Blew those theories all to h3!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mrs. K, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I have a rooster. He is a year old.

    I let my flock free roam, but not on a set schedule. AND they had been in total lock down for two days. So happy to catch bugs when they got out. My theory is that if you don't have a set schedule, predators move on.... and a rooster for alertness. So much for that theory.

    Something got my favorite hen, Butter, the champion broody hen, who was raising her brood. Missing her, just a pile of feathers, and 4-5 chicks too. [​IMG]

    Last night when I went to lock up, I realize she is gone, find pile of feathers.

    Now what to do with the remaining chicks? There was no problem with the broody hen, the rest of my flock ignored the chicks, or an occasional peck, just a manners reminder. Last night they were still ignoring them.

    I am afraid to let them free range for a while, but will being locked up, make the layers get cranky with the babies. The chicks are 3.5 weeks old.

    Guess I better head down and see what I can do, I don't dare let the chicks free range without a broody hen, and if I keep them locked up, my layers can't get into lay! [​IMG]
  2. stilldeb

    stilldeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2010
    NW Kentucky
    So sorry for your loss. Any idea what got them? Can you move the babies inside into a brooder box? I have some 6 wk old Sultans that are still in the house.

    deb g
  3. BarredBuff

    BarredBuff Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2009
    I think they will be fine. I took my Australorps out of the brooder at about that age and they were immediately free ranged and I havent lost one.
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    really? Wow! The darn predators keep my chicken math in balance. But they are fully feathered, and very used to the outside, and I don't have a brooder, so if I can keep them with the flock, it will be better in the long run.

    Well I went down this am, and watched the interactions with everyone, and I have lots of little places the chicks can hide, and get out of reach, and while they were waiting till the older ones got to eat, they then got their full share. Seemed like it was an ordinary flock dynamics.

    Think I will let them all out in the afternoon, and just sit down there and see where and how they go. It would be really nice if the rooster would step up now.

    We will see.
  5. hannakat

    hannakat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2010
    Beaver County, PA
    Sorry something took Butter. [​IMG]

    I do the same thing with letting them out at different times of the day thinking they're safer. Our rooster (we don't have him anymore) did sound the alarm very loudly but it was always the hens that were attacked. We just have two hens now and three 10-week-olds.

    Guess predators come through randomly.... dang. We just had a near miss on Friday (it must have been a hawk) and the girls have been skittish. Since the rooster has been gone (only been about a month), they've been sticking real close to the house and even sit outside the door on the breezeway for extended periods of time. I don't mind the's a safe place for them to hang out.

    My DH just culled 2 roos from the young batch and I have been crying all afternoon. This was the first time I hatched eggs. I watched them hatch and ended up ending their lives. Guess I'm just not cut out for it.

    Anyway, sounds like your chicks can manage fine. Having hiding places really makes a difference.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    So far, I really got lucky. Having the broody hen in with the flock really helped out, because, there has been no picking on the chicks in the flock, now that Butter is gone. I do have many hideouts, where the chicks can escape to, but I have been watching closely, and for the most part they are tolerated and mostly ignored. They are barely 4 weeks old, and much smaller than the layers or roo, but they just seem to be part of the flock. The chicks do kind of hang by themselves.

    Will this last?

  7. nes

    nes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2009
    Outside Ottawa
    I don't know if this an 'approved chicken rearing strategy' but I put my 2-3 weekers into a sort of 'creeper' set up by placing a dog kennel into the coop which with the chicks can get in and out of (although my fattest duckling is starting to have to squeeze a bit [​IMG]) where they can reach their own food/water/heat and get away from the adults. (I have a very large coop)

    I mostly let them out into the run but if I've got time to watch them I'll take the babies out to the lawn in an old puppy play-pen.

    Maybe some combination of this will work for you? It's worked VERY well for us. [​IMG]
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    My motherless chicks are kept in a minnie chicken tractor made of 2" x 4" wire fencing formed in an open bottomed cube. A plastic tub serves as weather protection. Chicks can go in and out through fencing to avoid elders and a strip of chicken wire can be quickly applied at night to deny / slow predators. I have dog roaming to keep more serious predators out.
  9. augustwest

    augustwest Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 24, 2010
    North central mass
    Mrs. K, I use the same predator strategy that you do. We've lost so many and finally built a nice big clean shady run. But, these chickens CRY to be let out. Literally whine, "Pleeeeassssseeeeeee, pleeeeeeeease????" if we so much as look in their direction. I've been trying hard not to be predictable about when I let them out and haven't had a loss in a whole 7 weeks. Feels like a lifetime. I have 4 more chickens than I should for winter. My version of chicken math.

    I wanted to add that I have 6 chicks that are 8 weeks old that have been in the coop with the big girls for at least 3 weeks. It was getting too hot for them to be in the brooder in the garage, so I started out with days in the coop and nights in the garage. 2 are very tiny bantams that are still baseball sized. Every once in a while, the big girls will get annoyed and chase... that causes the others to start chasing too. But, like hannacat, I've added places to hide. If the big girls work at it, they could squeeze into the small spaces. But it seems to slow them down at least. Mostly I use pallets and and old deck chair, etc. If the littles stay in a pack, they are much safer then if they get caught alone.

    I've also noticed that the chasing game is MUCH less common if they've had a chance to free range in past 24 hours. It's all a delicate balance, I'm learning.

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