How big do chicks need to be so the cat won't get them?

firefowl

Songster
6 Years
Dec 31, 2013
75
41
111
Temperate Australia
Currently have 8 chicks being raised by 2 mothers. They are locked away separately in a small triangular frame chicken tractor.

When I can supervise them I let them out to free-range with the other 3 chickens. It's a pain though having to refill separate food and water. Because it's a small tractor they quickly kick dirt into the water dish and kick over the feeder.

Keen to find out how to tell when they will be big enough to let loose without having to worry about the cat taking them. I'll see if I can post some photos tomorrow.
 

feathermaid

Egg Obsessed
Feb 5, 2018
3,126
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Northwest Oregon
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I think it depends on your cats. Are they hunters? Some people have cats that will snuggle right up with chicks and fall asleep, others completely ignore them, and then there's some that will still take down a grown hen.

If your broodies and chicks are out in the yard and your cat comes along, the mama hens should try to protect their babies and chase the cat away if they think there's a threat.
Have you tried putting them together and observing what happens when you're present?
 

Delaneygraces

Songster
Jan 14, 2018
675
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Illinois
I think it depends on your cats. Are they hunters? Some people have cats that will snuggle right up with chicks and fall asleep, others completely ignore them, and then there's some that will still take down a grown hen.

If your broodies and chicks are out in the yard and your cat comes along, the mama hens should try to protect their babies and chase the cat away if they think there's a threat.
Have you tried putting them together and observing what happens when you're present?
I agree, I’d spend some time watching them when they’re together. Sometimes a good peck will keep a cat away for good. It could also help you see f the cat is even interested in them.
 

feathermaid

Egg Obsessed
Feb 5, 2018
3,126
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Northwest Oregon
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I don't know how old your chicks are now, but if your end goal is to have the broodies/chicks and other hens together as one flock, you might want to start the process of integrating them... if they stay completely separate for too long, it'll be much harder to get them all back together and then the other hens might be a bigger concern for your chicks than the cat.

Try See but don’t touch for now, maybe give your broody/chicks their own space within the main coop. Once you get them all together again, with mixed ages in one coop/yard with access to the same food, everyone would have to be fed non-medicated chick starter or regular flock raiser crumbles (which is fine, just has a higher protein content) and make sure to have oyster shell available for calcium-needing hens.

Do you have a rooster? Either way, if you've ever seen an angry flappy mama bird land on top a curious cat or dog, there's nothing that will change their tune quicker!

I really think the broodies and chicks would be fine free ranging in the yard with the cat... it's probably other daytime predators like hawks or dogs that could be more trouble.
 

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