Can baby chicks be on the ground when tiny?


11 Years
Apr 28, 2010
This may be a stupid question, but I'm thinking I would like to get my babies and their mom out of the coop and in their own spot until the babies are a bit older. I have a great cage that my DH built for babies (that were raised in the house) to hang out in when they were big enough to go outside. I'm thinking about putting that big cage inside the run w/ a pet carrier to use for a nest box, and letting the mama hen hang out there all day w/ her babies. Maybe bring them in the coop at night to sleep? Would this work? The big cage is an approximate 5' x 7', but there's not bottom to it. So, the chicks would be on the ground.

I've had one set of chicks raised just fine in the coop with the others, but I now have two babies that look like their crops are full (7 days old), and I do not want that to happen with these ones as well (these ones are a day old). This way, they would at least not be on the wood shavings, and safe from being trampled. These are my main concerns. Also, if I do this, how long should I do it for? Like just a couple weeks maybe??

Thoughts would be great - Thank you!
I cannot tell you what you should or shouldn't do. I will comment that I have chicks on the ground from a few days old. Also, their crops are supposed to be full at the end of the day, so I'm not sure I understand your question?
That's the way it works in nature, so I don't see why not. Last spring we had three broodies each raising their own clutch of chicks in our separate, sand bottomed runs. At night, two of the hens with their chicks slept in shavings filled dog crates that I brought indoors for safety, with the third hen and her chicks bunking inside the coop.

When you say the week old chicks have full crops, do you think they've swallowed a bunch of shavings?
Yes, their chests are really swollen, soft and mushy. One is worse than the other. They seem to be acting okay so far, but I'm worried that it's a matter of time before they start showing bad symptoms? I posted another question and was told to let them be. I thought i had read to take away their food for 24 hours to see if it would help?? UGH.. I don't know what to think!
I don't want to give you bad advice, not knowing the whole story, but I expect my chicks to have huge crops at the end of the day; soft and mushy. It means they are eating well. If the crop is empty again early in the morning, real early, all is well. That's how it should be.
I'm not sure why you are concerned with them being on the ground? What are your specific concerns?

Right after a broody brings her chicks off the nest, I put them all in a 4' x 8' "cage" for a couple of days so the chicks can learn to eat and drink without any competition with the adult hens. This cage is on the ground but it is covered so rain will not get on them and I block off a corner so they have a place out of the wind, but the other sides are hardware cloth. After a couple of days, I let them loose to run with the rest of the flock. They are on the ground running around during the day and sleep on the floor of the coop at night.

As long as they are not in danger of flooding if you get a heavy rain and are in a predator proof place, the hen will keep them warm. If Mama will take them into a pet carrier, so much the better. Your cage in the run sounds pretty good.

Concerning the swollen crop, it is normal for the crop to be full and look swollen. If it is still swollen the next morning before they can feed, they may have an impacted crop. You can also smell their breath. If it smells sour, then they may have an impacted crop. But if the crop shrinks back to normal by morning, they are just doing what they normally do.
thats how i do it, i keep them isolated a couple of days first then they come out and go in the dog carrier at night, mama hen takes them in to sleep every night.

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