Spring is coming, help for new chicken owner?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by barbara4rb, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. barbara4rb

    barbara4rb Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    HI,
    I purchased an acre last year that has ~20 free range chickens. It is a fenced 1 acre, and the chickens roost in the trees at night. Now that the days are getting longer (still cold!), I've noticed the roos are more active and picking fights with each other.

    I'm wondering if there's anything that I should do to help them out. When will the girls will start to lay and set?

    We put several old dog houses around with straw. It looks like the chickens have been in/out as hay is kicked out all over. I'm planning on building and putting nest boxes out (and will use hoop coops when the chicks show up). Should I use more straw or would wood chips/shavings be better?

    They get fed everyday, scratch, cracked corn and bread and have fresh water, all look good. Should I add something new to their diet?

    I appreciate any advice. Thanks
    PS we're in Albuquerque, NM
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Well, ideally you could provide them with a feeder with Layer pellets as cracked corn and bread is like living off of candy and ramen. Layer pellets will provide calcium and other nutrients needed for healthy birds and better viability of any chicks that may hatch if the birds are the type that go broody. The idea roo ratio should be 1:8 -12 hens and it seems you don't have predator problems yet, but for their safety, would be best locked up in a secure coop at night.
     
  3. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2007
    Connecticut
    If you got hens, layers pellets would be great to add. THe corn/scratchis like living off candy. That could be why they are not laying yet, to much scratch will cut down egg production since they arent getting all teh nutrients they need to lay.

    As far as fighting...someone else will haev to chime in. i have limited experience with roos and wouldnt know what to suggest.
     
  4. beekybuzzard

    beekybuzzard Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 21, 2007
    SC
    Sounds like you are doing great so far. Any idea how old they are. The roosters going at it is natural. They will get their pecking order down and it will subside but they could keep at it, just a nature thing.
     
  5. barbara4rb

    barbara4rb Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi,
    Thanks for the food insight. Holy cow, so much to learn!

    Some of these guys are around a year old, as they were hatched out last summer. Others who knows????

    Late this fall, I added the cracked corn when it got really cold to rev up their motors before bed. I'll now switch off the corn and go get some layer feed. Should I keep them on scratch too?

    I tried feeding them old lettuce and veggies, but they were like, HEY where's the grain??!!! They spend their day scratching around the property, which is planted with orchard grass on one half, and bermuda on the other. All dormant right now.

    We do have some predator problems, I've seen roadrunners and hawks. I think I patched the holes in the fences where the skunks were coming in. (Hell on babies, hence nestboxes and hoop coops).

    Roosters 1 to 8-12 hens? OK we need to do a rooster round up, as there are maybe 8 roos to the 12 hens. Any suggestions as to how to catch them? We did a rooster roundup at the neighbors, and were able to run them into a dog run, and hook their legs. No dog run at this place. ???

    PS no coop for these guys. No one lives on the property and they've been in the trees at night rain or no rain.

    Thanks again!
     
  6. schroader

    schroader Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 11, 2008
    Beaver Dam Ky
    patching holes on fences wil not stop predatores. Coons where I live will pull them throw the fence. Last spring say around april I started out with about 80 big chickens and in about 2 monthes a were gone. I even had a double fence. Once they find them they will slowly but surely kill them all. I just started over a bought 30 hens and 1 roo for $100. Hopefully I can get them to lay and fill my incubator up.

    Good luck
     
  7. barbara4rb

    barbara4rb Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    Are Layer pellets something that you feed chickens year round?

    I know we have flying predators, and before we got it all completely fenced and gated, we had neighbor dogs coming in (along with coyotes at night, skunks, plus ?). One afternoon I pulled in, and looked around. Not a chicken to be seen nor heard. WHAT! There in the yard were 2 dogs and ALL the chickens were high up in the cottonwood tree glaring at the dogs. We later found out the owner of the dogs was wondering where they were getting the chickens they were bringing home. (He did offered to pay for them.) When the owner realized the dogs were crossing a rural highway to get to the birds he thought he'd better keep them in his yard. DUH!
     
  8. crysmom

    crysmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 24, 2007
    layer pellets should be fed year round. you can continue to give cracked corn and/or scratch, its just it should be used as a treat not as their meal


    If i understand your situation right, you bought the property and the chickens were already there? right ? if that's the case I have a feeling you will have a really hard time getting them in a coop because they are kind of feral.
     
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    It may be tough but if you want them to last and be well and where you can keep an eye on their health, it might be best to coop them up. It is up to you though.
     
  10. barbara4rb

    barbara4rb Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    OK, layer pellets year round. I'll get some and feeders too. A neighbor said that you put the layer pellets in a special feeder. I feed/water them in a covered area (carport) and I'll place the layer feeder(s) there.

    The birds are definitely free range and were there when I bought the property. I've been trying to help them along. We did acquire some barred rock hens this summer and they too sleep in the trees. Sometimes the birds meander between the properties, but I think they have staked out their territories. Next door is a horse center with barns, hay stacks, feed storage areas, and lots of trees, etc. There are chickens everywhere. The owner said at night most of the trees have chickens in them!

    Since my property doesn't have alot of good hiding places, I'll put nest boxes out all over and when occupied w/ a hen, I'll put a hoop coop over it to protect her and the babies (when they arrive).

    Thanks again for your help.
     

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