Baby chicks and a raised coop - Danger?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dirtylittlefly, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. dirtylittlefly

    dirtylittlefly Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 18, 2012
    Vancouver, WA
    We have a coop about 3 feet off the ground with a run underneath. I want to say the coop is 3x4 and the run is 4x6. We have 2 chickens, both sweet hens. Tito, a Cuckoo Marans has gone broody just a month after starting to lay again. In that past, she has been a tough nut to crack, 1-2 months broody and scrawny looking before going back to normal. I really worry about her health while she does this. Her sister was a grump and aggressive with past new additions and I didn't want to risk adding new babies with her around. Now that she's gone I feel pretty good about baby chicks around my other hen, Isabel a French Black Copper Marans, who has never been aggressive despite being larger, and smarter than the rest. She is a hog with food and will nudge out the others when I feed mealworms by hand. When feeding 3 chickens this way, she easily ate more than half the amount. It's hard to tell between the two of them who is really the head of the flock. Tito will sometimes peck her face but Isabel doesn't care, and gets whatever she wants.

    The nesting box sits at the base of the coop and extends out the end past the run. there's a lid on top to easily access the eggs and broody hen. It's approximately 12"x18" floor space in the nesting box. We had a divider but they always sit in the same spot (3 hens high when 2 were broody, lol) so I removed it. The rest of the coop is like I said, 3'x4' with the ceiling slanting upwards, about 2 feet nearest to the nesting box to 4 feet on the other side.

    What I want to do:
    Purchase 6ish day old chicks to sneak under Momma in the evening hours
    Sell some pullets when they are of age and keep 2

    My concerns:
    Sectioning off the nesting box itself should be fairly easy. Is 12x18 enough room for Momma and say, 6 baby chicks?
    How long should I section off baby chicks before opening them to coop and the other chicken? Does this time sync with the cramped space and timing to my previous question?
    Do I have to worry about baby chicks falling out of the coop? The walkway out is a long piece of 2" wood with wood "bars" crossing spaced about every 6 inches. Will they be able to climb back in ok?

    Thank you in advance!

    Edit: I found an old thread with pics of my coop. Any suggestion on how to keep baby birds safe would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Peeps are a-peeping Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Your coop is pretty small and as you stated a bit high off the ground for chicks to be able to be in it, I see problems with them falling and not being able to climb up it. Also not all broodies will accept chicks, some will even kill them. And the coop will quickly get crowded as the chicks grow up.
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon

    I actually think this is a great place for a broody and chicks....but it looks to be a bit close quartered for another adult hen to be in with the chicks, even if she is mellow.

    You will run out of room when the chicks are about 4 to 6 weeks of age if you get 6....definitely by 8 weeks of age... so will need a grow out pen attached for running around room or move them to a different coop....but you could easily extend some run on this one.

    As to your desire to foster chicks....that is trickier. Some hens are excellent foster mothers, others more reluctant and will chase and even kill 'intruders." My problem has not been with the mother (I've got stellar broodies) but with the feed store chicks. They have been hatched and brooded under heat lamps and often fear an adult hen. More importantly they have not learned "hen talk," so they do not understand to come at her bidding which will cause the hen to peck at them generally frightening the chicks at first. You will have to block them in with the mother hen for several days until they become obedient to her (after being first absolutely sure she is accepting of them). Fostering requires placement and then stand by to replace scampering chicks. I've come out the following morning to more than one dead foster chick who chilled in a corner away from the hen.

    As to being elevated, it is not that elevated. Just be sure you have a gentle sloping ramp with lots of cross runners for chicks to scamper up and momma will have them going up and down easily. I have a broody hutch much taller than yours (4 feet off the ground? It's a rabbit hutch type crate set on an old grape arbor). Sometimes I lock momma and babies inside the hutch for a week before opening the doors to the run; other times I open things up several days after hatch. Depends on the momma and hatch. Some mommas have a bit of a challenge getting them up and down together, other mommas navigate without issue. (And some hatches catch on quicker than idea why). I keep a dog crate below for those batches that need to stay below until they figure it out (it is all enclosed in a safe run with wire and netting). Momma will take up residence wherever the babies settle if she can't get them up into the hutch.

    But I think if you have a nice ramp, a loving and willing broody, with chicks that adapt, this would work fine for momma and babies. I do think it is too close for another adult hen to be in the fray.


    My broody hutch and run

    [​IMG] Newer enclosure (and tarp which you can't see)

    [​IMG] In construction, but you can see the height of the run, and momma and chicks using it.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  4. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    ..and to add....

    Have you considered purchasing some hatching eggs? Babies hatched under a broody are much, much "smarter" and adapt to the environment better. Most mothers are better with their own children than fosters.

    Many farmers have extra hatching eggs. I have purchased off of e-Bay, but shipped eggs are risky and expensive. However, I have had it work. My best results come from purchasing some eggs from local can often get hatching eggs for $3 to $5 an egg depending upon the breed. Barnyard mixes are cheaper.

    A thought.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016

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