Having issues with introducing new birds into the flock

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by JonB, Jul 30, 2017.

  1. JonB

    JonB New Member

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    Hi, my name is Jon. I wasn't sure how to start a conversation here and I apologize if this was the improper choice. I recently started with chickens about 2 months ago, I am confused about free range and housing. I have a coop about 4 feet by 5 feet and maybe 4 feet tall. It's in a kennel-or run- that is 10x10x8feet. I have 10 Easter eggers almost 4 months old. My biggest concern is that of the space inside the run...is 10feet X 10feet adequate for 10? I am not wanting to free range right now and not for at least another year due to property enhancements making it to dangerous until completion. I'm not entirely sure I will want to free range then either. Is 80 square feet enough room for 10 chickens, is a 4 X 5 X 4 foot house good for 10? I have friends in the community that give competing ideas and beliefs. Mostly, it's not enough room- long term. I would appreciate any opinions. I don't want to hurt or unintentionally abuse them. Then on top of that- do they need to be "locked up" inside the chicken house at night or would they be okay, within the run, be okay sleeping outside the house? Again I apologize if this was the improper place to leave this and would happily accept redirection if I need to. Thank you in advance for your time and any help. :)
     
  2. robin416

    robin416 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum, Jon. I've moved your post so it will be easier for you to keep track of information posted.

    Your friends are correct, there is not enough space. Think of it this way, one large fowl needs 4 square feet of open floor space to avoid stress behaviors that are not something any of us want to deal with. That means you need 40 square feet without feeders, waterers, nest boxes. Roosts are not considered space.

    Outside more is always better. I think I read somewhere it's 5 square feet per bird but to me that isn't enough room and it should be more.

    As to sleeping out in the pen, it all depends on how well protected it is from predators. Don't let that chain link fool you. Predators can dig under the bottom of the pen, some can reach through the chain link to grab chickens. And the top has to be secured with small spaced wire.

    What is left of my old birds are in a 10X10 dog pen. Instead of burying wire around the perimeter I have two strands of hot wire to keep predators from digging or climbing. Zapped a coyote just recently.
     
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  3. JonB

    JonB New Member

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    Thank you!! I was concerned on their available space, I am adding to the enclosure, doubling in size for now. It is a chain link fence walled enclosure which is wrapped with a type of chicken wire made up of very tiny squares, I can't poke my pinky through the wholes, there very small. It is wrapped once around the bottom so about 3 feet up the sides and the top 5 feet is just traditional chain link fence. It has an A frame style canvas roof and both ends are caped off with that same small gauge chicken wire. I did not think about digging underneath however. how far down do I need to go for adding something?
     
  4. seminolewind

    seminolewind SuperModerator Staff Member

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    That sounds safe! Anything with what we call "hardware cloth" is good (the small squares). For your chickens to be safe they need a pen that's is wire on all sides and the top. I'm glad you're doubling the size of your pen.

    If you want to start a safe way to free range, do it an hour or more before sunset so you can sit outside with them. When it starts to get dark, they will put themselves away.
     
  5. chickenqueen

    chickenqueen Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of chickens!!!
     
  6. robin416

    robin416 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Add wire under that canvas. There are quite a few predators that can rip right through it and enter the enclosure.
     
  7. JonB

    JonB New Member

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    Thank you all for your help and opinions, it is happily and greatly appreciated. I will shore up the roof (canvas) with the wire as well and finish up the sides. I did not know of the potential for predators to be able to get through the canvas, definitely will fix that. :) I'm still uncertain of what to do about protections from digging predators. Should I probably dig a trench around the enclosure and burry a wood threshold round the pen. I have some 10 inch wide planks I could stand on the side, so they would go into the dirt down 10 inches and wrap around the enclosure. Does that encompass the needs to protect against diggers. Thank you all so very much for your help. I love having these chickens and I want to do the best for them.

    **a secondary question:
    I recently noticed one of my hens literally has no neck, it went shoulders to neck kind of thing, it was almost cartoon like, I assume she had some kind of an incomplete formation from birth or something, birth defect. She ate well and drank plenty of water but last night I went out to lock them up and she was laying across the ground, not like she was purposefully doing it, like bathing or anything, just laid there head on the ground. So I went over to her and she didn't move, tried picking her up and put her on her feet and she would just fall over, I tried to get her to perch on her stomach on the ground and she just rolled over. She was alive, breathing and watching me, but couldn't or wouldn't stand or stay up. So I instantly separated her from the rest and tried to keep her comfy on some fresh shavings in her own box. She passed through the night. So I'm wondering if this sounds like anything I should be aware of, potential sickness or was it maybe truly a birth defect (in her neck) and maybe she wasn't able to drink and eat as well as I thought. She was very active and ran along side the rest and kept up just fine, then out of the blue she is sickly looking and passes within less then 12 hours. No other birds are showing any issues. Color, feather loss, eating and drinking all normal and seem to be in great shape. Should I start some kind of medication or medicated food for any reason? Do we think it's a fluke? Probable birth defect??
     
  8. robin416

    robin416 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I do not advocate medicating birds unless there is some indicator of disease. It is possible that the one died from a defect but there just isn't enough information to say for certain that's what it was.

    Unfortunately we will lose them and most of the time we'll never know why.

    You can lay wire out from the pen a couple of feet. Over time the grass will grow through it and won't be seen. It doesn't have to be the more expensive hardware cloth, it can be a welded wire that is less expensive.
     
  9. dawg53

    dawg53 Well-Known Member

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    As far as digging predators goes, keep it simple. No need to dig a trench nor bury anything.
    Purchase field fence and lay a 15" strip on the ground (flat) all the way around the outside base of your pen. Tie it into the chicken wire at the bottom of the pen all the way around. You can set bricks on the flattened field fence until grass grows through it. Nothing can dig through the field fence.

    As far as your no neck hen goes, it sounds like a genetic defect, not a disease. However, observe your flock for a few days for anything out of the ordinary. Sorry for your loss.
     
  10. chickenqueen

    chickenqueen Super Moderator Staff Member

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    When chickens are sick they hide their illness from the others because the healthy will take out the sick.It is a matter of survival.A sick member puts the whole flock at a disadvantage.Usually,by the time you notice it,it is too late for medical intervention.They have gotten really good at hiding their illness over the eons.