Several issues

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lynnwelly, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. lynnwelly

    lynnwelly New Egg

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    Jun 13, 2016
    Hi All,
    I have three chickens that I raised from chicks. I did have four but the fourth one recently died, no apparent reason. My husband bough four 19-20 week pullets from a reputable place, he is personally friends with the staff. So we kept the pullets in a dog crate next to our existing chicken space for about a week. I felt bad for them though because it's not a lot of space in there. So today we moved them in with our other hens. There was a lot of chasing and pecking going on -our road island red was quite aggressive. Eventually all three new chickens went up on the roof of the chicken coop and didn't come down until bedtime-and they are currently sleeping back on the roost in the dog crate, and the old chickens are in the henhouse. My husband went down to check on them after dark and saw a rodent eating out of the chicken's food too. I'm so worried about all of these things! I guess we need to secure the chicken run a little better to hopefully keep the rodent out, and maybe set the bucket trap thing if that continues to be a problem. But how should we proceed with the new hens? Is this all normal? Should we take the dog crate out of the chicken run and force them to all sleep together? Should I lock up the road island red to let the other five get used to each other? Help!
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    What you are seeing is normal chicken behavior. Chickens are very territorial, and will protect their space, food and water from what they see are invaders. How big (in feet by feet) are your coop and run? How much roost space do you have? Multiple feeders and waterers will help, as will hideouts for the newcomers to get out of the line of vision of the older ones. A hideout can be as simple as leaning a piece of plywood against the coop wall (leaving both ends open so a bird can't get trapped in there), or putting a pallet or something up on blocks for them to get under or on top of. Rhode Island Reds are known to be a bit more aggressive. I'm not sure at this point, though, if I'd separate her. Watch to make sure no blood is being drawn or one chicken isn't being pinned down and pecked mercilessly.
     
  3. lynnwelly

    lynnwelly New Egg

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    Jun 13, 2016
    We are trying to decide what to do about the sleeping situation. It's going to rain tonite and it would be better for the new ones to sleep in the coop. so should we remove the dog crate? Or will that cause more problems?
     
  4. lynnwelly

    lynnwelly New Egg

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    Jun 13, 2016
    Our run is 12x12. Our coop was a kit purchased from tractor supply, it can hold 6 chickens according to the information when we bought it. I will try to find a link
     
  5. lynnwelly

    lynnwelly New Egg

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    Jun 13, 2016
    Sorry I posted the link twice. That's the coop I have and a 12x12 run built around it
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Chickens need a minimum of 4 s.f./bird in the coop, 10 s.f. in the run per bird, and more than that if integrating new birds. (IMO) While some folks do get by with less space, the behavioral problems can be rampant, in addition to stress induced illness. If the RIR continues to be aggressive, I'd separate her into the crate, and let the new girls mingle with the rest of the flock.

    As for rodents: remove all the feed at dusk every night. Put out chicken proof traps. If you see one rodent, there are most likely 20 more that you don't see. You can eliminate their food source (spilled feed) by switching to fermented feed. That will also give your flock superior nutrition while cutting your feed bill.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    When I open that link it takes me to a bunch of different coops, not sure which is the one you are talking about. That doesn’t really matter though, if they tell you it will hold 6, they don’t mean like we generally raise them. We don’t generally keep them in commercial conditions, cutting off their top beak so they won’t eat each other, manage the poop the way they do, control feed and lights as tightly as the commercial operations, and other general commercial management techniques.

    I’m not a believer in that 4 and 10 either. If all your chickens are the same age, already integrated, and no more than one rooster most people can get by with less, in many other conditions more room is really nice to have. There are just too many variables in our flocks, climates, management techniques, and so many other things that no number of square feet guarantees problems and no number of square feet guarantees paradise. I find the more I crowd them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have to deal with things when they happen.

    Chickens do not understand coop space versus run space. They only understand space. If they are locked in the coop section only, then it is coop. If the pop door is open where the run is available it is coop plus run. There can be a big difference. The 4 and 10 isn’t a bad starting place for a small backyard flock, but when you start integrating it really helps to have more. But you don’t so let’s try to deal with it.

    I never want to force chickens to be close together, I don’t care if it is during integration or with an established flock. Allowing them to get close together when they both want to is great but it’s very important to allow them to not be close together when they don’t want to be. The pullets are going on top of the coop to avoid the adults. They are sleeping in that crate to stay away from the adults. That’s the way they should be behaving. If you are concerned about the rain, use a tarp or something to help keep them dry, but don’t force them into that coop with the adults. Chickens have been living in flocks and integrating new chickens as long as there have been chickens. Allow them as much freedom as you can so they can use their instincts to do that as safely as they can. Normally when they start to lay they will be mature enough to force their way into the pecking order and they will merge into one flock. Until then the pullets will avoid the adults as much as possible.

    Your run size isn’t all that bad though I very much believe more is better. I assume the coop space in that kit is pretty small. I don’t know how predator roof you consider your 12x12 run or that coop and run kit. Those kits usually come with more nest space than you need, that should have at least two nests, which will be good for 6 or 7 hens. Once things settle down and the pullets become fully integrated you might be able to get by if you treat that coop/run kit as a coop. Basically never lock them in that coop section by itself but always give them access to the bit of run that came with the kit. If you consider the kit the coop, that should give them more than 4 square feet per chicken.

    I don’t know your climate, wintertime may prove a challenge if you get snow. Chickens often don’t like snow and refuse to come out of the coop the first few days they see it. Mine eventually get used to it and go out, but it takes a few days. If snow is an issue you might want to wrap an area this winter to keep an area snow-free in the run.

    In the meantime, set up different feed and water stations so the younger ones can eat and drink without challenging the adults. And those hideouts like Bobbi mentioned. As far as I am concerned you don’t have the ideal conditions with that tiny coop section, but you can probably make it work, especially if you can get though integration. That 12 x 12 run can help.

    Azygous that’s the first time I’ve seen that claim about mice not eating fermented feed. I always figured mice would eat practically anything.

    Yes, rodents will be attracted by two things. Mainly it’s the feed. Even if you lock the feeders up at night, the chickens normally spill enough in the bedding to attract mice. I’ve seen mice feeding in the middle or the day too, though they are certainly more active at night. A lot more active. Most of the ones I trap are at night. Don’t store feed in the sacks but use a mouse proof storage. I use a metal garbage can with fitting lid.

    Chickens will eat mice. Mine generally don’t chase a mouse when they see it, the mice are so quick the chickens don’t have much chance of catching them. But when I trap a mouse I toss it to the chickens. That normally starts a game of keep-away. When I uncover a mouse nest with babies, the babies get fed to the chickens. Of course, if you use poison, don’t feed them to the chickens.

    The other thing that attracts them is a safe place to make a nest. Our coops and runs often provide safe places for them to nest. So try to keep the area as clean as possible. Don’t accumulate feed sacks for example. Don’t let trash build up. Keep weeds, grass, and scrubs cut. Just try to give them fewer safe places to nest as reasonable.

    I agree, if you see one there are a lot more around and they are having a lot of babies. I suggest a very vigorous trapping campaign. I use that bucket trap and also set snap traps where the chickens can’t get to them. My coop is at the end of a 12’ x 60’ storage shed. There is no way I can keep that cleaned out enough to take away their nesting areas. I mainly try to keep the numbers down, I don’t think I’ll ever totally get rid of them. If I get a cat my wife will make a house cat out of it, that won’t do any good. I wish you luck on the rodent problem, that’s a challenge. But try to get them before the numbers build up any more.
     
  8. lynnwelly

    lynnwelly New Egg

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    Jun 13, 2016
    I definitely don't have a rodent nest anywhere inside the chicken run or coop. It's clean and we don't store anything in there. I did find a small hole in the corner of the run, where chicken wire meets. I secured that and filled in with dirt. So tonite I will go down after dark and see if there's still a visitor.
    I took your advice and set up a few hiding places for the new hens, also put out seperate water/food. This did help to get them off the roof for a little while, although one is back up there now.
    I am still at a loss as to how to handle bedtime. I know they are going to retire to the dog crate, and the old hens to the coop. Should I move them once they are all asleep? or is it important that I let them have their own spot? I just worry the dog crate is not the best place for them to sleep...drafty etc. I made makeshift "walls" with scrap wood but still it's no coop.
     

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