Some Chicken Questions... - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-05-2009, 01:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My father in law has chickens and roosters on a nearby farm. He would be able to give me chickens if I wanted some. I've long wanted to have about two hens in our fully fenced backyard. The only predators in our area would be the outdoor cats that I feed but from what I've read here cats don't pose that much of a threat to a full grown chicken, right?

How many eggs would two hens give?

Do people clip chicken wings? I'm showing my chicken ignorance but how do you keep them from flying to the neighbor's yard? The fence we have is about 5 feet tall. I want to let them free range in the yard but I'm worried about them going over the fence to the neighbors.

How noisy are hens? I'm familiar with roosters and how noisy they are. I don't think my neighbors would appreciate a rooster in the area. I think I could do ok with a few hens.

Are chicken mites worse in some areas of the country than others? I live in Hawaii.

Thanks mamas!

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Old 04-05-2009, 03:00 AM
 
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Have fun with your chickens!

They are noisy after they lay an egg- which requires an announcement. But not like roosters. It's just bawk BAWK BAWK.

You can clip their wings.

Young hens will lay an egg almost every day unless they're molting, broody or in winter when the days are short, but I don't know if that will be an issue in Hawaii.

Feral cats can be a problem if they're hungry. A well-fed cat should be no problem.

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Old 04-07-2009, 12:52 PM
 
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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!

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Old 04-07-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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Oh and mites--I'm not sure if they are worse in certain areas or not. Mites and lice are spread by wild birds. My old flock got a bad case of chicken lice and it took me forever to get rid of it! I tried all kinds of natural things but eventually had to resort to Sevin dust, which was some scary stuff after I googled it.

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Old 04-09-2009, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepper44 View Post
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.

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Old 04-09-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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Hens generally aren't agressive. They're more likely to be scared than angry. They can peck you trying to get food or something shiny on your clothes. Their claws do scratch if they struggle, but you learn how to pick them up in ways that minimize scratching.

Hens go back to roost at night if you lock them in for the first couple of days. All you have to do is close the coop door. Very easy. If they get into the habit of roosting in trees, then you need to encourage them to bond to their coop!

Oh, and wing clipping doesn't hurt. You can do it with a kitchen scissors.

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Old 04-11-2009, 12:09 AM
 
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They bawk when they lay, but not for a long while.
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Old 04-11-2009, 12:51 AM
 
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My hens are very noisy when they lay an egg, but it's kind of nice for the kids. They love to go and find the warm eggs. They generally seem to make a lot of noise as well when they have somehow lost sight of one of the flock-sort of a very loud calling to one another.

I don't have a problem with flying as much as my hens running, and I do mean running, across my property to get across the stone wall onto my neighbors property. Mind you, we have several acres, lots and lots of hen friendly places, but they like to be on the move. They will come back when i call them, which is good I suppose.
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:43 AM
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If the hens are of a heavy/dual purpose breed, they will stay behind a 5' fence. Lighter breeds can/will fly higher. You can clip their winds in two ways, one is temporary, the other permanent. You can cut their primary flight feathers on one or both wings, this doesn't hurt them at all, but they will have to be re-cut every time they grow back in. Or you can clip the tip of the chicks' wings, which would hurt them and bleed a little, but it prevents the flight feathers from growing in at all.

I've never been scratched by a chicken, usually they hit you with their wings as they try and get away.

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Old 04-12-2009, 03:27 PM
 
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You might think about the mongoose population as potential predators. I don't really know, but I sure did see a lot of mongoose in Hawai'i!
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