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Beaudyne

Am I doing it right?

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So just wanted to ask if I’m taking care of my chickens right. I have 4 hens who aren’t laying just yet. I go out in the morning around 8am to open their door and loose them into the garden.

I chose not give them a separate run attached to the shed as I wanted them to be free ranging all day. Come 5 o’clock ish when it gets dark they are usually in the shed so I close all their doors up and lock them in for the night. They don’t get access to food or water through the night and obviously don’t have a run to go into either.
 

The shed is 6x4 so they have plenty of room to move about. When I open the door in the morning they run out as fast as anything and quickly go to the food and water. Is this normal or do they need to be having more water before I close them up. Is it too long from 5pm to 8am to be shut up?

Any advice with be greatly appreciated 😊

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They will be fine without food and water in the coop, unless you are opening them up a bit late (well after sunrise), in which case you could give them a drinker in there. Don't put food in the coop because it attracts rats, mice and birds during the day. In extreme cases rats will eat through the floor to get to food.

I know you haven't a run, but if there is an Avian Flu or Newcastle Disease outbreak locally you may be told to keep them in a run under cover. To be honest if I was told that I'd ignore it, balancing infection risk against our hens welfare. We have outbreaks here as well and in some cases all chickens are slaughtered within a radius of them, but fingers crossed we'll be OK. Unfortunately ours are in full view of everyone passing.

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Ahhhh, is that a Light Sussex or two I see 😍!? Were I you I'd probably put water in the shed but, as Beantree points out, not food. At this time of year you may have to resign yourself to no eggs until Spring as hens do slow down or stop over winter anyway. The fact that your girls are young and haven't even started yet may mean that they'll just postpone egg production until the clocks change, weather gets warmer etc. 

They look like a really lovely little flock and those eggs will def be worth waiting for!

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They are still babies - their combs are only small and pink. Their combs will grow a bit more and go a lovely red when they are ready to lay.

Mine go into their Cube at 4.30pm for bed and are up anytime after 7.30am - they don't have any food or water in the cube.

I think all chickens are desperate to come out in the mornings. Try not to worry too much - although all of us still do. 

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@soapdragon thank you! Yes the white one with the black collar is the white Sussex. The creamy one is a Cornish Blue and the black is a Rhode/Black Rock. The red is a Warren who is the oldest at 19 weeks. The other 3 are all 16 weeks.

I know they are all still young so not expecting eggs just yet. Just was wondering about my routine about closing them up in a shed for 14ish hours and what I’m doing with food etc. Just checking I’m doing all that right and is 14hrs okay? 😊  

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Mine are not shut in, but don’t venture out at night for a drink. Chickens have very poor night vision. So unlikely they’ll find the water in the coop wt night anyway.

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Don't fret on the shutting up time, your timings are perfectly normal for keepers who wish to have their own life run on their own timings!  Birds don't need food or water overnight either.  However, I would think about a closeable run, for safety as I assume there will be time when nobody is at home.  I am totally with you on the FR thing, that is how I used to keep my flock.  However, I did have a covered run which kept them dry, and which I could shut up for safety if necessary.  

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