New to chicken keeping

Discuss, share and chat about all things relating to keeping Chickens including health issues
Trev62
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New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

We took on our first chicks @ four weeks ago, five of them. We kept them in the living room overnight, transferring them to an indoor dog kennel whilst doing the daily morning chores then outside in the garden to run free placing them into a chicken wire run when we could not supervise them. We estimate they are about 6 weeks old now and they have well and truly doubled in size and developed their characters. We handle them during the day and feed them from hand to help them get used to us.

We feed them several times a day on a chicken feed, we lay down two dishes one with the feed dry and one with it mixed with water, we also now give them fresh vegetables from the garden which they thoroughly enjoy.

Also we have placed them outside in their own home the last two nights, I think they miss our company as they cannot wait to be out and about in the morning.

During the day temperatures here have been well over 100 degrees so we have been putting down bottles of frozen water which they sit on and next to. They have free range of the garden all day but we are having issue getting them in their home at night.

On top of this we have a baby giant rabbit that loves to chase and play with them and two dogs (one an rescued ex-street dog, the other old, deaf and partially senile, like me in many ways!) that we have to get to used to having these chicks wander around everywhere, all good fun.

Problems we face............apart not knowing what we are doing! Jackals, foxes, snakes, hawks and eagles for starters.

So I will now start reading the information on here and helpful tips will always be appreciated.
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Willow
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Willow »

Hiya...
Well it sounds as though the first thing you need is a good strong run, large as possible, to keep your girls safe when you're not watching them & loads of shade.. Also make sure the outside home or coop is well ventilated (ventilation holes covered in fine mesh)..

If you have a problem with birds of prey then I'd certainly consider getting a roof on the run, wire or solid.

A constant supply of fresh water & good food for their age, also down permanently, (not just several times a day)..

Personally I wouldn't let the chicks get stressed (or worse)by a giant rabbit or dogs, in nature the mother hen would protect them (furiously) against anything.. Stress, whether you notice it or not, can lead to sickness in chickens and they do need to feel safe.

If you keep them in the run for a few weeks, they'll get used to going into their coop at night, and the coop and run will be their 'safe area'.

Veg will be more than welcome as you've found out yourselves.. chickens are fabulous!!
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Grannyof4
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Grannyof4 »

Can only stress what Willow has said. It is vital you get a really safe run for them and keep your other pets away from them. Where do you live?
Trev62
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

Thanks for replies.

Hi Willow,

We have split our garden in to two halves @ 1000 square metres each. One area is for for all our fruit, vegetables and grape vines. The other is a grassed area with an experimental herb garden plus a couple of extra vegetable beds as we seem to run out of space every year. this grassed area is where our chickens are kept and are allowed to roam free. This whole area is surrounded by a six foot high fence with a dry stone wall at its base.

Their coop is an A-Framed one that we built and it sits on a large concrete base, we also have another wood and wire frame run that is fully enclosed where we place them in when we are not at home which is rare due to the lifestyle we lead. The coop dismantles as we are considering moving them in to the stone barn if the winter gets too harsh or the snow too deep, not sure on that one yet.

The chicks always have fresh water I have also cut several lemonade bottles in half which I freeze then place in their water tray which seems to work well in this heat as they happily drink away from it. Appreciate the advice on feeding their fed has been down all day today with fresh vegetables put out at varying times which has them running over to grab them.

As for the dogs and rabbit, I am not sure if we have some weird or over confident chicks, they have taken to following our Ex Street dog around and they all sit down together on his rug outside or by the gate watching us work in the garden area! Today the cheeky blighters even followed him into the house several times and had to be evicted after making themselves comfortable! They also had great fun chasing the bugs and eating the worms as I dug up this years first batch of potatoes.

All five happily went to their coop tonight for the first time without any problems and a late check found them all sitting on their perch.

I must admit I never thought chickens could be such characters and great fun to keep.

Hi Grannyof4,

We live in Bulgaria, in a small village halfway between Veliko Tarnovo and Sevlievo, within 100 metres we are in countryside where you can walk for miles and not see a soul except maybe a goatsman or shepherd. We can go for weeks without seeing or talking to anyone, strange life but an enjoyable one.
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Willow
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Willow »

Ooohhh.... Fancy swapping your home for an ex council house with a teeny weeny garden?? {rofwl} {rofwl}

You really really need to post some pictures!!

It sounds as though your chicks were so young when you got them that they've simply accepted your animals as family lol. I'm sure you'll know your dogs enough to spot warning signs if they get peeved at getting hassled by the chicks - just remember the chicks wont be able to 'read' the signs.
The general rule is not to let dogs & chickens mix for obvious reasons, it happens too often that a trusted family pet gets a bee in its bonnet and suddenly snaps at the chickens, or inexplicably decides to 'chase' - its just instinctive, thats dogs..

Having said that I, at one time, had a lot of land a large flock of chooks, two dogs and several cats. The adult chickens were definitely 'boss' & were totally respected by the dogs & cats. BUT.. I had to be very careful not to feed the dogs near the chickens because the dogs would defend their food / bone and would 'snap'.
I was also lucky enough to work from home at the time, the 'field' area in which the chickens free ranged was enclosed..
In spring - when the foxes were looking to feed their young - I made the decision to let the dogs stay in the field with the chooks to deter foxes.. It was a personal choice and a risk I decided to take, the 'office' overlooked part of the 'field' and the dogs tended to stay near us anyway.. but as I said, even after years of them 'knowing' each other, it was definitely still a risk. (I trusted my dogs, but would not leave them unsupervised with a child - same reason)

Your set up sounds fabulous, I think your main problem sounds to be shade, chickens love to sit under bushes and be in undergrowth.. they do get heat stroke! $cf$ I know you're supplying them with the cooled water, but can they get out of the sun? I lived in Gibraltar for a while & know what hot summers are like - the sun is pretty relentless..(not a problem we have over here at the moment lol) another good reason to give them areas of shade would be that they'd have somewhere to run to if a feathered predator was overhead. Mine used to be very aware of large birds in the sky and would run for cover the minute they spotted one.

I'm going to drone on until you get some photos posted )piicy(

Ps.. my chickens used to love melon
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Mo
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Mo »

Willow wrote:
Ps.. my chickens used to love melon

Mine too - and if you want the melon for yourself mine also loved melon seeds - I had to throw some seeds away yesterday as I dont have hens now, it seemed such a waste.

Don't want to put you off, but any veg, and probably the grass too won't last long if the hens can get at it. They love scratching.
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Trev62
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

Willow wrote: BUT.. I had to be very careful not to feed the dogs near the chickens because the dogs would defend their food / bone and would 'snap'................... but as I said, even after years of them 'knowing' each other, it was definitely still a risk. (I trusted my dogs, but would not leave them unsupervised with a child - same reason)....

....I think your main problem sounds to be shade, chickens love to sit under bushes and be in undergrowth.. they do get heat stroke! $cf$ I know you're supplying them with the cooled water, but can they get out of the sun?

I'm going to drone on until you get some photos posted )piicy(

Ps.. my chickens used to love melon


I appreciate what you say about dogs/chickens/children, always being at home when the dogs and chicks are out together means they are under constant supervision and having worked in Dog Rescue and Welfare and one dog being an Ex-Street dog we are aware there will always be a risk factor but we do enjoy seeing the chicks just roam around.

We have various shady areas for them to take cover in, and have also allowed some small grassy areas and along one stone wall to grow a bit wild so they can often be found settled in these places. We have various water bowls placed around as well, not just for them but for the tortoise and rabbit (who we also let loose as often as possible) as well. Their favourite spot still is the porch/sunroom/conservatory (we still do not know what to call it!), they wait until the dog opens the outside door then they follow him in and use the chairs as roosting perches!

I tried posting some pictures but it seems without a third party programme it can not be done on this site, someone correct me please if I have got that wrong.

We have tried for three years to grow melons and this is the first year we have two good sized ones growing, rest assured the chicks will not be getting them, if they survive!!
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Trev62
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

Mo wrote: Don't want to put you off, but any veg, and probably the grass too won't last long if the hens can get at it. They love scratching.


We have experimented planted a herb garden this year, so far the chicks have flatten one thyme bush, they love sitting on top of it, corriander is also a favorite for them to behead, but that works a treat as it stops the corriander from flowering, we let them go in to where we have the remains of the first lettuce crop and they enjoy feeding on them and scratching around the soil we just have to steer them away from the beetroot that is still growing there!

Next year we will plan a small area that we will plant up and leave for them and the rabbit to enjoy placing a few logs etc in as well. We have put logs at different places in the garden that they take advantage of to perch and sleep on.
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Willow
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Willow »

Think Ive found the info on picture posting for you...

1. Go to www.photobucket.com and open an account
2. After you have done this, go to your 'album and upload' page
3. On the right you will see 'browse' (3 times)
4. Click 'browse' and find the photo on your PC
5. Click 'upload'
6. You will then see a small version (thumbnail) of your photo underneath
7. Choose the photo you want to put in Forum
8. Click 'edit' above the picture
9. Click 'resize' and select the size 320 wide
10.When it is done..click 'HTML' code (this will copy for you)
11.Go to Forum and post
12.Where you want the picture appear in your post, right click your mouse and 'paste'
13.There should be a longish piece starting
"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid"

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Trev62
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

Thanks, I am absolutely rubbish on computers but will give it a go.

Just tried but post just, showed a long line of junk and no pictures so deleted it, as I said, useless on these things!
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Trev62
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

Things are coming along nicely, chicks seem to know when it is bedtime now and all head to their nightime abode @ 20.00 hrs in the evening so no more having to chase and round them up at night.

Now the idiot questions!

I leave water in their coop overnight but no food is that the right thing to do?

They now have feed down all day and get treated to a variety of vegetables and fruit throughout the day, when or do I start feeding the just in the morning or early evening?

Finally the really daft question! I have two walnut trees in the garden, can chickens eat walnuts? A search on the internet gives conflicting answers.

My dogs love them, stealing them from the bucket as I collect them then cracking their shells and running off to eat them but they also love the feed I put down for the chicks, we have a strange lot of animals here!!
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Grannyof4
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Grannyof4 »

Chickens don't need anything overnight in the house. Usually treats are only given late in the day as they need to get their fill of "proper" chicken food ie. their pellets and they will leave these for other food. Chickens need access to their food all day and never restricted to am. and pm. I don't know about walnuts but would err on the side of caution and not let them have any.
Trev62
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Trev62 »

Our chicks now look like chickens though miniature ones as I presume they still have some growing to do. They have all started "squaring up" to each other presumably to sort out their pecking order. I noticed one was being kept away from the food so we have put an extra feeder down and that seems to have worked.

We know who is "top chick" and who is "bottom" at present but the middle order seems to change daily. The squabbling between a couple of them gets quite bad at times, so far we have refrained from interfering letting things sort themselves out, is this the right thing to do?

They now have total free range of the garden only being secured at night in their coop, their intake of food has dropped somewhat but they are chasing down flies, ants and worms during the day. Should I be putting grit down or will they get enough from the daily rummaging in the garden?

Apologies for the basic questions but searching the internet gives conflicting advice.
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bikesandbirdsbob
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by bikesandbirdsbob »

put some grit /oyster shell in a separate pot ,normally keep it separate .They can help themselves if needed . If it goes down top up. They can pick grit up and dirt from the garden not sure about shells though . Snails will disappear in time so not much good there.
Leave them as long as you can , water pistol is used if to aggressive.
Keep asking the questions , peace of mind for yourself is always good.
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Mo
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Re: New to chicken keeping

Post by Mo »

If they were in a run the advice might be ' make sure they have somewhere to be out of sight of the bully' but if they are free ranging that should take care of itself.
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