First time chicken owner - but they seem weird!

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1 year 4 months ago #553955 by TBenedict
Hi guys! I'm Tara. I've been perusing this forum for many years but never had a big enough patch to need to ask any questions. That changed recently when I moved to Taupō - I now have about 1.2 acres of mostly lawn to work with.

Anyhow, two weeks ago I fetched my first pullets! Three 14-ish week Rhode Island Reds from a breeder in Hamilton. They are lovely birds - but they seem a bit strange for two reasons.

1. I've gotten them to warm up to me with meal worm bribes, but if I'm not around they will hide in their coop ALL DAY (I got one of those ridiculous but super easy maintenance Omlet Cubes). They'll just pop out for the occasional feed and drink. When I'm around they'll come out and seem happy and healthy. But...

2. They are afraid of leaf litter and won't touch living worms. I brought a pile of leaf litter into their current enclosure so they could scratch around in it. And whenever I rustle it they bolt! Also grabbed a big scoop of worms from the worm farm to get them scratching but they won't have anything to do with them.

Is this normal? How do I get them to act like chickens? hahaha

Also, one other question. They all sneeze a fair bit - one in particular. No other symptoms, so I think it's just Taupō being infamously dusty and hayfevery to all of creation. Or is this wishful thinking and I should be concerned?

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1 year 4 months ago #553956 by Stikkibeek
Perfectly normal. When they are moved from their known environment, they tend to "mob" together for support in this new alien place. Any disturbance will make them panic and panic is infectious. Give them time and work quietly around them so they begin to trust you. Quietly introduce new things like your leaf litter and perhaps put some scratch grains, or even small bits of bread in the litter to attract them to look through it and then scratch it around. I have never had chooks all that interested in composting worms. My chooks don't like them at all, but they will eat big earth worms. However I don't like hens predating earth worms, so wouldn't offer them deliberately. I'm happy for them to eat cicada, crickets, or cockroaches as a protein snack, but your manufactured poultry feed should supply any protein they need.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S
The following user(s) said Thank You: AnnaBoothVA, TBenedict

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1 year 4 months ago #554022 by TBenedict
Thanks so much for your reply and suggestions. So helpful and reassuring. And apologies for taking ages to say thanks.

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1 year 4 months ago #554029 by Sue
I would be slightly worried about them sneezing a lot.
No that is not usual and dust would not cause that as ongoing. Staying inside as well as sneezing could indicate they are perhaps fighting off a reaction to some pathogen which they either brought with them or picked up there. As long as they are eating and drinking normally they will gradually get used to their new surroundings. An unlimited supply of grower feed is best, then add in the tit bits as they get more used to you.

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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1 year 4 months ago - 1 year 4 months ago #554037 by tonybaker
I agree with Stikiibeak that it sounds normal and it can take quite a while for them to brave the outside world. Just call out to them when you go to feed them and they will be pleased to see you. Mine seem to enjoy kitchen scraps more than their pellets, I guess it's the variety they like. They need the pellets to lay eggs though. My favourite things with chickens are the poultry nipples and the hanging pellet feeder

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)
Last edit: 1 year 4 months ago by tonybaker.

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1 year 4 months ago #554045 by TBenedict
Yes I'm keeping a close eye on them. The sneezing seems to have abated somewhat, and they're still looking great. Any advice for supplements or something to help them recover?

They're also venturing out quite bravely, finally. Thank goodness!

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1 year 4 months ago #554046 by TBenedict
Thanks for the advice!

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