Surprise! I'm getting chickens?!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Drache, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. Drache

    Drache Chirping

    May 1, 2013
    Houston, TX
    I posted this yesterday but somehow the thread disappeared, not sure what happened.

    Well crap, now I'm in trouble.

    Long story short, I have been thinking about getting some chickens for a while. I blabbed this fact to a friend of mine who lives in the country and has had chickens for years, and apparently she took this as an invitation. Last week she placed an order for some broilers for herself and tacked on a few bantams for me! Yay! (I think).

    So, ready or not, my 4 little blue-laced red wyandottes will be here on March 5th. They are straight run, so I hope to at least get two hens.

    For those shaking your heads at the tragedy that has befallen me, rest assured that while I have never actually owned chickens before, I am (according to myself) not totally hopeless. I'm a veterinary technician, and I've done a lot of work hand-raising baby parrots and used to hold a license for rehabbing wildlife (including birds). I have a small brooder already and there are three feed stores within 10 minutes of my house if I need to grab something I don't already have.

    I posted here sometime last year when I first started contemplating having chickens, and I have been doing a lot of reading since then. Hopefully I will find myself somewhat prepared. I am ordering a small coop with a 6 sq ft yard on it on Friday that should give these bantams plenty of room when they are big enough to go outside, and they will have approximately 30sq ft of free-ranging space additional to that during daylight hours that I am home from work.

    I do have some concerns:
    1. My house is in suburbia where chickens are viewed as only slightly less offensive than meth-labs. My friend has agreed to take back any chicks who turn out to be roosters, but keeping my chickens on the down-low will be important. Any tips? My yard is nearly an acre and surrounded by a 7ft. privacy fence, so if the fun police (aka. those buttheads over at the Housing Association) come looking they wont be able to see anything. They don't have the right to actually come on the property. It's mostly noises I am concerned about. I do own exotic parrots who spend some time in an outdoor aviary, so maybe I can blame noises on them? Also, how high can bantams fly? I don't imagine it will be easy to downplay them if they end up in my neighbors yard.

    2. Chickens and gardens. I intend to keep my chickens in a part of our yard that is sectioned off by a chain-link fence in order to a) keep their mess off the porch, and b) keep them protected from my obnoxious hell-beasts (aka. these guys ). However, this section also contains my raised planter beds. With chickens in there, should I prepare to mourn the passing of my vegetables and herbs?

    3. Vaccinatons. These chicks will not be vaccinated. If/when do I vaccinate, what vaccines do I need, and where do I purchase these jabs?

    5. Nestboxes for bantams: What do you use?

    6. Moving the coop. The coop is not on wheels, but will be easy to move. In the interest of somewhat preserving the grass, how often should I move it?

    7. Banding. Should I band them?

    For the record, these birds will be pets first, all else second. I don't care if they aren't good layers, but I do want them to be healthy and happy.
    Thanks in advance for all your advice and suggestions.

  2. chickenlindz

    chickenlindz Songster

    Oct 5, 2013

    I can't answer all your questions but it def sounds like you are on the right track.

    I just got a great kindle book called free range chicken garden. That could help!!!
  3. chickenlindz

    chickenlindz Songster

    Oct 5, 2013
    Oh and I hear you have to vaccinate on day 1 for it to be successful. Just search for marek's on here and you should find some information
  4. Farmer Viola

    Farmer Viola Songster

    May 23, 2013
    Quote: When they're adults, the most noise they make is when they are actually physically squeezing out an egg, ESPECIALLY when they first start laying it'll be loud and go on for a long time (hours?). Look up "egg song" on youtube ;) I don't have bantams, I'm not sure if they're considered more quiet? Hopefully someone else can tell you about bantams.

    When they're chicks they cheep and it's pretty quiet.
    When they're teenagers, they start working out the pecking order, and this usually involves a little bit of rough housing followed by squawks from the pullets and roos alike. Once they work it out, it shouldn't come up again, unless there is an addition to the flock.

    Quote: Chickens LOVE to eat vegetables and herbs! Yummy yummy in their tummy. Maybe start growing their favorite foods? Yeah your garden will go bye bye. ;) They will eat the pests too of course, and dig for worms.

    I actually use specific herbs in treating poultry illness sometimes, so depending on what you have, they might self medicate on it which is interesting, to think they know what they need.

    Quote: It's best to vaccinate at 1 day old. You can vaccinate older but it is less effective. If your friend can call and add the vaccine on it would really be worth it. I'm assuming you are thinking marek's disease vaccine.

    If you want to do it yourself, here's how:

    Here's the vaccine, it's $25/1000 complete overkill I know, but a rather cheap insurance policy in my book:
    You will need syringes as well, they're not included

    Marek's Information
    from BYC User @Momo

    I feel the need to clear up some incorrect information here, as some common misconceptions have popped up. First, vaccines are *not* responsible for the majority of chick deaths. Second, coccidiosis is caused by a protozoan, (a parasite), not a bacteria (cleanliness is still a really good idea though). And third, it is simply not true that once you vaccinate for Mareks you always have to vaccinate.

    The Mareks vaccine is a live culture of a related strain of virus which is harmless to chickens but does confer effective immunity to the virulent strains of Mareks. It won't stop them from getting infected but it will stop them from getting sick. Any chicken, whether vaccinated or not, can pick up, harbour and transmit the Mareks virus. The difference is that most unvaccinated chickens will develop debilitating and usually fatal symptoms (tumors, paralysis) and the vaccinated ones will most often be asymptomatic. In other words, if your birds have been vaccinated for Mareks you could have the disease-causing virus in your flock but not know it. Some people keep a few turkeys around because they can harbour a non-virulent strain of Mareks, and exposure to it effectively confers immunity on the youngsters the same way the vaccine does.

    I vaccinate for Mareks because after reading that there was no need to vaccinate a small backyard flock, I bought 30 day old chicks and a few months later lost all but 4 of them to the disease. I was told by a poultry veterinarian that Mareks is everywhere nowadays and it's no longer realistic to expect backyard flocks to be out of harm's way. By the way, you can in fact vaccinate older chicks and grown chickens for Mareks (the dosage is the same as for the babies). It won't reverse the course of the disease but will stop new symptoms from developing. The idea behind vaccinating them at one day of age is to allow them to mount an immune response to the vaccine strain before they're exposed to the real thing; otherwise it's a race between the two viruses.

    Quote: I would just wait until the grass is starting to look destroyed and then move it over. Or maybe a little bit before destroyed, I have a big yard! [​IMG]
    It depends on how big an area, how many chickens, how much they forrage, etc. Remember they are also fertilizing the grass in their wake!

    Quote: If you want to, you'll probably be able to tell them apart as you spend more time with them but at least at first it would definitely help. I got some little colored rubber bands, I think they might be for braces, they work great. Or velcro with a piece of colored yarn on it. They do sell chick legbands, but their legs are increasing in size quickly that having 5 different sizes is a little too rich for my blood.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014

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