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Free range chicks growing slowly?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by slayden, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. slayden

    slayden In the Brooder

    Apr 13, 2010
    Black Earth, WI
    So around three weeks ago one of my hens hatched out ten chicks. She spent the first two days or so with the chicks in the nest but after that point she took to free-ranging pretty much the entire day long, returning to the coop to roost at night. Along the line she seems to have picked up a 'midwife' hen that ranges with her and helps protect the chicks (the chicks will climb under either one and respond to the clucks of either hen without preference) but they seem to avoid the rest of the flock except when they come back to the coop for food or water.

    Everything seems to be going well but the chicks are growing really slowly. All my adult birds were hatchery stock that I raised in my basement with constant access to food and water and minimal opportunity for exercise. I was guessing the free-range chicks would grow slower due to the amount of energy they spent running around and foraging but they are substantially less well developed than their parents were at that age.

    The chicks free-range on about five acres and they seem to spend little time returning to the coop for food. Should I be providing extra feeding locations around the yard or is this normal behavior chicks raised like this. I've always assumed free range birds would just kind of 'know' what food they need, but should I be feeding supplemental vitamins? Fall isn't exactly an ideal time for chicks to forage so I don't know if they're deficient or something.

    Thanks for any help you guys have!

  2. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    I suspect they aren't getting enough food (adults may be eating it all).

    I have free range hens and currently have 7 week old chicks who are free ranging alone since momma decided she had had enough of them. They are growing like weeds.

    Aside from the forage that they have I keep them in their own little run and pen at night and give them food before they go out in the morning and when they come back at night.I also selectively (as much as the mob will let them) feed them in the day a couple of times.

    See what arrangements you can make for allowing them to get food without the adults around.


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