Friday, March 25, 2011

Introducing the new Hens to my existing flock - day 2


The new chickens are getting picked on a bit by the other chickens but it is to be expected! Have you ever heard someone refer to a "pecking order"? Chickens really do have a pecking order and everytime another chicken(s) is added to the flock they need to re-establish this order! That is why it is best to add to your flock as infrequently as possible.

The new chickens spent most of their day yesterday hiding in the corners and learned fairly quickly to run and move quick if passing by another chicken.

There was no blood - there was no feather plucking - ALL GOOD THINGS!!!

I did notice a "out of ordinary" egg laying day. Usually they are all done laying by 4 or so. At 4 yesterday I only had 3 eggs for the day (I usually get 8-10 a day). They were finally done laying around  7 last night!

I usually keep a light on in the coop all night but decided to turn it off last night. I was hoping that would help all of the chickens calm down a bit and relax for the night. I went out this morning to check on them and one of the hens really seems to be fitting in nicely but I found the other one still hiding in the corner.

So we will see what today brings...hopefully a better day for them all!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Introducing the new Hens to my existing flock - day 1

Some of you already know that I bought two new hens about a week ago. They are older hens and I was told they should start laying in a few weeks. I put them into a separate coop, next to my existing coop which houses the original 10 hens.

Today I decided is the day to combine them -

This is new to me - I have never had to introduce new birds to my existing flock. For this I turn to my handy-dandy book - "Raising Chickens for Dummies"

 "Adding some new hens to old hens is the most frequent type of introduction in small flocks. Don't just toss the new birds in and hope for the best. If you've ever watched females of any species fight, you know how vicious they can get. Ty to introduce more than one bird at a time, though, so the bullying will be divided up a bit. Expect some fighting, and don't interfere unless a bird is injured and bleeding. The flock is establishing a new order, and after they all know their places, the fighting will cease. Remove any bleeding birds because they may be quickly pecked to death. Keep an eye on newcomers for a week or so and make sure they're getting to the food and water. if they stay huddled in a corner, you may have to remove them. "

The new hens have been in a coop right next to the larger coop for about a week. The older hens have spent a lot of time looking and talking to the younger-newer hens. I have decided to put them into the outdoor run of the larger coop and see what happens. I hope there is no blood and not a lot of fighting. 

I wonder if egg production will drop at all because of this?! Wish me luck - I will be sure to keep you updated!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cleaning the Chicken Coop & Daily Routine

I have to admit that caring for chickens has proven to be a very easy task. The worst part of caring for our chickens comes at night when we have to leave the warmth and comfort of the house to go out and "put the chickens up".

In this post I'm going to talk about cleaning the chicken coop. These are my personal thoughts and opinions and what I believe and what works for us may not work for you. Keep in mind that we have only had our chickens since last July (2010) and the way I do things might change now that they are getting older. But for now this is how I do things!! I have things broken down into daily, weekly and monthly (depending on the season).

  • Every morning I go out to "let the chickens out". Which is basically opening the door so they can go out into the run. We are unable to allow them to be completely free range because there are dogs in the neighborhood (including ours).
  • Check their water and refill if necessary
  • Check their food and fill if necessary
  • Make sure nesting boxes are clean and have plenty of nesting material in them. We currently use wood shavings - I have found that hay doesn't work out well because the chickens take it right out. 
  • Check for eggs - during the winter this needs to be done more frequently so that they do not freeze. 
  • At night we go out after dark to "put them to bed" - which is closing the door to the run
  • On a weekly basis I put fresh bedding into the nesting boxes 
  • In the hotter months I will clean the poop out too because it will have a tendency to become stinky in the heat. I think that probably just a quick racking should be sufficient on a weekly basis. This isn't really possible during the winter months because it will be frozen
MONTHLY - I don't know if I should call this monthly or bi-monthly or semi-annual - I guess it all just depends on what season it is. I didn't remove any poop all winter because it was frozen
  • I deep clean everything. Wash the food dishes and water containers. Remove all the nesting material and replace with new and fresh material
  • Clean out all of the poop and put down fresh litter - I use wood shavings or sawdust
  • Wipe down and wash the roosting pole
  • Wipe down and wash the walls and the doors
On a average I spend about 5-10 minutes out there a day. I don't know for sure how long the deep cleaning will take because we have moved on to a bigger coop and I have yet to deep clean this one.

One of the most important things is to make sure that the coop stays dry. It has a tendency to stink more if it gets wet.

I think that is about it - I hope I didn't miss anything. Let me know if you have questions or suggestions on things that I may have missed!! Thanks!!!!