Oct 2, 2013

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting Chickens

Chickens are a joy to keep for many reasons. If you can, just do it!
So, you want to keep backyard chickens? You’re reading all you can to learn what you need to know to get started, you have bought all the books and are scouring the Internet hoping to absorb the most important information. That's a great start, but some lessons are painful and expensive to learn by experience, so in the hope of sparing some growing pains for those about to embark on chicken-keeping, I have asked my Facebook fans what they wish they had known before they began keeping chickens. The following are some of their replies and a few of my own.
Chickens are a joy to keep for many reasons. If you can, just do it!
Three words: JUST DO IT!
Check your local ordinances and zoning code regulations to make sure you can keep chickens legally. Don't assume that it's legal just because others in the neighborhood are doing it.
Research whether there is a limit on the number of chickens, a permit required for a coop, roosters allowed or any other restrictions.
Don't be afraid to petition local government to change the law to legalize chicken-keeping!

Do your homework...chickens are a serious commitment. 
Buy chickens from a reputable breeder or hatchery, not an auction or swap if at all possible.
Buy from a reputable breeder or hatchery, not an auction or swap if at all possible.
Have what they need before they arrive.
A hen does not necessarily lay an egg every day.
A hen does not necessarily lay an egg every day. There are many factors that play a role in egg-production- some can be influenced by you, but others cannot.
Before the first chicks arrive, have everything they need.
Do it right the first time and don't cut corners.

Get/build a bigger coop than you think you want/need. Chicken Math is a force to be reckoned with. 
Coop placement is important. (shade in summer, dry location in rainy climates)
Coop placement is important. (shade in summer, dry location in rainy climates)

Make the coop and run "people friendly" to make cleaning and maintenance easier.
Make the coop and run "people friendly" to make cleaning and maintaining it easier.
Install removable roosts to be able to clean underneath them.
Install removable roosts to be able to clean underneath them.
Don't plan on just getting a few... it’s an addiction. There will always be more than you expected.
Don't plan on just getting a few... it’s an addiction. There will always be more.
Install dropping boards that pull out, super easy to clean.
Install dropping boards that pull out, super easy to clean.
Even when purchasing female (aka: sexed) chicks, vent sexing is only 90% accurate. Have a plan for roosters that cannot be kept. 
Even when purchasing female (aka: sexed) chicks, vent sexing is only 90% accurate. Have a plan for roosters that cannot be kept.
Their habitat will never be complete!
Their habitat will never be complete!
Always properly quarantine new birds from other farms/homes.
Always properly quarantine new birds from other farms/homes.
Make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit and an area where sick or injured birds can be kept away from the flock.
Make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit and an area where sick or injured birds can be kept away from the flock.
Make sure the coop and run are predator proof
Make sure the coop and run are predator proof.
Chicken wire will not protect chickens from predators, only hardware cloth can.
Chicken wire will not protect chickens from predators, only hardware cloth can.
Protect them as much as you can from the elements.
Protect them as much as you can from the elements.
What a dust bath looks like and why they do it.
What a dust bath looks like and why they do it.
That nest box curtains can prevent a variety of problems. 
That nest box curtains can prevent a variety of problems.
Research the different breeds as some do better in the heat, some do better in the cold, some lay more eggs than others, some are more inclined to brood and some are more or less friendly than others.
Research the different breeds as some do better in the heat, some do better in the cold, some lay more eggs than others, some are more inclined to brood and some are more or less friendly than others.
Put sand in the run to keep it from getting muddy. 
Using sand for litter inside the coop makes cleaning it much easier and creates a healthier environment for the chickens in all climates.
Put sand in the run to keep it from getting muddy.  Using sand for litter inside the coop makes cleaning it much easier and creates a healthier environment for the chickens in all climates.
That chicken scratch is NOT chicken feed and
obesity is a major problem in backyard chickens.
That chicken scratch is NOT chicken feed and  obesity is a major problem in backyard chickens.
Always have an escape plan from inside the chicken coop and run. If there is any way to get locked inside, it will happen when it is least convenient.
The pink rope on the latch to this run door opens the latch from inside the chicken run.
Always have an escape plan from inside the chicken coop and run. If there is any way to get locked inside, it will happen when it is least convenient. The pink rope on the latch to this run door opens the latch from inside the chicken run.
Mulch in landscaped beds doesn't stand a chance.
Chickens will take dust baths in the location you least want them to.
Mulch in landscaped beds doesn't stand a chance. Chickens will take dust baths in the location you least want them to.
How much I would love them and how much they would change my life.
Wish I had had chickens years ago!
How much I would love them and how much they would change my life. Wish I had had chickens years ago!
And a personal favorite, from Tiffany M.: “Make sure they are signed up for your blog and 'like' you on Facebook.” ☺
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick

108 comments :

  1. No NOT from a hatchery!!! That's where these repro problems come from!!

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  2. countrygal083110/2/13, 11:06 PM

    LOVE this!! Thank you for sharing such great tips and photos. I sure miss having chickens but will definitely have them again one day.

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  3. I just found your page on Facebook and wound up here! I love it! My daughter-in-law nagged me into getting chickens this spring. Growing up on a farm, chickens were just a nuisance to be fed when I was a kid. I had no idea I'd fall in love with them!!!

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  4. TheChickenChick10/2/13, 11:15 PM

    Yay! Welcome back to chicken-keeping!

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  5. All great tips, many that I have had to learn piece by piece and many of them I've found on your blog and saved myself a lot of trouble over the last 4 years. I still struggle with the heat here in Phoenix but this summer I only lost one and that was from a bunch of tumors that popped out on her and not necessarily the heat. I do need to find a vet here that treats chickens. Backyard flocks are becoming more popular here so there's hope. I'm always trying to make improvements on the coop area so love all of your info & ideas. I need some curtains but also need to keep max air circulation. I don't think they will be getting their own A/C though. Maybe a big fan.

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  6. You always have the best information. I shared on my blog's FB page! :)

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  7. Lovely info -thanks! Love the photo of your chicken coup with the hanging flower baskets - pinned it!
    Keren
    Fabulous-farmliving
    Fabulous-food-recipes

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  8. I'm off to check that out. You should come join me on my Homesteading Radio Show...we'll talk chickens. :)
    http://imperfectlyhappy.com/imperfectly-happy-radio/imperfectly-happy-radio-hour/

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  9. Joyce Wheeler10/3/13, 12:07 PM

    We are still considering chickens, this was a great post, pinning to my chickens board. Oh yeah Becky I have already thought about that.

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  10. So cool! If I didn't live in a condo, I would definitely have chickens! They are so awesome and your chickens look especially beautiful.


    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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  11. I wish I'd known that most vets are clueless when it comes to diagnosing or treating sick chickens! Without the help of your blog and others, I doubt I'd still have any chickens in my coop! Hugely grateful for all the advice. Hx

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  12. Jenny Green10/4/13, 1:02 AM

    They are an addiction... I started with 3 and now I'm at 30 and getting 50 more tomorrow. :P They are AWESOME! I know each and every one of my babies.

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  13. TheChickenChick10/4/13, 8:10 PM

    Nice!!

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  14. TheChickenChick10/4/13, 8:15 PM

    Right on! Do it, Joyce!

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  15. Jess Knowles Lane10/5/13, 9:51 PM

    I am envious of your setup. Someday... I made two of the mistakes: Not a people friendly coop and not big enough. Three turned to eight and next spring our eight will become twelve.

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  16. How cute are you with all of your chickens!!!! Absolutely adorable. Thanks for the invite to link up too! I'm glad to join the party. :)
    xo Kylie

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  17. You always share such great tips and information. Thanks for all that you do for us fellow chicken lovers!

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  18. Love it! Great truth in all...we just started raising chickens. Your last one is the closest to home for me..I didn't realize how much I would love them or how much they would entertain me. They are for sure an addiction!

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  19. This is an amazing blog! I love it!!!!!!!!!

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  20. I have come across your page twice now from different google searches on chicken topics. I guess it's time to subscribe! :)

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  21. TheChickenChick10/7/13, 10:11 PM

    Thanks for the invite, Tiffany. Shoot me an email and we'll discuss! Kathy@The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  22. TheChickenChick10/7/13, 11:16 PM

    Thanks Dana. :)

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  23. Thanks so much for sharing chicken love!

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  24. TheCrookedCoop10/9/13, 9:48 AM

    I've been lurking on your blog for quite some time...such interesting stuff, especially the DIY section!
    I do have a question for anyone to respond to. I have four raised bed gardens as well as an herb planter, which is just outside my kitchen window. My girls (we got lucky...ALL HENS!) like to get up in the planter and look into the kitchen window and call for us. While they're up there, sometimes they'll sample a few of the herbs. We've noticed that mint and basil tend to be ignored after a curious nibble. They will sometimes eat rosemary and oregano and parsley and thyme, but since they don't eat enough to put a dent in our supply, we don't mind. However, we've got some stevia up there. I should say we HAD some. They get up there and tear at the leaves and wolf down the pieces like it's going out of style. Should I be worried? They aren't up there every single day, and they get layer feed as well as being free-ranged when we're home to stop them from crossing the road. They get a varied diet...scraps from salad, pieces of a bagel, sometimes we'll put our breakfast plates on the ground and let them eat the bits of egg... I know that *I* use stevia in my tea and coffee, but I worry about any adverse effects on their little chicken bodies. Does anyone have experience with this?

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  25. Kimberly Swenson10/9/13, 10:30 AM

    Thanks for all the great information I am in the research stage of starting my own flock!

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  26. TheChickenChick10/10/13, 8:54 PM

    Gotta love Pinterest! :)

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  27. TheChickenChick10/10/13, 8:56 PM

    They'll be fine.

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  28. I would love to win this!

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  29. Dawn Walker-Goggins10/11/13, 9:59 AM

    Hi Kathy, did you ever receive the e-mail with my address, in it I explained the difficulties I had figuring out that it had to be at windows live mail. And as I did not have an account had to create one etc. I am assuming since I have not gotten the feed I won that you either did not get my message or decided not to send it.

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  30. TheChickenChick10/11/13, 8:44 PM

    Decided not to send it?!! That's nutty. I emailed you on September 2nd asking for your address, but have not received anything from you, Dawn. You can try again if you like: Kathy@The-Chicken-Chick.com, but I would also suggest calling and leaving me a Voicemail with your addy in case the email doesn't go through again.

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  31. Dawn Walker-Goggins10/12/13, 12:02 AM

    This is the easiest way I know to do it, you can remove it after reading. I have tried several times to e-mail, I don't know why Its not going through. My address is: 2421 Sequoyah Access Road
    Soddy Daisy, Tn 37379
    This is a true blessing and i look forward to giving it to my girls, maybe it will perk them back into laying good again. I don't know why but out of 16 girls I got only 1 egg today. They are not molting and do not seem to be sick in any way. They were almost all laying every day a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I want to say thank you again and God bless!!

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  32. Vickie Redmond10/13/13, 4:33 PM

    It sure would be nice to win one of those Grampa's feeders I am carring their food down every am and up every pm. Out of the blue we have just started having these rat size critters and they are able to clean the traps without triggering them. But where there is a will there is a way. I'll get em

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  33. TheChickenChick10/13/13, 7:51 PM

    I got your address from the other comment you left, Dawn. Your feed will be on the way soon!

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  34. Good info! We will be fighting our local ordinances to be allowed to have chickens!!

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  35. Thanks for the info. I plan on having chickens when I retire. I glad you suggested the book "Cickens for Dummies" Need to get that and start reading!

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  36. TheChickenChick10/31/13, 10:36 PM

    Good for you, Dave. They're a lot of fun!

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  37. Lynda Dunlop12/24/13, 10:16 AM

    I wish I knew how nasty people can be regarding your chickens. You must check with your neighbors about their feelings regarding birds if they will be free ranging, because they will cross the street and sit on their lawn. You must be prepared for them getting fatally injured by strangers and cars. You must be ready for going out to the yard and finding a chicken that was abandoned by another person and is now with your flock. However, I enjoy it when strangers come and visit on their cars respectfully and watch the birds and ask questions, and then they become my egg customers.

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  38. Birdbath de-icers!! They keep my nipple waterers flowing freely! No more chipping ice or hauling water in the mornings.

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  39. Barbara Horton12/24/13, 10:59 AM

    Wonderful, and so true.... and I would like to add one thing.This is for those of us that raise chickens not only as a LOVE, but as a resource. Learn how to butcher safely, cleanly and quickly. Those extra roosters make great eating for you AND your dogs. We combine whole birds with a variety of fruits and veggies in a stew and freeze the stew in cupcake tins to thaw as needed for our 20 pound Feist. Do yourselves a favor and eat your healthy raised chickens. It is, after all, what they are for.

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  40. how cuddly and cute they are with some different personalities and how smart they are. All of mine know their names...it amazes me. Thank you Kathy for a great job.

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  41. frontierman196912/24/13, 11:40 AM

    I have had chickens for years. They are messy, loud, and when free ranged will poop all over your porch. Yet, I still have them. It is a joy, a labor of love, and feels wholesome when they are just scratching the yard.

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  42. Eleanor Eltoft12/24/13, 11:53 AM

    How much chicken feed would cost compared to the number of eggs we get. :(

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  43. I wish it would not have taken me so long to find you Kathy.

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  44. Julie Drigot12/25/13, 8:49 PM

    That chickens are opportunity feeders, and aren't vegetarians!

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  45. Dont forget: you will become every attached. They become another part of family and that you will cherish and adore their antics and personalities! You won't be able to help yourself.. :-D

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  46. I wish we had known to give our young chickens a roost to sleep on and had waited to put up nesting boxes, now half our girls still prefer to sleep in their nesting boxes.

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  47. I wish I would have known how attached I'd become to them. Mother hen has nothing on me. I would have also liked to have known that they will peck and gang up on an injured bird. (Sorry but this shocked me when I found one hurt and the 4 others trying to do her in). I nearly chocked the other 4 trying to save the 1. And bumble foot would have been a huge deal had I not found some wonderful knowledgeable chicken people. I seriously thought I was the only one who brought an injured chicken into my house. Lol. And I must also mention wry neck. OMG thankfully I read about it and knew the solution but have never experienced it. That would have been a shocker to me if one of my chickens had that and I didn't know about it.

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  48. Hannah Leonard1/13/14, 1:20 PM

    That new chickens (and also applies to ducks) don't know that the beautifully coiffeured coop is where they live and will happily lead you a merry dance through next door's brambles, keep them in a coop with a run for a good few days before letting them range free!

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  49. Hannah Leonard1/13/14, 1:21 PM

    Our vet is brilliant, but we do live in chicken central, West Wales!

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  50. Dawn Anne Frederick1/13/14, 1:50 PM

    I wished I would have known how fast they would grow and change, it has been surprising and amazing !!

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  51. Paula Hansen1/13/14, 11:34 PM

    The thought never crossed my mind until this new guy moved in on the mountain and drug me in and out of COURT!!!!

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  52. Paula Hansen1/13/14, 11:35 PM

    I was raised with chickens so I already knew what it was like... but I agree with Becky. The loss. One other thing is I just wish I could make mine invisible to HAWKS we have had to put netting up.

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  53. Maria Trader2/27/14, 9:56 PM

    Just going to be getting our first chicks soon, thank you!

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  54. I've had chickens for 8 years(and I'm only 15) now I really can't imagine life without them...I understand loss very well unfortunately as I spent last summer literally burying a chicken a day..natural causes though:/ my favorite breed so far is a tie between the Easteregger(it's a mix but still a breed), Wyandotte, Cochins, Marans, and Silkies..but I will we hadn't jumped into it so quickly...there's still a lot I have to learn.

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  55. can anyone tell me if there is an easy way to get them back in the coop I don't want to chase them around the garden and stress them out

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  56. Yes. Coop Training. Here's how: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/coop-training-chickens.html

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  57. Love it. Got two books. Learned a lot. Learned more from your pages though. :) Love your chickens. Thanks for the tips. Last thing, at about what age will a chicken molt for its first time?

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  58. I have 30 chicks. Got one rescued. We kept a watch on her for a week or so. She's in our garden ate some of our plants. :) she had mites and. Did not lay for a while. Payed her first egg yesterday. She is healthy now. (although first egg turned out to be lunch. Lol)

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  59. Layed, oops

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  60. This article discusses the different ages at which chickens molt: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/12/molting-what-is-it-and-how-to-manage-it.html

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  61. We have raised chickens for generations...recently I had one have a prolapse...never have I seen this. Gave miss Jasabelle a bath and then sprinkled sugar on the prolapse...gone...instantly. Three days later, she is doing fine. Crazy days in the coop! Nothing like a chicken having its butt fall out.

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  62. the crazy chicken girl next do7/2/14, 11:39 AM

    What is the pretty calico hen under 'reaserch chicken breeds'? Is it some type of polish? She is beutiful.!

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  63. Serendipity7/11/14, 2:37 PM

    Hello, I have 1 buff orpington hen and 1 silkie hen...i understand silkie chickens and buff orpingtons get picked on easily and they don't fight back...but is there another breed I can get that won't fight with my 2 hens?

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  64. I have not found that to be true of Silkies or Orpingtons at all. If birds are fighting it is usually because of either a lack of sufficient space/boredom or improper integration.

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  65. Cheryl Murphy8/21/14, 6:43 PM

    Have you ever considered keeping liquid stitches on hand I think that they sting a little less (or not at all )than super glue. And they are one time use so it doesn't usually dry out and they don't have the fumes glue does .

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  66. Cheryl Murphy8/21/14, 6:44 PM

    Sorry you can usually buy at a Walgreens or something like that

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  67. i trained mine with a little clucking sound every time i feed them..so when they are out of the coop and i want them in all i have to do is make that sound they come running to me..

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  68. McKele Frost Brewer9/9/14, 8:23 PM

    Hey I love your blog! My husband and I are planning on getting chicks soon and I have been doing a lot of research. I have one question though that I can't seem to find the answer to. So I know that I can collect and feed my kitchen scraps to my chickens, but does this include strawberries that have gone bad, lettuce that is extra wilty, and any other foods that have gone "bad"? I know not to feed them anything that could obviously harm them, but I just figured it'd be better to throw this food out in the chicken coop instead of the trash can haha.

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  69. I have saved every one of your tips and blog info. We have 60 hens total with two roosters. I personally take care of 34 hens, and of course, I have my favorites -- all -- because I spoiled them from babies. Keep up the good work and fight on.

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  70. Sandra Nichols9/12/14, 12:31 PM

    Great information once again! I have four buff orpingtons these last couple of years. Love, love, love them. Now as with any addiction (LOL) I have 11 more I just ordered from My Pet Chicken. I splurged and got one blue orpington, Salmon Faverolles. I chose all docile & different breeds and am using your playpen method. After the first night, I had down feathers all around the playpen, second night even more, but just around the playpen again. I'm hoping this is a good thing, but I'm not oblivious to the "pecking order" that will happen. But I do wish early on, that someone would have said, pick up, play and hand feed your chicks! It became less of a chore once I learned this. They are so much fun and are my darlings! I look forward everyday after work, seeing them and talking to them. I read your site daily for more information, like a sponge! Keep writing and supplying your references!!!

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  71. I never knew about integrating new girls. I hate the pecking and I feel sad when ones are pecked. Although I have been lucky it is always a bit stressful. I use the playpen method. I am waiting to start again as I have a 4 month old pullet almost out of quarantine waiting to meet her new flock.

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  72. dabercrombie9/12/14, 2:35 PM

    Kathy. This article says to use sand in the run and coop. I thought you switched to Koop Clean in the coop. Is that not the case? Also what do you put in the nest boxes if you use sand in the coop?

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  73. Lucia Aguirre9/12/14, 3:48 PM

    I" love all the binformation you bring us , and yes ! I" m prepearing for a coop to have some chicks !we'l find out the regulationsand recuirements ,beafore bying the girls ,
    Thank s so much for you're help !

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  74. I started my chicken addiction with 11 chicks. They are 3.5 months old. I hatched 4 chicks a month ago and cannot integrate successfully. The larger chickens peck the smaller 4. Do you have any suggestions?

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  75. I use Koop Clean in the nest boxes either with or without Kuhl nest box pads and liners. I use Koop Clean in my brooders and I use sand in the coops and runs.

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  76. Sounds like you need a few seramas indoors! :-) It's really no different than keeping a parrot or some other kind of bird.

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  77. They poop a lot and it stinks you need to clean coop every day and use the products the chicken chic tells you

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  78. Is it better for them to dust in ground or sand

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  79. we feed my chicken table scraps all the time. we also let them run around the yard and return to their coop and run at night, and they eat the rotten foods that we try to use as fertilizer and have not had any problems. be sure you do NOT feed them chocolate, but they lovpe marshmellows. my little siblings trained a bunch of mine to do tricks for a marshmellow and they have never goten sick from it. i have 24 hens.

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  80. i trained mine with marshmellows. just make a patbhto the coop and they will go. do it at the same time evreynight and after a few weeks, they will go in on their own. we only have to lock the coop now after letting them in the yard as they go in on their own. use only white marshmellows though, they dont like the colored ones.

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  81. This is what I suggest, Denise: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/06/integrating-new-flock-members-playpen.html

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  82. Ray Gillman9/14/14, 2:44 PM

    don't feed animals anything you would not eat yourself.

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  83. Ron N Kathy Wright9/25/14, 10:02 PM

    Well...live & learn! This is our 3rd year with urban chickens. Had 6 girls but 2 passed in the last couple of months. :'( With a small flock, I suggest getting birds that each lay a distinct color egg: White, Light brown, medium brown, dark brown, olive, aqua, not only do you get a beautiful rainbow, but when production goes down, or if someone stops laying or lays strange ones (i.e., no shell, double yolks), or if a bird gets sick and stops laying, you can tell which bird it is. It's also fun to be able to say, "Oh look, it's a Daisy egg because it's white!" :) -Kat

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  84. Ron N Kathy Wright9/25/14, 10:11 PM

    Nothing spoiled or moldy and nothing too high in sugar. other processed ingredients and no skins that may have pesticide residue or that are getting "slimy." Extra wilty veggies are fine and fruits/veggies that are mushy (but again, not moldy or slimy). My girls go crazy over occasional salmon skin, dried whole grain/seeded breads, rice and spaghetti noodles! -Kat

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  85. Thanks for this post! I have a question about other birds. We have a lovely but small garden that is enjoyed by lots of birds like wood pigeons, sparrows and some much loved robins. I have heard that chickens can be territorial. Do you know if they will scare off the other birds?

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  86. Jane Cusic Scheller10/8/14, 1:54 PM

    It's been my experience that our chickens chase all other birds out of "their" yard, especially if they just been given treats (Such as tomatoes, strawberries, or scratch grains/clover, etc.). They are very territorial inside their yard, but not so much when out in backyard loose to graze.

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  87. uncensoredfreespeechdotcom10/9/14, 8:16 AM

    can you mix guinea fowl with chickens?

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  88. grayfozx11410/9/14, 9:38 AM

    We started out with 10 chickens in Calif,, when we moved to Idaho the girls were given away....wife then bought a bunch more. We now have 34 hens, 2 roosters. Lost 6 hens and a rooster to a coyote, cost him his life! Just finished up with 14 "meat birds," and we are going to do it again! It's pretty hard to buy an 8+ pound dressed chicken at a store! Chickens are fun, and all the tips we can get we use, especially on coops, runs, etc., even though our birds are free rangers! They prefer grasshoppers to anything and we have lots of them! The eggs we get, 12-25 a day, are unbelievable....yolks so thick they are hard to break and don't "run," and great taste! We have a customer that buys 10-15 dozen every time he is here from Washington, which is 31 miles! Great advertisement!

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  89. No they will not scare off other birds. They will compete with each other a bit as all birds do.

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  90. Yes, but it is not always successful.

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  91. Michelle Whitney Chlan10/10/14, 11:50 AM

    I have a mixed flock of guineas and chickens. It is my second try to keep guineas. After trying to start a flock of guineas without chickens, I know realize that starting with keets and chicks as young as possible, together, is what worked the 2nd time around. The chickens taught the guineas where to go to roost at night, to come back to the coop etc. We know chicken behavior, and guinea behavior leans much more toward a wild bird. They are not domesticated, but they can be trained and somewhat tamed. I'd be happy to tell you more about what I did the first and second time, that worked and didn't, if you want to chat about it.

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  92. Michelle Wheeler10/11/14, 5:07 AM

    Amen! these are all great! my only addition is I wish I knew how loud (some) hens are at 6:30am. I knew about the egg song, i knew that they talked to one another, but the drive to get out of their coops first thing in the morning drives some insane and they feel the need to scream it to all neighbors within a two block radius. I wish I knew. My neighbors are glad I only have four.

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  93. Holly Anthony10/11/14, 8:29 PM

    Wonderful article. I wish I had read it years ago. Almost every lesson you speak of I have learned the hard way. I am currently learning the rooster lessons of the chicken curriculum. We had an old rooster for years that we loved, he was always watching out for his hens and was kind and gentle with humans. He passed away a few months ago and we had two 7 month old roosters that made up the 10% error rate when we bought our last batch of chicks that we introduced to our hens. Neither are gentle or kind. They are very protective of the hens but can't seem to share 37 hens between them. The biggest lesson I have learned is that I am much more of a pet owner rather than a farmer. I fall in love and have given my heart to a flock that lives in my back yard.

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  94. maridy carpenter10/16/14, 10:18 PM

    We only ever fed ours inside the run, so if they were free ranging and we needed to pen them up, all we had to do was grab a bowl of feed or bring out scraps and they came running. easy-peasy.

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  95. Thanks Jane - I suspected this may be the issue!!

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  96. Patty Watson11/1/14, 5:31 PM

    roosting bars are good mine used them at first now they sleep on flat pieces of wood and the walking thing where they go to nesting boxes they slide on it even with the pieces of wood there so maybe spring ill use wire for them to walk up and down in a frame but hope there toes dont get caught i think of that but maybe that will be better so im gonna use the wire frame walkway..and the chicks that grow up together get along but when i bring new in theres trouble even i tried the seperate pen area so next time i will get all small let them grow up but even then they pecked but i think not that bad they get along now the ones i have but wow when i had ones that didnt get along but i know someone whos chickens do good grown up ones no problem they got them full grown.the biggest thing is that getting along and all the poo cleaning up i want to make it easier to clean im thinking wood slats where i can take out and wash and plastic nesting boxes to take out and clean and rake here and there

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  97. The Chicken Chick and all the books mentioned made my adventure into chicken keeping fool proof! I read everything she ever wrote and reserched for a year. Took 6 months to build the coop that will last my life time (I'm 50) now waiting on eggs!
    Thank You Chicken Chick"!!

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  98. That's nice of you to say, Tom. Glad I could help!

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  99. I'd add: You (and your son) may develop a desire to let a hen go broody over some eggs in the future. (Knowing, of course, that you aren't ready for that sort of responsibility at this point.)
    Also, along the lines of researching breeds, I was so caught up in heat/cold tolerance and friendliness (for my son) that I neglected to pay attention to size of my mixed flock. My Light Brahma rooster is twice the size of my largest hens (Easter Eggers).

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  100. I wish I had known that raising chicks in the woods is an ongoing battle against predators and there is a long list of health problems that chickens are prone to get.

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  101. Wish I had known about the yearly fall molt (scared me!), very few eggs in winter, and how to merge a new bird into the flock without having the other birds attack it :)

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  102. my hens love old strawberries and wilty lettuce.. i don't feed them anything with mold on it, etc.. and i cut rinsed grapes in half (or they try choke them down whole). they love the variety. they like things like cucumber halved or watermelon - things they can peck at - keep them entertained in the winter too :)

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  103. I am reading "raising chickens for dummies". I hope to buy a coop/ hubby build one (if time permits-of which I don't see happening). I have a concern with, in the early spring/early summer we get in dark moist areas on our back deck "earwigs" living under things. So I am now nervous to bring a coop with sand in the back yard area now. I have got them in our shed on the floor under things. Of which I want to put coop beside the shed area. Can you help me with any ideas or have you experienced anything like this?

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  104. Luella Eirsdottir12/29/14, 10:37 AM

    I disagree, Ray. I have always fed my flock scraps that we didn't consider edible, including moldy, wilty and past prime foods. They loved it and I never had a sick bird. We also kept a compost bin for things they didn't like to or shouldn't eat, like onions.
    I wish I had known that chickens will eat gourds. I planted birdhouse and dipper gourds along the south side of our chicken run, for shade and because I wanted the gourds. The chickens ate every last gourd, but didn't bother the vines.

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  105. Diana O'Brien1/16/15, 12:10 AM

    Our chickens made us realize that there was a whole hierarchy of animals in our backyard. Of course we knew about the one existing within the flock....but there is a full on connection between the red squirrels, magpies, chickadees and of course, the cat. My daughter can hear a noise from the chicken coop and know if red squirrel is annoyed at the chickadee feeder, alerting for raptors or if kitty is rolling in the dust bath.. just by the pitch of the chicken squawk.

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  106. All so very true! Especially the 2nd to last thing to know!!

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  107. I wish I knew that the girls will go to bed by themselves when they are ready, once they get used to their new home. It would have saved us all much stress trying to catch them to put them to bed when WE thought they should go! :-)

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