Tips and suggestions for new chicken owners

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Fluffy_Feathers, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. Fluffy_Feathers

    Fluffy_Feathers Songster

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    I feel like it'd be nice to start a thread full of things that chicken owners have learned in the hopes of helping new owners start off right in raising happy, healthy chickens (some long-time owners may even learn some stuff also). I've had my 7 chickens (used to be 8 but gave the 2nd rooster away) for three years, and only until recently did I lose one, which I'll talk about in a bit. Three years isn't a long time, but even so I've learned a few things, and if any of you have stories and tips you'd like to share, please do so!
    • Check them over daily- Usually, I give them a quick look over when I let them out to free range, and another look over when I lock them up for the night. I don't really do any close look overs daily, just if I think something's wrong I give them more attention (or on special occasions...). I've found that usually, if something's really wrong, it's pretty plain to see. But you can do close examinations if you want to be extra sure, there's certainly nothing wrong with being extra attentive!
    • Close look overs before long trips- This ties in to the tip above, about close look overs on special occasions. I found this out recently with the loss of my hen, Pretty. On July 4th, I went on an eight day trip to Paris, France. I didn't look my chickens over super well, just the normal quick ones I usually do. My dad was left in charge of my flock, and I figured they'd be fine as usual. The day after I left Pretty was found with severe Fly Strike. She was too far passed saving, so my dad put her out of her misery. I don't know when it began, but since it was so advanced I can only think it started before I left. If I had looked her over closely, maybe I would've found it before it went so far.
    IMG_7312.JPG Pretty is the brown one in the center. Her feathers had a different hue than the rest. They were more orange-ish and colorful, and she was the biggest hen I had. I thought she was a pretty chicken, and that's how she got her name. I miss seeing her out in the flock.
    • Get rid of the flies when they come- As we've just learned, flies can be DANGEROUS. Get them out of your coop and run as much as possible. Put hay in your run if it's muddy. Clean out the coop and put fresh bedding in. Fly traps. If their feeder is outside, try to minimize how much spills out. If that gets wet that REALLY attracts flies. My dad put a barrel lid under the feeder, and did all the things I listed above. When I came home, there weren't that many flies. Disclaimer: you probably aren't going to get ALL the flies out, so don't freak out if there's still some buzzing around :).
    • If you feel like you should do something, you probably should- I have a hen, Quackers (she's a chicken that sounded kinda like a duck when she was younger, so that's where she got her name), that one winter night I saw that she was bleeding a lot from her comb. But, I've seen my chickens bleed from their combs and they turn out fine so I figured she would too, and combs just naturally bleed a lot anyway. The next night she slept on a narrow ledge in front of a nest box, probably to get away from the other hens. They were probably pecking on her, and I thought about separating her but thought nah, she'll be fine. Well, since the ledge was so thin her toes were exposed to the cold night air and got severe frost bite that eventually resulted in the loss of five and a half toes. She's still alive, but she certainly doesn't get around like she used to. She's also picked on more, but that's died down a bit from the beginning. If I just went with my initial gut feeling she would've turned out just fine.
    • Count them at night- It's good to count them when you lock them up for the night. Sometimes, a chicken just won't be in there. It may be in a tree somewhere or something. There have been multiple times when I counted them and one was missing, so then I had to look around the yard and in the trees to find it. There was one time when My rooster, Biggie (he's a big rooster, hence his name), was missing. I turned around and he was just standing behind me. He wasn't there when I first went out, and I have no idea where he came from, but he was probably trying to jump-scare me. He likes to sneak up behind people and dogs...
    I think I've written enough for one day. I'm sure I've got more tips to share and I'll add them if I think of them. I hope others add on to my list as well!
     
  2. FeatheredFriends&Horses2

    FeatheredFriends&Horses2 Chirping

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    1. Plan for more chickens!
    2. If you're hatching chicks with a broody, make a separate pen.
    3. If you have ducks in the same pen as chickens, or even if you don't, I'd highly recommend a nipple waterer. We lost several chickens because of contaminated water.
    4. Feeding fermented foods saves money, and increases production!
    5. Don't give up! You will lose birds, and sometimes whole flocks, but the reward is almost always greater than the loss
     
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  3. RoostersAreAwesome

    RoostersAreAwesome Free Ranging

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    Always quarantine- I didn't quarantine three new roosters and ended up having to deal with mites. About 30 days in a separate pen (even a temporary one) gives you time to notice anything off about your new chicken(s) and maybe tame them a little before you put them with the flock.
    Be prepared for roosters- you should always have a plan for roosters if you're hatching or buying straight run chicks. Even with pullet chicks (if not a sex-linked breed) 10-15% of them are cockerels. When buying straight run or hatching chicks I make sure I'm prepared for all of them to be cockerels (this only applies for a small group of chicks, and it's more likely you'll get 50/50, but you should still be ready). My solution to this was to start a rooster-only pen.
    Pay attention to your chickens- if one of your chickens seems off, take a little extra time to watch her/him. This way, you can catch problems before they escalate. These problems could be as small as a mild case of bumblefoot or a pecking order issue, or as big as a respiratory disease.
    Don't feed layer- layer feed is good for actively laying hens, but not that great for much else. For older hens that don't lay, roosters, chicks, and molting hens, layer feed has too much calcium and may cause problems on the long term. Better alternatives include grower, flock raiser, or all flock feed. Put oyster shells on the side for actively laying hens.
     
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  4. Roo5

    Roo5 Songster

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    If there was one bad thing I ran into whilst keeping birds, was keep things dry(as possible).When I gotta started I’m pretty for sure we didn’t have a roof over our run and things got gross and suddenly we started having sick birds.Plus we had ducks and chickens in the same cage so things were even grosser.Sitting water is bad, and so is mud,Not only is it uncomfortable for the birds to travel on, it also is a good bacteria breeder.

    Keeping roosters,don’t do it first hand unless you really understand what your doing,I feel like they can take a little more experiences as they can act totally different and can seriously ruin a beginners first time.
     
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  5. chickenmomma912

    chickenmomma912 In the Brooder

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    chick 1.jpg chick 2.jpg Hello,
    I am pretty much new to raising chickens. I need advice about my roo’s and whether or not I can keep all 3. This is what I have:

    YOUNG HENS 5 (got my first egg yesterday!!! J)

    2 barred rocks, 1 Buff Orphington, 1 Black Sex link, 1 Silver laced Wyandotte

    CHICKS (about 16 weeks old) 4

    2 silkies (1 roo/1 pullet), 2 frizzled bantam roo’s ~ (I THINK they are bantams??? PLEASE ADVISE)

    I got 4 new chicks from a local breeder about 14 weeks ago and 3 are roo’s. I am attached to them all but will do what I need to do to keep them safe. They just started crowing a few days ago. I really appreciate any advice you have..
     

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  6. chickenmomma912

    chickenmomma912 In the Brooder

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    the white one is the only pullet
     
  7. Fluffy_Feathers

    Fluffy_Feathers Songster

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    3 roosters to 6 hens isn't the best ratio. I think ideally, you want 1 rooster to 10 hens or less. When I had 2 roosters to 6 hens I waited to see how things would go, and the roosters weren't exactly friends. When we got rid of the most aggressive rooster the flock noticeably calmed down almost immediately. The roosters put a lot of tension and stress into the flock and the hens seemed a lot happier now that one was gone. Another thing that could happen with having too many roosters is the hens getting mounted too much. This could lead to the feathers on their back being pulled off, exposing bare skin that could easily get scratched up pretty bad..

    Since you're attached you could try it out and see how it goes. Or, you could make a separate coop exclusively for roosters and put a couple roosters in there. I've heard of people doing this, and I don't know much about it but it seems to work pretty well because with the hens gone the roosters have nothing to fight over. I'd link a website for this but I can't find any so you may have to look deeper into it.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    My Coop
    The 'rooster' to hen ratio of 1:10 that is often cited is primarily for fertility efficiency in commercial breeding facilities.
    It doesn't mean that if a cockbird has 10 hens that he won't abuse or over mate them.
    Many breeders keep pairs, trios, quads, etc
    It all depends on the temperaments of the cock and hens and sometimes housing provided.
    Backyard flocks can achieve good fertility with a larger ratio.
     
  9. RoostersAreAwesome

    RoostersAreAwesome Free Ranging

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    Since they're bantams, it might work out. If it doesn't, be prepared to put most of the roos into a separate coop together.
     
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