Switching from free range to coop kept

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Alas, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. Alas

    Alas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens have been free-ranged for years, but the coyotes and raccoons lately have been devastating to my flock, despite live traps. I have begun to keep them in the coop and run, 12 chickens (4 being bantams) in a 16x20 area. Since they are no longer free-ranging, I would like to make sure their diet is sufficient. I was previously giving them basic lay pellets and oyster shell as supplement to their free-range diets.What should I feed them now? I want them to be healthy, not merely fed enough to sustain them.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    After four years of free ranging I was forced to pen mine this year due to heavy losses due to hawks and coyotes. I do make sure they get about 2 hours of supervised free ranging in the evening.

    Every morning they get a treat - usually leftovers from our supper the night before unless I buy something special and a 7 grain scratch every evening.

    They hated being penned at first, my old girls at least did. My younger brahmas have never really known free ranging. They got over it, but boy do they line up at the gate to their pen at free range time.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I cooped my birds last year just cause I was tired of chicken poop on the porch. I feed and all in one feed, oyster shell when I think they need it, and they get all my kitchen scraps. I also grow Swiss chard and bok choy or pak choy in a container by the run door. I break off a few leaves each day or so, and I pull hand fulls of grass to throw in there for them. If the grass comes out by the roots, well, that's okay too cause then they get some bugs from the dirt. My girls lay well, are healthy, the shells are hard (I feed shells back to them) and the yolks are orange. No pests or disease.
     
  4. CooksonMama

    CooksonMama Out Of The Brooder

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    I need some help on this! We have a 13x10 pen and their coop, feeder and waterer are already inside. Our girls came to us getting an hour a day free range, but we have let them run the entire back yard since we got them. We now have two problems: a) the grass is almost gone, and we rent this house so we HAVE TO grow it back; and b) our two babies (approximately 3-4 months old) totally disregard fences, and I can't trust one of the neighbors to return them safely. Once we get a ceiling on their run, we plan to put bamboo privacy screen on the short fence in the backyard for when they are free-ranging. That should keep us from losing the little ones to target practice.

    But how do I make sure they get enough greens? We threw some bird mix and BOSS into flats and covered them with soil, and we're trying to get those to sprout as a grass replacement for them. Are we on the right track? If each flat is 18"x18", how many and how often should we provide them to our 6 girls as a grass replacement?

    And finally...should we just throw the two young ones in with the adults and let them sort things out on their own, or will the big girls beat up the little ones?

    Any help is great. I'm so new to this and so confused!
     
  5. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To Cookson Mama ---My daughter who lives in OR, has had to quit letting her hens out in the yard because of the drought, and they eventually have become used to being penned up, and in a very tiny pen, I might add. She can move their pen around, but said all the grass is just dead right now, so what's the point. When it finally starts raining (hopefully) you might want to block off areas while the grass recovers. Like rotational grazing.
    Look through the forums on what to feed in regard to greens. My sister, an avid gardener, gives all the garden scraps to her hens. My daughter gives hers the few scraps she has but mainly they just get store bought feed and they are laying well. Obviously a lot of chickens just exist on commercial feed, so don't be afraid they can't survive.
    I have a pen that is about the size of yours, and I covered it with bird netting, which is lightweight and stretchy. It's made for covering fruit trees to keep birds from eating the fruit, and comes in 14' X 14' per package. (Home Depot carries it.) It's tangly and kind of tricky to work with, but it does the trick and is cheap. Also I made a simple tunnel from bamboo lashed together into triangles covered w plastic mesh fence, that I move to fresh areas every few days, I have doubled their 'pasture' that way. We are getting enough rain to keep it green and I do water their pen, but I am not sure it will stay grassy. Time will tell.
    There are good forum discussions on introducing youngsters to the flock. Don't just throw them in!
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015
  6. CooksonMama

    CooksonMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, I feel silly for not thinking of bird netting! What an awesome idea! Then I can use the wire I was going to use as a roof for other necessary projects. Thanks for that! Also, the info re: pen size and amount of greens is invaluable. We've noticed that when they have tons of greens the yolks of their eggs are richer and tastier, so that's our concern about making sure they have greens.

    But yeah, with the drought, the dogs, and the chickens, the back lawn is dying and there are so many reasons (including possible eviction) that we can't let that happen...so...into the pen they go!
     
  7. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The bird netting won't be predator proof ....but it does keep the chickens in.
     

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