The young adult chicken
At about 4- 6 weeks they will have all their real feathers. At about 6-8 weeks the y can probably move into the coop if it is ready. They will be growing very fast. They will start to develop their combs and wattles (the fleshy thing on top of their head and under their chin).
Feed/Watering . They can be taken off the feed with antibiotics and given feed often called developer. There are also some feeds that are a combination starter and developer feed. Check with your local feed stores. Feed also comes in pellets and crumbles. If you feed crumbles, you supposedly don’t have to feed grit. I feed both. Sometimes I alternate. Sometimes I mix the two together.
Whatever I feel like at the moment.
You should supplement them with grit if they are strictly coop chickens. Grit is small quartz based sand that they need for digestion since they don’t have any teeth. You can also use the oyster shell calcium as grit, although some say not to and that you need separate grit. The food is followed whole and churned around in their stomachs. If they get out for some free ranging every few days or so, you probably don’t need the grit. The first thing my girls go for when I let them out is the gravel in the dirt.
Housing . The chickens can go into the coop as soon as they have their feathers and it is warm outside. They may need the heat lamp if it gets cool at night below 50 degrees)
Make the coop as simple or as fancy as you need. The chickens really don’t care one way or the other. The coop should be equipped with a place to perch. You don’t necessarily need to have the nesting boxes built yet. They don’t go in them really until they are ready to lay (at about 4-6 months). Protection from predators like raccoons, coyotes, dogs and any other animals is necessary. This may mean digging the fencing down into the earth so nothing can burrow underneath. They also need to have a place where they can get out of the rain and wind. If you are in a place that gets cold in the winter (below freezing) you may have to provide a source of heat. A simple heat lamp will do. Chickens can get frostbite!
You may want to create a window or something that opens that you can reach in and get the eggs out easily everyday without going in the coop.
- protection from predators: (raccoons, coyotes, dogs)
- protection from rain, wind, cold
- nesting boxes at ground level or higher
- water container
- food container
- air vents or windows for circulation
- chicken run for exercise, dust baths (if you don’t let them out)
You can also create a way to get the water and food in and out of the coop easily, without going in the coop.
The food and water is best if it can be up off the ground to keep shavings and droppings from going in it. I just put my water up on some 4×4.s and hang the food container from a hook in the middle of the coop.
Ideally, they like a little play area where they can take a dust bath, eat interesting looking bugs and scratch around in.
They really need to perch on something most preferably a round piece of wood.
Ours go on garden stakes that are strung across the coop from window to window or you can use tree branches.
You can start letting them roam around the yard if you are planning on having free-range chickens. You may want to do this under supervision for awhile. In the beginning they will stay close together and not wander far. As they grow, they become more independent and curious. You may need to clip their wing feathers if they are going to be free range and you don’t want them to go over a fence. (Clipping means just clipping their feathers that grow back. You may only have to clip once and they just think that they can.t fly. You may have to clip occasionally if the chickens keep going to the neighbors yard or wherever.
The first year my chickens always flew over the fence into the neighbors yard.
When they had to start sharing their paddock with some goats, we had to fence in the walk through where the chickens had been walking through to get out in the yard. We had to cut a small opening in the fence to let them get through to a larger pasture where our horses graze. Now the chickens just stay in the pasture and don’t fly over the fence. I also think they just got to fat to fly and too lazy! Who can figure!
The chickens will start perching on the perch. They love to be up off the ground at night. They may also try to get in a tree that is close to the coop to sleep.
If they are free-range chickens they will start finding their way around your yard.
They also love to take dust baths. They dig a hole in a dusty, dry place such as the bark-covered gardens or just about anywhere in the garden. They will scratch around until they get it just right and then lay in the hole and fluff their feathers. I think this helps control things like lice and fleas, but I think they just like it. They sometimes will get so comfortable you may think they look like they are dead! (The first time I saw a chicken taking a dust bath I thought it was dead!)
At about 4-6 months they will start laying the eggs. The first signs that they are getting to lay are looking for a secluded place and loud squawking. I had been watching our chickens in the yard and could tell their behavior had changed and sure enough one started laying a few days later.
Onto the care and feeding of Layers!