So far, not the best experience...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by shandea, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. shandea

    shandea In the Brooder

    Mar 17, 2007
    I will probably be booed off this forum, but surely someone else has felt this way.

    Background: I decided to get 4 hens for eggs, to control bugs, and as a learning experience for my child.

    These chicks STINK! They are about 3 weeks old. I clean out their bin about 3 times a day. They're cute as can be, but they are scared of me and try to get away when I have to move them into another box in order to clean. I feel bad for them being in the garage, so I bring them in the living room in the evenings, but after about an hour they just start smelling so darn bad. Is there anything that will help this stench?

    And they just seem nasty! They crap on everything, especially their feeder and food and in their water. I have a proper feeder and waterer, but it doesn't seem to help.

    I suppose I'll like them more when they get moved outside to their chicken tractor that's being built. Perhaps they won't be so skittish when they get older. I'm trying to handle them a lot, but it's like I'm torturing them.

    I'm not thinking of giving up or anything, but someone please tell me I'm not alone. I guess I should have started with pullets, as some people suggested. I just thought they would be more accustomed to people handling them if we got them as chicks.

    What do all you guys love so much about chickens?
  2. Jimagination

    Jimagination Songster

    Mar 17, 2007
    Lancaster, PA
    I am new to chickens myself. I think first of all you need to start giving them treats like stale bread, but hold it in your hands so they can peck it from you and think of you as a "good treat bringer" also give them other treats like grapes and worms. I know, I had issues with giving the worms to them as well, but they are really funny playing tug of war with eachother. At first mine didn't like the grapes, but I kept them in with them and by the end of the day they were playing chase with those too. As for the smell, I think you just need to resort to the fact that they aren't the smartest things in the world and will go in and that they are smelly.Once you get past that you just notice how silly and well...stupid...they are....It is more of a change in attitude. Hope that helps a little bit. [​IMG]
  3. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    shandea....what breed do you have? Some are more skittish than others. Im so sorry you are not haveing a good experience. [​IMG] Have you tried feeding them treat by hand? I have13 year old RIR mix...already in the hen house. Now, they dont pertically like to be held..but when I am out in the yard, I let them out of thier pen..they follow me like puppies. I also have19 peeps in a brooder, in the garage. I use pine shaveings in the box....almost NO smell at all. I feed them treats about 3 x a week, by hand. When I put my hand in the box...they all run over to my hand..really cute.
    Good luck, try the treat thing.....just remember, they ARE " chicken" ans spook very easily.
  4. CranberryBirds

    CranberryBirds In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2007
    I'm sorry you're having a bad time! Hang in there! I was a noobie last year at this time and it all worked out. Here are some questions/suggestions (sorry if you know all this already):

    1. What is in the bottom of your chickens' house? Pine shavings? I found these to be really good at absorbing moisture and odors. It takes an inch or two of depth to be effective. Don't use cedar! You can give it a bit of a stir every day but it should be good for a few weeks for so few chicks (assuming your pen is big enough).

    2. How high are the waterer and feeder? While they start out on the ground for baby chicks, you can start to elevate them so they are level with their backs. You can use small pieces of wood, bricks, whatever. Just something to get them up off the ground a bit. This can help with the food and water being soiled.

    3. Do you give your chicks treats? I did, and I always fed them from my hand. I just held my hand down in there and they came over and ate out of it. Sometimes they would even hop up on my hand. As they got older and went outside, I would 'call' them when I had a treat. Well, you should see them now, when I go outside and hollar "Chickens!" they come stampeding! They still don't love to be petted or held, but they will run up to me and mill around my feet. I don't let them eat out of my hand anymore because their pecking HURTS!

    Good luck. Hope this helps!
  5. shandea

    shandea In the Brooder

    Mar 17, 2007
    Thanks to you all for your help. First of all, Jimagination, I have given them worms and they loved them... their personalities really came out then. But that was when I was at my mom's out in the country. Now that I'm at my 'city' home, there really aren't many worms available that I can easily get to. I'll try grapes, bread, and maybe bits of a boiled egg. I did try some plain spaghetti after dinner last night and they weren't into that. I think they were tricked into thinking they were worms and when they discovered the ugly truth, they weren't happy!

    Justusnak, I have Wyandottes. I picked that breed bc they are supposed to be less skittish. I'm hopeful they'll come around and like us... maybe they're just super-skittish bc they're so young? Also, I tried pine shavings in the beginning and switched to newspaper with a puppy pad on top of it since I had some of those lying around. The shavings were filling up the waterer to the point where water wasn't even available. Plus, I found that it was a pain to clean out. The newspaper is at least easy to change. But maybe I will try the shavings again.

    Cranberry, I will raise the waterer and feeder... didn't think of that. My husband built them a 'roost' in their pin thinking that would keep them off their feeder, but they prefer to roost on their feeder for some reason.

    Thanks again to you all!
  6. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    Maybe you could put something on top of the feeder to keep them off it? Like make it slippery, or have a handy hubby build some form of a rolling bar on it that rolls when they try to roost and they'll get down. If you aren't sure what I mean, there are feed troughs for chickens with roll bars...I think they call them 'anti-roost bars' or something....that you can look at to get an idea.

    As far as chickens go, they will always smell to some degree. Also, like someone else said, pine shavings are a good buy. You really shouldn't use newspaper because its slippery and they cant get traction, which can lead to foot and leg problems, like spraddle leg and curled toes, down the road. I am brooding 27 chicks in my house all the time and they are now 3 weeks and 1 day old (yay!). They dont smell like anything more than a mild 'barn' smell because I use roughly 3-4 inches of pine shavings and sort of stir them up twice a week, or as they get real messy. After I stir them up, it smells nice and 'woodsy' with a hint of 'barn'. lol [​IMG]

    As far as worms, dont let living in the country get you down! Try a local pet supply store, or bait shop. They most likely have many kinds of worms! At 3 weeks, you should be able to give them meal worms, grubs, and maybe some bigger worms, or even beetles or other bugs you might find outside (as long as you know they are pesticide free...of course!)

    Good luck and I hope your experience gets better!
  7. pipermark

    pipermark Songster

    Jan 26, 2007
    Also check the fat content of the feed and see if its animal fat. Changing to an all vegetarian feed made a big difference in the smell. At least to me.

    Also I add DE to the bedding.

    Last, the bedding shouldnt get wet, molds can form, put the water in a large pan or something to catch water spillage. If you do this, you need to put something on the bottom of the pan so they dont slip, I have used the sponge like stuff that you put in the botttom of the kitchen drawers for this.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
  8. shandea

    shandea In the Brooder

    Mar 17, 2007
    Quote:I have a puppy pad down on top of the newspaper... tha's like a big sheet of the inside of a diaper and isn't slick at all, as I have read that about the newspaper. But I will try the shavings, as I have a big bag of it.

  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    As for stuff in the water, try using a large rabbit/ferret water bottle. You can hang it on the side and they will learn how to drink out of the spout and the diameter is small enough they can't jump on top of it. Much better than standard water for chickens if you only have a few. As for food, yes, bring the level of the dish to about he height of their back, less shavings and then when they poo, they are either lower than the dish or standing on it and thus have a lesser chance of getting it into the dish.

    As for the skittishness... hopefully they turn around. You just have to play with them alot. It could be the parent stock though too that may be causing you problems. People on this board say EE's are nice, but from the feed store I got them from, they were almost as bad as production leghorns!! Flying off walls starting from day 3.

    Hope your experience get's better.
  10. Smoky73

    Smoky73 Lyon Master

    Feb 8, 2007
    If your chicks are only three weeks old, yeah, they will stink. All my chicks in their brooder stink, its a combination of the poop, which they do get everywhere including their food and water and the heat lamps.
    I have used puppy pads when I have a bird in the house when its sick, yeah, not the best way to go. Get the wood shavings, but then you will be cleaning wood shavings out of the waterer alot if you dont keep it high enough. Cuts back alot on smell.
    When they get older and are living in their outside coop, and on proper bedding, wood shavings and the coop has good ventilation, you won't hardly notice a smell.

    As far as them being skittish, they start off quite tame, and always go through where they are TERRIFIED of people, it common. Once they get bigger, they wont be so afraid. Whenever I clean the brooder, they act like that, run to the back and try to pile on each other just to get away from my hands!

    I personally dont feed worms as worms can carry (parasitic)worms and give your birds worms in return. I would rather opt for boiled egg or fruit.

    Hope that helps. Have no fear, things will get better!

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