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Newbie chicken keeper please help

(3 Posts)
thereinmadnesslies Thu 25-Aug-11 12:44:12

I've taken on my sister's chickens and they moved in last week. She's given us her whole set up, so we have a large wooden coop and run, bedding and food and two ex-battery hens that she's had for about six months.

I've followed her instructions but I'm worried that I'm not doing it right so I'd really appreciate any comments on what I'm doing and suggestions for how to improve.

So, she's given me a huge bag of bedding which I think is this - hemp with eucalyptus pellets in it. I've used that inside the hen house, an inch or so in the main part of the coop and deeper in the nest boxes. Is that ok?

The run is on grass and will be staying in the same place. Should I be putting something down on the grass (soon to be mud)? My sister used bark chippings but said that she didn't think they worked particularly well.

The hens will be mostly in the run but allowed out to free range most days when we are in the garden. What can I do to make the run more exciting for them?

They've got layers pellets and they've happily eaten grapes, raisins, apple and bread crusts. Is there anything they shouldn't have?

They were pecking each other a bit so I bought them a corn pecking block. They managed to destroy and eat it in one afternoon while I was out, so didn't lay today, I guess as a result of having too much corn?

My sister told me that she'd never got round to worming or red mite treating them!! What products do you recommend? I know I need to do this as a priority, and I also need to give the coop a really good scrub. What discinfectant is best??

At the moment we seem to be getting one egg per day, so I guess they are laying alternate days. Does that sound about right given their age and history?

And thinking ahead, how do I keep them warm in winter?

Sorry for the millions of questions, I really want to make this work but now that they are here I'm really worried that I'm not doing it right. TIA smile

1973magpie Thu 25-Aug-11 21:30:49

Hello, didn't want to leave you unanswered but am also a newbie, so will help where I can!

I use Easibed in the hen house, same as you an inch or so deep in house and slightly more in nestboxes (but mine are all too young to lay yet, so this may change!)

I also have put easibed down in the WIR, but this works better in the bit with the roof than in the open bit where it seems to just be mixed with the mud...

I worm mine with Flubenvet (you just mix it with their pellets for a week) and I put red mite powder (diatomaceous earth) in with the sand/dirt in their dustbath.

You could put a dustbath (as above) in their run, and a few logs/perches/piles of bricks for them to stand on and hop on and off of, they seem to enjoy this!

I feed mine growers pellets (free access in non-spill feeders), and tie up a cabbage/beetroot leaves/lettuce etc for them to peck at, and I give them a handful of mixed corn just before bed (6-7pm at mo) with a few mealworms every few days.

I think you can get a list of poisonous plants on the omlet forum page, the only things I now for definite are rhubarb, but we don't grow that, and uncooked potato peelings.

I have been cleaning run/coop out weekly, picking up all poo and adding more bedding, and scrubbing water containers and feeders, then topping up/changing water/food daily as necessary. I am planning on getting some Stalosan F disinfectant as it's a dry powder that you can sprinkle under bedding/on bedding in house/run and it's chicken-safe!

As for winter, my plan is to make sure the house is in a sheltered area and has no draughts at night (will shut pophole every night if cold), although it still needs ventilation, and put a bit more bedding in. Also, mash made of boiled veg and peelings (bought/grown especially for the chickens wink) on cold afternoons.

Welcome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping smile

HTH

MissBeehiving Sun 28-Aug-11 07:27:18

Creosote the wooden house - it prevents red mite.

DE works as a preventative for RM, but not very well.

Frontline will prevent mites better.

Keep the house as dusty and dry as possible.

You need some grit even if they FR.

Don't feed treats early in the day. They'll fill up on junk and won't lay.

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