Surprise! Instant chicken mama.

A little Daffy

Chirping
Jul 26, 2019
14
89
70
South Florida
Oh boy. We closed on some property Saturday with a house on about 3 acres. We have no intention of living there, (house is in complete ruins), it was purchased to eliminate possible building next to some other property.
Anyway, much to our surprise, they left all their chickens! They look like Bantums (spelling?) but I haven't researched yet. There are 3 hutches in different locations. The bigger hutch is in terrible shape. My sister and I went there yesterday and cleaned it up the best we could. They had no food and the water was obviously rain water and had algae all over the bowls. There's about 7 roosters running wild and they hide in the brush.
I counted 16 in one hutch. There's enough "boxes" for each one to nest in. The other hutches were empty. There were tons of eggs!!! Some were completely dried up. No telling how long they were in there. So sad.
The fed store was closed on Sunday (yesterday) so we could not get feed. I went home and got some meal worms and bird seed. That's all I had other than corn.
They went crazy over the worms. :). Also put down some DE.
Never had chickens before so I'll be on here A LOT to educate myself. Any advice is fully appreciated.
 

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SconnieChickens

Chirping
Mar 18, 2020
39
51
51
Southern Wisconsin
How horrible! Will never understand how people can treat animals with so little care.
I would first throw all the eggs. I would make sure the coop has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, including the nest boxes. I would put fresh bedding in the coop and fresh nesting material in the boxes. I would put out a feeder with an all flock type feed, and a waterer that is elevated so that it stays cleaner, since it doesn’t sound like you are at this property all the time.
Can you explain more about the coop? Are there roosts in the coop? I’m assuming they are completely free range? Are you planning on keeping them or giving them away?
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
2,687
5,116
361
Southwestern Pennsylvania
My Coop
My Coop
Awww bless you for taking them on. Personally, I’d do the float test on each egg. If they sink they are fresh. If they float they are not fresh. After that I’d crack them into a bowl before use just to visually inspect and smell them. Trust me, you’ll know if an egg is bad! I wouldn’t toss them, personally. It’s a wonder they are still laying!!! It makes you wonder why the family left in such a hurry 🤔 some things are best left unknown I suppose. Anyways, you’ve found a great community for help and advice!
 

SconnieChickens

Chirping
Mar 18, 2020
39
51
51
Southern Wisconsin
How horrible! Will never understand how people can treat animals with so little care.
I would first throw all the eggs. I would make sure the coop has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, including the nest boxes. I would put fresh bedding in the coop and fresh nesting material in the boxes. I would put out a feeder with an all flock type feed, and a waterer that is elevated so that it stays cleaner, since it doesn’t sound like you are at this property all the time.
Can you explain more about the coop? Are there roosts in the coop? I’m assuming they are completely free range? Are you planning on keeping them or giving them away?
Sorry somehow I missed your pics! Where are you located? The roosts outside seem odd, and for 16 hens you would only need about 4-5 nest boxes. I would move the roost inside the coop if there is room, or take out some nest boxes. I’m guessing at one time they had a lot more chickens and they have been subject to predation. If you’re planning on keeping them there are things I would do to keep them safe, like building and enclosed area or locking them into the coop at night.
 

HiEverybirdy

Songster
May 5, 2020
266
765
166
East TN
Wow, that's appalling and inexcusable. Big-time back pats for stepping up to take care of them them, but also, you've inherited adorable birds, and at point of lay. That's a gift!

You're right that they're bantams. I see at least Sebrights, a bantam Speckled Sussex, and Old English Game Bantams (OEGBs), all of which people adore. Other members here will be better at IDing, and feel free to post more pictures. <--edited because I just realized a lot of them seem to have yellow legs. They might be Japanese instead of OEGB? I'm no banty expert! 🤔

Any idea how long this flock has been there? That could affect how you transition them to safer living. They may be particularly hardy and that's how they've survived neglect and feral conditions, but they may also just have been left like this a few weeks ago and will perish shortly without safe housing and chicken feed.

I'd second the advice @SconnieChickens gives. Clean conditions, whether it's water or nesting material, are a huge part of keeping chickens healthy.

If they'll let you handle them, you could also check between their feathers for mites/lice, though that's probably not your first concern. You can also run your hands over their roosts and nesting boxes to see if there are any creepy crawlies you'll want to take care of in the near future. But again, I think @SconnieChickens is right that they look surprisingly robust from that picture. Clean water and real chicken feed would be bigger priorities, like an all-flock or grower feed.

Be sure to put water and feed in several locations in case they've been so hungry that they feel the need to bully some birds away from the feeders. Pecking order can be brutal, esp. where there's stress involved.

You should also grab a bag of crushed oyster shell (available anywhere they sell chicken feed) and set it in a separate bowl for the laying ladies to peck at for calcium.

So there's a whole other group of wild bachelor roosters in the woods? Management of them is a little different. That many boys can't be confined together with girls, so they may have run off on their own or been set out. At the very least, I'd make sure they have access to feed and clean water. You may want to start an additional thread regarding feral roosters. There's nuance to keeping roosters, and many different styles of rooster keeping represented on this site.

What other questions do you have? This site holds a wealth of ideas and approaches and experience. Again, kudos for your compassion.
 
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