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What do I actually need for chickens?

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  • #21
    I like my critters too much to use them for regular wildlife lunch.

    We kept the chickens confined to the chicken house and yard most of the time, unless someone was going to stick around.

    We don't have barn cats any more, same reason.
    Our coyotes and our resident bobcat don't play nice with others.

    If you have a predator problem, eventually you too will end up either giving "free" domesticated fowl up, as they are also free to be someone else's lunch eventually, or confining them, for their own protection.

    If you are where you don't have much wildlife, be my guest, free range.
    If you have all kinds of chicken lover wildlife, consider fixing things where you can confine them, for their own protection.

    Traditionally, you get a batch of chicks and when half grown start using males for friers, along with the occasional hen others don't like.
    They may have sexed chicks for sale today.

    That one stall seems like a very nice place for a chicken coop.

    We used sand for the floor of our chicken coop, straw for laying boxes, cleaned and disinfecting it every week.
    We had one back section for laying boxes, the middle one had round dowels for roosting, the last section is where we kept our supplies and feed, etc.

    I also vote you try keeping chickens.
    They really are no trouble at all and very nice critters to have around.
    You can't believe how many eggs you will get from a few layers.
    We sold our eggs to the local restaurant.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #22
      You all make it sound so easy, so I've placed my order and my chicks should be delivered next week.

      I figured I needed to make some allowance for infant mortality, fox drive bys, and "oops that one's a rooster", but the look on my wife's face tells me 25 may have been more allowance than expected.

      Comment


      • #23
        I have a question for those that let your chickies live out... I have an "unintended roo". I don't mind keeping him, but he's a bit rough on the ladies so he's been kicked out of the coop. I have another outcast roo as well who goes to his bedtime place on his own every night and I lock him in, but this guy insists on roosting on the rafters in my shed so i have to climb up to put him away at night or knock him off with a pitchfork (which seems pretty mean) and he's pretty much un-catchable if he's not sleeping...so..here's the question. Is he relatively safe in his roosting spot, or can coons and weasels climb up walls? Do owls typically come inside buildings for a chicken meal? TIA
        "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville

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        • #24
          Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
          just don't say nothing about zebras...
          LOL, one of my all time favorites.

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
            just don't say nothing about zebras...
            Is there a link for this? It sounds terrifying and entertaining.

            ____

            Congrats on stepping into the world of chickens! They're a lot of fun to have around. You'll find most recommend not providing heat for adult birds (fire hazard) and that they'll generally be fine as long as the coop is fairly draft-free.
            Chicks do need heat, though.

            What breed did you order?

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            • #26
              Originally posted by chism View Post
              I have a question for those that let your chickies live out... I have an "unintended roo". I don't mind keeping him, but he's a bit rough on the ladies so he's been kicked out of the coop. I have another outcast roo as well who goes to his bedtime place on his own every night and I lock him in, but this guy insists on roosting on the rafters in my shed so i have to climb up to put him away at night or knock him off with a pitchfork (which seems pretty mean) and he's pretty much un-catchable if he's not sleeping...so..here's the question. Is he relatively safe in his roosting spot, or can coons and weasels climb up walls? Do owls typically come inside buildings for a chicken meal? TIA
              We have coons that go clear up to the top and on top of the overhead door.
              Found one sleeping there not long ago in the morning, grumpy to get disturbed so rudely.
              My dog pointed him out to me, guess she could smell him.

              We also have a beautiful own that spends some weeks here and there inside the barn and he was great to get rid of our unwanted pigeons.

              If you don't have such around, your wild rooster should be safe up there.

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by tangledweb View Post
                You all make it sound so easy, so I've placed my order and my chicks should be delivered next week.

                I figured I needed to make some allowance for infant mortality, fox drive bys, and "oops that one's a rooster", but the look on my wife's face tells me 25 may have been more allowance than expected.
                Ours were Grandma's chickens and she ordered 30 in the spring, half ended up being roos and fried, some hens also, ending up with about a dozen layers, that dwindled over the years, the cycle to repeat itself again.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by tangledweb View Post
                  You all make it sound so easy, so I've placed my order and my chicks should be delivered next week.

                  I figured I needed to make some allowance for infant mortality, fox drive bys, and "oops that one's a rooster", but the look on my wife's face tells me 25 may have been more allowance than expected.
                  You DO know that those chicks you just ordered can't live out in that stall until they're older & it's warmer out (think several months)? Because I haven't read anything here pointing you towards that fact. Am assuming you did some research & already know that. They have to be kept indoors under a heat lamp/light, eat chick feed, etc. In fact, they also have to have their beaks dipped in their water (in a drown-proof chick waterer by the way) upon arrival to actually teach them to drink. Can't go outside until it's much warmer out & they're almost fully feathered. Just so you're set up properly for them when they arrive. No heat or proper feed/water = dead chicks.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    OP, be aware that baby chicks need heated accommodations for the first few weeks. You're looking for a heat lamp and for a starting temp of 95F under it, gradually decreasing until the chicks have feathers.

                    1. Make sure your heat lamp has a ceramic, not plastic base. (Often a regular 60-100 watt lightbulb is plenty, depends on the setting.)

                    2. Make sure there are no drafts

                    3. Watch the chicks to see where they sit, to know if it's too hot or too cold.

                    Alas, we usually end up brooding chicks in the house for the first couple of weeks. (I'm glad to have a mud room where they can be separate from the main house.)

                    When they are babies, they will need very shallow waterers and food dishes. They can and do drown in larger water dishes that first week, even something as small as a dog bowl.

                    When they are older, those little shallow waterers will be full of litter and various ick and out of water in an hour; that's why you'll see different waterers at the feed store.

                    A compromise on the free ranging is to get electric poultry net as sold by Premier1 or to make a movable chicken tractor that makes it easy to put them on new ground. They will relish a lot of weeds that your horses won't touch.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                    • #30
                      Our chickens came in a box with holes thru the post office.
                      They were kept in the bathroom in a bigger box, under a heat lamp and our very "broody" aussie,that jumped in there and pushed them under her, for a while.
                      Then taken, to her dismay, to the also heated chicken house, once they started getting adult feathers.

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                      • #31
                        Did you order straight run or pullets only?

                        If you get more than 10% of roos in your pullet only order, you may be entitled to a discount/credit.
                        I LOVE my Chickens!

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                        • #32
                          Can you buy adult chickens? I am trying to picture Baxter and baby chickens together...
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          ---
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            I ordered pullets only. I think the fine print said they refund the difference between the male and female price if more than 10% are male. Assuming it takes me 3 months of feeding them to figure that out, roast dinner seems like better compensation than 80 cents.

                            My plan for the first few weeks is to put them in a 100 gallon rubbermaid stock tank (that I already have), with a feeder, waterer and heatlamp (that I'll buy this weekend). I'm not really clear on when they'll be mature enough to face the world, or how crowded that will be.

                            That will be inside a useless brick cottage that I already have to keep lightly heated through winter as it has plumbing. I'd rather not give them free run of it and have to clean all of it, but I have a second stock tank and kids play pens that could be backup plans if it is still cold out when they are too big for their first home.

                            In the meantime I have a few weeks to raccoon-proof the planned coop and build some perches and next boxes. Oh and build a chicken door and ramp. For some reason there is a 2' step up to the door.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              "Can you buy adult chickens?"

                              Through the mail? Yes. Lots of folks in EKY sell breeding stock only roosters. They have to ship Express Mail, which costs a LOT between the postage and the NESTS travel boxes. I fear they are destined for clandestine cock fights out of state.

                              We've bought adult roos off of CL and from the small animal swap meet. I haven't yet seen a real dust up from the introduction of a hen, but the chicks that hatched out and are now getting to adult size are not staying well with the flock.

                              The local TSC uses the stock tank method. They put in shavings, heat lamp, feeder and waterer and are good to go. 25 will probably get crowded after oh, six weeks.

                              They are pretty filthy birds and if you let them roost anywhere such as a shed or shop whatever they roost over will get droppings on it shortly. Pretty gross. Much better to have a dedicated chicken house even if you only herd them in at night.
                              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                              Incredible Invisible

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                              • #35
                                I don't think I've seen mentioned yet that you can't have a wire floor under the chicks, nor any kind of slick plastic or metal surface. A layer of pine shavings with sheets of newspaper laid over it works well-- gives them enough purchase so their legs don't splay out.

                                Don't want chicks? Around here you see mature pullets advertised on CL all the time. As with all things CL, there are dishonest types who may be unloading 3+ yr old hens that are past their prime laying age. They'll still lay but not with the vigor of a 1-2yr old. You can get them from hatcheries too (but I don't know how shipping is handled).
                                If "Baxter" is a dog I wouldn't limit your concern to baby chicks; even non-hunting type dogs seem to find chasing (and unfortunately, sometimes killing) chickens of all ages irresistible. Even my vet's fat and half-blind Corgi wants a piece of them. LOL
                                It's weird but our barn cats seem to accept the new chicks pretty quickly as members of the farm rather than dinner. Of course they're very interested in the box of peeping chicks, but of course the chicks are in a protected/heated enclosure anyway. The adult chickens would gladly kill them too. So by the time cats have free access to the new ones, it seems to be a non-issue. That's been my experience, anyway-- have never lost a bird to one of the cats, despite the fact that they hunt wild birds very effectively.

                                Anyway there are a million websites on chickens, it's not hard at all.

                                For the poster who just wants bug control, guinea fowl are very independent-- they couldn't care less about you, actually. They fly well and can roost very high in trees. They're not as domesticated as chickens and I dont know where they lay eggs but it sure isn't in the coop. Guineas are still vulnerable to predators but they're not sitting ducks the way chickens are. Pardon the fowl, I mean foul pun.
                                Noisy noisy noisy though. Not recommended if you have close neighbors. Ours come in to the coop at night with the chickens most of the time, but sometimes they just choose to stay out. And when they're 50ft up in a tree, there's no negotiating on that point. I just say good night and good luck, and shut the coop door.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  PS You don't really need a ramp-- ours hop up onto a 2' door sill without any problem. You can always put a couple bricks as stepping stones for when they're still tiny.

                                  And get a RED heatlamp bulb, not clear. If any chicks gets pecked and has a little blood, the red lamp hides it. Otherwise the other chicks will peck him to death. Gruesome, I know, but it's just instinctive if they see blood.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Love me some Speckled Sussex chickens!

                                    Many excellent posts. If you let them free range, you will have losses at some point. My girls, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, and Anne Murray, free range when I'm around, but if I go in to take a shower or go out to the gas station, I put them in a stall.

                                    I already was keeping two rabbit hutches in a stall, so I had my barn builder make a coop that sits in the stall also. So at night, they are enclosed in a coop, wire all around, and also in a stall.

                                    I bought mine from purelypoultry.com (which may be like buying a puppy from a pet store, I wouldn't argue, but that is what I did) because I only wanted 5 and they gave a 90% guarantee that they would all be female (all ten that I have purchased in total, after losses, have been female -- though two died of natural causes). They do poop a bunch, but I don't think they'll scratch your yard down to dirt.

                                    Mine are extremely friendly and sociable, maybe because I do lessons and camp and they've been handled a lot. They wander in and out of the horses' legs on the crossties, peck at the painted toenails of moms coming to pick up their kids, sit on my front door mat, hop up on the farrier's truck . . . they are hilarious. I occasionally place one on my lazy pony's rump, and the kids just roll over laughing. They even have different voices and whistles, and I can tell which hen laid which egg (yes, I am an unmarried loser with no TV and a lot of time on my hands ).

                                    I was advised to keep them in under the heatlamp for at least six weeks, depending on outside temperature; and then when I moved them to the big coop (like your half stall), to keep them enclosed in there for two weeks. Then, start letting them out of the coop about an hour before sunset, and sort of watching them. Gradually increase the length of time before sunset that you let them out, and they will learn not to wander too far, and to return to their perches at dusk.

                                    I use the heavy duty plastic bases you're supposed to keep the 50 pound pasture salt licks in, as nest boxes. I put a couple of handfuls of shavings and a bit of straw in there, place them in a quiet corner (as you'll read in the Storey guide, or elsewhere), and that's worked well.

                                    If you buy freeze-dried mealworms for them (once adult), like all other animals they will learn to love the plastic-food-wrap sound, and come running like it is crack cocaine. Curiously, the freeze-dried mealworm container says, "Not for human consumption."
                                    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Easy-K...22998204542511
                                    http://www.easykeeperfarm.com

                                    I can ride my horses without a sharps container.

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                                    • #38
                                      Just a quick note to add on. When the local wildlife realizes that there is a nice free meal to be had at your place you will need to make a decision to either make changes to the set up or no longer have chickens. If you continue to free range after they realize there are chickens there, they will just keep coming back until they are either fenced in or eat them all, and if you just keep replacing them instead of fencing them in then they will continue to come. It may be only a few months before they figure out there are chickens there or it may be a few years but eventually they will find out so just something to keep in mind.
                                      The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        We had a hawk come and station himself over our run for a while when we were new to chickens. After the first loss, we moved them to safer digs.

                                        My husband suspected he thought, "Dang. I find a great new restaurant, and it's closed down already."
                                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Twiliath View Post
                                          Well, I would disagree on the square footage needed. It should be 3-4 feet per hen in the coop. Nesting boxes and perch are needed for inside. Outside, if you're going to limit their run, you would need 200 sf per hen. Then you can also use electrified poultry netting to divide the total area into three sections and rotate just like you would rotate your horse fields.

                                          For great info, find "Professor Chicken" on the web, AKA Dr. David Sullenberger.

                                          Have fun!
                                          200 square feet per hen? Where did you learn that?
                                          Jigga:
                                          Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

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