Random chicken questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CityGirlintheCountry, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

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    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    For those that free range your chickens, what do you do once the time changes and it is dark before you get home from work? Do the chickens just go on in at dusk and you shut the door once you get home? I'd love to free range (once I get the chickens!), but I work during the day. Also, leaving them unattended all day is a little worrisome. The front yard is fenced, so theoretically they could fly in there if there was ground predator trouble. Are they smart enough to go back in the netted run if there is overhead predator trouble?

    Also, will they stay away from the road (and not try to cross it... sorry, couldn't resist [​IMG])? I live out in the country, but people still drive really fast on the road in front of the house. Will the chickens stay on the grass?

    In reading about day-old chicks, the books and web pages have been saying that you need to check on chicks at least five times a day. What if you work? Can they stay alone during the day (in a rally secure kennel/brooder)? Once you move to pine shavings isn't it a fire hazard to have a heat lamp in there?

    I know I'm probably making this harder than it is, but I want to be prepared before the chicks get here. I don't want to screw it up!

    thanks,
    cg
     
  2. biretta

    biretta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 7, 2007
    Just based on my limited chicken experience, I probably wouldn't let them free range all day while you're gone unless you can deal with loosing some chickens here and there (to predators, or cars.) I would let mine out in the backyard and eventually after weeks, they started wandering into the front yard. If I didn't put a stop to it, I bet the street would've been next. Chickens are pretty stupid--it's unlikely I think that they'd know to get under the covered area, and still if they can get there, so can a predator (cats, hawks, etc.). Also, I let mine out 2 hours before dusk; they march right into the coop when bedtime hits. If you're not there the entire day to watch the chicks, as is the case with most, just make sure that they can't get out, nothing can get them and the heat lamp is well enough away from anything flammable. I was worried about this too but just make sure it doesn't get too hot. I used a 100 watt bulb with a cage over it. Hold your hand under and make sure it's not hot, which would be bad for the chicks anyway. And be sure it's very secure so the light doesnt' fall onto the shavings. You figure it out as you go along. Just use common sense. Have fun!
     
  3. chickenranchwife

    chickenranchwife Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well Citygirl, I free range my chickens and I did train them to be hearded, but at the same time they do go in on their own at dusk. I am not always at home while my girls are out, but I don't have any dogs that hurt them either.

    I live in the country so they have all the room they need to roam.

    If you don't want them to fly then clip one wing, this will throw them off balance and won't be able to fly so much. I didn't do this with mine though.

    Chickens like the gravel for digestion reasons.
    I don't think I could've raised the chicks if I had a full time job when I got them. Not saying it couldn't be done! They mess up the water and whatnot, and needs periodically attention.

    I had pine shavings in my brooder and didn't have any problems with fire. Relax, and get them they will be fine. You'll enjoy them a lot. Good luck with them!
     
  4. Standard Hen

    Standard Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2007
    Massachusetts
    Hi Citygirl. I work full time and when I got a new batch of chicks this spring when it was still cool out I kept them in my garage (which is not really a garage..lol) I filled their feed and water and they were just fine until I tended to them when I got home. I had them in a large rabbit cage with the light attatched to the top on the outside so there was no chance of it falling in to cause fire. I have done this every spring for a few years with no problems. If it is really cold when I get them they go in the cellar set up the same way. This spring I got them much later so that I could avoid the cellar thing.
    As far as free ranging I have unfortunately decided to leave them in their pen enclosure during the day from now on until I get home. I leave for work in the dark but do get home when it is still light out. This year has been a terrible time for me with predators, coyotes, two different species of hawks, that I have seen during the day and everything is out there at night but they are locked up tight. I am sick of losing birds so they will free range when I am home. The hawks are so fast that they do not have time to run into their pens, the hawks get them before they even have a chance. I truely believe in free ranging but no one is here all day and I do not want to come home to mayhem.
    My birds mostly stay out back near their coops and the horse paddocks and will venture up front near the road when we are out etc. but no, they do not otherwise. Cars fly by here too but they do stay out back.
    My birds have always gone into their pen and coops at night. I did have a few young rebels that were sleeping in a tree this spring that hung over the pen but the main instigator got killed by a preditor at dawn one morning and after lockdown for two weeks they are no longer tree sleeping.
    This is how I have done it and learned along the way. You will love having chickens, they are so entertaining and fun to watch. And of course the eggs are awsome!
     
  5. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    My only comment to leaving them alone during the day is make sure the brooder pen is large enough so they can go to one side if the light is too hot.

    That way, they can do their own temp regulation - nearer the light if cool, away if it gets too hot while you're gone.

    I got my guys 4 wks ago almost, and it was 90 plus every day they were in the brooder pen. (it was out in my kennel building, which is not airconditioned, but ventilated and free from drafts. Never once saw them actually sit under the light.

    Now they are out in their coop with the light on at night. It's gotten cooler here at night the last few, and I actually caught them sitting UNDER the warmer light last night when I went to check on them before bed time.

    Susan
     
  6. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

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    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Thanks for the help, y'all!
    I just want to minimize the losses due to my stupidity. I know I'm going to get attached right off the bat.
    Hopefully the coop will be done this month. I'm trying to gauge the finish date on the coop and run with the purchase of the chicks. In the meantime I've been studying the Storey's Guide to Chickens and hitting all the internet sites.
    I am all atwitter with excitement!

    Okay... one more question- I've seen in previous posts that the chickens get mad/unhappy/disgruntled if they get used to free ranging and then are kept confined. Is it better to just consistantly keep them in the coop/run, or is it okay to let them free range when I am home (weekends and school breaks)? It's not going to mess with their little chicken heads is it?
    thanks!
     
  7. biretta

    biretta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 7, 2007
    Hey I think it may have been *my* posts you've read on this topic! I'm still figuring that out. I can't decide if the next batch I'm getting should be kept in their run at all times. I don't think however that letting them out on weekends and breaks only would be a good idea. Chickens don't have any concept of weekends , or breaks for that matter. Right now I'm trying to train my 2 remaining birds that they come out for 2 hours right before bedtime. I'd like to see again what the consensus is.
     
  8. Standard Hen

    Standard Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2007
    Massachusetts
    Yes of course they would rather be outside of the pen where the grass is greener!!!! But I had mine in lockdown for a couple of weeks because of this daytime coyote and yes they wanted to be outside and yes they seemed a little ticked but they get used to it and are happy when you let them out just the same. And do not be afraid that they will not return to their coops/pen because they figure they will never be let out again. They have no clue and when dusk approaches they happily go to the confines of their home.
     
  9. Theda's Mom

    Theda's Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 1, 2007
    Moscow TN
    Hey CityGirlintheCountry,

    Don't worry! You'll do fine, and so will your chicks. I too am a first-time Chickie Keeper, and was worried that I'd do something wrong and harm (or worse) my chicks. But they're easy. My flock (five chickens, eleven guineas) are close to 10 weeks old now, and doing fantastic. Keeping chickens is MUCH less complicated than it seems when reading all the books.

    Susan
     
  10. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

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    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Thanks for the encouragement, Susan!
    I should probably just quit reading the books. They're freaking me out. Of course, I did the same thing before getting the dogs and the cat. All three are happy and healthy. Somehow chickens just seem more fraught with peril. They're so tiny when they first arrive!
     

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