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First-time natural raised chicks

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
For the first time, I allowed a broody hen hatch a few eggs for me. I tried setting an area up for her on the ground, but she insisted on nesting in a box that is off tthe ground. The first chick hatched this afternoon, one has pipped, and we're still waiting on the last one to do anything. I'm guessing and hoping that she will keep everybody in the nest for either 3 days or until all have hatched. My fear is that when it is time to leave the nest the first time, it will hurt or kill the chicks. The nest is about 3 feet off the ground. Does anybody have suggestions on how I can make this transition easy? Is there anything else I may need to do once they're on the ground that I may not think of?
post #2 of 9
Nice wide ramp down from the nest is the recommendation that I've heard from others. With those little cross-pieces (there's a special name for them...tip of the tongue...).
post #3 of 9

Pad the ground under the door, or wherever the chicks are going to fall out of the nest. Yep, they're probably going to fall out. 3 feet is pretty much nothing to a new chick, and they'll be fine. Have you ever seen those nature shows of the ducks that nest in trees, way up? And the little ducklings just topple right out and like ten feet to the ground, bounce a few times and waddle off after momma. Your chicks will do the same. Put down some straw or shavings or whatever else you have to cushion a little. 

 

Momma may well decide to brood the babies on the ground after she takes them all off the nest. You'll just have to keep an eye on her and see what takes her fancy. Having a good ramp is nice, but the chicks aren't born knowing how to use it, and can get lost or stuck on the ground if she heads back upstairs. 

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice! I have seen those shows about the ducks, just didn't consider chickens would do the same. :) That makes a lot of sense. I considered putting them on the ground myself today, but I'll wait. Do you have any idea how long the hen will wait to leave the nest?

 

It has been something to watch the hen with them. Last year was my first year with chickens, and any babies we had were hatched in the incubator. I have been missing out! I think from now on, I'll just let nature take its course. 

post #5 of 9
I had three chicks hatched a few weeks ago we separated the mama and eggs until hatched then after a few days of them being hatched we let mama and babies outside with the other flock and mama kept them safe from the Roos but we are about 2.5 or 3 weeks into it now after moving them to the big coop mama kept them on the floor and about 2 weeks in she just left them completely alone and started roosting up high and the rest of them won't let the babies up on the roost yet they peck them down lower.
Anyway I set them up on our nesting boxes a few days ago with a small ladder comin down and the boxes are about 4ft off the ground.
Well what I seen next was pretty cool but these 3 week old babies who don't have even half their feathers yet FLEW from the 4 ft boxes about 8 ft over to the roost and perched like it was nothing!!
My main advise is let them do what they want and they will be just fine!
Good luck and like i said its a beautiful thing to watch them do what they do best!!
post #6 of 9
I’ve seen a hen get chicks down from a ten foot high hay loft. Mama said jump and they did, bounced up, and ran to her. Just like those ducks. I don’t advocate a ten foot high nest but I don’t worry about a hen hatching in an elevated nest.

What does your nest look like? Is the nest so tiny the hen is crowding the edge? The first chicks that hatch often climb up on Mama’s back. If the nest is too tiny they may miss the nest and keep going to the floor when they fall off. If she is back from the edge just a little bit that’s not a problem. I had a hen hatch once in a cat litter bucket, 7-1/2” x 11-1/2”. That was too small. A few chicks climbed on her back and fell off onto the floor. I picked them up and tossed them back in with her, then retired that nest after she finished.

Of less concern is how high is the lip around the nest? If the eggs haven’t been scratched out during incubation it’s probably not a concern but a really low lip may give the chicks a chance to fall out.

I just wait for Mama to bring her chicks off the nest. Sometimes that is within 24 hours of the first one to hatch, sometimes that’s more than three full days. After they internal pip the chicks start talking to the hen and she talks back. That way she knows when there are more to hatch so it’s not time to take the first ones off the nest. She knows what she is doing a lot better than I do so I just leave her alone.

After my broody hens bring the chicks off the nest mine don’t go back. She takes them to a corner of the coop to spend the night on the floor. Just have food and water on the floor where the chicks can get to it. That’s all you need to do.

I’ve never had a problem with a mature rooster harming or even threatening the chicks. They see them as their offspring and often help Mama take care of them. Adolescent cockerels and hens can be a risk to baby chicks, but if one of them threatens her chicks Mama just politely kicks butt. End of threat.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

This is all really great info. Thank you! Yesterday, I went ahead and put mama and babies on the ground. They haven't tried to get back up. I have the top of an extra large plastic dog crate in the coop for them to hide in. The hen did that all day yesterday. This afternoon when I went out to check on them, they were scratching around in the coop. Most of the other chickens were also in the coop, and I panicked at first. When I went in there, I noticed none of the roosters or hens wanted anything to do with the chicks, they were just there for the starter feed. So, my next problem is how to keep the other chickens out of the starter feed. I take food up to the chicks and hen twice a day, but the feeder is empty every time. I KNOW they are not eating all that feed. I put a little chicken wire where the door of the crate should be, but I want the hen and chicks to be able to leave if they want. What do you guys think? 

 

Thank you so much for all your responses. 

post #8 of 9
Everybody can eat the starter feed if you find it easier. Just make sure that the laying hens have access to calcium grit (oyster shell or calcitic limestone).
post #9 of 9


I built this so the chicks can get to the feed but the adults cannot. It fits over a feeder. The chicks can go through the ends. If you search on creep feeders on Google or whatever you use you may get other ideas.

What are you feeding the adults? The baby chicks will wind up eating that pretty soon. Mama will feed it to them and a lot sooner than you would think they’ll be able to eat it for themselves. A typical way to feed a mixed flock is to feed them all the feed that the chicks eat and put oyster shell on the side so the ones that need the extra calcium for egg shells can eat it. The others won’t eat enough to harm themselves.

By the way, that greedy behavior is typical. Even if you are feeding them all the exact same thing he older ones will still prefer what you put out for the chicks. Silly chickens.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
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