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Hints needed on keeping the new babies safe

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

One of our Cuckoo Marans went broody so we let her keep a few eggs and swapped out the others with dummies. After candling, we discarded one of the eggs so she is sitting on an ameraucana and probably a barred rock egg (suspect barred rock rooster, but could be a banty). We've keep a few dozen chickens off and on for the last 15 years, but this is the first time we've allowed a chicken to raise chicks.

 

A few questions...

She has two dummy eggs under her in addition to the 2 real eggs. How many feed store chicks can we swap in there once the eggs start hatching? Should we have the chicks on hand waiting for the other eggs to hatch to put them in right away, or can we wait for a trip to the feed store after the eggs hatch (expecting that to happen ~next Tuesday)? Our feed store chicks here typically arrive on Friday, so they could be up to 5 days old on Tuesday. Is it even possible for her to accept chicks so old, or should we just let her have her 2 and call it good?

 

Next question...

She is in a nesting box that is basically ground level in the chicken coop, so we aren't concerned about immediate safety, but the chicken door to the outside world is about 18" off the ground. There is a ramp, but, really? Would they be able to use it safely?
Immediately outside, connected to the chicken coop, is a cage that the chickens go through to get to our fenced orchard where they spend their days. It is situated on a hillside which has eroded quite a bit thanks to the chickens. Our chickens have no problem hopping up there from the orchard into the cage, but not really sure we could secure a ramp for the 2-3 foot hop.

We do have a chicken tractor we could put in the orchard for mom and babies, but I'm trying to make this process as easy on. I want the mom to do as much work as possible. I'm thinking of raising the entrance from the cage to the orchard so the chicks can't get out to the orchard until they're older.

Any insight would be appreciated. We are doing this basically for the fun and education for our kids and not to build up our flock, but I wanted to make the most of the situation!

post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeRiver View Post
 

One of our Cuckoo Marans went broody so we let her keep a few eggs and swapped out the others with dummies. After candling, we discarded one of the eggs so she is sitting on an ameraucana and probably a barred rock egg (suspect barred rock rooster, but could be a banty). We've keep a few dozen chickens off and on for the last 15 years, but this is the first time we've allowed a chicken to raise chicks.

 

A few questions...

She has two dummy eggs under her in addition to the 2 real eggs. How many feed store chicks can we swap in there once the eggs start hatching? Should we have the chicks on hand waiting for the other eggs to hatch to put them in right away, or can we wait for a trip to the feed store after the eggs hatch (expecting that to happen ~next Tuesday)? Our feed store chicks here typically arrive on Friday, so they could be up to 5 days old on Tuesday. Is it even possible for her to accept chicks so old, or should we just let her have her 2 and call it good? ​I have read that this can work, but not always - I believe the standard practice is to put additional chicks under the momma at night but closely monitor how she reacts to them. I have no experience on whether you could wait a few days before adding chicks. Adding up to 8 chicks would be fine, i imagine. Whatever you decide, make sure you have a plan B (i.e. a brooder where you can raise the additional chicks if they are rejected by momma).

 

Next question...

She is in a nesting box that is basically ground level in the chicken coop, so we aren't concerned about immediate safety, but the chicken door to the outside world is about 18" off the ground. There is a ramp, but, really? Would they be able to use it safely? Not too sure, but maybe see if they can, but have another plan as a backup in case they can't make it.
Immediately outside, connected to the chicken coop, is a cage that the chickens go through to get to our fenced orchard where they spend their days. It is situated on a hillside which has eroded quite a bit thanks to the chickens. Our chickens have no problem hopping up there from the orchard into the cage, but not really sure we could secure a ramp for the 2-3 foot hop. I'd find another way of housing momma and chicks for a while - momma is likely to want to go out and about and the chicks would follow, but would not be able to return. Your tractor idea would likely be better at least for the first few weeks IMO. Maybe you could make some "steps" using stones?

 

All the best

CT

 

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your reply. They started hatching this morning (Sunday!) so we will go get some more chicks tomorrow morning. Don't think any feed store is open today because of the holiday. My husband put up a board so they can't leave the cage until they are older.

 

Additional question...do they need chick starter feed nearby, or will mama help them out with the regular chicken feed?

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Chickie in the front is the 2nd hatched from Sunday (from a green egg from brown ameraucana). Right behind it is one of three Sagitta chicks bought first thing Monday morning from the feed store. Right behind that one is the Amber White from the feed store. The black chick is the 1st hatched from Sunday (barred rock? egg). The feed store chicks were the only 4 left (!) from the Friday shipment and are already getting their wing feathers. We've never had Sagitta or Amber White chickens before, but they were what was readily available and they are supposed to be good layers.

They huddle right under mama's wings like the two she hatched. We were concerned about doing the swap after returning from the feed store Monday morning, but it went dandy. They all left the nesting box yesterday to eat and drink and were settled back in the box together last night. All was well this morning, but they were sitting outside the nesting box this morning on the bare floor of the coop. Mama was sitting on them, though, so we'll just trust that she'll continue taking care of them. Sure beats having a tub of smelly chicks in my living room!

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