chick safety in the coop

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Intileo, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Intileo

    Intileo Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Jun 8, 2008
    st augustine florida
    hello everyone! this is my first post. thank you in advance for your wisdom. over the summer you all helped me save two of my hens, and helped me understand why three of them died (florida heat...) [​IMG]

    my barred rock (7 mo old) has been sitting on 12 eggs (one day's laying from our flock) for almost three weeks. her 20 days will be up this friday and we have her in a large cage dog crate in the coop, with the other 18 hens and one rooster (who go in and out of the coop all day). assuming some of the eggs hatch (i'm trying not to get overly excited here, since it is her first brood, and ours, and she may have let the eggs get a little cold a couple of times...[​IMG]) what do i need to do to ensure the chicks' safety?

    here are my concerns:
    1-how do i get the chicks to eat their starter feed and not the Layena crumbles? Ie a way for them to get to their feed without the big hens eating it all up. how do i stop them eating the big hens' feed (especially as the chicks get older and taller and can reach the feeder on the cement block)?

    2-the way we have our coop set up (it's a one room trailer that came with the house when we bought it), the hens march up a plank to a high window and then march down a plank out into the run. the window is at shoulder height and i don't want the chicks trying to go up it and then falling. so i thought of removing the inside plank altogether and making the big hens fly up to the window. that way no danger for chicks. but, does this mean the mother hen will be so desperate to get outside that she'll leave her chicks in the coop unprotected, while she goes and dust bathes, etc? or will she stay with them? will the chicks be ok in her absence? will the sky fall in? (here i'm starting to go down my personal chickie rabbit hole..)

    3-is it ok for the chicks to stay in the coop for a few weeks, until they're big enough to negotiate the Plank of Doom (and Freedom)? Should i just put cushions under the window in preparation for the inevitable falls? [​IMG] A trampoline?[​IMG]

    4- the coop has a full size mesh door, facing the sun in the afternoon, so they will be able to get some sun, even if they're kept in the coop until they're bigger. do they need to be outside more than this? should i set up a box in the coop with sand for dustbaths? am i fussing too much? i know mama will know best, but i want to set her up for success and not frustration and difficulties.

    5- we freerange the hens from 3pm every day until sundown. i would love to let out the new family into the garden proper (which they could do through the main front, mesh door. there wouldn't be a risk of falling there, and it would enable mother hen and chicks to be out in the air). but we have three cats who, although they respect the hens and rooster, would love to dispatch a chickie to hen heaven. will mama be up to the task of protecting them out and about? i can't put the cats away. one is semi feral, the other two are just always out and about and never where i expect them to be.

    6- are there other things i could add to my worry list that i've not yet thought of? feel free to point out more obvious concerns that i may not have considered.

    that's it. i probably sound like a worry wort... and i am.[​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]:jumpy:cd:jumpy:eek::cd:eek::jumpy:jumpy
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Quote:
     
  3. HaleMoa

    HaleMoa Out Of The Brooder

    wow I'm really interested in knowing what happens here. let us know how much she successfully hatches.
     
  4. Intileo

    Intileo Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Jun 8, 2008
    st augustine florida
    Thank you for your advice. She's actually sitting on 12 eggs, not 18, making the endeavour a little more manageable. And she's- or was, until she got a bit skinny while sitting- a big girl and covers the eggs well. I'm thinking that some are not fertile, because although our rooster is an enthusiastic...er... husband, he definitely has his favourites and some hens do rather keep out of his way (and they'd be the ones to have laid the infertile eggs.) I did try candling twice, but we have a huge flashlight and couldn't get the beam through the egg adequately, so I'm prepared for a lot of the eggs to not hatch.

    Silkiechicken, did you really write your reply at 4.30 this morning? Now that's dedication!

    I will keep you posted about the chicks. I hope poor broody girl will start to enjoy life outside in the sun with the flock a little more if she has chicks, because she was resolutely broody for a good month before I finally relented and put eggs under her!
     
  5. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

    23,381
    37
    351
    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    I too have a hen setting in a dog crate, in with the other chickens. I put 1' chicken wire around the bottom of the cage, so the babies couldn't get through. Of course, having bantams, the little boogers could still fit through the holes, but this might be an option for you. Then just leave them in the cage for a few weeks, until you know the babies are following mama pretty good, and can keep up. I also built some tractors for my mamas, so they would have more room to move, without having to worry about lost babies. The tractors are 3'x3'x8, and they have plenty of room to move around. They also have access to the ground, so this means plenty of scratch time, and dirt time. I use a 5 gal. bucket, laid on its side, as a nest, so there is only 1 opening for a draft. When it starts getting colder, I also have plastic to cover the tractors with. Like silkiechicken said, I would just feed mama and the babies chick starte. She won't lay for a while anyway, and won't need the extra calcium. I honestly don't feed any of my chickens layer, and they do just fine with egg laying, and shell stability. Hope this helps!!
    Sending good hatching vibes your way!! I have a broody due any day as well!! We are BROODY BUDDIES!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. Intileo

    Intileo Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Jun 8, 2008
    st augustine florida
    shellyd2008! Great to meet you! [​IMG]

    I like your idea of the tractors, although I'm not sure we'll be able to get one up and running before the chicks arrive... But wait! I'm having a brainwave...[​IMG] ...when we got our chicks in the spring we put them in a former rabbit or mouse breeding pen, with realy tiny gauge mesh... if I turned it upside down and put a roof on it (a tarp) BINGO! it would be a fairly big tractor sort of approximation. And I could slide it around in the chicken run area, so they had variety! Cool![​IMG]

    You say you don't feed your chickens Layena. What do you give them? I tried switching mine over the summer to a corn scratch mix, and that was the week that I found two dead hens within four days of changing their feed. Admittedly the heat suddenly kicked in here too, so I know heat was a factor, but from what I read then, the corn scratch was a contributing element, because corn apparently is a 'heat-making' food...? Is this true? I heard this from various sources. So, I switched back to Layena immediately, as I tried to work out what had caused the deaths (another was to follow shortly).

    I don't like the idea of feeding my hens pre-prepared stuff. It's not my style. We make all our own food from scratch- and in a week are even getting three milking goats so I don't have to buy my raw goat milk from someone else- and it didn't seem right to get the hens this prefab food. But then they started dying!!!!

    Let me know what you use. I am totally going to do the tractor and bucket thing, though... although today is a bit chilly... hmmm.... maybe I'll play it by ear a bit. Keep them in their big dog crate (which I've also put mesh on) in the coop, let them run round in there for a bit, and if it warms up (yes, folks, it really does get cold in NE Florida honest (I can hear Minnesotans laughing their heads off) ) then I'll put them outside.

    I'm excited about your broody. It's all so darned exciting!!! [​IMG] We tried listening today for peeps, but I didn't want to disturb Mama Hen, so I left her to it. It'll happen or it won't.

    I'll let you know any news![​IMG]
     
  7. Intileo

    Intileo Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Jun 8, 2008
    st augustine florida
    Thanks for the posts on my concerns about chick safety.

    So far, folks, our seven month old broody barred Plymouth Rock has hatched 8 of her 12 eggs! One hatched on day 19, which caught me by surprise, and the remainder were today, day 20. They are all sweet araucana crosses (the rooster is araucana). So the Buff Orpington crosses are yellow with black stripes down their backs and Egyptian eyes. And the Barred Rock crosses are black with stripes down their back. And the RIR crosses are a soft red with white bits. They really are very cute and funny, and I will post pictures as soon as I get my brain in gear and stop running around, neglecting my house, and going 'chicks, chicks, chicks!!!!!'[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    And this from a hen who was born in an incubator herself. She is the most attentive mother. Isn't Mother Nature a marvel?????
     
  8. HaleMoa

    HaleMoa Out Of The Brooder

    wow, congratulations! they sound beautiful. yah, post us some pics as soon as you can. again, congratulations.
     
  9. LoveMyPeeps

    LoveMyPeeps Out Of The Brooder

    72
    0
    29
    Sep 4, 2008
    Upstate NY
    That is so exciting! Keep us posted on how the chicks are doing, I'm interested to know everything for my first 'big hatch'!!
     
  10. Intileo

    Intileo Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Jun 8, 2008
    st augustine florida
    CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!!!! Our little barred rock has hatched all twelve eggs!!!! All healthy all gorgeous!! I'm soooo happy!!!![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by