Odd ball chickens

chicken fam

In the Brooder
Oct 20, 2020
29
39
36
GA, United States
personally I don't let my chickens free range outside of their fence because of coyotes and other predators although it is illegal to do that anyway where I live to be honest, as for them sleeping in the box's I let my chickens sleep wherever though they prefer under the main part of our coop and snuggling or on the roosting poles. Only one of my chickens is ld enough to molt and she's a bit to old to lay so I can't help you there because we never had her when she laid. Good luck with whatever you end up doing
 

Kris10fromKS

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2020
19
10
26
personally I don't let my chickens free range outside of their fence because of coyotes and other predators although it is illegal to do that anyway where I live to be honest, as for them sleeping in the box's I let my chickens sleep wherever though they prefer under the main part of our coop and snuggling or on the roosting poles. Only one of my chickens is ld enough to molt and she's a bit to old to lay so I can't help you there because we never had her when she laid. Good luck with whatever you end up doing
Thank you! I do worry about the coyotes. I'll most likely end up just letting the roam inside of their fence only. This is my first experience with chickens and they literally started molting the 2nd week we had them and all I could think was that I broke them somehow! HAHA! Oh the joys of learning as you go!
 

claudiabostic

In the Brooder
Jul 14, 2020
48
73
48
East Tennessee USA
Your light timer should shut off the lights before it gets dark. If the coop lights are on and It's dark outside then the light will go off suddenly which can frighten the chickens. Best to have the artificial lights go off early in the evening so they get the natural twilight. It's ok to have the lights come on early in the morning while it's still dark outside.
As far as free ranging outside of a fenced area, there are so many different predators in the country and everybody loves a chicken dinner. I live out in the country, too and decided not to free range my chickens. I put hawk netting over the outside run area and I'm so glad I did. The first day we let the youngsters out of the coop, it took about 60 seconds for a hawk to bounce off the netting. I've never seen a hawk so mad and frustrated. A lot of my neighbors free range their chickens and they are constantly losing chickens to predators. I've seen a flock of 20 go down to 6 in a couple of months. They'll be fine for a few weeks and then they'll start to disappear. There are a number of things you can do so they can get a more varied diet if you want.
Chickens lay best when they feel secure in their surroundings. They like to have a daily routine so they know what to expect when. Generally when they are moved from one place to another they won't lay for a while. They have to get used to their new home. The eggs they laid at first were probably in their system when they were moved. Once they got rid of those then they won't make new ones for a while, until they get over being moved to a new place. Molting is variable, even from year to year. Some chickens stop laying when they molt, others just slow down. Some will lay in the fall after molting and others don't.
 

Kris10fromKS

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2020
19
10
26
Thank you for the info! I will try that for the timer, it sounds like it would be easier than attempting 2 different times. I have a covered riding arena that I just attached chicken wire to the fence panels, they seem happy in there. Only problem is that I lost my riding arena to the chickens LOL. Hopefully they will start laying again this fall but if not I'm pretty content letting them adjust and get healthy. A couple of them have no feathers on their neck (came to me like that) and I've been unable to tell if there is a bully in the flock or if that is part of molting? I have dusted them and de-wormed them, and created a dust bath area that I see them in frequently. Hopefully they can recover to their beautiful full feathers.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Feb 2, 2009
26,123
16,789
797
Southeast Louisiana
Here are couple of articles that talk about feather loss. They can clear up some myths.

Kansas State feather loss

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2308.pdf

Miss St Molting Patterns

http://extension.msstate.edu/content/molting-laying-hens

Some chickens are fast molters and some slow. Just for fun and maybe to give you some perspective, this thread shows some fast molters. With slow molters you may have trouble telling that they are molting just by looking at them, you see some feathers floating around and eventually they have a nice new coat. Most are somewhere in between. I suggest post #142.

Molting Contest

https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...-best-worst-chicken-molt-pics.1269409/page-15
 

WindingRoad

Songster
Nov 21, 2018
1,345
2,424
243
Maine
Thank you! And I definitely don't want to clean the coop out as much I've had to. The tender hearted side of me feels bad locking them out of the coop and only in the run at night with the lower temperatures and dark. I take it they will be fine?
I think the other poster meant block off the nests. Here's what I do I go out just before it gets totally dark with a flashlight. Birds can't see in the dark so if they wait too long they can't get up on the roosts. When you go into the coop check to see if all birds are in coop. If not round them up. Then close your coop door now it will be pretty dark in there and you can catch your birds and put them on the roosts. Know where you put them and put them in the same spot even night. DO NOT LET THEM SLEEP in the Nest boxes. They lose butt feathers that way besides pooping. That may be why they don't lay in the nest boxes. They don't want to lay in all the poop. IMHO... Now you might have to do this roosting thingy for several night maybe a week. But they will get the hint. Even now I have to move one WLH because for some reason she is roosting in the wrong spot but I move her every time. Good time to check her. Good luck. EVERY NIGHT.. LOL
 

Kris10fromKS

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2020
19
10
26
Here are couple of articles that talk about feather loss. They can clear up some myths.

Kansas State feather loss

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2308.pdf

Miss St Molting Patterns

http://extension.msstate.edu/content/molting-laying-hens

Some chickens are fast molters and some slow. Just for fun and maybe to give you some perspective, this thread shows some fast molters. With slow molters you may have trouble telling that they are molting just by looking at them, you see some feathers floating around and eventually they have a nice new coat. Most are somewhere in between. I suggest post #142.

Molting Contest

https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...-best-worst-chicken-molt-pics.1269409/page-15
Wow these were great articles, thank you! And the post #142...mine are molting but none look like that yet. I have 2 that are almost raw looking and just on the fronts of their necks, and skin looks pretty red. Hopefully it's just their molting. Thank you again!
 

Kris10fromKS

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2020
19
10
26
I think the other poster meant block off the nests. Here's what I do I go out just before it gets totally dark with a flashlight. Birds can't see in the dark so if they wait too long they can't get up on the roosts. When you go into the coop check to see if all birds are in coop. If not round them up. Then close your coop door now it will be pretty dark in there and you can catch your birds and put them on the roosts. Know where you put them and put them in the same spot even night. DO NOT LET THEM SLEEP in the Nest boxes. They lose butt feathers that way besides pooping. That may be why they don't lay in the nest boxes. They don't want to lay in all the poop. IMHO... Now you might have to do this roosting thingy for several night maybe a week. But they will get the hint. Even now I have to move one WLH because for some reason she is roosting in the wrong spot but I move her every time. Good time to check her. Good luck. EVERY NIGHT.. LOL
I have a free evening and weekend coming up so hoping to build a roost inside of the coop as their currently isn't one. Then will start working on training them to roost instead of sleep in the boxes. Thanks for the tips!
 

Kris10fromKS

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2020
19
10
26
I recently bought a coop from a friend and then a week later purchased 8 established hens, they are about 1 1/2 yrs old. I am new to chickens and have so many questions. So to start with I was getting approx 2 eggs a day between the 8 hens. That lasted a week and then we barely get eggs and there are feathers everywhere. Ok - molting, got it. I switched their feed last week to a high protein game bird feed (per the feed stores recommendation), have added oyster shells in a separate dish, and keep water fresh. They also have a small strand of lights to give them light for 14 hours. First question: How long does this molting season last and when should I expect eggs again?

My hens all sleep inside of their nesting boxes, poop everywhere, do all the things EXCEPT lay eggs. I've read comments that this is not normal behavior and chickens typically sleep on their roost. I have a roost, but mine definitely cuddle together in the house area with the boxes. Second question: How do I change this behavior? and do I actually need to?

I lock the hens up in their coop when it gets dark, they go to their house of course, but during the day they get to "free range" inside a fenced in area. I would like to let them out of the fenced in area so that they can wander further and have access to more grass etc. Third question: Is that a good idea? We live in the country, I have farm cats that I don't think will mess with them, and my dogs are in their own fenced in area. Of course there is other wildlife. Will they stay close to home or will they run away and then I'll never have eggs?

If you read this far, thank you! :)
My goodness, I've had my first chicken fatality. Got home from work last night and one of my chickens was laying dead in their enclosed yard. She wasn't attacked as she was fully intact. Do I need to worry about my other hens? I wonder if this is a transmittable disease? Danger, I didn't realize chickens would be so stressful :(
 

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