Every week at Community Chickens, we get dozens of questions from people across the world, hoping to find someone who has shared a similar experience. We try to answer them all, and forward them on to experts where we can. But many of the questions are unique, and because of this, we realize that sometimes the best people to answer the questions are precisely the people who are or have been in your shoes. This is why we often ask our guest bloggers to tackle questions – and they do such a great job!
So here’s what we’re asking, “What would you do …” if you were in some of the following situations? What would you tell our readers? What is your best advice?
YOU might be the best person in the world to answer someone’s question … and we want to provide you with that ability. So, go for it!
If you’d like to respond to a question, leave a comment, and be sure to indicate to which question you’re responding: (e.g., Q1: This is what you should do …)
Q1: Paula writes: Why won’t my hens use the nesting boxes I bought? They lay in one spot on the barn floor. I have a six-box nest that I have moved to different areas but they ignore it. They are free range birds.
Q2: Marlene writes: I have 4 laying hens and several young hens coming up who are almost old enough to lay. However, lately, my hens have decided to lay their eggs anywhere except the coop. We were letting the gang out of the coop and fenced area in the late afternoon and evening for something different for them to do before going back to roost at dusk. But unfortunately, I found several clutches of eggs laid in tall weed/grassy areas outside of the coop. By the time I found the eggs in tall thistles :(, they were spoiled. I have tried to keep them in the coop & fenced yard to encourage them to lay in the coop and their laying boxes for several days in a row–but I am not sure if or when I should start letting them out again.
So my question is: How do I get my year-old hens to lay in the coop in the laying boxes and not outside in some remote area just because I am trying to be nice to them and let them have some free roam time in the evenings? I thought hens were ‘suppose to’ lay in the mornings and I’d be ok letting them free-range after 3 p.m. until dusk? They sure enjoy it–and so does my chicken-dog, a gentle soul–a Collie who loves being with the birds when they are outside the coop and fenced area too!
Q3: Tim writes: What is the best way to clean the eggs?
Q4: Amanda writes: I have a mobile chicken triangle “ark” setup, and right now I have the sides covered with 10mm of plastic to keep the snows off, and I have installed a Bayco 13 watt fluorescant work light in the open space underneath their coop/roost in the run area. The hens seem quite happy, and at this point are 27 weeks old. I have 2 Delawares, 3 Ameracaucanas, and 1 Barnevelder. As of yet, I have not to see one egg. I am gradually moving back the time frame when I turn the light on and feed them in the morning, 15 minutes per week, in order to try to stimulate egg production beginning. I am at 12 hours and 45 minutes today. As I began looking online to try to find some other ideas, I came across a couple of articles stating that warm white bulbs are better for stimulating hen’s reproductive cy! cles. I chose the light I purchased for three reasons: #1- It had a protective plastic cover over the light, so I figured that was better if the chickens tried to peck it. #2- The specifications for the light stated that it was “equivalent to 75 watt incandescent bulb with Natural Daylight illumination- 6500 Kelvin.” I think now that the “natural daylight” may have thrown me and I may have gotten the exact opposite of what my hens need. I cannot buy a warm white bulb for this work light. #3- It stated it was “cool running,” which I though was important since it was going to be mounted only 2 inches away from the wooden floor of the coop/ceiling of the run area.
My question is: is this light going to do anything for my hens? or should I just switch to a different fixture with a warm-white or incandescent bulb?
Q5: Brett writes: I have a hen that can’t eat to fill her gullet. She is very light for an Orpington she coughs when she tries to eat or drink fast. Help?
Q6: Laura writes: Any advice on how to correct chickens from eating their own eggs out of the bedding in their boxes?
Q7: Debbie writes: I live in Ohio and plan to get day-old chicks in the Spring. How can I heat the coop without using electricity? I would have to add a pole (and a 2nd bill) in order to have the power, and prefer to use something other than electric. What can I do to avoid getting the electric? Thanks!
Q8: Jean writes: My hen laid a shelless egg and then ate the yolk of it. Why?
Q9: Jerry writes: My chickens have quit laying, they were molting but seem to have all their feathers back now. How long before they start laying again.
Q10: Mandi writes: We have an A-frame uninsulated style chicken tractor, with 6 laying hens. This is our first winter in NW PA with our chickens. Our winter temps get down to zero, but usually are in the teens-twenties. We are labeled as zone 5 and receive between 100-200 inches of lake effect snows each season. We picked breeds that we believe will do well with cold, that have small combs, using the chicken picker app. (thank you!) We have 3 Ameracaucanas, 2 Delawares, and 1 Barnevelder.
I have a few questions though about the cleaning of a mobile coop and about our thoughts regarding winter with this type of coop setup.
1. First, we have been moving the coop daily around the yard, and cleaning out any poopy straw from the upper portion (sleeping and laying area) of the coop either everyday, or every other day. Is that often enough to clean? We hear alot about the deep litter method, but that won’t work for our little arrangement.
2. In regards to winter, our plan is to put the chicken tractor into my husband’s uninsulated pole-barn with the REAL tractor; putting it perhaps on a tarp that we can shake out into the yard everyday or every other day. Should we put some straw down daily on the tarp for them to scratch in? We will be running an electrical bulb to hang near their coop area for the 14 hours of light they are supposed to need to continue laying. Is a CFL bulb sufficient or should we use an incandescant one? In addition, would you suggest that we put a blanket or insulation over the outside of the top sleeping area to insulate it a bit? Also, at what temperature should we begin to move them into the pole barn?
Thank you for allowing people to write in with their questions. It’s so hard to get reliable information.
Q11: Diane writes: Once a chicken is done laying 2-3 years, what is the best way to cook an older bird. Also, how high does the fencing have to be to keep chickens from flying over?
Q12: Mike writes: I live in the Florida panhandle, Zone 8, and working on coop plans.
Can the floor of my coop be made from hardware cloth? I am new to the chicken raising experience. My thoughts are to raise the hutch about 4 feet and put leaves and such under to catch chicken poop. After a time rake it out and replace putting used into compost bin.
Q13: Lyra writes: Recently, I took my Barred Rock in to the vet thinking she was egg-bound. Turns out she had cancer of the ova duct. I suppose I should have realized that chickens, like every other living creature, can get cancer but I hadn’t.
She was only 3 years old and the alpha.
Is this common in chickens?
Have a question of your own? Post it in our forum – or shoot it over to firstname.lastname@example.org