Welcoming your new hens

poules dans la cour

Before receiving your chickens, your chicken coop should be ready along with the run.  In this regard you will need to determine the space you will allow your hens to forage in.  Some enclosures or chicken runs have larger sections with wire fencing. You will arrange your yard to protect your flower beds and garden. You will have created a living space just for them. This space should be enclosed and protected by a fence. Your hens should never go visiting your neighbours (unless they are invited). The enclosed space should be large enough to provide them with sufficient grass.

At last, your chickens arrive and you’re very happy. Before you invite any neighbours, friends and family to meet your new pets, give your chickens time to acclimate themselves for one or two weeks. Chickens are very sensitive, nervous and easily stressed. Give them time to integrate into your environment. Do not force approaching them and do not run after your chickens trying to hunt them down. 

After a few days, they will consider you as their master. The hens and the cock (if you have one and live in a rural area), will take a position of submission at your feet and then you can pick them up more easily.  Make sure you know how to pick up and hold a chicken properly, in your arms.  First, you should isolate your other pets, like dogs or cats.  A big dog, who just wants to play, could scare a hen into having a fatal heart attack.

You should have a good basic knowledge on how to care for your hens and have all the necessary foods and be ready to intervene in case of diseases, with a basic pharmacy: deworming solution, Diatomaceous Earth (Food Grade), and dusting powders for treatments against parasites etc.

Your chickens will have to be protected from the blazing summer sun and winds in winter. They will need to live in a dry and clean coop, to sleep, perch and lay their eggs. The enclosure or coop run will include freshwater and grains as well as space to wash their feathers in a sandbox.

Chickens have a range of over 30 different vocalizations. They can recognize more than 80 individuals in their group by their physical attributes. They have a good memory, can anticipate, and count and understand the permanence of objects. Chickens are animals with highly organized social behaviours and this is one of the reasons why it is required to have at least three. In nature they live in groups of 12-20 hens with a dominant cockerel.

This recommendation from the experts, is based on the fact that these animals have a complex hierarchy in the group. Having only two hens could jeopardize their well-being, and in the event that you lose one of your chickens, the only hen could have serious behavioural problems. She could cry, stop laying and feeding. Chickens experience empathy to the distress of another sick chicken. They can also establish a strong emotional bond with some other pets like a dog or a cat.

Ideally, we want to let them wander at their ease in order to eat grass and scrape the ground to get all the nutrients they need. It depends on your region, the quality of your yard, your landscaping, your swimming pool and your playground for children. Take into account the possible presence of predators such as raccoons and wild cats. All these factors will indicate the precautions to be taken.

If you are very present in your home, it is almost impossible that a predator will show up in broad daylight. It’s during the night that it is crucial and essential to secure your hens. When they settle down for the night, the coop space must be completely 100% safe from predators. The chickens will naturally and instinctively want to go to bed as soon as the sun starts to drop. The hop hole has to be securely closed. The automated door is the best and safe way to ensure your chickens are not vulnerable to predators.

Since your new hens may have been living in a different environment, you may have to help them get up the ramp once or twice before they get familiar with your installation and this routine. Either they will jump on the perch or will rest in wood chips because some species have lost the instinct of perching but can regain this habit being in contact with the other hens. The hens do not need water or food where they sleep. Don’t be surprised in the morning to find droppings under the area where they have perched all night. Your small shovel (cat-litter scooper or mini rake) will do fine to remove the poop every day.

When they leave the dorm in the morning, they start eating and usually make their first big dropping in the morning. These are removed and deposited in the compost or garbage. Small droppings on the grass disintegrate with time, helped by rain and the natural elements. These droppings are beneficial to your flower beds, gardens and lawns.

Have you thought about finding names for your chickens before their arrival? Do you have a cock? The most popular names are Romeo and Juliet!

Naughty, Ladybug, Gertrude, Pistachio, Cotton, Piwi, Kiwi, Rusk, Duchess, Countess, Coquette, Casserole, Violette, Vera, Nora, etc.

Your chickens arrive home and you are very happy. Before you invite the neighbors, friends and family, let your chickens acclimatize for one or two weeks. They are very sensitive birds, nervous and easily stressed. Give them time to integrate into your environment. If you are integrating hens into an existing flock, don’t forget to place them in isolation for 30 days. Do not force approaches. Don’t chase your chickens by having fun chasing them. In a few days, if they are sexually mature, they will consider you as the master, the rooster and they will take a submissive position at your feet and you will be able to take them more easily. Make sure you know how to pick up and hold a hen. At first, isolate your pets. A large dog that just wants to play could scare a hen so badly that it could die of a heart attack.

The automatic door is the best way to protect your chickens from predators at night!

You will have a good base of care to give to the chickens, you will have all the necessary food and you will be ready to intervene in case of illness with a basic pharmacy. Dewormers, diatomaceous earth, powders and treatments against parasites etc.

Your chickens should be protected from the hot sun in summer and from the wind in winter. They must live in a dry and very clean place to sleep, perch and lay eggs. The pen provides them with water and grains as well as a space to wash their feathers in a sandbox. Quebec vet list (updated September 2020):  

https://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Santeanimale/Reseauaviaire/Liste_veterinaires_soutien_basse-cour.pdf

The hens have a range of more than 30 different vocalizations. They can recognize more than 100 individuals in their group by their physical attributes. They have a good memory, anticipate, can count and understand the permanence of the object. Chickens are animals with highly organized social behaviors, so you should plan to have at least three of them. In the wild they lived in groups of 12-20 hens with a dominant cock.

This recommendation of the experts is based on the fact that these animals have to establish a complex hierarchy within the group. Having two hens could jeopardize their welfare, and if you lose one of your hens, the single hen could have serious behavioural problems. She may cry, stop laying eggs and stop eating. Chickens empathize with the distress of another sick hen. They can also develop strong emotional bonds with other pets such as dogs and cats.

Ideally, we want to be able to let them roam at their ease to eat grass and scrape the ground for all the nutrients they need. It depends on your region, the quality of your fence, your landscaping, your pools, your children’s corners. You will also have to take into account the possible presence of predators such as raccoons and wild cats. All these factors will tell you what precautions to take.

If you are sufficiently present in your home, it is almost impossible for a predator to show up in broad daylight. It is at night that it is crucial and primordial to secure the chickens. When they go home to bed for the night, this space must be completely 100% safe from predators. The hens will naturally and instinctively go to bed as soon as the sun’s rays begin to fade.

acceuillir des poules

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The book "Des poules dans ma cour"

Published by ÉCOSOCIÉTÉ. Available in all good bookstores!

Note* abroad participants will see applicable rates apply.

Caroline Tremblay
Caroline Tremblay
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Such a good book! Bravo for all the reasearch! 🙂
Nancy Studer
Nancy Studer
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Like me, you've had chickens for a few years and you think that online training or books are not for you? Think again! You quickly realize the quality of the information and how much research has been done in order to be able to create such complete tools. It's never too late to learn and modify, even a little, our practices in order to offer even better to our chickens. Don't like to read? Give yourself the gift of online training, or you'll love the book that reads itself!Congratulations! For me, you are THE reference person!
Mylène Ferron
Mylène Ferron
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I took the online training (webinar) offered by Urban Chicken Coops because I had the idea of building an urban chicken coop this summer. I didn't know anything about chickens or coops, and the information I found online was often contradictory. Until I found the Urban Chicken Coops website! The training offered is complete (very) and Ms. Arbour transmits her knowledge in a simple and understandable way for everyone. I highly recommend her!
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