Chick-safe coop

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LaFarm, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. LaFarm

    LaFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    I have always come to byc for answers, but this is the first time I couldn't find it just searching...so I finally officially "joined" byc! [​IMG]

    We got our chickens as chicks this past spring, the started laying this summer and then a month later one of our hens decides she's gonna be a mother! Fast-forward, I've sort of had my doubts until this morning when I saw a pip on an egg! Now I am in a panic to get things "ready for baby"....nesting? lol

    My question is: how can I be sure our coop is "chick-safe"? I have these fears of coming out and finding a chick fell out the ramp opening or got stuck somewhere or frozen or ....I don't know! It was so much easier when they were in the brooder and I momma'd them. I have confidence momma will keep the babies warm and maybe keep her warmer too (she was listed as less winter-hardy). We are in Texas, so our winters are typically less intense. My biggest fear is that our coop is up off the ground to give the chickens a little covered area in the run. There is a hole in the floor of the coop and a ramp leading down under the coop. Great for adult chickens, but we didn't think it through for the chicks. Will they fall?!? How can we protect them?? I don't want to separate them from the flock. The coop has big doors that we open int he summer for better air flow. They are currently closed due to colder weather and so the chicks can't fall from there too. Any babyproofing tips? Thanks!

    [​IMG]
    coop+run with coop big doors shut. it is about 3' off the ground.

    [​IMG]
    coop doors open to show inside. nest boxes in back.


    [​IMG]
    nesting boxes and hole+ ramp for chickens to get in and out the coop.
    (see our little silver phoenix momma on her eggs)
     
  2. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My coop is up on stilts in a similar way too, with a ramp to go up and down. I've had several broody hatches now in that coop and the mama will teach the babies how to go in and out. I know it is really hard to not "mother" them, I still struggle with it. But a good mama can teach them everything they need to know to get along in the flock. One thing I would suggest is to create a chick feeding area. Something they can go in and out of, but the grown chickens can't. This gives them a place where they can eat and drink without having it all stolen, and also a refuge to retreat to if needed.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It is unlikely the chicks will hurt themselves if they fall -- or jump -- through the hole, which is not unlikely. Baby chicks would hatch in barn hay lofts and jump to the barn floor routinely, in past years. Mama will simply cover her chicks wherever they gather -- and she will see that they gather, if she's a good mama. You might want some hay or something below the coop for her to nest in if needed. She will be able to keep them warm with her body just fine, even in winter.

    What they will need from you is to change all food to what the chicks need. and remove any layer feed. And they might need something to stand on so they can reach feeder and waterer, of course.
     
  4. LaFarm

    LaFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks! Very good suggestions. I like the idea of making them a safe feeding spot too. We have a flock feed but our flock rarely eats it (they don't even care much for treats...they love their free-ranging). We do free choice calcium since we have a roo too. I can put it up a bit higher to keep the chicks out of it.

    I guess I never really thought about the chicks being resilient to the fall. hmm! good point!
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    If your flock feed is a flock raiser type thing, you may not have to buy anything special for the chicks, unless the pieces are just too big for them to swallow. Chicks raised on the ground by a mama have some protection against cocci by virtue of both these things, so medicated feed is less of an issue, if at all.

    Good luck!
     
  6. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My last coop was a converted play house/swing set. It was more than 5 feet off the ground. I had several hatches in that coop. I was super worried about this same issue, but we just decided to wait and see what happened. I never found a baby alone outside peeping (or worse). I guess they just stayed away from the pop door. Either that, or one fell out and those were the days I'd find everyone out. I have no idea, honestly, but they did just fine in there.

    Best of luck with your new additions!
     
  7. LaFarm

    LaFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks all! So far, all is good. Eggs hatched, but I haven't seen them outside the nest yet. We've been in the 60s and 70s but were blessed with a beautiful "hatch day" at 85 degrees! Since all of the eggs have hatched, I am waiting so see if momma will venture out with them!
    [​IMG]
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  8. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She will take them out when they are ready to start exploring. Sometimes it may be a day or two after they finish hatching before she will take them very far from the nest.

    And [​IMG] congrats on the successful hatch!
     
  9. LaFarm

    LaFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks! You were right. She waited a day and them brought them out. I have no idea how she got them down the ramp, but they were all on the ground pecking around and taking dust baths. I discovered something else though. How will she get them back UP the ramp? Should I add something to it for better traction? The boards on the ramp are maybe 5-6" apart. (I did put a top to a doghouse down on the ground just in case they don't make it up to the coop at night.)

    [​IMG]


    Oh...and I made a food/water area for them in the coop and they loved that, but I hadn't made changes to the one under the coop. I was watching what momma hen would do and she gathered some feed in her mouth, broke it up with her beak and scattered it on the ground for the babies to peck at!

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Did she make it back up the ramp? Mine usually did alright with that part as well, though I have had to grab the odd chick here and there at close up time...
     

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