Originally Posted by ambergds
Thank you for the great advise! I will see if I can get my husband to help me with some hardwire cloth this weekend. I'm also think about installing a little ramp up to the box. I'm afraid a chick might get out and not be able to get back.
I'll make sure I take down the barrier as soon as possible and give her and chicks some alone time while the others are out free ranging. I have a few that are about to start laying soon (20 weeks) and I'm curious to see how they treat the chicks. They get chased away from food and the roost bar still so they might be sympathetic or mean cause they finally have someone they can boss around?
I hope I didn't hijack your post. It's so exciting to talk and ask questions to someone that has been through it before. I have to remind myself that my friends and family don't want to talk about my chicken haha.
I'll check out the candling link and see if I can get a peek later. Thanks so much!
You are quite welcome! Yes, non-chicken people just kinda look at us like ... it's a chicken, get over it ... after politely smiling for the first sentence or two.
If you get a chance to candle, I imagine at this stage you'll probably see mostly dark egg with the air sac.
Based on the photo I don't think you'll need a ramp- probably easier to make little steps with a 1x2 or 2x2... or just make a ramp from straw, they won't need it for long. The top board in mine came in very handy for the chick waterer and little shallow food dish.
Hardware cloth (1/2") isn't all that much fun to deal with but it's the most fool proof at keeping chicks from slipping through. We did all 150 feet of chicken run wiring hardware cloth to chain link- we have a farm cat that would love for a chick to slip out the wrong side of the fence. I cut it using tin snips while wearing leather gloves. Either zip tie or 16 gauge wire works pretty well to attach it to existing mesh fencing.
On the nest side pictured below (she set up shop in the bottom left), the straw makes the ramp (it's 5" deep to the floor) and I'd made little steps with the thought that one day chicks might need to use them- and our ladies refused to step up 4-6" to enter the nest box without steps. Now they get it, but I put landing steps anyways. The first pic shows the whole west nest bank and the steps in on the very bottom. The chicks did fine getting in and out of that- 2nd pic shows the food and water within reach for a stretching broody when she's ready, and easy distance to reach and show the chicks how to eat and drink, which she really did do while still sitting on the nest. It looked like she was eating but she was really just picking up little pieces of food to show the babies what to do.
Chicks can make it at least 2 days just on the yolk they absorb before hatching. I waited until I heard the first little chick peeps to put the food and water right by her. Up until her self-imposed lock down date, she drank and ate from the flock's normal place at her choosing up to that point. I didn't put her barricade up until I heard that first chick starting to hatch. Before that it was all her decision.
She's got to stay on the nest while they all hatch so instinctively shouldn't want to eat herself until they're about ready to get up -- because they don't want to leave the nest to poop! Or worse, poop in the nest. Anyways, when setting up I used a pint jar with a regular mouth to fit into the chick waterer 2nd pic with a little chickie under her- and I only put about an inch of water total- figured if that thing gets tipped into the nest, it could spell big trouble. Now I fill it.
Ours got up on day 22. One problem we had with her in the little enclosure is she scratches the ground so hard she'd send chicks flying like they were caught in jet wash. They were fine, but it added incentive to get her out ASAP.
About the younger birds- The low bird of the flock has been the jerk- she looks to assert her dominance over these wee chicks, which is sad - and momma chases her down- but she still does it because ... she can, but it's not a beat down, it's older sister pinching the baby to make it cry. Sigh. Everyone else has been really good with them. After the family explores the bigger space by themselves and there have been a couple days of meeting through the fence, provided there's no aggressive behavior from the flock towards the penned family, have a distraction (again, for us it was a flock block)- something more rewarding than targeting chicks for sport. If broody was chasing the 20 week olds before, she'll probably be able to keep them in their place.
The end of the food and water board is as far as she'd let them get until the day she stepped off the nest.