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Why?!...Two chicken questions that I hope someone can answer

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by philter4, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. philter4

    philter4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I raise pheasants mostly but my sister wanted fresh eggs and since she can't keep chickens where she lives I decided to get a few hens just for the eggs. I researched breeds for a moderate or better egg layer along with a pattern I liked (since I was the one going to look at them) and decided on golden wyandottes. I got 4 birds with the idea that ever few years I would add a bird or two so the egg production would stay at least 3 to 4 eggs per day as the hens started slowing down others would pick up the slack and eventually I could have a large flock of egg laying birds.

    Well, my two questions are:
    1. Why is it that my birds have a constant supply of fresh running water but given the chance they will drink out of the foulest mud puddle they can find? Same with food, they have fresh food two or three times daily because that is the feeding schedule of my grey jungle fowl, I don't leave food in there for more than a few hours so I feed smaller amounts but I change it or add to it several times a day and still the chickens will eat the food on the ground in the mud always first before they go to the fresh food.

    2. Even though today is June 4th I live in the mountains near Lake Tahoe California and it is a combination of rain, hail and some snow. My chickens are not restricted to the coop but can come in and out as they please, on nice days I just open the pen door and let them free range until the early evening and then confine them again so predators don't get them. Today when I went to feed the midday meal all of the chickens were out in the pen, standing with their heads lowered and soaked to the bone. Are they just not smart enough to stay inside the coop?

    All of my pheasants and jungle fowl are warm and dry on their perches which are covered for the pheasants and inside for the jungle and vulturine guinea fowl. What do you do to a chicken if it catches a cold? I put a block in front of the coop door so they can't get out now but what should I watch for as far as a cold? Should I try to dry the feathers? I would not worry except that the down next to the body is soaked as well, it isn't just the outer feathers.


    If they want they can stay in the coop which is lighted so they can see and has a clear "sunroof" panel to let natural light in but still the birds are now wet and shivering. What is your opinions on drying them, should I let them in the barn until they dry off? The barn has a straw over dirt floor and can have a draft but is a little warmer then the coop. Any suggestions or experience would be helpful.
     
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Who knows their chickens. I'll bring them a bowl of left over meat all cut up. What do they do pick it up roll it around in the dirt & then eat it. I guess they want some grit with their meal. Yup, I'll go & get the water-er out of the coop to fill & freshen up. I dump it on the ground & their all over it. Must be the grit. I add sand to the run they immediately start eating it. Their loco.
     
  3. Sorin

    Sorin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Question 1: answer, because they are chickens, that's what they do. [​IMG]. They spend 80% of their day foraging for food, doesn't matter where it is.

    Question 2: answer, because they like to be outside [​IMG]. I know it sounds silly, but that's basically it. This past winter, we had many days where it was 20 degrees below zero, and mine still wanted to go out. I wouldnt let them until it got above zero, but when I went in the coop to check on them they tried to push their way out. .

    As far as drying them out, that depends. Where are you located? How cold is it? Mine went out in cold rain many day this spring and I didn't do anything with them. They went back in the coop at night and when I would check them in the morning they were dry and doing great! Hope this helps [​IMG]
     
  4. duckinnut

    duckinnut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All last summer I would fill the outside waterer with fresh cool water right to the top to overflowing.There would be a madhouse trying to get to the muddy puddle beside it. I just thought thats crazy but its what they do. Kind of like a dog,give him fresh water and he is down in the driveway drinking out of the puddle.[​IMG]

    As far as the weather goes,they are by nature outdoor animals. Mine were always during the winter,but I had to shovel out the deep snow. Raining out no problem out in it getting muddy and wet even though the can go in the coop or under if they choose but NOOOOO,rather be running around in the rain. I call them the homeless orphans when they are dirty and wet.[​IMG]
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Philter4,

    1. Why is it that my birds have a constant supply of fresh running water but given the chance they will drink out of the foulest mud puddle they can find? Same with food, they have fresh food two or three times daily because that is the feeding schedule of my grey jungle fowl, I don't leave food in there for more than a few hours so I feed smaller amounts but I change it or add to it several times a day and still the chickens will eat the food on the ground in the mud always first before they go to the fresh food.

    Your birds are highly domesticated verson of something based largely on red jungle fowl. What I have read about wild red jungle fowl is that they also avoid larger flowing bodies of water. The puddles may be less attractive to predators and other prey species which may reduce risk for the red jungle fowl when drinking. Parasites associated with flowing and static water bodies may also be different. Disgusting as it may seem, dissolved nutrient content of puddles may also be higher. Your birds may be carrying over behavior patterns from red jungle fowl even though it is no longer adaptive.


    As for eating stale / wet feed, it may actually taste better than some dried versions. I feed train fish with feed that has been allowed to soak in a small amount of water for a few ours. Sugars, salts and amino acids leach out a little enabling a stronger tickling of palate and nose. Serves same purpose as warming our food prior to consumption.


    2. Even though today is June 4th I live in the mountains near Lake Tahoe California and it is a combination of rain, hail and some snow. My chickens are not restricted to the coop but can come in and out as they please, on nice days I just open the pen door and let them free range until the early evening and then confine them again so predators don't get them. Today when I went to feed the midday meal all of the chickens were out in the pen, standing with their heads lowered and soaked to the bone. Are they just not smart enough to stay inside the coop?

    My free range American games and red jungle do same when temperatures low. When temperatures and vegetative cover increases birds then seek cover. I think it has something to do with vigilince. Your situation for other species may actually be more unusual with exception of species naturally associated with heavier tree cover. The soaking to bone bit may be a function of breeding as my dominiques running with games and red jungle seem less able to shed water.


    All of my pheasants and jungle fowl are warm and dry on their perches which are covered for the pheasants and inside for the jungle and vulturine guinea fowl. What do you do to a chicken if it catches a cold? I put a block in front of the coop door so they can't get out now but what should I watch for as far as a cold? Should I try to dry the feathers? I would not worry except that the down next to the body is soaked as well, it isn't just the outer feathers.


    If they want they can stay in the coop which is lighted so they can see and has a clear "sunroof" panel to let natural light in but still the birds are now wet and shivering. What is your opinions on drying them, should I let them in the barn until they dry off? The barn has a straw over dirt floor and can have a draft but is a little warmer then the coop. Any suggestions or experience would be helpful.

    My birds get very wet year round with winters that are likely at least as harsh as you get and I make no efforts to dry birds. No losses noted for exposure, even for games that roost in trees without leaves. If risk, then likely a function of breeding.


    After reading over a couple times something dawned on me, you have chicken hens only in a mixed species setting. A rooster of same might greatly affect dynamics of who uses cover you provide.
     
  6. chickengrl

    chickengrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There is also the possibility that the chickens inside won't let them come in or they are being bullied and don't want to go in. We had a bit of that going on awhile back.
     
  7. Davian

    Davian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens are ridiculous about being out in the rain. It can be pouring out (and it has been alot lately) and they are as happy as can be to walk around in the rain. I used to worry about them but they never have any problems with it. There's only ever been one morning where they didn't bull-rush me out of the coop when I opened their door. That morning they all sat inside refusing to leave and literally 5 min later we had the worst thunderstorm I've ever experienced . Smart birds, eh?

    I do feel bad when they're all bedraggled and soaked like that though...poor little things.
     
  8. storeman

    storeman Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm glad you asked these questions because I kinda thought my birds where a little slow. I too would give them fresh water and they would fight to be the one to drink out of the new puddles or want to eat the food that had been rolled in the dirt a few times. They will stand in the rain, but when it gets hot and I try to mist the birds to cool them off the run and hide. Go figure. My birds are weird.
     
  9. philter4

    philter4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Placerville CA
    Thanks everyone for your replies, it makes me feel better that my birds aren't as odd as I thought. Most of my experience with birds is with wild type birds and they were up out of the rain while the chickens were doing what chickens do.

    Centrarchid, I have green and grey jungle fowl and the chickens free range on most days, I can't take the chance that it hurts a wild rooster through the welded wire I use or that in the odd chance (I have had guinea fowl find their way into one of the flight pens) gets in and breeds with my hens. The chickens were just an afterthought for my sister so I keep only hens for the egg production.

    Chickengrl, they were all out in the rain, there were not any in the coop to keep the others out so any one or all of them could have gone inside if they chose to.
     
  10. chickengrl

    chickengrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:ok, they are just goofy then. [​IMG] We had some older birds keeping young ones out when it was time to come in for the evening. Totally different issue. [​IMG]
     

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