One day I heard some clucking outside our house in NC, and I go out to find a chicken plotting around. After successfully seducing her with some (cooked) rice, she lived under our screened porch for 6 months. Since this was a new species of care for us, I did a lot of research so we knew how to take care of her.read more
Henny is a Plymouth Rock chicken (a.k.a Barred Rock chicken). Will lay about 200-280 eggs per year. Bred for both meat and large brown eggs. About 7.5 pounds as a hen. Is Docile, is a setter, does well in both hot and cold. Good forager. Will live approximately 6-8 years but possibly longer. Aren't good fliers. Apparently love to be pet, and picked up. Can get along with dogs. Likely to brood.
Chicken feeds: there are multiple feeds, starter feeds (for newborns), grower feeds (for growing birds, after 10 weeks of age), and layer feeds (optimum for egg consumption, for proper shell development). These vary by protein levels. It is recommended to give them "full feed", which means as much as they want. Keep a constant supply of food there. If they don't have as much as they want, egg production will cease. They consume about 1/4 pound per day.
What not to feed them: Onions, Avocados, Chocolate/Candy, really salty foods, Citrus, Green potato skins, Dry Beans, Junk food, moldy/rotten food, uncooked rice, white potatoes, tomato leaves, eggplant leaves, apple seeds. Less important: spinach, asparagus (taint egg taste), air products, (limit pasta, white rice, etc due to lack of nutrition).
Scratch feeds: essentially, people encourage the chickens to scratch the ground to find bugs and other things on the ground to eat. To do so, they distribute "scratch feed", which they spread on the ground to get them to dig. Not sure (??). Apparently it's also oyster shells or something to give them calcium.
Water: should have a good supply of fresh, clean water at all times.
Roost: the place where they sleep. Needs to be above ground. Most people make a little ladder or something. She seems to like the shelves. They poop when they sleep, so should be able to clean under wherever she is. Wood shavings seem fine, too. Apparently they like being able to wrap their feet (not entirely necessarily) around whatever they're sitting on, and something thin (2 inches) is fine.
Nest: the place where they lay their eggs. Should not be under where they roost otherwise they'll poop on it. Around standing height for the chicken is ideal. Elevated seems fine. Some have said shavings are fine, but most pictures include straw. Maybe should get some straw, but should clean it out every month or so. Many seem to use fake eggs (like easter eggs, with sand and glued shut) or golf balls to encourage laying in the nests. One person said river stones that look like eggs. Apparently if you take a full grain piece of pepper and put it near their butt, it'll make their butt itch and they'll think they need to lay, and so they'll run over to their hidden nest to lay.
Clipped wings: some owners clip their chickens wings so it can't fly very high/as well. This is to prevent them from flying outside of their areas, but severely limits their ability to climb and evade predators (by flying into trees). Apparently they do it once a year (probably after molting).
Coop: the place where the roost and nest are.
Fertile egg: will look different from a non-fertile egg, there will a dot resembling a bulls eye on the yolk. On infertile, it's just a white dot. You need both a fertile egg and a broody hen (below) for a hatch to occur. Otherwise, you will need to incubate a fertile egg to hatch it. The development of the baby chicken won't start until incubation (either by a broody hen or by an incubator).
Broody Hen: A hen that is committed to hatching its eggs. She will sit on the eggs for 21 days until they hatch. She'll be very defensive, and she only leaves to eat and drink. If they're brooding, their poop will be huge. It's completely unpredictable when a hen will be in this state, and without
Mating: A hen can lay a fertilized egg up to 3 weeks after mating with a rooster. The egg can be incubated even after being held in room temperature for some time (like 7 days), some people say even after being refrigerated, without reducing chances of a hatch.
Dust Bath: to essentially take a bath, the chicken will dig a little ditch in the soil, and then rub itself in the ditch to get the dirt deep in the feathers so it touches their skin. This soil then absorbs any oil and moisture from their body and then they shake off the dirt to get rid of it and put their feathers back into place.
Setter: a chicken which has a tendency/is likely to incubate a batch of fertilized eggs.
Holding a chicken: essentially scoop up the chicken with your arm face up, sticking your index finger between its legs, and squeezing one thigh between your thumb and the index finger and the other thigh with the rest of the fingers.
Molting: each year, chickens molt (lose older feathers), and grow new ones. Hens usually stop laying eggs until done molting.
Notes from Henny:
She responded well to being picked up. Her legs wiggled a little but calmed down afterward. A bit hard to catch, but didn't chase.
Her first egg was medium sized, there appeared to be a red dot on it. It took rotating it by sliding it onto the pan revealed the white dot. It almost certainly is infertile. No bullseye.
She hasn't taken to the beds we've made, although dad saw her scratching around at the bottom circular one which had a little bit of pine shavings in. But it seems like they like to sleep just barely holding onto slender things. Saw her perched on the gutter which was used as a barricade, so it seems like she wants to grab hold of something. Put a stick in their, although not in an ideal location, to see if she'll roost on it.