When? Feeding? Nesting? Winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TaysChicks, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. TaysChicks

    TaysChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 7, 2012
    So, I've mentioned I'm new at this. I have two lovely Buff Orpingtons, about 4-5months old. I have a few questions
    1.) Will they start laying soon? Is there something other than laying pellets that I should be giving them? (They are outside roaming my yard and garden most the days, unless it's raining, then they're cooped up. I do give them cottage cheese and scraps, but they don't take to them much. Just he cheeses they do.
    2.) I thought I'd save $ and use, from our lawnmower bag, our dried grass and weed for their nesting box. But, they scratch it out of their box (Which is a sideways crate). Is hay necessary? And when roaming outside, do I have a nesting box out there too? Any Suggestions on how (dark area, up high)? My Coop was homemade... Didn't really think it too thro. So, I have to manually put them in and take them out.
    3.) MINNESOTA WINTERS! At only 6-7month can they handle the cold? How cold?
    4.) They are getting adventerous. Can you clip their wings? Where can I find out how to do this?... I otherwise wouldn't do this... But, with 4 dogs on the other side of the fence... I'm thinking so!
    [​IMG] blue crate is nesting box
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    They should start to lay soon. About 24 weeks or so.

    I use the pine shavings in the nest boxes. You can buy at Tractor Supply or likely other feed stores. I would think hay and grass would be too moist an environment, but haven't tried them.

    The chickens will acclimate to the weather. 6 months is essentially mature. So long as the coop has ventilation and is not drafty, they should do well. From the photograph you posted, it appears that ventilation is sorely lacking.

    I don't clip their wings. By the time they were 9 months old mine were so heavy that they could barely fly three feet off the ground. There are websites on how to clip the wings. You clip only one wing. They should not be able to fly because they are off balance. How tall the fence is matters. My yard has a 4 foot fence, but the run has a 6 foot fence.

    I have my own dogs. They don't seem interested in the chickens at all, except they don't like being pecked.

  3. TaysChicks

    TaysChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 7, 2012
    I have a big dog. He loves the chickens, but, there are 3 or 4 neighboring dogs that are known to love the squirrels, so I'm assuming my chicks will be just as tasty. A few don't seem to like my dog too much. The fence is 6 ft high. My Orps don't venture too too much on that side, but, I had to shoo them away a couple times, which at times it seems to make em even more determined. As they age they seem to get more and more further outside their original comfort zone. I'll find them on top of our wood pile, on the fencing. On top my favorite chair they keep scratching! haha
    The coop has 6 holes on each side (Those circles), 3 holes on the front, 3 or 4 on the back. Plus the floors are boards going across, which has little spacing (boards thinned out as time passed). But, is covered with removable plastic The door on the front has a very little gap from the bottom of it to the flooring. Is this too little ventilation, or too much?

    Thanks for your info. It is very much appreciated!!!
  4. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    I'd put some more. Ventilation is essential. My Australorps can fly a good 5 feet when they want to, but if they have good foraging on the other side, i wouldn't think they would fly over. If you want to here is a picture-[​IMG] sharp scissors will work fine. They will scream their heads off but it isn't painful for them. I personally haven't clipped my chickens wings, but then again, they don't have a fence to fly over. :D
  5. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    I'd recommend building them a run that's covered on 5 sides...with just the bottom open so they can forage. That way, you won't have to worry about the dogs. Our yard has a 6 ft privacy fence, so we don't have to worry about dogs, so we made our run out of metal conduit and hardware cloth. It's 9ft on a side and only about 20" tall...plenty of room for the girls but it can easily be dragged by one person or lifted and carried with two. Our coop is portable too, so we move the whole rig about every 3 days...that gives them new grass constantly.

    As long as they have lots of good ventilation where the wind doesn't blow directly ON them, they'll be fine for the winter. They actually generate a lot more heat than you might think and all those feathers are excellent insulation. Ventilation is important all year long...the ammonia from the droppings will rise with the heat and can become lethal for them...it needs to be cleared out.

    You can use the clippings for bedding, but...it tends to decompose very quickly, so it would need to be completely changed out fairly often. That could become problematic during the winter when you'll want about 4 inches at least...would you have enough to have that much litter and change it out every week or two?

    Chickens are funny about nesting boxes. We have 2 for our 6 hens and every single one of them uses the same box! They're constantly rearranging it...some like lots of bedding, some don't seem to like much of any. We put a piece of "welcome" mat...the kind with plastic bristles for cleaning off shoes, in the bottom of the box. That way, even if one scratches all of the bedding out, there's some support for the egg. They do like a dark, private area for laying. Before we put in the covered boxes, only 1 used the box. Once we covered them, they ALL lay in the box.

    Sorry to say, but your coop doesn't seem to be tall enough. If there's a roost in there, it looks to me like the wind from the ventilation holes will blow directly ON them...and that's not a good thing. What you might be able to do is enclose it down to the ground and put in a door so they can come and go as they please. Then you can put the roost about where the current floor is and they'd be able to be on it while the breeze goes above their heads.
  6. TaysChicks

    TaysChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 7, 2012
    Thanks everyone. I think over winter, I'll cover the holes with clear plastic (Hard), put a few roof vents in. The top of the coop sits on the bottom part, like a table... So I'll remove it and space the floor boards more. So the ventilation will come from top and bottom, not directly on them. There's also misc gaps here and there on the sides and such.
    Im going to try that floor mat thing out too.
    Wish me luck on clipping. My neighbors will think I've come to my senses to eat my ladies, with all their screeching to come. haha I always have to tell them They're not for the table... as they admire their sizes!

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