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Chicken Knowledge Needed - Urgently!

(11 Posts)
MesaLoca Thu 16-Oct-08 13:02:50

My neighbour got evicted today and have given us 2 chickens without warning!

They were hatched on July 21st and are right now shut in our shed with some water and food in a container that my neighbour left us.

I know nothing about keeping these animals and don't even know what the food is that they have left us. There is a farm supplies wharehouse nearby so I think I can get anything that they might need... but can someone advise me what to get for them?

I was told not to let them out or they will fly away, so shall I make them a run so they can at least go on the grass? When can I let them have free access to our gardens? Do they need to be kept in for a while? And how the hell do I do the wing clipping thing?

Oh gosh, I can feel panic rising now, I don't know any of the important stuff do I? My daughter was ecstatic to receive them and we really want to take good care of them.

Any help or advice would be really gratefully received.

Oh yes, also we don't know if they are females. Is there is any sure way of telling?

pinkmagic1 Thu 16-Oct-08 16:10:54

Firstly, don't panic! They are really easy to care for. I give mine layers mash in the morning and they have table scraps in the afternoon (they will eat absolutely anything!) Sometimes the kids dig up worms for them, which the chickens love and the kids have great fun doing!
I would definitely sort out some sort of secure run for them as soon as posible so they have access to outside and the fresh air. You could let them out, but it really depends where you live as they may fly into neighbours gardens or get harrassed by cats or foxes. As for wing clipping, I can't really remember, but I think you just cut a few feathers from the tip of one wing only in a diaganal direction.
There are some breeds that you can sex by the colours of the feathers but many you don't know until they either start crowing or lay eggs!
Have fun!

MesaLoca Thu 16-Oct-08 19:55:50

Well what a day!

pinkmagic thank you for your reassuring post, that is just what I needed to hear. I am just so concerned that the poor things don't suffer.

They have spent the day in the shed which the guy at the farmer's shop said was a good idea so that they know it is their home. My angel of an OH took the afternoon off and has nearly finished building them a big run which we will put them in in the morning. I am thinking that we will keep them in that during the day for a while and then when we feel a bit more confident with them we will let them out and see how much they want to fly and whether they need wing clipping.

I have got some stuff called layers pellets as that was all that was in the shop. It says it is for laying hens so does anyone know if it is suitable for our 3 month olds? We also have a small amount of chick crumbs that I scrounged off a local duck keeper, maybe they will be better. As soon as I know for sure I will treck off to a bigger suppy shop and get what is right.

God I really hope that they are both girls or else I don't know what I will have to do!

Right, I am going to pour a beer and read all the posts in this section to try and get some idea of what I should be doing.

ButterflyBessie Thu 16-Oct-08 19:59:20

As they are 3 months old I would have thought that growers pellets would be the answer.

Having said that, we had a chick hatch in the summer and after the first couple of months she ate exactly the same as the others ie layers pelletsgrin

Good luck, they do need light in order to lay any eggs, I think if they are male then they will crow in the end grin

MesaLoca Thu 16-Oct-08 20:03:52

OK right, I will try them with what I have got in the morning and if they don't eat it I will try and find something for younger chickens.

Where shall I put the run tomorrow? I am not mad keen about putting it on the lawn so is it OK on flag stones? I've got wood chippings or shingle that I could put down on the flags if that would help. Or does it have to be on the lawn?

mamadiva Thu 16-Oct-08 20:08:59

They cluck and they lay eggs... then we eat them that is my chicken knowledge

crkm Thu 16-Oct-08 20:33:31

my chooks live on wood chips that i replace monthly. they love digging about in it. dont keep them on one patch of grass they will turn it into a mudbath in a couple of days! if you have lots of plants and pots of flowers ( as i did!) dont let them roam as they will eat them all (as mine did!) love them really grin

pinkmagic1 Thu 16-Oct-08 21:03:02

The layers pellets should be fine. When we first got ours, although we where planning to get them, they came a little sooner than planned and the layers pellets where all I could find in the local pet shop. I put them in a plastic bag and crushed them up a little bit and they ate them no problem.

TheDuchessOfCorpseBride Thu 16-Oct-08 21:34:01

Layers pellets will do. It's recommended that they are on chick crumb until 6 weeks and then growers pellets until 6 months. But our chicks eat whatever they find and it's not doing them any harm. When they start laying, around 20 weeks, they will need some oyster shell, but worry about that later!

So they have a shed and a run. Are the two connected? If they are staying in the run, can they freely wander in and out of the shed to shelter from the weather etc? Or do you need to get them out of the run every night and put them back in the shed? They do like a warm cosy house. Lots of links on other threads if you're interested.

I would really advise you to call 'come on chickens' whenever you feed them scraps as they'll learn to come to your call. You may feel daft but it is an absolute godsend when they escape or they're out free-ranging and you need to put them in. Sweetcorn is universally adored by hens!

And if you post photo's, we can try and sex them for you!

MesaLoca Fri 17-Oct-08 10:49:51

The run is attached to the shed so they can get in and out. They have come out into the run this morning and are scoffing the pellets (ground up a bit in the blender) and some lettuce, slugs and grass that I put in there they also nibbled some toast I was eating.

I am a bit worried that they will get bored as there isn't much to look at outside today. Is there anything that you put in the run to entertain them?

I'm sure the black one we have is a boy, don't know why but I have this hunch. Maybe it is just because the brown one looks more like a classic hen. I will try and get some photos taken.

Thank you all for your positive advice, I can't wait until they are settled in and roaming about the place!

TheDuchessOfCorpseBride Fri 17-Oct-08 21:23:49

A dust bath might be nice for them - they'll probably make their own in the woodchippings but a cat-litter tray half filled with sand is good. You can buy flea/mite powders for hens and the best way to treat them is to shake a load of powder into the sand and let the hens get on with it!

A small branch on the ground for them to perch on.

Otherwise, afternoon scraps will be quite entertaining enough. Corn on the cob, cooked or uncooked, thrown in whole, or a marrow/courgette sliced in half will give them something to peck at for awhile. Or a lump of broccoli/bunch of greens hung at their head height from the top of the run.

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