Adopting a momma and her chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CBabs, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. CBabs

    CBabs Chirping

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    So I may have the opportunity to adopt a momma chicken and her chicks (squeee!!!!!) but I need to make some temporary housing for them. They are already outside/ free range and taking them will be saving the lives of the chicks (momma may go back after they are raised) since they are just hawk fodder. As of right now she has 6 chicks, down from 10 and I am hoping to get her soon.
    Any experience with temporary coops? I have a location picked out for my coop but I figured it was a dream and had to wait until I could build the big pretty one that I wanted.

    1. Should I put the temp coop where I want the permanent one and just shift it when the time comes? It has the only shade in my yard.
    2. What are the main things to consider? Chicks are little, so I know to watch for gaps and make sure hawks, owls and cats (and our dog) can't get to them, but is there anything else that I'm overlooking?
    3. I do plan on putting on a "roof" to keep out the rain. Should it cover the whole thing?
    4. I know I need to get the chick starter (I think they've been eating foraged food and adult chicken feed so far) but is that ok for mom too?
     
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  2. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

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    Congratulations on the prospect of your new little flock.

    How old are the chicks? That makes a difference as to the facilities you will need and for how long.

    If they are still little, little, as in the first week after hatch, you don't need much room for mom and the babes. She will still be sitting and warming them quite a bit, although she will do that less in warm weather than in cool.

    For the first couple of weeks after hatch, you can use a dog cage with a safe little grow out pen, even the x-pen style. Your pen should be protected from weather at least partially (a tarp can work) and it should be fully hawk netted.

    Chicks are great at squeezing through holes, so you should have some mesh around the bottom.

    At about 2 weeks of age, they fly like sparrows and will need a bit more room, but not a lot. You'll definitely need the hawk netting as much to keep the chicks in as the hawks out.

    At about 4 to 6 weeks of age, they may need a bit more room depending upon how small the area you've got. You don't need much room, just enough for them to fly a bit and scratch. Momma will stay and keep them company until about 6 weeks of age (some fledge sooner....at 4 weeks...some later...8 weeks plus).

    Usually by 6 weeks of age, mom is pretty well done and starts pecking them to be on their own. She is then eager to rejoin the flock. If you end up keeping her, you will need room for her to roam, and may decide to let them all free range.

    I discourage free ranging before at least 6 weeks of age, 8 to 10 weeks better, as I have personally seen Kestrels and Cooper's Hawks swing by for a quick chicken nugget. After about 8 weeks, the chicks become too big to take but are still vulnerable to hawk strike.

    I currently have 5 grow outs in my inner run waiting to get big enough for free range with the flock. I have lost too many juvenile chicks to hawk runs (and bantams).

    I do not lose full size hens (generally). I've only had one full size hen hawk strike in the years I've kept chickens...but those juveniles and little chicken nuggets are hawk bait for sure. And the hawks swing by, swoop, and are off in a flash.

    As to location....it will be hard to build a new coop if your temporary one is in the way. You can create shade with a tarp system. I've done that in a warm corner, and it works pretty well. (I've even been known to set up a patio umbrella to further provide shade). That would allow you to work on the coop proper.

    And feel free to be creative with the coop. We used re-purposed items from kid's play structures to packing crates to create very functional but inexpensive coops...it also saves a lot of building time. :D

    My thoughts and experiences.
    LofMc
     
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  3. CBabs

    CBabs Chirping

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    Thank you so much!

    The mom went wild and cannot tolerate confinement so far and my yard is not compatible with free ranging... so back to the neighborhood she'll go.
    The chicks are a week and a few days old. We saw them last Friday and they were at least a few days old and now 7 days later they still look like fluffy little chicks but with a few real feathers on their wings. I'm hoping not to miss the chick stage with them (so cute!)

    I have 2 pallets, netting, metal stakes, trellis, random wood and an umbrella that I can easily utilize- thanks to your experience I can see what I need and what kind of space I can make! Are they ok just on the grass? I save my grass clippings so I could easily make a corner that is dry and warm for them.
    I should mention that I'm in SC, so it's been no lower than 65 at night and up into the 90's already during the day. Other than getting wet the chicks are not going to be cold at all!

    Is the mom ok to be eating the chick starter? Does she need her own feeder or can she manage the little one (or her own bowl on a cinderblock or something)
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I would suggest that you go to your state thread and ask for help with ideas for your set up. You will also need to consider predators in your yard. Coons, weasels, as well as fox, coyote, neighborhood cats and dogs, hawks, and snakes will find your little flock. A weasel can squeeze through any opening you could push a quarter through. A coon can reach into a chicken wire enclosure and grab the birds, pulling them to the fence and munching them through the fence. Most larger predators can easily tear through chicken wire. Then... there are the ones that will dig under the fence if it is not skirted. They will need to be locked away securely at night in order to keep them from getting killed.
     
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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    It sounds like they are feral chickens. At those temperatures I'm not that sure they even need heat, but I suggest keeping Mom locked in with them for a couple more weeks. After that they will no longer need heat from her or any other source. They will need the ability to get out of the rain though.

    The hen can eat the chick starter. That's what I do since I practically always have immature chickens in the flock. There are only two basic differences in chicken feed, calcium levels and protein levels. The excess calcium is for hens laying eggs, that broody is not laying eggs so she doesn't need it. I offer oyster shell on the side for those that do. The protein levels are up to you. Many people are happy with 16% protein, some like a lot more. The chickens can manage on all of them. Starter is going to be higher in protein than many other options, the hen will do fine on that.

    As the Lady said, two week old chicks can fly really well. Putting food up on a pedestal or anything like that just doesn't work to keep the chicks out. If a hen can get to it, a chick can get to it.
     
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  6. CBabs

    CBabs Chirping

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    Jan 28, 2015
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    Thank you
    Yes, we have rats and maybe snakes but in a sea of 6' privacy fences, no woods but far enough away from any kind of city/metro area that there aren't any foxes or coyotes that can get in/live here.
    I will be searching for my state thread- thanks!
     
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  7. CBabs

    CBabs Chirping

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    Jan 28, 2015
    Summerville, SC
    Awesome! This is exactly what I needed. Unless I can tame the mom (unlikely) I'll let her go back where she was.
    That time frame will let me get my main coop up and running by the time momma goes home.
    I'm just entering my third trimester so building is a bit difficult on my own. I can slap together something secure for the babies though.
    Thanks
     
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  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    Congrats on your pregnancy! Wishing you the best with your chickies, as well as your baby! Look around for something that you can repurpose. Think outside of the "box". (Pun intended). Second hand dog house or small shed. Shipping crates, cast off furniture, a table that would provide roof as well as corner posts that could be wrapped with hardware cloth, with perhaps 2 adjoining sides covered with plywood, or even hardware cloth and then tarp. An old metal swing set. Have any friends or relatives that can help you? Give them a plate full of lasagna, and many folks will work for free!
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    You'd be surprised about what animals lurk around at night in the suburbs, and even in the city!
     

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