Introducing Chickens to their New Home
Moving to a new home can be a stressful time for chickens, as it is for all of us, so it is especially important to make sure everything is in place for their new house before acquiring the birds.
Plan a few days ahead if possible, allowing yourself plenty of time to get organized.
It should take you around an hour and a half to build your Framebow Chicken Coop and we will have provided all the fixings needed as well as detailed instructions. If you have any queries then please do call us 01300 345229.
Once you are happy with the site (pop-hole not exposed to prevailing wind and weather) and that the new house is ready to be occupied, prepare the inside of the chicken house by adding a 1 inch layer of Hemp Bedding to the sliding floor and a deeper layer to the nesting boxes, and don't forget to close the pop-hole door. Place feed and water temporarily inside the chicken house ready for the new arrivals.
It is best to plan the collection of your new chickens in the afternoon if possible so they can be locked up at teatime and left overnight to settle. Let them out into the chicken run the following morning to familiarise themselves with their new coop.
The new chickens will be a little stressed on arrival. Try and keep them as quiet as possible when lifting them out of the travel box. The best way to hold a chicken is to put your hand under its body with the chicken's head facing you to avoid the chicken pooping on you. Hold the wings down with the other hand to prevent the chicken from flapping about.
Gently and quietly place the chickens into their new chicken house, do check to ensure they have travelled well and have no major problems or knocks. Close the hen house door and leave them to settle in for around 12 - 18 hours.
Photo: "It's a whole new world ..."
The next morning
Letting the chickens out for the first time:
When letting the chickens out the following morning, it's a good idea to place the feeder and drinker (or second feeder and drinker) in the sheltered end of the run, underneath the chicken house in order to keep the chicken feed dry.
This will not only encourage the hens to come out of the Coop in the morning but also so they can learn that this is the place for food.
After just a couple of days, when they are used to feeding outside, you do not need to leave feed and water inside the Coop.
All your actions should be slow and gentle to keep the birds calm as much as possible. Stand back and wait quietly for your new brood to emerge and explore their new surroundings.
Photo: Let them adjust to their new surroundings
Feeding your new chooks
Feeding advice and tips:
We don't advise leaving the feeder or drinker inside the house for too many days because they will spill the water and make the bedding wet (creating breeding places for harmful bacteria), and they will spill the feed into the bedding as well, which means they would scratch around the bedding for the pellets.
This equally is not healthy and means you are changing the bedding and cleaning the coop more frequently.
Once it is dark and the birds have roosted they do not eat or drink anyway. But, if the birds have to be confined to the house during the day for any reason, then you can place Feeders & Drinkers in a corner where they can't be knocked over, and away from the perches so they don't get fouled, but you will need to make sure the bedding stays clean and dry.
As a guide; you should allow approximately 150g-200g of pelleted feed per bird per day and one-third of a litre of drinking water per hen per day (less in winter but this is a suggested max during summer months).
Chickens should have access to feed and freshwater all the time. Don't be tempted to get a larger than necessary feeder and drinker thinking it will last them longer.
Water needs to be fresh every day, if left for several days you will get a build-up of algae and harmful bacteria. Pelleted feed (Layers Pellets) is their staple diet and they need adlib access, they won't overeat.
The feed will go stale if left for more than a few days so again only put out what they will eat in a day or two. Don't be tempted to give their corn treat, or any other treat, first thing in the morning as this will stop them from eating the pellets. Mid-morning onwards for treats, but not too many!
Photo: Leave water and feed in the run area, not inside the house
Making sure they use the perches:
Young birds, at point of lay or younger, or barn reared hens, may not be used to perching. Don't worry about this in the early days, the main thing is to get your hens settled into their new chicken house after their journey in the travel box.
If, after a few weeks, or if they are older than 25 weeks, and still not perching at night then you should take steps to encourage them to perch.
This will involve you accessing the house once they have gone to bed, slowly and gently you should pick up the bird with your hands on either side of its body to hold the wings down. Place its feet on the perch so that its claws wrap around it and its breastbone rests on the perch. You may have to do this several nights running but eventually, they will learn to 'go up' to roost.
Our perch arrangements are such that you also have a little floor area for the chickens to move around so they can stretch their legs before exiting in the morning. This will help to prevent aggression and trampling.
It is true to say that they will wake at the crack of dawn and get off their perches ready to go outside. They will exit the moment you open the door then rush off to feed and drink.
Photo: Higher perches in the house; 2" square with rounded edges
Chicken Keeping Routines:
For the first few evenings, you will have to go into the run to help them go to bed through the pop-hole until they get used to where they roost is.
This can sometimes only be a couple of days, sometimes a week.
Once you can see they are going to bed on their own at dusk then you know they are 'homed' to the henhouse. Equally, they should exit the house the moment you open the pop-hole door in the morning.
Once they have settled in, say in 2 weeks, then you can consider letting them roam your garden (if this is what you wish to do). You should also get used to your new routine of opening the pop-hole as soon after dawn as possible, checking their water and feed, seeing if there are any eggs to collect and taking a moment to watch them for any signs of illness or injuries.
About an hour after opening the pop-hole you can scatter a handful of grain (mixed poultry corn) on the ground for them to scratch around for, this will keep them occupied for a while. Check again for eggs.
Then, say mid-afternoon, or at least two hours before dark, scatter another handful of corn and do a final check for eggs.
The birds will then put themselves to bed just before dusk and you can close the pop-hole when all are safe inside.
Photo: How to handle and hold hens safely to avoid stress
Moving New Hens In is ©Framebow (Flyte so Fancy Ltd) 2017. Author: Anne Weymouth. Reproduction of part or all of this text is only possible with the express permission of Flyte so Fancy Ltd.