Feb 132012
 

Chicken Fencing Basics

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Keeping chickens in your backyard is so much fun.  While they are cute and make great pets, they have zero ability to protect themselves. Installing the correct type of chicken fencing is ESSENTIAL if you want to keep your chickens alive. Chickens, while normally very hearty animals, are not able to protect themselves from chicken predators that see your hens as their next meal!  They are pretty low maintenance animals but they do need a secure place to sleep, lay their eggs and scratch around during the day.

Poultry Fencing

There are a variety of chicken fences that you can use to protect your chickens in their chicken run. The most common type of fencing that you will find is poultry fencing. The biggest advantage of poultry fencing is that the mesh has very small openings so it is difficult for predators to reach through and grab your chickens. One the other hand, it is not as strong as some of the other wiring that is available.  I’ve seen poultry fencing that was stretched and /or chewed through by determined chicken predators like raccoons.

Welded Mesh Fencing

Another type of chicken fencing that I love to use is welded mesh fence. I have found this fencing to be much sturdier and it stands up to attacks by predators much better. This type of fencing is strong and I think it looks good.  It is also long lasting.  But, it will need to be stretched securely and

Chain Link Fencing

I would have never thought to use chain link fencing to keep my chickens safe but it actually works very well.  It is too strong for any type of animal to stretch or chew threw and it is long lasting.  You can buy it is convenient panels that you just have to secure together so it is easy to use and no stretching is required.  You do have to be careful to properly secure the panels together so that there are no large gaps that could allow a small predator to get through. If you have chicks, you will need to install some type of small mesh wiring along the bottom to keep them contained until they get too big to run through the holes. Although, of you use it to fence off a chicken run and it isn’t covered on the top, this type of fencing does little to stop cats or animals that are adept at climbing from entering your yard.

Other Considerations

I protect my chicken flock by installing chicken fencing in layers. I use the welded mesh fence on the interior framing of my runs and place a second layer of poultry fencing on the outside framing. This may sound like overkill but I have lost a lot of chickens over the years and I hate going out in the mornings to find chickens maimed, dead or missing.  I recommend installing a wire apron along the bottom to make sure that predators can’t dig under the wiring.

Chicken fencing is not complicated to install but be sure that you install the correct type of fence for your chickens because their lives depend on it!

Learn how to build a predator safe chicken coop for your chickens.

Feb 082012
 

How To Introduce New Chickens To An Existing Flock

Introducing chicks to the flock

Introducing chicks to the flock

 

I’ve seen this question asked in a lot of forums: “How do I introduce new chicks to an existing flock of hens?”.  My chickens free range in a very large area.  My back yard and front yard are almost three acres so everyone has a lot of room to roam.

I’ve had both hen raised chicks and hand raised chicks.  To date, I’ve never had any trouble introducing the new chicks to my existing flock of hens.

How Old Should The Chicks Be

There really isn’t a set age that you can go by to put your new hand raised chicks in with the older chickens.  Weather permitting and space permitting, I personally think it is a good idea to put the chicks in a safe enclosed area inside the main chicken run every day at a very young age even if it is just for 30-40 minutes at a time.  The chickens get used to seeing and hearing them and will eventually just ignore them.  The older chickens can be very aggressive when they first notice the new chicks and it is very common for them to run up and down and “fuss” at the new kids.  I have one chicken in particular that makes awful noises at them and gets really upset for a few days!  Most of the other hens and roosters are calm and will check on them several times a day without showing any aggression.

As time passes, you will notice that they seem to be making friends through the safety of the fence which is a good thing.   It is safer to wait until the chicks are roughly the same size as the rest of the flock before you start putting them out together.  They will usually be around six months old when I actually turn them loose together for the first time.  But, I do NOT leave them together permanently until the rest of the flock has completely accepted them.  They may be used to seeing and hearing the new chicks but things can change rapidly when they invade the established flocks territory the first time.

Your chicks will be able to tell you when they feel ready to run with the big kids.  When I first introduce them, typically the babies will hide out in the chickens hen house and will be scared.  As they get more acclimated, they will start exploring the new hen house and will eventually venture outside.  I always lock the older hens out of the chicken house at first until the babies are more comfortable and there is a wire door that I close that will allow the new chicks to peek outside and will allow the hens to see the “intruders”.   The first time you put them together is usually the most dangerous so watch them carefully and be ready to jump in and rescue anyone that is in trouble.   I monitor them very closely the first few times I put them out together and as long as there are no major issues, I will gradually leave them for longer periods of time until everyone is comfortable and I don’t have to separate them anymore.

Hen Raised Chicks

I’ve currently got three roosters and each one has their own flock of hens.  Some of the hens “float” from flock to flock and some stick with only one rooster.  That is totally up to them.  But I have noticed that when one of my hens raises chicks, she tends to keep them away from the other hens and roosters when they are young.  As her chicks get older, she tends to gradually migrate back to her original flock and brings her babies with her.  As the chicks get older, they do their own thing and eventually join one of the existing flocks or make up a new one.  They tend to be more easily accepted because they are will an established hen.  I do not like to separate the hen from the main flock when she has chicks because the chickens can see her as an “intruder” when she is allowed back in with the flock.
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Common Problems

Over the years, I’ve never had any major problems introducing new chicks to an existing flock of hens.  You will see some chickens chasing the new chicks around or some pecking, but I have never personally had anything worse than that happen.   I currently have one very motherly hen and she tends to “adopt” the new chicks which tends to be very helpful.  But even if you don’t have a mommy for the new chicks, don’t worry.  Typically, everyone just goes with the flow and the new chicks eventually find their own way in the flock.

Common problems introducing new chicks can include:

  1. One hen or rooster chasing the chicks around.
  2. Pecking on a chick that gets in an older chickens space
  3. Refusing to allow the chicks access to food or water
  4. Refusing to allow the new chicks to roost
  5. Worst case scenario – an adult chicken can kill a chick

 

Extra Chicken Coop

I get a lot of questions about why I have 3 chicken coops.  The answer is because I have about 40 chickens at any given time and it seems like there is always one that needs some special care.  It is always a good idea to have a second area, even if it  is very small, to isolate any chicken that is injured or sick.  I don’t use it a lot, but it is very handy when I do. Having extra chicken coops and runs allows me to separate any chickens for whatever reason. Sometimes, a hen needs a break from an aggressive rooster or another hen. Unfortunately, sometimes one of them is injured by a predator and needs time to recover. Or, when I have new chicks, I can separate them from the main flock at night so that no one gets bullied.  There are a lot of good reasons to have at least two chicken coops and runs. You don’t need something fancy or expensive.

Check out these 19 chicken coop designs that you can build yourself.  

==>>  FREE TRIAL

 

Aug 122010
 

My chicks have been outside for about a week now and are doing great.  Their extra sturdy chicken run and chicken coop seem to be holding up well. 

I’ve had no more predator problems either lately.  I set a few traps humane around my yard and caught a few racoons and a possum.  I relocated those critters so that hopefully, none of my other hens or chicks will be killed.

Chicken care is very important to me and I like to feed all of my chickens, roosters and chicks natural treats which incluce lettuce, chards, tomatos, fruit and veggie peels of all sorts, apples, oranges, melons, etc.  If it is a fruit or veggie, they will probably eat it and love it!

Anyway, I gave my chicks a couple of really small cherry tomatos to eat.  Well, they ended up playing chick football with them.  One chick grabbed the tomato and took off running with it.  The other 7 chicks quickly took off after her.  They raced round and round the chicken run with the tomato changing beaks constantly.  This went on for about 30 minutes until the tomato was completely pulverized.

They finally collapsed and decided to take dust baths before taking a short nap.  Chicks are so much fun to watch and now that they have almost reached the four week mark, I am starting to worry about them a lot less.

If you are thinking about raising chicks to start a backyard flock, you need to give serious thought to building a very secure hen house.  Get some plans and free advice by clicking this link.



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Jun 272010
 

I was so excited.  One of my bard rock hens went broody and started collecting a clutch of eggs to sit on.  Everything was going great.  I made sure that she ate and drank every day and she was being a good broody hen. 

On Friday night I candled all 8 eggs and all of them had little baby chicks floating around inside the eggs.  It was so great!  I locked her up tight in her separate little hen house and went to bed happy.

I got up the next morning and walked out to let the hens and roosters out and to check on my broody hen.  To my horror, I found her dead outside her little chicken coop.  Somehow something had managed to pull a board lose and then finished getting in my chewing a hole in the wood chicken coop.  The hole was just large enough for whatever killed her to drag her out of the hen house.  Whatever had killed her hadn’t been able to drag her body off though.

I checked the eggs and they were still there but they were cold.  The eggs were 13 days old by this time and I was sick that they would probably die.  By biggest problem was that I only had a 3 egg incubator so I jumped in my car and drove to Tractor Supply to get a larger incubator.  Luckily they had one in stock so I bought it and got home as fast as I could.

I put all 8 eggs in the incubator right away even though it said to let the temperature stabilize for several hours.  I figured at this point, what could it hurt.  So I sat there literally for almost four hours until I was sure the temperature in the incubator had stabilized.

I figured that I had done all I could do for the moment.  I waited twenty four hours and I candled the eggs again to see if I had any chicks left alive.  At that point I noticed that one of the eggs was actually chipped.  I didn’t hold out much hope for any of them still being alive but to my amazement, they were all still alive!

Now the wait was on to see if all of the baby chicks survived and hatched out ok.


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Jun 012010
 

keeping chickens

Raising Chickens In Your Backyard

So, you have decided to take the leap and get some chicks to keep in your backyard or barn or wherever.  Keeping chickens can be a lot of fun if you are properly prepared, you have enough space, some extra money and a little extra time.  I decided to start keeping chickens a few years ago and I have never regretted it.  There is nothing better at the the end of the day to sit in a chair out back and watch them run around catching bugs, digging in the yard and generally just being happy little critters. However, like anyone that jumps in feet first without doing their research, I made a lot of mistakes at first.  I don’t want anyone to go through the troubles that I had when I got my first chicks.  So let’s discuss some of the things you need to consider before you ever buy your first chick. We are going to discuss the following things:

  • Are you allowed to keep chickens in your area?
  • Do you have enough money to get started?
  • Chicken coops – Design and Installation
  • Chicken coop location.
  • Do you have any storage space?

Do Local Regulations Allow For Chickens?

Make sure that your area allows you to keep chickens in your backyard.   Some areas have very strict rules and regulations that forbid you to have chickens at all.  I know of a situation in a neighboring subdivision where a new family moved in and brought their six hens with them. In most areas around me this is allowed, however, the neighbors all quickly objected and it was discovered that this particular subdivision had rules against having any chickens. This poor family was forced to find a new home for their beloved family pets.  Do not let this happen to you.  Be aware that keeping chickens can be done in a lot of areas, but that doesn’t mean your neighbors will like it.

Financial Considerationsbuild a chicken coop

While having a few chickens is not extremely expensive, money is required especially in the initial start up.  Chickens are not picky about where they live but you will have to be able to provide a secure coop of some sort to house them in. You will also have to look at the chicken coop and run that you build.  Functionality is also very important so that you can easily care for your hens without too much trouble.  A poorly designed coop will look bad and will be a pain to work in when you have to gather eggs and clean it. Are you handy with a hammer and nails?  The cheapest way to build your chicken coop is to do it yourself.  I tend to be a pack rat and I have lots of scrap wood in my barn which made it very low cost to build the actual coop.  But, if you are not handy or just don’t have the time, you will need to hire someone to build it which will add to the cost.

Chicken Coop Location & Design

The size of your chicken coop will depend on how many hens you are going to keep and how large of a building you can afford to construct.   Even a small number of chickens have minimum space requirements.  Most of the pre-built chicken coops that I have seen online are way too small for the number of chickens they say they will hold.  If your flock is confined to an area that is too small, they will fight, it will be smellier than is should be, it will be harder to clean and the health of your flock will suffer. Remember that you will have to have electricity and water located close to your hen house.  Trust me.  There is nothing worse than having to keep a very long hose run across your yard and driveway so that you don’t have to carry the very heavy water containers from the water faucet to the coop!  Same goes for your electrical needs.  Extension cords work in a pinch but are not really intended to be run across a large area of your yard year round.  It is a huge safety concern.  So either build the coop close to water and electric or budget to install it. Drainage, sunlight and shade are also very important considerations when deciding where to build the hen house or coop.  A low area will hold too much water and flood the area which can lead to illness and just generally nasty conditions.  Too much sunlight and your chicks will suffer through the summer.  You may be forced to invest in screens or shades to provide enough shade for them to survive.  If you have a shady, well drained area, you should consider placing it in that area.

Storage

You will also need some space to store all of the things you need for keeping your chickens.  Keep in mind that you will have to keep, cedar bedding, lighting equipment for winter on hand and anything else that you might need.  If you don’t have a storage area, you will need to build one.  Convenience is always something to consider.  It will be a real pain if you keep your supplies in the garage and the chicken coop is not located close to your garage.

Conclusion

This is just a brief overview of some of the things you need to consider before you think about keeping chickens.  One thing I didn’t talk about above is time.  Make sure you have the time to commit to taking care of them.  You need to be able to check on them every day and clean the coop once a week.  Do not make the mistakes that I did. I didn’t do my homework and I lost a lot of chicks in my first attempt. My biggest regret is that I didn’t take the time to properly research the various chicken coop designs available. I went cheap and small at first.  It didn’t last very long at all (2 years) and it was way too small for the number of girls I ended up with.  A friend of mine bought a pre made coop online in June of 2013 and it is already falling apart so be sure and read the reviews before you purchase.  You don’t have to buy or build the most expensive hen house but it does need to meet your basic needs.  Talk to local people who own chickens now and visit some online forums to get an idea of some of the issues these people have faced.  It is easier to avoid these problems to begin with than to go back and try to fix them at a later date. Check out this resource for more information on building a chicken coop. Bookmark & Share

Jun 012010
 

It used to be very common for people to raise chickens in their back yard, even if you lived in the city.  The hens provided fresh eggs and meat for their owners.  They also had the added benefit of providing bug control.

Chicken keeping fell out of favor for awhile but it is making a come back as people more and more want to know where their food is coming from.  They make great pets and are fairly easy to keep, even if you don’t have a lot of room.

Benefits of Raising Your Own Chickens

  • Constant supply of fresh eggs.
  • Fresh supply of meat if you choose to go that route.
  • Insect control in your yard.
  • Their poop makes great fertilizer for your lawn and garden.
  • They aerate your yard as they scratch and peck around.
  • You know exactly what you are eating since you provide the feed for them.

Raising chickens in your backyard can be a fun and exciting experience for the whole family.  Do your research so that you know what to expect and so that you are properly set up to care for your new flock of hens.

Visit this link to get more information on raising chickens . You can also sign up for a free newsletter by clicking here.

Find out how to avoid the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens in your backyard and learn how to keep your chickens alive.  Click here or click the picture below and then scroll to the very bottom of the page to get your FREE report.

 



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