Thank you for all the great advice. I've also looked at the backyard chickens website but there is so much information there. I need to read everything there at my own pace.
Originally Posted by Pepper44
My hens aren't really that noisy at all, not any noisier than wild birds. I imagine in Hawaii you have lots of wild birds tweeting and that will cover up most chicken bawks.
Are you sure you don't have any other predators? Not raccoons, possums, weasels, skunks, foxes, owls, hawks...? Stray cats can hurt a sleeping chicken. When they go to sleep at night they are sort of drugged by darkness. It's strange and funny, but it also renders them totally defenseless. Anything can get them when they're in that state. They will probably be fine in your yard during the day, but definitely build a coop and lock them up tight at night! Also, if they don't have a coop with a roost pole or they can't get to their coop at dusk, they will fly up on the fence or into a tree to roost. This has led my birds into the neighbors yards before!
Their wings are very easy to clip, just hold a bird upside down by the feet until it goes limp (a few seconds) and clip the primary flight feathers with sharp scissors. It's like a hair cut for them. The feathers grow back pretty quickly though--my hens regrew theirs in just a bit more than a month. Google and look for a diagram, there are a few ver obvious feathers to cut under the wings.
They can jump pretty high even though their wings are clipped too, mine jump up onto a chest high chain link fence we have. But if you get heavier breeds, they will be less likely to jump and fly. Wyandottes for example usually don't/can't go over a fence because of their rounded body shape. My Ameraucanas fly upon the fence all the time, and so do my buff orps. My brahmas usually don't--my Brahma roo got up on the fence once when he got locked out of the coop in the evening but the Brahma hen has never flown or hopped up, and my Faverolles never fly up or hop on anything other than their roost pole in the coop.
What breeds does your uncle have? You should get Faverolles if you can find any in your area. They are extremely friendly and sweet, they also chatter to you a bit but not too loudly, they don't fly away, and they lay pretty peach eggs. I think they are the perfect backyard chicken!
No we don't have raccoons, possums, weasels, skunks, foxes here. It's an island state with its own ecosystem that's different from the Mainland USA.
I'm not sure about owls and hawks to be honest. I haven't seen any but that's not to say there aren't any. I'll have to ask my father in law and other folks who know better. It's good you brought it up because I didn't think of owls and hawks as a threat.
Does clipping the wings hurt them?
Ok, another newbie question. How do you get them back in the coop at dusk? Do you physically pick them up and take them back into the coop? Or, do they go on their own to the coop?
One more thing, how badly do hens scratch people if they're annoyed or scared? I've been bitten by a feral cat that I've taken care of and also by a very aggressive bunny before he was fixed so I'm used to some pain in dealing with animals but I want to be mentally prepared if the hens do get angry.