Preparedness blog

Mistakes of Raising Chickens

By Ready Expert
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Raising chickens can be a very rewarding process. Besides providing you with fresh eggs, it can also be a teaching resource for your children and a way for you to become self-sufficient. There are a few mistakes that people, however, make when they first start raising chickens. Check out this list below and add your mistakes at the bottom to help others learn.

Building your Henhouse on the Ground Many first timers will create a henhouse directly on the ground. They figure that the chickens will be able to peck for worms or that cleanup will be a lot easier. However, having a chicken coop on the ground can allow for foxes or other predators to work their way into the house. If there is an underground hole that you don’t know about, you may begin to lose your chickens. Instead, build a raised chicken coop that sits off the ground. Many people even incorporate removable or swing-away floors that allow for easy access cleaning. For more comprehensive information on building a chicken coop from the ground up, check out this article. - 3 Free Chicken Coop Designs - raising chickens successfully

The Material While most people use rough recycled lumber to make their chicken coops, this may not be the best material to keep things clean. The rough board will be harder to clean, paint or whitewash. It’s better to use a material that is smoother and is easier to clean, wipe or paint.

Outside Access Some larger chicken coops allow you to walk inside and collect your eggs, but this can pose some problems. Going into the chicken coop might result in tracking chicken poo all over the house or intruding on the chickens while they’re looking for an available laying box. Instead, create outside access boxes where you can grab the eggs from the laying boxes without disturbing the chickens as they walk around the hen house. This will also keep your shoes a little cleaner.

Treats and Food Determine what feed you will have for your chickens. It's recommended that you get poultry feed and get feed with added protein during the colder seasons. Chickens also like fresh and dried worms, white grapes, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, chard, brussel spout leaves and cherry tomatoes. When the chickens begin to start laying eggs, they will need more calcium in their diet. Usually feeding them a few oyster shells will do the trick.

Heating Depending on where you live, you'll need to maintain a certain temperature inside the coop. If you install a heating lamp, make sure it's high enough that it doesn't overheat the chickens or burn the shavings on the floor. Usually a 250 watt bulb will be warm enough. You'll also need to collect eggs frequently during the winter because they will tend to freeze.

The Law While most people are eager to start raising their own chickens, you may need to check your local ordinances. You don’t want to put a lot of effort into buying chickens or building a coop and then find out that it’s not allowed.

Bucket for Watering A chicken can go a few days without feed, but they can’t go very long without water. Many first-timers just add a bucket of water into the coop that is tall enough so that the chickens won’t play in it and is heavy enough not to tip over easily. However, this encourages the birds to jump on top of the bucket and drink straight from the top - making it easier to tip over after a while. Consider using a hanging water source - called a waterer or a fount. This creates a trough, preventing the birds from sitting on the top.

Rooster to Hen Ratio The ideal ratio of roosters to hens is 1:12, depending on the nature of the rooster. If you have a lower ratio than that, the rooster may get too aggressive with the hens. If you have a low ratio you’ll also notice that your hens will tend to have bald spots on the back of their heads and featherless patches on their backs. If they’re over-agitated, hens’ egg laying will become sporadic.

Counting Your Birds Each night, when you lock your chicken coop, you should count the chickens to make sure they are all in the coop. Usually, the chickens will move inside the hen house when it begins to get dark. However, you’ll notice that some chickens will try and hide their nests outside of the coop. They will set up a nest in nearby bushes and instead of moving into the coop they will move to their nest. Count your birds each night to make sure that you don’t have any unprotected birds that have set up rogue nests. - Chicken with a 25-year shelf life? -

Preventing Passing Pets Many people like the idea of free-range chickens, however, this may not mix well with urban homesteading. You may need to plan against passing pets - especially dogs on leashes. Don’t assume that owners will stop their dogs or be able to keep them on a leash. You’ll need to have some fence or security barrier in place for passing dogs from disturbing your chickens.

Your Advice What advice do you have? Did you make a mistake that you’d like to add to the list? Comment below and share your knowledge. After you're done, check out some of the resources we have available for emergency preparedness and DIY living.

11 years ago
11 years ago at 3:20 AM
A good idea for chickens that get board if they are cooped up is to hang a head of lettuce on a rope from the ceiling so the birds can reach it. They love to peck away at the lettuce and it gives them something to do.
11 years ago at 7:55 AM
All very good advice. (I have had chickens for over 40 years now) If you need to use a heat lamp during cold months, use the red bulbs. These will heat the birds only, not the bedding. Prevents an unexpected fire!
11 years ago at 8:00 AM
We poured a slab for the coop floor. We also used 3 different sized wire to keep the bad critters out. Hog wire is on the outside of the coop. Then a small 1/4" wire and then chichen wire. We have the boxes elevated, but we walk into the coop. The birds like us in there. We take our boots off at the door of our house so we don't worry about dragging in poop. We use a fount for water. We found that works the best. It hangs from the rafter. We also use a similar type of feeder that we hang for their feed. We use a heat lamp that is set on the fount so the water doesn't freeze. It does a little sometimes, but it isn't a problem. And if the chickens get cold they can go where the heat lamp is warming. We live in AZ so we don't have to turn the heat lamp on much in the winter. We will buy the premium bird seed as a treat for the birds. They love it! It has nuts and dried fruits. We also have cut a pumpkin in half and they love that, too. Pumpkin is a natural dewormer. We really enjoy our chickens. They are pretty easy to take care of. We have 8. We use them for eggs as I like my chickens too much. If they are to be eaten, it will be in a desperate situation. I know that may be silly, but I can't bring myself to eat my friends (pets). :-)
9 years ago at 4:58 PM
No not silly at all. I have never eaten a friend myself.
8 years ago at 11:56 AM
My girls are ex battery, adopted from a charity who collects them on slaughter date. I could never eat one as they are my pets. Actually I could never eat any as I'm a veggie
4 years ago at 8:06 AM
Can I ask why you are vegetarian???
3 years ago at 5:23 PM
My chickens were always safe with me as well, We would consume eggs, but would spoil our girls for their entire long (for chickens anyway) lives
11 years ago at 8:11 AM
I raised chickens for many years, they are amazing birds and I learned much from observation and self education!! When they are molting(loosing and replacing feathers) throw them a couple of handfuls of dry cat food once in awhile, its a great source of animal protein and they LOVE it. They will eat most any table scraps(not meat)they love watermelon rinds and corn cobs and will peck them clean! NO onions or garlic as these will give your eggs a flavor you don't want!! They are great "recyclers" and wonderful for "pest control". My labs grew up with chickens so were great "protectors" when preditors showed up. But beware of egg snatchers, if they have access to nests!!
Shalena Schermerhorn
8 years ago at 7:21 PM
What could be egg snatchers? We are not getting any eggs now we were only getting one a day.
8 years ago at 2:37 PM
Snakes are egg snatchers. Rats too if they can get in. I had a gopher snake in my coop and if I didn't collect the eggs a couple times a day the snake did. I got rid of it and closed up the hole he was getting in. Haven't had a problem since.
8 years ago at 7:38 AM
A friend of mine uses ceramic eggs, they look just like regular eggs and if a snake eats them, they typically die. Once in a while he would find one in the yard if a rat carried it out of the hen house. He also sent me a picture of a 10 foot snake his dog caught, he found 2 of his ceramic eggs in it when he cut it open. The next day, his egg production increased quite a bit.
8 years ago at 5:48 AM
Holy cow! A 10 foot snake? 8-/ What state do you live in? Yikes!
4 years ago at 1:40 AM
10 foot snake! Some one asked what state do you live in. With a 10 foot snake. I’d say , State of confusion
5 years ago at 2:43 PM
We have big black rat snakes. They eat the occasional egg and I am very happy to donate an egg now and then. That is very cheap and eco-friendly rat control. I wish I had more of them around.
11 years ago at 8:12 AM
I guess that is Number 11 Cathy. Don't fall in love with your food. A real problem for folks who don't have that farm/survival instinct. :)
11 years ago at 8:46 AM
NLJ, That is true. hehe We will eat them if we have to, but for now I will stick with Safeway chicken. I read somewhere that it is easier to someone elses animals than your own. If needed, the nonproducers will get the axe, sort a speak. :-) Cathy
11 years ago at 9:07 AM
Mike Davis said that hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster. Will they lay as often with as without? Is there a difference in taste? I can see city folk wanting to do without a rooster, but I'd rather have one or two to propagate the flock. thanks for your answer(s)!
9 years ago at 2:44 PM
Yes they lay as often. As for the taste, my husband will not eat a fertilised egg, only the unfertilized ones without the blood spec. But when I cook them, I don't seperate them, I cook them all. He never knows the difference.
11 years ago at 9:37 AM
@Bee. Cat food contains Chicken meat, Chicken By Products (Chicken heads, feet, and intestines) and Chicken fat. Do you really want to make your birds cannibals?
chciekn cannibal
8 years ago at 4:12 PM
7 years ago at 1:32 PM
Chickens already are natural cannibals. They will peck at an injured or dead chicken horribly! They enjoy the taste. They will kill a chick who's injured or slow,been their own! It's natural.
5 years ago at 2:23 PM
Chickens are omnivores. They eat mice,snakes, whatever they can catch. They’re not too fussy.
5 years ago at 11:00 AM
errr... as far as I know they already are.. they will eat anything! Yes, even chicken, mine love it, they will get meat scraps when they need it (molding time mostly) If we don't have much meat left over I will feed them some cat nibbles that I soaked in water to soften up a bit. When a chicken sees blood, it's war and they will attack and peck and eat, so never have your chicken with (bloody) wounds in your flock, it will be attacked to death.
11 years ago at 10:02 AM
Without a rooster...hens will lay as many eggs and the quality and taste is the same.
11 years ago at 10:17 AM
It mentioned a low ratio of chickens to rooster being an issue, but what about a high ratio of chickens to rooster? Would that be an issue?
11 years ago at 10:18 AM
Chickens need a readily available source of gravel or small stones. Softer rocks do not work well for "chewing" their food. I provide crushed quartz that I find at old quarries. It has sharp edges and the chickens sellect for it and when I butcher them I usually find only quartz in their gizzard. I would presume that better "chewing" makes for better feed conversion. Also chickens need atleast 14 hours of light to continue laying thoughout the winter. Put a light on a timer in the coop to come on early in the morning like 3am or so. By adding supplemental light in the morning if you have free range chickens they still return to the coop at the same time each night or right before dark.
11 years ago at 10:33 AM
what is a good number of chickens to start with for a true novice beginner?
7 years ago at 12:57 AM
Depends on how many you actually want. We started with 5 (all already laying, all hens) then y'all know, being a country girl that I am I NEEDED the chicks we saw at the store so we could "have more eggs" (I just wanted to get chicks because I've never had any) so we did that, and three out of the four were roosters. Yeah.... we got rid of two of the roosters and kept one rooster and one hen (they were both chicks). So originally had 5 "magically ended up with" 9 (the four chicks) The went back down to 7 a couple months later when the roosters fights got worse and more often. So that's how many we started out with. You want to make sure your feeding your chickens good food and scraps that they can have. (They don't need scraps to live, but they like it a lot.) You also want to give them fresh water every other day and clean their coop at least once every week keeping them clean and healthy. ?
11 years ago at 10:48 AM
When looking to start raising chickens since there are so many types. They need to decide what they want from the chickens they are going to raise. LIke do they just want eggs then maybe they should get the chickens that are best for just egg production. Or if they are looking to raise the chickens for eggs and meat then they should get a breed of chicken that supports both egg production and are good for meat. They should also look into which ones can withstand the elements of weather where they are living. A hanging water container or faunt is a good idea and hanging feeder. I through in a little alfalfa hay for my chickens to pick at every once in a while they seem to love it.A great way to feed them worms is to talk to friends that go fishing and let them know that you would like the worms that they don't use when out on their fishing trip to feed to your chickens and if your getting enough eggs you can offer them some eggs in return or maybe even come chicken meat.
Joel Laird
8 years ago at 10:04 PM
my wife and I have just ventured into the backyard chicken experience. We picked up a Chicken coop and 3 chickens that were a couple years old. We were brand new so we didn't know that they had to be penned up at night. The fencing I had was normal chicken wire well, we found out real quick. One of the first 3 was a Cochin chicken she was pretty and my wife feel for her. The first couple nights we didn't have any problems. The third night my wife was in bed and I was at work and she heard a scream from outside. (she shinned the flashlight out the bedroom window and saw a long blackish gray critter scurry across the lawn and right into our coop. (the cochin was older and had already been in battle from the previous owner she only had one eye) So she didn't last long because she was on the lower level. With further examination the critter was a weasel and if you read about them (they are nocturnal and they will suck the blood from your chicken. So my wife was very upset (Then we went a step further and bought pullets at Bumggards when they were only 3-4 weeks old and raised them in the basement in our house in a Tupperware container big enough to handle 4 pullets. It was interesting because we ended up with a chicken that had a low vitamins in her system. (she was born that way) We noticed that she wasn't like the other chicks and soon we found out that she had rye neck. (the chicken can't hold up their heads and has a hard time with balance. We did some research and found out that she needed (Polyvisol and sedium) We started feeding all the chickens that 2 times a day. They are all 18 weeks old now and all of them are laying at least one egg per day. Except one of the stronger chicks was a rooster and he Crowed early on and wouldn't stop so we got rid of him (we live in town and didn't want the neighbors to get mad at us. The rooster we gave to the Animal Rescue League. So we have 5 hens that lay eggs. I have been improving their coop every week but over all it has been a good experience and we will continue to do it as long as we can.
11 years ago at 11:00 AM
@Greg and @Bee Chickens are cannibals by nature. If one of your hens gets injured, the others will peck the wound, and possibly kill and eat them. When you have a bird that has been hurt it is a good idea to separate them until the bleeding has stopped and the bird no longer looks or act hurt. Then keep and eye on them for an hour or so after reintroducing them into the flock to make sure the others leave them alone. But speaking of food. Ours also like leftover popcorn, stale bread, crackers, chips and all those crunchy snacks.
Shalena Schermerhorn
8 years ago at 7:27 PM
My chickens and Roosters love no bake cookies I guess cuz of the oats in it.
Chris Barnes
11 years ago at 1:20 PM
@Greg: as Roy said, chickens are already cannibals. In fact, they will eat pretty much any meat. We free-range our chickens and they will follow my on the lawn mower, scarfing down all the insects, snakes, & lizards they can find (had one eat a baby copperhead). I shot a wild hog once, they ate the eyeballs out of the head...
11 years ago at 2:27 PM
There is good information here. Very informative. I raised chickens for eggs and incubation. I let my chickens free range and maintained a ratio of 1:10. I had no issues with hens getting bald spots from the roosters I believe because they were free range and not confined during the day. I would get a 98% hatch. With less roosters the hatch would decrease. I would save back some chicks once a year for replacement and put the excess roosters in the freezer. For those incubating, your gathered eggs placed in the refrigerator will hatch in the incubater. They are fertile and the cool temperature will not hurt them. Store bought eggs are not normally fertile and won't hatch. Although my hen house was on the ground at one end of the barn, the roosts were 3 1/2- 4 Ft off the ground and the hen boxes were at an equal height. I had no predator problem while they were in the house. I did loose one time to time while free ranging. And I used a hanging feeder and water fount and provided free access to oyster shell. Don't limit your selection solely based on egg or meat production. If you don't free range and plan to keep your chickens confined, be sure to pick a breed that takes confinement well.
11 years ago at 3:05 PM
Our Americana's egg yolks have a strange flavor. It has been very hard to get used to. We purchase regular chicken scratch from our feed store, oyster shell, and they free range. The Banty chicken eggs in our flock taste great. Any ideas? We do not have a rooster.
11 years ago at 6:15 PM
My grandmother raised chickens for eggs and meat. One thing I remember her doing is putting her eggshells in her scraps to feed the chickens. She said it made the eggshells on the new eggs stronger and helped the chickens digest what they ate.
11 years ago at 6:50 PM
We don't have fancy chicken pens and hen houses, a chicken is just not a picky critter, and can call just about any place home. Some of ours are free rangers as are the turkeys, and they prefer roosting in trees even during ice storms. We have had temperatures below 0 at times, and have yet to have one freeze to death. Hens are better incubators and brooders than the manufactured models, and they don't use electricity or cause you any labor. By the time they are done raising the chicks (10 to 12 weeks), they are ready to butcher. Just be sure to get a few hens of breeds that will set if you want to hatch chicks. Many dual purpose breed hens will set, but you will have to separate the hens you want to set from the laying flock, and let them accumulate an inviting clutch of eggs. You can switch the eggs after the hen decides she wants to set. The best defense for your chickens is a good dog. We have had wonderful luck with labs, but in the past we have also had great protectors that were Doberman, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and mutts.
Kansas Gal
11 years ago at 7:56 PM
I have 2 hens and they are both pets and great egg producers. These are "little dinosaurs" though and love meat....all meat...also nuts and grains...watermelon,grapes...canned cat food is a big treat. Chickens are designed to be omnivorous but do have different "taste" in what they like to eat. Even my two girls don't always like the same foods.
11 years ago at 2:29 AM
Good info and great comments! Treats should be no more than 10% of what your chickens eat. Provide both oyster shell (for calcium, once they are close to laying age) and grit (for digestion.) If you can free range them during the day, that's great for them to forage for natural edibles, but you can raise healthy happy chickens in a secure pen. The operative word is "secure" - you'd be surprised at the damage a stray dog can do to your coop, and to your chickens. Good idea to have doors and window coverings close into recessed frames, so a predator can not gain leverage around the edges and rip the doors off to get to your chickens. Heavy duty hardware (hinges and latches) are essential. @James - I've found that a manageable number for a true novice beginner to start with is four chickens. I've also found that there's an advantage to getting them as baby chicks (assuming you can set up a brooder for the first few weeks of the heat requirements they have) - it gives you a chance to get used to handling them and them a chance to get used to you - as opposed to getting older chicks that may not have been handled much as babies.
11 years ago at 6:53 AM
About feeding dry catfood to chickens.. I live in northern Wisconsin where temps can reach 30 BELOW ZERO. I often feed catfood to my chickens when it's brutally cold. They seem to stay warmer that way, and I have had birds reach over 20 years of age!! (Pets, we don't expect eggs or to eat the bird at that age) I have never had any issues with health over them eating small amounts of catfood. I am a country girl, so don't think in "city folk" manners. Guess I'm a redneck; I do what works. LOL
11 years ago at 5:47 PM
@Chris thanks for the info.
Matt W.
11 years ago at 11:30 AM
To the guy who said chickens need 14 hrs of daylight to lay. Wrong.. We get an egg a day in our extreme northern climate in Michigan's U.P. Chickens are also very cold hardy, much more than you think, we don't turn on any heating lamps unless it is -10f. Use an old crockpot for a cheap heated waterer in winter or buy the heated base with thermostat for 45$-USd. 1tbsp of scratch feed per day will cut your layer feed in half during the winter too, or give them plenty of fresh hay from the hayloft floor. We don't feed our pullets at all in the summer except scratch feed, they will range around and feed themselves. Good luck and happy chickening.
Kathleen O.
11 years ago at 12:45 PM
To avoid losing chickens to hawks and eagles be sure to put netting over the top of their "yard". My chickens were great escape artists, even with a 10' fence. they would fly ot over the fence or climb it like a ladder. They are normaly free range but during the winter they have to be protected from those flying diners. My chickens have a 20'X40' "yard" outside the horse barn they have taken over. All the exterior walls are lined with nesting boxes and those girls provide me with enough eggs to feed ten families a week. Got to love them.
11 years ago at 7:53 PM
I'm glad that the Ready Store is selling these chicken coops. I've talked to a few people that raise chickens and predators are a big issue. Winter is a big issue too as the chickens can die from the cold. (I recently read in Country Living magazine that there is a chicken breed that is bred to survive lower temps. They have thicker feathers and a bigger build.) Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion I would make a portable chicken coop that I would put in the garage at night. If it gets cold in the garage, I plan to have a wall mounted heater that runs off of natural gas. I also plan to have 2 or 3 places for them to range free, in a triple-fenced area, and rotate the places they roam. I heard if they don't have a place to roam, they go a little nutty. I plan to make a chicken coop that rides in a metal wagon (you can buy at any Wal-Mart) which attaches to any riding lawn mower (like a camper for the back of a truck). If all else fails, a Country Living reader suggests keeping them in the laundry room for the night, if it gets too cold. The Bible reads that it is a wise man that tends to the needs of his animals.
11 years ago at 8:49 PM
I have 14 chickens. They free range all day and some sleep in the shed/coop and some roost high up in the trees. Chickens are really hardy souls, they will roost in the trees no matter the weather(including a snow storm and a hurricane.) They are pampered and babied otherwise. I feed them everything we eat, plus cracked corn,sunflower seeds and high quality bird seed. They are healthy, happy and we get an egg almost every day from each chicken. My advice is not to stress too much over them they are amazingly resilient.
Don Ira
11 years ago at 10:16 AM
Our major problem in having chickens is we also have a Jack Russell Terrier. Out of the last 12 hens we had it killed 11 and #12 didn't have any feathers left. But we keep trying to make the pen dog proof.
11 years ago at 10:51 PM
save egg shells , crush them up and let chickens eat them. Don't expect your dog or cat to know that they need to leave their paws off the chickens .
11 years ago at 12:05 PM
1. yes, chickens are pets 2. yes, chickens are food 3. yes, chickens are fun 4. yes, chickens will get picked off by predators 5. yes, chickens will get sick and die 6. yes, you will be sad. 7. yes, people will cull their flock we all take care of our chickens the best way we think and with advice from others( judge not other people--share- for when tweawki happens or tshtf at some point--you will want to be informed
11 years ago at 2:55 PM
Some advice for keeping dogs out, we put hog panel, laid flat underneath all the walls of the coop and run, with plywood along the first three feet of the bottom of the run, with wire on sides and top. Nothing has gotten in so far, even snakes (knock on wood), and the chickens are happy! I love the suggestion of bird seed. Seems it would be much healthier than feed (not to mention cheaper!), and as long as you are offering oyster shell for calcium then you even get the Omega fatty acids from the bird seed. I love my chickens, but plan on eating some too. Its just the way farm life works. Think the Circle of Life from The Lion King ;) I would love to see more on keeping chickens warm in a mild climate (I live in South Texas). We don't get much for freezing temps here. I also loved the idea of a light to attract bugs, and plan on doing that tonight!!
Gene Smith
11 years ago at 2:30 PM
I had 12 chickens and 1 rooster, 8 of them had colored green, brown, yellow , pink/reddish. but for eating I raised rabbits, and they are better than chicken.
Ellygra DiLalla
11 years ago at 10:38 PM
I supplement my hens' food with a multi-grain organic oat blend, flax seed and raisins. I also give them cold water during the summer with garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar and mint. I had a sick chicken a few weeks ago. I gave her a very warm bath with epsom salts and isolated her from the rest of the flock. I did the soak every 12 hours and she looked better within a week. And, I gave her a povidone iodine treatment. I don't know if she will ever lay again but she is not longer oozing out of her vent. The internet is a fantastic resource for information for keeping chickens. Next, I am going to try to grow a sustainable area for food for them.
11 years ago at 4:40 AM
I have two baby chicks about 3 weeks old my chicks normally jump out of the box in the corners like hanging on the tree and they fall alsleep there.... I don't really know what breed they are but they are just a little purplish pink with a strike on its feathers the other one is yellow the same yellowish as the the chick with purplish pink strike. They are very wonderful pets l luuuve my chicks but now they are growing more brown and loosing feathers it surprised me when the next day l saw my chicks it looked like a little more fluffy like a fluff ball.... I always let my chicks at least go outside about 6 hours a day they just don't want to come Back home when l try Getting them back indoors they just hide....... They are really smart every should get at least one!!!!
11 years ago at 6:19 PM
I guess I have broken every rule in the book lol. I live out with 5 ranging birds....they love going into the woods and feeding down by the creek. I don't feed them during summer months because they free range, they are huge, they multiply, and make up for any I might lose to a predator. I raise them in a huge old barn (No Coop)and am not very young anymore and no way this body will ever build a coop. They lay everywhere in that barn all year (who the hell said they don't lay in the winter? I guess they forgot to tell my birds...cus they lay) and been doing it this way for decades...same way my parents did, and their parents did. I do supply food in the winter months and have a huge light that burns year round. I think it is great to see everyone get back to raising chickens these days.
11 years ago at 12:03 PM
When my daughter was 10 years or so she put water in the chicken house in a 5 gallon bucket. Lot of chicks drowned. She felt terrible, so keep an eye on young helpers at tenders ages.
10 years ago at 12:24 PM
Would love to see pictures of mobile pens on wheels.
10 years ago at 7:05 AM
I have just recently started raising chickens. I built a fence nearly 10' tall using small diameter welded wire fencing and chicken wire. I built the coop out of treated 2x4s,a pallet, and sheet metal underpinning with a vented roof pitch. I put doors on hinges and block them at night using concrete blocks. I also use concrete blocks to help secure bottom of gate and fence. So far,so good. No escapes and no predators. My biggest concern now are the freezing temps. I was thinking I could put a light in roof of coop and perhaps reflect heat off the sheet metal. Any thoughts?
10 years ago at 9:34 PM
chickens are great fun many people have them as pets as for food..i think it is great that we can raise them for eggs and meat cause all these corp you don't know what your eating anymore not safe raise you own !!!
10 years ago at 10:06 AM
Hello from TX. I have raised chickens and quail, but chickens are my favorite because of the eggs. But, the quail were fun to watch and listen to. Thank you for all the comments...great information and I have learned some new things. MC
10 years ago at 10:19 AM
Im new to chickens. I was given 8 hens and two roosters. The are all doing great. But I have had some problems with they baby chicks and ducks I picked up at the feed store. The are getting sick and I'm not sure why. Out of the 5 ducks and the 2 chicks I have lost one duck and one chick I have one duck that is sick at the moment and the last chick is also sick. I was told it could be moisture in the box I had them in so I put them in a rabbit cage that has a drain at the bottom so the pen keeps dryer. I am at a loss as to what else to do for them. advice would be great.
10 years ago at 9:06 PM
To the person who talked about cat food containing chicken and chicken by products and cannibalism..... Honey I hate to b the bearer of bad news, but chickens are by their own nature very cannibalistic. They will attack and kill and eat an injured chicken just at the sight or smell of the blood. I've seen them eat other chickens while they were still alive My dad use to give our chickens a little cat food with their daily feed when the egg production went down. It contains a high amount of protein and gives them the boost they need.
10 years ago at 7:41 PM
My chicks are 13 weeks. They are in a 10x12 pen with a wire coop(door closed)that they roost in at night. My question is...should I leave food out for them all day. I am feeding them growing food with treats given. They are NOT free range. Don't trust the hawks that fly around here.
10 years ago at 10:50 PM
I have loved reading all the comments! This is our first year with chickens as well. We have 8 that are seemingly very healthy and happy. They are about 3.5 months old. 2 RIR, 2 Australorp, 2 wyandotte, 1 americana and 1 production red. we got them from a local feed store. I am sure they were happy to see me leave b/c i asked soo many questions LOL. so, my question to everyone is: we live in interior Alaska where it gets to 50 below 0 sometimes for weeks at a time. a normal week between November and march is around -30. Any suggestions about the light and warmth? We built a pretty nice 8x4x5 coop with a 6x12 run attached, but we didn't add any windows for warmth issues. we made a door to the coop that is wire for summer and insulated for winter and they have a little door to get into run, where, might I add, they love more than the coop. I just need some advice for the extreme cold. I have read and read about how to keep them but the closer to winter we get, the more nervous i get :) I am fairly sure the kids will dis-own me if they get to come inside for the winter. /grins
9 years ago at 11:22 PM
We are in Colorado at about 6000ft elevation.our winters are not nearly so cold as yours. Temps vary about 40 degrees between the highs and lows of a single day for much of the winter. We have about 2 weeks each year when the temps go down and stay down, around 20 to -20 degrees. We get lots of sun so I built a passive solar coop. That won't work for you. Still, one aspect may interest you. To keep passive solar temps from boiling in the sun and freezing in the dark, a temperature moderator is used... basically drums filled with water, with the lids on. Water cools and warms much slower than air, so it acts as a cooling source in heat and a heating source in the cold... if there is enough of it. Im just thinking that in order to moderate your temps if you had a power failure, you might want to consider some water drums. Also thought about a stock tank heater i heard of once, from someone in Canada. Their frost line went down about 4 feet. They moved the tank out of the way and drilled a hole under it that was 6 feet deep (they used the auger on their tractor.) Their stock tank was 6 feet across, so they could have drilled more holes but they just did one hole right in the middle. By making it deeper than the frost line they accessed the temp of the soil down there, a balmy 50 degrees. The heat rose up and circulated the water.To help reduce heat loss they floated a 5' circle of wood that had insulation under it. They also bermed the earth around part of the perimeter. The livestock could still drink at the edge of the tank and the water never froze. I have no idea how deep your frost line is but if it were possible to drill below it, you might put a hole under a barrel within the coop. Berm soil or build insulated containment for all except the top of the barrel, to help prevent chilling the air comming from the hole to the bottom of the barrel. Insulate the coop to ensure that heat from the barrel can benefit the chickens. Maybe it wont work in your area, I dont know; but think outside the box, and if you come up with a workable plan, be sure to let us know!
10 years ago at 6:39 AM
I've been reading about winter food...I give my girls some suet mixed with corn or grain when it gets bitter cold...They love it and it works for the songbirds...
10 years ago at 6:43 AM
Also when I need to round them up I just bang on the bottom of the treat bowl and they come running. Same for my problem
10 years ago at 2:00 PM
Another great trick that works for keeping chicken hawks away is I take old CD's and DVD' disc and hang them by a small rope from a tree limb on as many trees that I have disc's for. The wind will move it and the sunlight will reflect and flash light so that it frightens the airborne preditors keeping them from nose diving for my birds. Has worked for 4 yrs. now.
10 years ago at 7:53 PM
I started out with 3 older ladies(two that lay and one that doesn't) just a few weeks ago.I had to rescue two barred rocks, one pullet and one young roo from my sis-in-law down the road (she had a hawk problem and her coop was falling apart) I didn't isolate them at all. I let the older girls out to free range for about an hour and let the new guys out in the coop to get associated with their surroundings. When the older ladies came home to roost my older girl of course started picking on the newbies. She threw a fit!!! Within the next hour the sun went down and all the girls, new one too, were in the coop laying down and the poor little roo was ostracized to the floor of the coop in the corner. Do you think they will be ok? I know I should've followed the quarantine rules etc, but I didn't have the access to a way to do that. It seems cruel to just toss them in there, but I don't think my grandmother separated her birds when introducing. I think she just tossed them in and let them deal with it the way birds just naturally do. Any thoughts?
10 years ago at 2:36 PM
Hi, I need some advice- one of my chickens seems to be going blind, from what I can decipher I think A predator has got into the coop, all the girls seem fine but one has a damaged eye, she's happy and eating but her eye is slowly going blind there is a thick protruding cover over it and I'm not quite sure if I can repair it. Any advice would be greatly accepted.
Cherie' in Pembroke, IL
10 years ago at 4:25 AM
Unfortunately, chickens do not tend to show any sign of disease until they are very ill, at which point quite intensive treatment may be required to rectify the problem. The best way to ensure that you recognize illness when it does manifest is to be very familiar with your chickens, so that you notice the slight changes that indicate that they might be feeling a bit under par. Take the time to look carefully at the color of their combs and what their eyes look like on a daily basis. Get to know the plumage on each chicken, and regularly handle your pets so that you know what the crop (the first part of the stomach, which sits at the bottom of the neck and above the keel bone) normally feels like, and are familiar with what normal feet and skin look like. It's also important to monitor the weight of your pets: the easiest way to do this is to check the prominence of the keel bone, which is the one in the middle of a chicken’s chest. The keel bone should not be pointy! There are muscles that lay either side of the keel, so the overall feel of the front of your bird should be relatively flat. If you can feel the keel as pointed and there is a dip either side of it, your bird is underweight; if you can feel bulges either side of a keel bone that is almost impossible to feel, your pet is overweight and needs to go on a diet! It is important that your chickens receive a good quality diet that is appropriate for their lifestyle. For example, if you have chickens producing lots of eggs, they will need a diet that is high in calcium, such as a layers pellet. Signs that your chicken might not be feeling well include anorexia or a reduction in food intake, and reluctance to drink. One of the first systems to be affected in birds is the nervous system, so tail dropping gives a good indication that something is wrong. If the tail is bobbing up and down as your bird breathes, this is a true emergency and your chicken should be seen by a vet as soon as possible. The comb might become paler than usual, or might become a darker red or purple color, or even blotchy. Your chicken might lose weight suddenly or over a long period of time, despite eating a normal quantity of food. Your chicken might suddenly develop a large lump on its chest – this is normally a sign that the crop has become blocked, so the area is often very hot and reddened as well. In other diseases, your chicken’s eyes might become puffy or have a discharge that might also be coming from the nose. Pippa wrote: Hi, I need some advice- one of my chickens seems to be going blind, from what I can decipher I think A predator has got into the coop, all the girls seem fine but one has a damaged eye, she’s happy and eating but her eye is slowly going blind there is a thick protruding cover over it and I’m not quite sure if I can repair it. For eye infection caused by trauma,get her eyes cleaned out with a warm wash cloth and get some Neosporin in her eyes. Separate her from the flock. A pet taxi is what I've used to quarantine. If your chicken has a mite or louse problem, it might peck at its skin or feathers, may pluck its feathers, or other flock members may peck or pluck its feathers. It is common that when a chicken becomes ill, others that are lower in the hierarchy will try to take advantage of the situation to work their way up, so an already sick chicken may become the subject of quite intense and even violent bullying. If you notice that one chicken is suddenly being picked on by the others, there is a high chance that it is ill!
Joy Davis
10 years ago at 7:55 AM
I Totally DISAGREE with putting a chicken coop up off the ground. In Iowa the winters are so cold that putting the chicken coop/house up off the ground make it 10 times more cold inside. I do not even know how chickens survive that are kept that way. Foxes can jump about 4 feet straight up and can easily reach a door or window that is up off the ground. A chicken house that is on the ground may have a problem with an animal that can tunnel but just put in a solid wooden floor and scooping it out is easy if it is tall enough to stand in. At the very lest a coop that is up off the ground should have the area below the elevated chicken coop wrapped in some kind of wind barrier.
9 years ago at 1:19 PM
We have 6 hens, 3 different breeds. They are 7 months old and all lay beautiful eggs daily. We feed them scratch and veggie scraps, but what they really look forward to every day is Kefir. I make it for them daily, it is good for the calcium and probiotics. Healthy happy girls.
Kevin Griffiths
9 years ago at 4:46 AM
I have found these comments very interesting I have a problem incubating my bantam eggs I am doing every thing right the chicks are forming but not hatching I think the shells are too thick. Any advice
9 years ago at 6:34 PM
Sad story a couple left there hen / rooster behind in a development there were people who embraced it rooster would start early so we had a man out to remove it ... The hen had chicks and I was advised to find a home for them a big mistake ... The rooster left behind depressed and alone I feel guilty and horrible about this ... The rooster needs a home before it's to late ... I feed it but it's really not going to make it .... Can anyone help?
Junelle McCombs
8 years ago at 4:15 AM
I just wanted to say that when I first built a coop, I put the roisting bars close to the same level as the nesting boxes. This was a mistake since chickens roost at the highest level possible in their coop. So they always slept in the nesting boxes and they got pretty messy with poop. If you don't want them to sleep in the nesting boxes, make sure you put their roosting bars higher than the nesting boxes. The nesting boxes only need to be a few inches off the ground. Preferably a foot. So if you have a small coop with low ceilings, you'll want to put the nesting boxes low enough that your top rung of your roosting bar is several inches above the nesting boxes. In my new coop, the lowest rung on the roosting bar is higher than the nesting boxes. The nesting boxes are maybe 14 inches off the ground. And I never see chickens sleeping in the nesting boxes unless they are broody. I rarely have to change the wood shavings as a result! :-)
8 years ago at 9:53 PM
I've got a big issue for my 4 chickens. One of them is really bullied by the others and she is almost bald now.:( I tried to separate them for several days but once I put them together, she got hurt again. Anyone could help me please?
Lori Tucker
6 years ago at 11:00 AM
I had that problem once. I kept the hen separated from the others until all her feathers grew back. Then she was accepted again with no more problems. I have another problem now: despite feeding a calcium rich diet including egg shells, oyster shells, etc. we are still getting thin shelled eggs. My son picks up and pets every hen every day. Could that cause the problem?
4 years ago at 8:02 PM
Accidentally killed my rescue chicken (Oct 2018), from tube feeding her wrong. Had done it 5 times in last 3 days fine. Two Fridays ago I had to have the lead chicken (only had the two) put to sleep because of an inoperable tumor. Lulu was depressed so didnt notice straight away that she had some upper respiratory thing going on. Am going to have a hard time forgiving myself. Feel so inept at being a bird parent, and ashamed of getting it wrong. Right now I dont think I should be having any animals. Have 4 rescue rats (Oct 2019, surplus laboratory) and one 15 year old cat with hypothyroidism, arthritis and renal failure (medications for all three).