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Questions about my bad chickens!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AprilMayJune, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. AprilMayJune

    AprilMayJune Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 3 girls who are almost 8 months old now- 2 Welsummers & 1 EE. They grew up together as baby chicks. All was well until 2 months ago when Amelia the Welsummer got egg bound the first time she tried to lay : ( it was an ordeal involving getting stitched by the vet, so she had to be isolated for 3-4 weeks. Since she's been back, though the other 2 have been mean to her. I've slowly tried to reintegrate them, but it's still difficult. They can be in the yard together without too much problems now. but generally speaking, I separate them when they are enclosed (most of the time). Amelia + 1 chicken into the coop or pen, and then the other chicken in the other location.

    So I have some questions about this:

    1. Egg-laying location: Are there any downsides to not allowing all 3 to be in the coop during the day and having access to the nesting box? With our configuration, at most, 2 can be in the coop and lay in the nesting box, but 1 is out in the pen. So they have been taking turns being in the pen and laying their eggs in the pen (and not the nesting box). Is that a problem? I think for peace and space, it is easier to have them spaced apart like this, but I know that technically, they should all be laying their eggs in the nesting box.

    2. Roosting at night: I don't trust them to be nice to Amelia, esp when all 3 are together (maybe they are a little crowded?). So I only let 2 chickens into the coop at night. Usually Amelia and a buddy (so she doesn't get ostracized again). But that means that 1 chicken sleeps in the pen. Is that ok? there is no roosting bar there or anything. We are in California and with our drought weather, it's not too cold or anything right now.

    I noticed that because of the pecking order, when Amelia first came back, she got kicked out of the roosting area upstairs and had to sleep downstairs near the food an water. And when all 3 have been together at night recently, I chicken roosts and guards the entrance, not allowing the other 2 to enter the roosting area. So then the other two (always includes Amelia) have to sleep in the downstairs area, no place to roost. Now 1 time it was really odd, I put Amelia there alone in the coop, thinking she would enjoy roosting by herself. Her sisters were in the pen next door. Instead, Amelia slept downstairs like she usually does and didn't use the roosting area. Anyway, any thoughts on this appreciated. It's all kind of confusing to me being a first-time chicken owner.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like your coop is very small. Do they fit in there like eggs in a carton or do they have room to spread out? How long and how wide is the roosting bar? What is the square footage of the coop and separately, what is the square footage of the run?
     
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    X 2 - just from the way you have worded things in your post it sounds very much like the root of your issues lies in overcrowding - knowing the actual dimensions of your setup will be very helpful in determining if this is the case. Photos will also help.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2015
  4. AprilMayJune

    AprilMayJune Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2014
    California
  5. AprilMayJune

    AprilMayJune Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2014
    California
    OH the above is about the chicken coop.
    i will take a look at the roosting bar dimensions tonight. There are 2 roosting bars.
    I will also look at the dimensions of the pen and let you know.

    Thanks
     
  6. Imachicklvr2

    Imachicklvr2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Your coop is 51.5 cubic feet, not square feet. It is only 19.05 square feet (length x width). That is just a little short of the recommended amount of space for two chickens.
     
  7. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    What you have calculated there is the cubic footage/volume of the coop. For square footage/floor space you multiply the length by the width - so your coop offers far less than the 51.5 square feet you calculated. It also appears that the dimensions quoted for this coop includes the nest boxes, which would further overestimate the available living space for your birds as nest boxes are not meant to be used as living space. I would be hard pressed to put even two adult birds in this coop. Unfortunately, the prefab coops are often grossly overestimated as to the appropriate capacity of birds. The problems you are seeing in your birds are very common in situations where there is overcrowding.

    ETA - was supposed to read that the dimensions quoted appear to be for the entire enclosure, not just the coop, as well as including the nest boxes as living space. I would suggest taking a measuring tape out and actually measuring the living quarters portion length and width (do not include the nest boxes) as well as then measuring the "run" (fenced portion/pen).
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2015
  8. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2 They always trick people with those little coops, it's just not right! don't worry Aprilmayjune,you can fix it, we can help!
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2015
  9. Imachicklvr2

    Imachicklvr2 Out Of The Brooder

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    They really do seem to be too crowded. To be comfortable, the minimum recommended amount of space is 10 square feet (length of pen x width of pen) per chicken and 4 square feet per chicken for the coop. For example, for your three girls, your coop could be 3 ft x 4 ft (12 sq ft) and your run could be 5 ft x 6 ft. (30 sq ft However, more space is better and will make for happier girls.

    Most of the manufacturers of prefabricated chicken coops claim that you can keep far more hens in them than is really practical. You probably could keep four hens in your coop but it is highly likely that they will develop problems like feather picking or like you have experienced, aggression towards other hens. It is not just chicken coop manufacturer's that do it either. I see it with most small animal and bird cages,
     
  10. yellowchicks

    yellowchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just by eyeing the coop picture, I am guessing that the actual coop (the enclosed box) is 2' w x 2.5' d x 2' h, so the coop floor space could be approximate 5 sf, too small for three full size chickens. No wonder they get into fights. Best to take a measurement of the coop and run like others suggested to see what you have to work with.
     

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