Chicks on the way

hannah9April 30, 2010

I just ordered five chicks from My Pet Chicken (2 Barred Rocks, 2 Speckled Sussex, 1 Dominique). I hope those were good choices! This is my first experience with chickens.

My husband and are working on the coop. I've seen some mixed advice about the sizing. The hens will be confined for most of the day. I plan to let them out some, but I hear they are hard to catch. I'm worried about them getting over our 3' fence one one side.

That being said, would a 4X8' coop that's 5' tall be roomy enough for five chickens. We plan to build the roost box within this 4X8 area, but raised about a 1 1/2 feet to leave the full 4X8 ground area open.

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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Chickens should have a minimum of 4-6 feet per bird, especially if they are going to be confined to the coop most of the time. Overcrowding/boredom can lead to feather picking and other abuse, so give them as much room and a variety of things to do (eat) as you can. :) I'd also make sure to make your coop tall enough for you to stand up in--because sure as you don't, you'll be crawling in there after some sick or injured bird who has gone to the furthest back corner!

Your breed choices sound fine. If you handle the chicks a lot, handfeed them goodies and teach them to come when you call (use food as incentive, chickens are VERY food motivated!) they should be quite tame. The way to a chicken's heart is through it's stomach. Mine know and trust us, and we can walk over to them any time and scoop them up for pets & cuddles. Keeping them tame is in the best interests of both you AND the birds, since you don't want to have to chase them down in an emergency.

Chickens make excellent pets, and most breeds are calm, friendly, sweet and curious, and have great personalities, just like a cat or a dog. And they love people if treated kindly--I think you are going to be surprised at how attached you get to them! If you ever have trouble getting them into the coop, just walk out with their favorite goodie and they'll follow you anywhere!

Yes, I'd be concerned about the 3 foot fence and would raise it to a 5 foot fence--not only to keep them IN, but to keep predators (and people) OUT. When the chicks are youngsters of about 2-8 months of age, they are all wing and lift with no body weight--and no brains. At that age they can jump up on things and be over a low fence before you know it, so watch out for that. I've learned to alwyas trim my youngster's wings when they first go out into the yard for the first time. By the time they molt out and grow new wings feathers, they've usually learned to stay sensibly put on the ground. As they gain some age, weight and sense, they tend to stay in their own yard. :)

Some hens don't like nest boxes that have to be climbed up into (especially older or heavier hens), but I'd say give it a try and see what happens--if they hate them, you'll know!

Enjoy your chickens! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 4:27PM
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hannah9

Thank you for that post! I feel like I'm already attached to them and they aren't even here yet! It sounds like I will need to either build a large chicken run or put up a 6 foot fence. Do you think trimming their wings would be enough to keep them from jumping that 3' fence? Unfortunately, there's a big dog on the other side of that fence. So I want to make sure they can't get over it.

I do plan to handle the chicks a lot.:) I'm getting their brooder box set up now. I hope to get them tame enough that I won't end up running around the yard chasing chickens all day. Sounds like that's very possible from what's been said.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 6:29PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Yes, raise the fence. Also make sure that the big dog cannot come THROUGH or OVER the fence.

I've heard so many tragic stories from people who's chickens got slaughtered by dogs coming into their yard... :( And when I was a kid, once in a while one of our white Leghorns would manage to get over our 5 foot fence--the neighbor's dog was a German Shephard, and would literally stalk and kill those chickens, just like a cat.

Protect your birds, lots of things out there are VERY determined when it comes to getting a chicken dinner.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 6:18AM
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