A Flock for my Happiness?

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  • #1558656
    Jennifer
    Keymaster

    Oh my goodness, I’ll need to take some time to properly respond to your whole post Jennifer, but the main points are these:

    1. I read your post on BYC and you have sold me on the Bielefelders. I need some in my life. I will buy an incubator so I can hatch eggs you send me. I just put the eggs in and wait, right? The picture of your rooster nuzzing his face into your hand kills me. So adorable. >.<

    2. I wish you lived near me, because I’d love it if you could come to my house and be my chicken consultant. I really wish I had someone near me who knew what they were doing and wanted to spend time guiding me through the process.

    3. I’d really love to talk shop with you. I have 2 threads on BYC trying to figure out the baby/intermediate stage living arrangements, and another for the fence/coop construction questions. Maybe you could read them and give me your input, or I could pick out my most burning questions and post them for you. Whichever is easier. I’ll put the links here:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/can-someone-approve-my-brooder-plans.1293399/

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/fencing-help.1293314/

    1) I love my Bielefelders very much. I must be clear that I’ve only had them a little under a year so I am not sure what later problems, if any, they may have with health. I’ve read that they can be prone to fatty liver disease, which I believe, because they are heavy eaters. I feed them a good feed and meal-feed them in an attempt to keep them from overeating.

    2) I wish I lived nearby too! I am all the way over in NY. Ugh! That said, you live in a great area for chicken people… you might be able to connect with a local mentor through BYC. There are threads on there for every state in the US.

    3) I am super short on time this week but I will look at your threads soon! My email is also open if you ever would like: Jennifer@featherdust.com

    Of all the rooster breeds you’ve had what one would you say has been the kindest to your hens?

    I mentioned to a coworker today (who has chickens herself) that I was planning on getting some, including one rooster, and she asked me why I wanted one. She said that roosters basically rape the hens all day long, and she’d never put her girls through that.

    I read the whole topic on Trousers (hopefully this isn’t painful to bring up) and he sounded like a perfect gentleman. Do you think it was his breed (Cochin?) or just because he was special (because he undoubtedly was)? I’ve tried googling what breeds of roosters are the kindest to the hens, and the only result I have managed to find is the following list: Cochin, Brahma or Langshan. I’ve also heard that the bigger the rooster breed, the more laid back in general. Do you find this to be true? I don’t want to get a rooster if I’m just setting my girls up to get raped every day of their lives…

    My cochins have generally been really good boys, but my Bielefelder rooster has been the BEST so far. He was an accident, sort of. I ordered only hens when I bought from Greenfire Farms, but they must have had extra hatches because they sent me 11 chicks (I ordered 6). Two of the smallest didn’t make it; one hadn’t absorbed her yolk properly sadly and passed away (genetic “glitch” that can happen to any bird, sadly). And one was a boy– fortunately with this breed, you know immediately. I was nervous because I already have a rooster, a handicapped cochin that you might have read about, and I didn’t want a new rooster, full of hormones, to beat up my handicapped guy who couldn’t defend himself. Fortunately, Bielefelders are well known for their gentle temprements and my new rooster (Moose) has never tried to get into a fight with my handicapped rooster. He’s very respectful! Even when my handicapped rooster would flare and posture at him, Moose seemed to understand that he was not to be mean. Moose listens to me like a dog, it’s really remarkable. I didn’t think it could get any better than Trousers, but Moose has proven me wrong.

    I think Trousers was so good because he was a full blooded, well-bred (as in the breeder also bred for temperament!) cochin. Brahmas are also generally very mellow. The larger breeds do tend to have less “high strung” roosters but it is quite variable, still, so you still need to research the breed. And then you have individual genetics! I will say that all of my carefully bred roosters have generally had better manners, whereas my hatchery roosters (where they sure don’t breed for temperament) have been real jerks.

    When I got into chickens and after my first two roosters I was really anti-rooster. “Why on earth have a rooster if you don’t want to breed?!” I thought. They certainly aren’t necessary to get eggs! Those first guys were, as you put it, quite bad. They didn’t ask the hens if they wanted love, they didn’t really take care of them, they were defensive of the flock to the point of trying to spur us on occasion, etc. Then I had a good rooster, and my perspective changed. A good rooster never mounts a hen without her permission (she does a squat if she’s willing), doesn’t grab and pull them around, is gentle, gives the hens the best food he can find, is protective but also recognizes that human caretakers aren’t a threat, warns the girls about threats, will keep them company and help them tend nests/egg laying (really), and more. There is crowing; you can’t defeat his nature, but the less aggressive roosters DO also seem to crow somewhat less, too. Moose only crows in the morning and later if he thinks the girls need something (e.g. if they knock over their feeder and are out of feed, he will crow “for me” to come fix it). So, you don’t need a rooster, but if you want one, make sure not to tolerate a bad boy! There are too many good roosters out there to deal with a badly bred jerk.

    I'm here to help! Time sensitive issues: See a spammer? Website going haywire? email me! nambroth at gmail.com

    #1558657
    Jennifer
    Keymaster

    Also, if you have Facebook, you might be able to find someone selling chicks if you don’t want to incubate them. Try the group “Bielefelders Standard Bred”, some of the members are in the USA. Just explain that you are looking for pet quality birds due to their temperament. Some people will sell pet quality for less if they are breeding them to a standard, since you probably aren’t too concerned with their looks being 100% perfect but only that they are healthy pets. You might even be able to find someone else to incubate if I send eggs, many people have large incubators and might even do it for free for you (!) because they just love hatching chicks out…. that way if there are more boys than you want, you’ll know they have a good home. Lots of options! 🙂

    I'm here to help! Time sensitive issues: See a spammer? Website going haywire? email me! nambroth at gmail.com

    #1558917
    Jennifer
    Keymaster

    Just a quick note for Amy and anyone else reading this in the future, because I realized some of what I wrote may be accidentally misleading; any chickens can succumb to the conditions (peritonitis, salpingitis, reproductive diseases) I named above as being a “negative” part of commercial hatchery chickens, even well bred chickens, because the diseases are related to egg-laying. Some breeds that have been bred (intentionally or unintentionally) are just far more prone to it. It does vary, individually.

    I'm here to help! Time sensitive issues: See a spammer? Website going haywire? email me! nambroth at gmail.com

    #1558921
    merrillannwhite
    Participant

    My brother lost a couple of chickens to fatty liver disease. He said the vet told him that chickens who have been bred for egg laying- more and larger eggs -are more prone to it so if you are pet hunting that might be something to consider.

    #1558922
    merrillannwhite
    Participant

    I was also in Tractor Supply Company a while ago, and they had some coops that looked well constructed and weren’t excessively expensive that were pre made or had simple assembly.

    #1559048
    Amy
    Participant

    Thanks for the info merrillan. I will take that into account. 🙂

    Let me just say, I’m so glad to have you guys to talk to.

    #1559050
    Amy
    Participant

    Most commercially bred (by hatcheries) popular breeds that die early due to reproductive complications (tied to line breeding etc) are: rocks / barred rocks, orpingtons, australorps, Rhode island reds, leghorns and any production breed such as sex-linked hens (golden comet, red star, black star, amberlink, tetra tint, etc…. all of these birds are hybrids and bred ONLY for egg production and not health).

    Gosh, that’s the vast majority of the chickens I want to get…Now, I know you followed this up by saying any chickens can succumb to this, but do the ones that come from large hatcheries have a higher propensity for it than small breeders? I looked into it, and there really aren’t any small hatcheries near me, so I think I’m stuck with online. Oh well, even if they won’t live as long they still deserve to have a nice life.

    I do also urge some caution about mixing too many breeds. If you are going to free range and have a lot of space for them, it’s not as important, but if you need to fence them in a run or have long snowy winters like I do where they spend a lot of time in the coop, it can be very problematic to house breeds with very different temperaments together. Some of the breeds you’ve listed can be quite sassy and bossy, and others not so much. It may be disappointing, but at first it is actually sometimes easier to narrow it down to fewer than three breeds.

    They will not technically be “free range”. I’m way too scared they’d run away or get attacked by something, but they will have a pretty large enclosure 16′ x 18′ and probably 9′ – 10′ tall. I’m open to letting them out in the yard while I’m there to supervise. What are the odds they’d just bolt though? I’m not Rocky Balboa. I don’t think I could catch them if they ran. The winters here are rarely long/snowy. We did have a storm this year, but that’s highly unusual. I don’t foresee them being stuck inside the coop basically ever. At least half of it will have a roof, so even when it rains they should be able to come outside.

    Can you tell me which breeds tend to be sassy/bossy? I’m curious about temperament overall. Because I’ve read plenty of generalities, but then there are always people who write in with the exact opposite experience. And I’m certainly not trying to disagree with you about the varied composition potentially being a problem. I hear constantly about chickens fighting with each other, but when I was a kid we had a pretty varied flock and they all got along fine (except for Skedaddler, but that was because he was a bad rooster I think). Theoretically, buff orpingtons are supposed to be a nice/gentle breed. Not so with him.

    I’ll give the updated list of chooks I’ve picked and what I “know” about them, and you can let me know what you know/think of them:

    Hens:
    -Rhode Island Red (Roosters are aggressive, but hens are fine. Mine was super sweet. Such a good girl.)
    -Barred Rock (Supposed to be friendly. Mine was very calm and gentle.)
    -Australorp (Supposed to be calm and friendly. Mine was. Never caused any trouble. She was a runt as a chick. Grew up fine though.)
    -Silver Spangled Hamburg (More flighty/wild. Friendly toward other chickens but less affectionate with people. Read several accounts of people with friendly/affectionate hens though.)
    -White Leghorn (Energetic and possibly nervous. Some say they’re quite sweet and tame. Guess it depends.)
    -White Cochin (Supposedly a doglike chicken. Super cuddly and affectionate.)

    Rooster:
    -Silver Spangled Hamburg (Supposed to be kind to his hens and kind of indifferent to humans. Also, not large enough to inadvertently smash anyone to death.)

    I hope my hens love him as much as your hens loved Trousers. I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I see the pictures of them all crowding around, just wanting to be near him. And your one girl sitting on top of him, just hanging out. <3

    I’ve heard that instead of having a door that automatically opens when the sun comes up (leading to super early morning crowing) some people keep their coops on a timer that opens at the same time every day. If the rooster doesn’t know the sun is up will he still crow? Like, if he’s shut up inside the coop in the pitch black will he still crow? I’ve read some accounts that as long as the coop is totally dark inside the rooster won’t crow. Theoretically a person could let them out/have the crowing start at 9 am. Is this true, or just wishful thinking? Now that I think about it, if a person has any kind of venting that’s always open, there’s probably going to be light inside the coop…

    #1559055
    Amy
    Participant

    Ok, I wrote a whole big long reply and it’s gone. What gives?

    #1559170
    GardenNinja
    Participant

    Ok, I wrote a whole big long reply and it’s gone. What gives?

    Sometimes things get flagged as spam. You can PM Clay (username wstone) and ask if he can find it and post it.

    My keyboard is broken. I keep pressing "Escape", but I'm still here.

    #1559171
    Amy
    Participant

    Thanks for the info GardenNinja. I will do that.

    Ok, messaged him. We’ll see what he says.

    #1559172
    Amy
    Participant

    Yep, it was flagged as spam. He fixed it 😀

    #1559289
    Jennifer
    Keymaster

    Sorry to turn your PYO thread into a big chicken discussion!! I have a really bad habit of going overboard about chickens. They’ve made that big of an impact on me!

    Most commercially bred (by hatcheries) popular breeds that die early due to reproductive complications (tied to line breeding etc) are: rocks / barred rocks, orpingtons, australorps, Rhode island reds, leghorns and any production breed such as sex-linked hens (golden comet, red star, black star, amberlink, tetra tint, etc…. all of these birds are hybrids and bred ONLY for egg production and not health).

    Gosh, that’s the vast majority of the chickens I want to get…Now, I know you followed this up by saying any chickens can succumb to this, but do the ones that come from large hatcheries have a higher propensity for it than small breeders? I looked into it, and there really aren’t any small hatcheries near me, so I think I’m stuck with online. Oh well, even if they won’t live as long they still deserve to have a nice life.

    Hatcheries (unintentionally?) selectively breed for production on the breeds that are the most popular. For example: several years ago when backyard chickens became quite popular, everyone wanted buff orpingtons because they are a large, friendly chicken that lays eggs well and do well in family settings. So if a hatchery gets orders for 100,000 buff orpingtons in a season, they breed whatever hens are going to make them the most eggs, and fastest. Several years down the line and you have chickens that have been bred (intentionally or not) to be egg machines. It’s bred right into their genetics. The more eggs a hen produces, the more likely her body is to have reproductive complications, and in essence by breeding such huge quantities of the chickens most in demand, hatcheries are almost guaranteeing a high rate of reproductive illness…. so the #1 cause of premature mortality in many of these popular breeds is reproductive illness (peritonitis/salpingitis/cancer/acities). I hope this all makes sense. The only reason I care so much about this is that it is a helpless feeling to see your favorite pet hen/friend succumb to something that we humans have essentially bred into them. It’s sad.

    I do also urge some caution about mixing too many breeds. If you are going to free range and have a lot of space for them, it’s not as important, but if you need to fence them in a run or have long snowy winters like I do where they spend a lot of time in the coop, it can be very problematic to house breeds with very different temperaments together. Some of the breeds you’ve listed can be quite sassy and bossy, and others not so much. It may be disappointing, but at first it is actually sometimes easier to narrow it down to fewer than three breeds.

    They will not technically be “free range”. I’m way too scared they’d run away or get attacked by something, but they will have a pretty large enclosure 16′ x 18′ and probably 9′ – 10′ tall. I’m open to letting them out in the yard while I’m there to supervise. What are the odds they’d just bolt though? I’m not Rocky Balboa. I don’t think I could catch them if they ran. The winters here are rarely long/snowy. We did have a storm this year, but that’s highly unusual. I don’t foresee them being stuck inside the coop basically ever. At least half of it will have a roof, so even when it rains they should be able to come outside.

    You can try what I do, if you feel comfortable. I cannot free range my chickens because of predators (we have all of them here, except mountain lions), but I do what I call ‘supervised free range’… when the weather is nice, I will let them out into the yard with me watching over them, in the yard with them. I can gently direct them away from areas I don’t want them (e.g. the neighbors, the thick woods, etc) and can be a “second rooster” to keep an eye on the sky and yard. Then I put them securely back into their pen when I have to go back indoors. If you let your chickens get used to their home area, they are unlikely to bolt… if they do run, it will be to the nearest patch of grass to chow down! Chickens are very easy to recall train (train them to come to you on command) simply by associating a distinct sound with their favorite treat. I use “chook-chook-chook!” to call them but you could use a bell or whatever you want. The key is to be really consistent with them– they get a GREAT SNACK each time they come. If you do this they will always come a running unless there is something serious going on (e.g. the need to hide from a predator might override their recall!). If you teach them from chicks to understand that a snack is coming each time they hear the recall noise, they will learn fast. Some people also associate a hand signal with this. It’s up to you.
    There are also things you can do in their pen/run to provide enrichment for them. Chickens are smart and get bored… Things like a “chicken garden” where plants can grow up through a protective mesh (so that the chickens can’t dig the roots out) gives them a place to eat greens and hunt bugs; foraging toys, hanging treats, dust bathing areas… all will keep them content in a pen! Since you have to pen them, make sure you get breeds that are known to “tolerate confinement”. Some breeds go bonkers if they can’t range, and others are okay with it.

    Can you tell me which breeds tend to be sassy/bossy? I’m curious about temperament overall. Because I’ve read plenty of generalities, but then there are always people who write in with the exact opposite experience. And I’m certainly not trying to disagree with you about the varied composition potentially being a problem. I hear constantly about chickens fighting with each other, but when I was a kid we had a pretty varied flock and they all got along fine (except for Skedaddler, but that was because he was a bad rooster I think). Theoretically, buff orpingtons are supposed to be a nice/gentle breed. Not so with him.

    I have only had experience with a limited number of breeds. You are going to find that each chicken is an individual, and that breeding for temperament does come into play. Getting birds from a large scale hatchery is going to be a dice toss. You may get the perfect temperaments from a given breed, or the weirdos! I have had variable luck, myself. For example, I have a black australorp, a breed known to be friendly… and most are! But mine is the devil herself, so to speak. She is so nasty to the other hens that I had to separate her into another coop with a few of the chickens she gets along with. Unfortunately, there is not a great way for me to tell you 100% about any given breed, unless you get them from a breeder whose birds are consistent in their temperaments. My Bielefelders, for example, are from a small hatchery breeder and all nine have the sweet temperament that I read about. I suggest that you look up the breed “reviews” on Backyard Chickens to get a feel for how “most” of the chickens in that breed behave (while noting if people say they are from a hatchery or breeder). You can also look up the “breed” threads on the forums. Almost all commonly kept breeds have a huge thread where everyone shares their experiences. Many mixed flocks are peaceful until maturity… when everyone seems to get all their chicken emotions dialed up to max drama!

    I’ll give the updated list of chooks I’ve picked and what I “know” about them, and you can let me know what you know/think of them:

    Hens:

    -Rhode Island Red (Roosters are aggressive, but hens are fine. Mine was super sweet. Such a good girl.) –– no personal experience, but have known a few people’s RIRs, roosters can be aggressive and hens can be friendly but confident. “Sassy” sometimes, generally not pushovers.

    -Barred Rock (Supposed to be friendly. Mine was very calm and gentle.) –– One of my favorite common breeds. Both of mine were very smart, friendly, but also confident and a bit sassy. NOT pushovers! Tend to be near the top of the flock.

    -Australorp (Supposed to be calm and friendly. Mine was. Never caused any trouble. She was a runt as a chick. Grew up fine though.) –– See above… most I’ve read about are quite friendly. Mine is a demon but she’s probably the exception to the rule. Very bossy and nasty to the point of causing physical harm if I let her (had to separate her). She never mellowed out and is almost 8 now.

    -Silver Spangled Hamburg (More flighty/wild. Friendly toward other chickens but less affectionate with people. Read several accounts of people with friendly/affectionate hens though.) –– No personal experience but I know someone with some. Flighty, don’t seem to like being penned. Beautiful. Loud roosters.

    -White Leghorn (Energetic and possibly nervous. Some say they’re quite sweet and tame. Guess it depends.) –– An (egg) production breed. You will get lots of eggs but they have an extremely high percentage of reproductive illness. All white eggs at grocery stores come from leghorns, they are bred by the billions (literally billions) yearly. They are the commercially farmed egg hen.

    -White Cochin (Supposedly a doglike chicken. Super cuddly and affectionate.) –– I’ve had several colors of cochins. Docile… some friendly, some slightly standoffish but never mean. Sometimes docile to the point of getting picked on. Sweet in general, sometimes prone to being broody, not good layers of eggs in general.

    Rooster:

    -Silver Spangled Hamburg (Supposed to be kind to his hens and kind of indifferent to humans. Also, not large enough to inadvertently smash anyone to death.)

    I hope my hens love him as much as your hens loved Trousers. I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I see the pictures of them all crowding around, just wanting to be near him. And your one girl sitting on top of him, just hanging out. <3

    I’ve heard that instead of having a door that automatically opens when the sun comes up (leading to super early morning crowing) some people keep their coops on a timer that opens at the same time every day. If the rooster doesn’t know the sun is up will he still crow? Like, if he’s shut up inside the coop in the pitch black will he still crow? I’ve read some accounts that as long as the coop is totally dark inside the rooster won’t crow. Theoretically a person could let them out/have the crowing start at 9 am. Is this true, or just wishful thinking? Now that I think about it, if a person has any kind of venting that’s always open, there’s probably going to be light inside the coop…

    I answered about the breeds above in bold, I hope it’s helpful.
    Roosters definitely crow even without the sun! Sometimes putting them in pitch black will help, but even then, I’ve had them crow at sounds, specific times, or sometimes just nothing at all. There’s also almost no way to black out a coop, as they must have good ventilation, and I highly recommend bright coops with at least one or two windows (I like white paint inside to brighten it up, too). Chickens spend bad weather in the coop pretty frequently and it would be quite depressing for them to have a dark coop. They also cannot see very well in dim light, and not at all in the dark. They are creatures of the sun!
    When I had a loud rooster I used to bring him in my home at night and shut him into a dark area (just at night, since he was power-crowing at 3am!). Guess what? He still knew when 3am was, and that’s when he felt he needed to crow. Some roosters only crow during daylight, but some also just get it into their heads to crow whenever! This seems to be somewhat instinctual, as I have not found any way to completely “talk” them out of crowing when I am trying to sleep. Fortunately my current rooster rarely crows before 6am, so it works out for us, but just be prepared for the knowledge that a rooster sometimes just crows whenever.

    I'm here to help! Time sensitive issues: See a spammer? Website going haywire? email me! nambroth at gmail.com

    #1559370
    Amy
    Participant

    Sorry to turn your PYO thread into a big chicken discussion!! I have a really bad habit of going overboard about chickens. They’ve made that big of an impact on me!

    Don’t be sorry. I’m glad it’s gone in this direction. If anyone else has chicken stories to share, please feel free. This is kind of therapy space for me, so we’ll just call it group if other people want to chime in 😉

    #1559373
    Amy
    Participant

    #1 cause of premature mortality in many of these popular breeds is reproductive illness (peritonitis/salpingitis/cancer/acities). I hope this all makes sense. The only reason I care so much about this is that it is a helpless feeling to see your favorite pet hen/friend succumb to something that we humans have essentially bred into them. It’s sad.

    Could I have the hens spayed or something? I know you had a hen die of ovarian cancer…Is any of this stuff preventable in any way, or is this just kind of their fate?

    If you teach them from chicks to understand that a snack is coming each time they hear the recall noise, they will learn fast. Some people also associate a hand signal with this. It’s up to you.
    There are also things you can do in their pen/run to provide enrichment for them. Chickens are smart and get bored… Things like a “chicken garden” where plants can grow up through a protective mesh (so that the chickens can’t dig the roots out) gives them a place to eat greens and hunt bugs; foraging toys, hanging treats, dust bathing areas… all will keep them content in a pen! Since you have to pen them, make sure you get breeds that are known to “tolerate confinement”. Some breeds go bonkers if they can’t range, and others are okay with it.

    Are chickens like dogs in that when you teach recall, eventually you don’t actually give them a treat every time, or is it important to give them a treat every single time because otherwise they won’t trust you anymore? Dogs you end up substituting life rewards (a pat on the belly, a walk, etc) for food rewards, but I don’t know that you can do that with chickens in a way that’s meaningful to them. Do they ever stop coming when you call them if they know it means they have to get put away? I know dogs can sometimes avoid coming when called because they know it means the fun is over.

    What training treat do you find is best? I’ve heard scrambled eggs or mealworms make the best treats.

    I’m totally down with giving them enrichment within the run. Which I have now decided will be 16×20′ so 320 sqft total if we count the space under the coop, which they will be able to access. Would a tub of DE make a good dust bath? I’ve heard that if I just leave them to their own devices they’ll turn the entire run into a dust bath, lol.

    Will write more. Gonna take a quick shower.

    #1559459
    Jennifer
    Keymaster

    #1 cause of premature mortality in many of these popular breeds is reproductive illness (peritonitis/salpingitis/cancer/acities). I hope this all makes sense. The only reason I care so much about this is that it is a helpless feeling to see your favorite pet hen/friend succumb to something that we humans have essentially bred into them. It’s sad.

    Could I have the hens spayed or something? I know you had a hen die of ovarian cancer…Is any of this stuff preventable in any way, or is this just kind of their fate?

    If you teach them from chicks to understand that a snack is coming each time they hear the recall noise, they will learn fast. Some people also associate a hand signal with this. It’s up to you.

    There are also things you can do in their pen/run to provide enrichment for them. Chickens are smart and get bored… Things like a “chicken garden” where plants can grow up through a protective mesh (so that the chickens can’t dig the roots out) gives them a place to eat greens and hunt bugs; foraging toys, hanging treats, dust bathing areas… all will keep them content in a pen! Since you have to pen them, make sure you get breeds that are known to “tolerate confinement”. Some breeds go bonkers if they can’t range, and others are okay with it.

    Are chickens like dogs in that when you teach recall, eventually you don’t actually give them a treat every time, or is it important to give them a treat every single time because otherwise they won’t trust you anymore? Dogs you end up substituting life rewards (a pat on the belly, a walk, etc) for food rewards, but I don’t know that you can do that with chickens in a way that’s meaningful to them. Do they ever stop coming when you call them if they know it means they have to get put away? I know dogs can sometimes avoid coming when called because they know it means the fun is over.

    What training treat do you find is best? I’ve heard scrambled eggs or mealworms make the best treats.

    I’m totally down with giving them enrichment within the run. Which I have now decided will be 16×20′ so 320 sqft total if we count the space under the coop, which they will be able to access. Would a tub of DE make a good dust bath? I’ve heard that if I just leave them to their own devices they’ll turn the entire run into a dust bath, lol.

    Will write more. Gonna take a quick shower.

    I suspect that dogs are more attuned to “helping” type of relationships with humans than chickens are. Based on my observations (and I’m no expert!), chickens come to calls from each other specifically for food rewards. E.g. a rooster will “tidbit” a hen to a prized food item, or a momma hen will tidbit her chicks to good food. To this end, chickens learn if you are “lying” about food, and unlike dogs, the reward of food vs. affection is not comparable, I think. This is a complex way of saying that you better try to reward them with even a tiny bit of food every time you call them! Hens learn to distrust roosters that lie about finding good food (some roosters will do this to lure a hen over, for mating, but if he has no food and is “lying” she will distrust him in the future).

    My chickens LOVE black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, milo seed, mealworms, grubblies (a healthier alternative to mealworms), and people food that is safe for them (chopped fruits, cooked veggies, etc). Scrambled eggs are good too if you want to share!

    I used to put DE in the dust baths but it’s so fine that they’d inhale quite a bit of it. Now I just mix dry soil, some dry sand, and wood ash if I can find it.

    Chickens will turn an enclosed run/pen into a dirt/mud bath, it’s true! They will eat pretty much anything green then dig, so the roots don’t recover. I made a frame out of lumber and attached hardware cloth to it, then put that over part of their run (before they ate all the grass). They can eat the greens but don’t dig up the roots, so things slowly regrow. I also toss some wheatgrass seed in there to grow when they get the rest ‘trimmed’ too much.

    I'm here to help! Time sensitive issues: See a spammer? Website going haywire? email me! nambroth at gmail.com

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