to put them back in! [​IMG]

    Also, do you have to clip their beaks? I wouldn't want to try doing that myself. Will they peck at each other though if I don't?

    How cold weather hardy are these breeds? I don't have electricity in my coop, but will have lots of bedding. I can run an outdoor extension cord out there for a heat lamp if it gets really really cold, but I'd rather not have it out there all the time. I'm in North Central MD. We had one or two nights where it got down to about zero, but that's not the norm. This winter was cold with lows in the single digits some nights. However, I'd say teens/low twenties are more average here.

    And, if I get them as chicks, how long will it take before they start laying? And, how long do they need to stay inside the house with the heat lamp before I can put them out in the coop? They will be in our basement since I don't have a garage or barn.

    I hope this is the right place to ask these questions. Please feel free to move it if it's not! Thanks!
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Quote:If they want to. (Well, not a silkie, but the rest [​IMG]) WILL they want to? No way to tell in advance. They do what they please. I know this isn't helpful to you but it's sort of the way chickens are [​IMG]

    Also, do you have to clip their beaks? I wouldn't want to try doing that myself. Will they peck at each other though if I don't?

    The great majority of people here, me included, would really advise against debeaking. There is no need if you are keeping your chickens well i.e. happy and in plenty of space, and why have backyard chickens if *not* kept well. Debeaking does not actually stop them pecking at each otehr anyway, it just limits the amount of damage done. Its main use is for commercial folks with a zillion chickens all crowded together with nothing much better to do. Not relevant to YOUR chickens life [​IMG]

    All the breeds you mention should be FINE for your climate. Although, AFAIK silkies don't generally roost (because they can't fly) so unless you have enough to huddle together for warmth while the rest of the chickens are 'upstairs' on the roost there could be issues there -- presumably someone who actually has silkies in a mixed flock will weigh in on this.

    You are unlikely to need a heat lamp in a well designed coop; you may well, however, want a heated waterer or waterer base, unless you can commit to bringing out fresh water WITHOUT FAIL a couple times a day or whatever it takes to keep it liquid during the day.

    And, if I get them as chicks, how long will it take before they start laying?

    As a generalization, probably 20-24 weeks. Some hens of high production breeds may start as early as 16 wks, some hens (especially from less laying-oriented breeds) may take considerably longer. As soon as you give up and buy another big carton of store-bought eggs, THEN they will start [​IMG]

    And, how long do they need to stay inside the house with the heat lamp before I can put them out in the coop?

    Depends on your weather at the time, but they should be mostly feathered by 7-8 wks although they will still need 'hardening off' if it is cool out.

    have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. MD Chicken chic

    MD Chicken chic Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Mar 2, 2009
    Maryland
    Thanks Pat! Did not know that Silkies don't fly...thanks for the fyi on that one. Well, I have a small coop, just about big enough for 6, and the bottom layer of roosts are probably high enough for them to hop onto, especially if they can hop onto the nesting boxes and then up to the roost. I'm ok with taking the water out in the winter...grew up with RIR's (a much different environment than mine will be though) and that was one of my chores. [​IMG]

    When they are out, how far do they usually wander away from the coop? Or, does it depend on what they feel like doing that day? [​IMG]

    Thanks!
     

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