Will chickens that have not been well cared for lay? Can I teach?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chickenheir, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. Chickenheir

    Chickenheir New Egg

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    Aug 2, 2010
    I have taken possession of 11 chickens (mostly bantams & a few silkies, I believe) that have been kept in a basement room for at least 18 weeks. There are at least 3 roosters, possibly 4. I have managed to house them & build a coop (thanks to your lovely site) but need help identifying behaviors and how to change them. The 3 roosters are bullies, picking on all of the hens. Drawing blood at one incident, which I stopped and "bullied back". It has deterred no one.
    All of the hens are not interested in the nesting boxes. They will not leave the corner of the shed I retrofitted with nesting boxes, roosts, and yes, there is easy access to everything. None of the hens will go outside of their own accord, having never seen the light of day before coming to live here. And if I do herd them out, they have no clue to peck the grass in the run for their food. I have tried sprinkling the pellets in to the grass to temp them, but no one notices or cares.
    My ultimate goal is to have these chickens be as able to care for themselves as they can. Free range would be fabulous, with a return to the coop at night. I would love for them to lay, but placing ceramic eggs in the nest doesn't do any good when they won't approach the box. I don't seem to be able to find information on how many roosters work, with out too much testosterone taking over and making my brood a mob! So, I guess I am looking mostly on training techniques for altering behavior and attempting to acclimate these birds to a hearty life with free range, food and love. Any thoughts welcome.

    Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets. ~Henry Ford~
     
  2. atimme

    atimme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Chicago
    First I would get rid of three roosters. You'll have nothing but problems. Give them time, they will figure things out, it's always a bit longer for indoor chickens to learn what the outside is all about, but in over 1,000 chickens I've never had a problem and most of them have started life inside either a basement or pole barn. Keep doing what you are doing, try kicking one out right by the chicken door to "get lost" and encourage the rest to come to her rescue. Works very well, I'd say within a week you will have outdoor chicks, in two weeks confident outdoor chicks. It just takes time to get acclimated.
     
  3. Chickenheir

    Chickenheir New Egg

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    Aug 2, 2010
    What about nesting? Does that all happen after they acclimate? Or is it possible that they will need to be reminded that there is an instinct to roost up off the floor? I understand silkies may choose a corner over a roost, but is it normal for them to sit on top of eachother in the corner? Could they be protecting themselves from the roosters?

    And thank you for responding.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. atimme

    atimme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Chicago
    My guess is that they will begin laying on the floor first, just move the eggs into the nest boxes and eventually they will seek them out, they like naturally sheltered areas that are semi-dark and confined for laying, its instinct. They just need to get used to completely new surroundings first. I'd start expecting eggs in a few weeks, a move can be traumatizing and discourage egg production. As soon as they get comfortable you will be swimming in eggs. The silkies will never roost, they like sleeping on the floor in a "silkie pile", the rest I would place on the roost when they go in for the night so that they need to fly back down in the morning. That should get them roosting sooner. Right now they are piling in the corners since they don't know what else to do, that's chick behavior. Try making them roost, it should work. [​IMG]
     
  5. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Put fake eggs in the nest boxes. Supposedly that gives them an idea to lay there, but my girls are all laying in a spot beside the nest box. [​IMG]
     

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