Took on chickens from friend - totally clueless, please help

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by smallhound, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. smallhound

    smallhound Hatching

    Oct 2, 2012
    Have three banty hens and one rooster from buddy who was going to dump them in the bush.. I have horses, always liked chickens but no idea how to care for these guys other than "throwing them scraps" as buddy has been. I have a small barn I can keep them in and will get appropriate housing but how to house them temporarily?? The only thing I can think of is to keep them in a large plastic dog kennel at night (in barn) - the barn is definitely NOT predator proof and I don't want them eaten.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013

  2. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    [​IMG] Yes, I think a dog kennel would work, at least temporarily. But if you're intending on keeping them for a longer period of time, they'll need a secure chicken coop. As for their permenant housing, if you haven't already looked at it, the Coops section ( of the BYC forum is a great place to look.

    You say you have no idea how to care for these chickens. Here are the basics, taken from my experience:

    Chickens should have feed available to them at all times in a weather-proof feeder. The type of feed needed varies depending on the age and gender of the bird. From hatch until the pullets begin laying, they should eat a good-quality chick starter feed. Once laying begins, feed layer feed, if possible supplemented with crushed oyster shell or ground up egg shell (to make sure the hens get enough calcium). Roosters will do fine eating the same feed as hens.

    Along with their regular feed, you can let the chickens free range and eat bugs, grass, fruit, etc. Household scraps, in moderation, are a good supplement as well. Foods to avoid include avocados, chocolate, caffiene, raw potatoes, and extremely salty or sweet foods. Scratch grains such as corn and wheat can be fed in the winter to help the birds stay warm.

    Like all creatures, chickens need water to survive. They should always have a supply of clean, fresh water available to them. Some people add Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother in it) to the water to help strengthen the chickens' digestive tracts. Probiotics and vitamins can be given in the water, too--they are helpful during times of stress.

    Chickens are generally healthy, hardy animals. If provided with shade and water, they'll do fine in the summer, and can withstand cold in the winter. Some common problems to read up on include sour/impacted crop, respiratory diseases, Coccidiosis, egg bound, prolapsed vent, and mites/lice. Little needs to usually be done, besides treating for external and/or internal parasites whenever they are noted, or as a preventative measure.

    It is helpful to have a kit on hand for emergencies/problems. I like to include antibiotic ointment (nothing that contains "cain/caine" ingredients, as those are harmful to birds), nail trimmers for trimming beaks/nails, vitamins/electrolytes and probiotics for supplementing sick birds, a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Tylan50 injectable or oxytetracycline, a heat lamp or two, syringes/needles for giving injections, a small crate/pen for isolating birds, and vaseline for rubbing on combs to help prevent frostbite. A wormer, like Valbazen, SafeGuard, or the Worminator (flubendazole) is good to have on hand, too.

    Sorry for such a long post. Good luck with your hens!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  3. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    I think that a dog kennel/crate would be fine for temporary housing. The sooner you can get proper housing, the better, as they won't like being cooped up together in a kennel.

    Since you are new to chickens, here are some helpful ideas as to feeding, watering, etc.

    First, in regards to feeding. "Throwing them scraps" is not a great way to feed. Its much better to have a balanced feed ration made specially for chickens. Any livestock supply store should have bags of chicken feed. If the hens are of laying age (they'll have red combs and appear fairly well rounded/filled out), get layer feed. If they are young, feed starter feed. Don't give too many scraps, as it will disrupt the correct nutrition that they should be getting. Some scraps are fine, however. Give feed in a feeder, so that it doesn't get dirty, wet, or wasted.

    For watering: Get a special chicken waterers. Tube type waters work best. Trough waterers get dirty relatively easily, so you don't want those. Change the water when it gets dirty, which is usually every day.

    In regards to the coop. There are many types of coops available. Some are fancy, and others aren't. Look in the educational pages of this website for information on cooping. Proper housing should provide at least two square feet per chicken of inside space, roosts, and nest boxes for hens. Its ideal to have a run that they can safely go outside in. Don't use chicken wire for making runs -- its weak, and racoons and other predators can get in. Instead, use hardware cloth or some other stronger wire/wire mesh.

    Keep an eye out for any diseases. Chickens can get many diseases, and the sooner you can catch them, the better. First signs include lethargy, lack of appetite/thirst, inability to walk, sneezing, couqhing, gurgling, raspy crowing, watery eyes, cloudy eyes, lack of coordination, droopy neck, and strange droppings (bloody, watery, etc).

    Check your birds for external parasites. Mites and lice will appear as small moving greyish or tan specks moving around on the skin or the feathers. You might also see white eggs on the feather shafts. Treat with Sevin dust, or another mite product, like Poultry Protector.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
    1 person likes this.

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