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  1. #1
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    Default Backyard chickens...anyone?!

    We are getting some ex battery Isa Browns next week and would love some advice as this will be our first time with chickens! We have a coop/small run already and an area to keep them separated from our dog but that's about it! Would love some advice on feed and care etc. I've read that it's best to keep them in their run/coop for the first few days so they know where to return to each night, is this true?! And that I shouldn't expect them to lay for 4-8 weeks due to new environment and food. The poor things have hardly any feathers left and will apparently need to moult them all before growing new ones due to their poor living conditions in cages. So awful! Our council regulations allow 6 chickens and we have a coop with 2 nesting boxes. We were thinking of getting 3 to start with...is this a good number?!

    Any advice appreciated! I love the idea of chickens and know our 3yr old daughter will too but I have a weird bird phobia too! Happy to be around them, sort of, but not so happy to pick them up etc...hubby will be doing all that!

  2. #2
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    Yay, good on you! I love my chooks and its so nice you are rescuing some. I live on a farm and have 7 hens and a rooster, plus some ducks and 2 peacocks, bit of a poultry nut lol! I would keep them in for about a week to help them adjust to their new home. Make sure they have clean water. Feed wise you can feed layer pellets and wheat, they also might need some sort of shell grit. Try to find a stock feed place as that will be cheapest. They love scraps, especially spinach, lettuce, carrot peelings, cucumber, zucchini, grapes (favourite of mine), tomatoes. They can also have a small amount of cheese and yoghurt occasionally. 3 is a nice number to start with but if you eventually want more be wary when you introduce a new one as they can fight quite a lot. 2 nest boxes is fine for up to 6 chooks, they will share. Hopefully yours will go through an autumn moult and they'll get some feathers back before winter. They don't lay during moult.

  3. #3
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    Get how many you want to have all at once, chickens can be brutal to newcomers esp if theres no rooster to keep them in check.

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    Is it true they can fly away? We have just got our coop but a friend said we needed to enclose an area for them otherwise they will fly over the fence!

  5. #5
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    It's possible but if they've been kept in long enough so they no where home is, and your yard provides plenty of interest to them and no threats then they most likely won't. You can clip one wing if you are worried.

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    We've had chooks for about 10 years, including Isa Browns and a few tips I have are

    1. Do be aware that rescue chickens can be quite anti-social - be patient and handle them a lot to get them used to you and your DD. We also raise chicks and they are usually much friendlier and cuddlier but I think it's lovely to rescue poor battery hens.

    2. Make sure you enclosure has a roof to protect them from dogs, cats and foxes.

    3. We feed ours a combo of grain and scraps and ensure they have a supply of fresh, clean water.

    4. Be aware that if you introduce new chickens down the track, the existing chooks can be pretty mean - we actually have a separate, smaller coop next door to our main coop that newbies go in initially so that everyone can get used to each other.

  7. #7
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    If they are in moult, you can try offering high protein foods to give them "ingredients" they will need to grow new feathers. A good start would be premium layer pellets/crumble. Sprouting grains can help boost the protein content and makes the nutrients more digestible than plain grain. Meat and mealworms are good sources of protein.

    They also need enough calcium to make eggs with strong shells. The layer crumble will contain calcium, but if they are eating lots of grain, scraps they may need an extra source - shell grit works well.

    Good luck! Chooks are great fun.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the advice! We ended up picking up our girls today, 3 ex battery hens with minimal feathers. Poor things! Brought them home, put into coop and an hour later came back to an egg on the ground! Unbelievable! I didn't think they would lay in moult? Not that I'm complaining, just was so instant! Perhaps a once off?

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    I cant wait to get chickens. So I am following along re: advice

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pink cupcake View Post
    Thanks for all the advice! We ended up picking up our girls today, 3 ex battery hens with minimal feathers. Poor things! Brought them home, put into coop and an hour later came back to an egg on the ground! Unbelievable! I didn't think they would lay in moult? Not that I'm complaining, just was so instant! Perhaps a once off?
    They may not be in moult yet, often they have no feathers due to the stress being kept in a cage causes them. Yay for your first egg!


 

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