After 2 attempts of submitting a group for backyard chickens, I gave up. I guess the board has other fish to fry. In fact, I'm sure of it.

But where better than the garden, to talk about our feathered friends?

With winter coming, we'll be winterizing our chicken house. In this case, I added more straw to the floor, and I'm thinking about adding bats of straw to the walls this time. They survived without it last winter, but I don't think they enjoyed it.

We also put a light with a timer, into the chicken house. That way they get 12 hours of light, just like their ancestors did in the tropics. Since egg laying is photoperiod dependent, the light keeps them laying eggs. I checked on them tonight, they looked quite happy. This is also a good use for the old incandescent light bulbs, that were phased out for energy efficient flourescent bulbs. The incandescents give off quite a bit of heat, which keeps the hens happier too, on cold days.

I burned my vegetarian Ruben tonight (Rye bread with Havarti, saurkraut, and thousand Island, buttered (actually margarined) and fried like a toasted cheese sandwich, which it is. I don't like it burned, so I made another and gave the burned one to the hens. One grabbed a piece of the rye and ran off, the others chasing her. On giving up the chase, they returned and consumed the reast of the sandwich with relish. Well, actually there wasn't relish on it, but they liked the saurkraut.

I placed a garbage can outside for their feed. Keeping it locked keeps the varmits out - a bigger problem in winter as well, as food becomes scarce.

With the rainy season, we have dandelions sprouting again. This weekend I'll pull a few handfulls for the hens - they love dandelions even more than crabgrass.

Currently getting 5 eggs per day, from 5 hens. Not bad.

I'll also need to clean the area under the roost - starting to get little stalagmites of chicken poop. That'll go into the compost pile.

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I was wondering about the feather pulling. Here is a link about feather loss, 4 causes. Maybe it applies to your chickens? Maybe they are moulting? Here is a photo of a moulting hen.

I think the Reds are more aggressive, at least in our house. Our 2 reds have decided that they are the bosses now, and the Black Australorps are much more shy. The leghorn cross is in between.
I plan a chicken flock...just need more info. I thought 12 would do it.

As far as the house goes; I plan on 3/4" OSB particle board sides over a skimpy frame and then a layer of plastic sheeting leftovers and asphalt paper, leftover shingles, odd pieces of plywood. newspapers (paper on first of course) flattened tin other words just start layering on whatever is at hand, this will insulate well. Longer nails go right through to the OSB Then I am going to cover it all with wood scraps nailed on higglery piggley where they fit. The roof I will insulate with leftover insulation scraps inside and cover with plastic sheet & asphalt shingles outside. I haven't figured out what a proper floor is for a chicken house but figure it should be off the ground.

I will run power to heat the water with a short appliance type braided heater of 25 to 40 watts or so...and an incandescent light under a light proof cover for winter warmth in addition to the heated water. A simple on/off light switch would do. Simply turn on after the first frost, off in the spring. "Daylight" in the winter should be an option and another light, exposed...with timer would be proper. An on off/switch on this apparatus also.

I imagine an enclosed yard at first will acclimate them to entering the hen house in the evenings...I do not see myself ushering them in every evening...haven't figured out security yet, but it will probably be underneath the house and in the fence perimeter...although I can's see varmints NOT climbing ordinary chicken wire. I wish there was an automatic door available. If so, I could certainly varmint-proof the house?

You can tell I am a novice...laughter

Cooking chicken? THAT is what I am good at.
Other threads in the gerden group can point you to some good books and websites about raising chickens. Our chicken house in Southwest Washington has been unheated for some winters, but after installing an incandescent bulb I can see that they definitely enjoy the warmth. Currently we have 5 hens and get 5 eggs a day, so coworkers get the overflow.
Oh, by the way. One of the places where I bought pullets had an old mobile home converted into a chicken house. All they did was pull up the carpet and put down a plywood floor. Not very pretty, but it worked.

Hi all-

I'm new here, new to gardening and raising chickens.  We're moving into our house 5/27, and I'm picking up my peeps on 5/28!  

Our city allows three hens without a permit, and I think that will give us enough eggs.  I'm looking for chickens that are less skittish and pet like.  Any suggestions?  I'm leaning towards Orpingtons and Wyandottes.  Thinking about throwing in a Polish if I can find one, just for fun.  Thinking we'll tractor them until we can get some fencing up.

Hi Andi,


I've had Rhode Island Reds, a Blue Orpington, a Burma, an Aracauna that had a great personality but turned out to be a rooster, some Australorps, and several Leghorns.  The Leghorns are very tame and pretty much can be led into their house if they get out.  Leghorns have white eggs, but the flavor is the same.  The Blue Orpington ws very tame and calm, and laid nice brown eggs, but now and then decided it was time to hatch eggs, would stop laying and sit on all of the eggs for several weeks.  The Burma was pretty calm but didn't lay eggs as often.  The Reds were usually very aggressive, bullied other chickens and one was a serial killer.  They laid good eggs every day.  The Australorps were very timid and ran aay from everything.  at one point I had two australorps (black hens), 2 leghorns (white hens) and 2 reds.  They hung out together, avoiding the chickens that were not their own color.  My partner says chickens are racist.


Good luck with your hens!  They are great for recycling kitchen scraps and weeds, and home eggs are much much better than store bought.

Daniel, the new chicken coop is almost complete now I have a couple of questions for you. Do you have any problems with the dogs bothering the chickens? And,since you've had yours for several years now, which type is the tamest and the which one lays eggs most reliable?

Is there anything you think l should know that you would have done differently from the start?


My dogs were fine with the little cat, but one of them killed a pullet.  I'm not sure he meant to, but he might have thought she was a squeeky toy.   He loves his squeeky toys.

We've had about 10 breeds.  Ning likes to try new things.  The most aggressive were the Rhode Island Reds.  The tamest and most productive were the Leghorns.  Every Leghorn has been an egg laying machine.  They also seem to be the shorted living.  I think it's like they are corporate minions who work themselves to death.  Orpingtons go broody a lot.  We've had black and grey Orpingtons, and both did that.

If only a few hens, I would get all one type.  My chickens have been kind of little racists.  When I've had two or three of one type, and the others individual types, they always stuck together by color.  This sounds strange but it has happened several times.

They really destroy a garden.  I would not let them into the garden.

I just got 3 new ones, Rhode Island Reds.  We have some  varmints here, and I think they can defend themselves.  I have a rooster and an old hen who isn't laying.  I think they are both Barred Rock.  The rooster is very aggressive - I have to take a rake into the hen yard to ward off the rooster.   He had drawn blood a few times on Ning.  But he is protecting those pullets like a watchdog.

Thanks Daniel. Leghorns it will be. The reason I asked about dogs, aside from my boston terrier, there are a lot of beneficial snakes around here. Racoons too. I'm thinking of adopting a seven year old jack russell/beagle mix to (hopefully) keep the racoons and snakes a little farther away from the coop. I probably need to get the hens first so Jack will know they belong here.
Chickens are safely enclosed in a very large pen. Covered by chicken wire. Even the top. For additional security there's an electric fence around the whole thing that's about six inches above the ground.
And they do love the weeds.


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