I really need advice about a hen and chicks.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Ravie, May 19, 2011.

  1. Ravie

    Ravie Chillin' With My Peeps

    314
    3
    113
    Aug 4, 2010
    Greenfield, Indiana
    My hen hatched out two chicks in the entrance to my crawlspace. It was a GREAT place to set eggs, but it is NOT a great place to raise chicks. She is essentially in a hole that is just big enough for her and the babies. When the time comes for her to take them out for a stroll, they won't be able to get out. What should I do?

    I can take the babies away and raise them myself. I prefer not to because I'm proud of Mama and she's doing such a great job!

    I can lift the babies out and let Mama take them for their outing, but then what? Where will she sleep? If she returns to my coop, I know the chicks won't be able to get in. There is a step up into the coop which I know the babies can't make. Not this early. I'm afraid if she returns to her current hole, the kids will try to make the jump too. It's about 2.5 feet down!

    I can put her in my small outdoor tractor, but I already have adolescent laying hens and ducks in there (they're about 8 weeks old). They do fine free-ranging with my main flock, but I'm not sure how they'll be treated if I start to lock them in the big coop with the big girls. I'd have to get 6 birds and 2 ducks to adjust to sleeping in the big-girl coop. I'm not sure I want to upset the apple cart when things are going so well!

    I can put her in a 36" dog crate. It's not very big, and I think it will bother her when I have to put my hands in there to feed her each day. She's a skittish bird.
     
  2. snowflake

    snowflake Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,854
    62
    241
    Aug 21, 2009
    Belding Michigan
    I woud take her out of the crawl space. she will get mad and try to get back but if you move her at night it shouldn't take long for her to adjust.Can you fence off an area in the big coop for the 8 week olds? the dog crate would also work if you let her free range with chicks she may take them back to the cage at night.Some people let there hens raise chicks in lg coop, I think it is rather stress full to the hen as she needs to constantly be on watch. can you fix a fenced area around the dog crate? that may work also. good luck, Mom will take care of chicks. if she has a safe place.
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    124
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Can you fit a dog crate, even a smallish one, in your coop?

    I have two broodies at the present time raising their chicks in the main coop with the rest of the flock. Couple days before the chicks are due to hatch I lock the crate door so mama isn't disturbed. She of course has food & water in the crate with her and enough room to get away from the nest to poo. By about day three after hatch, mama lets me know very clearly that she is ready to bring her chicks out to meet the flock. Heaven help the chicken that tries to mess with mama's chicks, but I stay closeby at first to supervise. If mama gets upset, she makes a noise, babies run back to their nest.

    On days four and five, mama is usually still keeping her babies in the coop for some free time when the other birds go out to free range. She takes them back to the nest at night. Around day six or so, mama decides it is time for the babies to meet the big wide world. I have both steps and a ramp to exit my coop. How the babies get out depends on whether mama is a jumper or a ramper. If she uses the ramp, then generally babies use the ramp. If she's a jumper (uses the steps or just jumps down) then that's what the babies do. They follow her lead. It'll scare you to death the first time you see a tiny chick make a foot high leap, trust me.

    Come time to go to bed (usually my mamas take their babies in a little before the rest of the flock goes in), mama will show them how. If one chick or more doesn't quite get it, she'll repeat the steps to getting in the coop until she has all her babies inside with her.

    Same sort of scenario occurs when it's time for them to learn how to roost.

    Mama knows best. I'd say 99.9% of the time a hen knows what she's doing. You only have to watch out for the occasional dimwit hen.

    I've let the broodies raise several batches of chicks this season. Only had one chick injured and that was by a meat bird. Totally my fault.

    I'd say do the dog crate in the coop, if at all possible. Work with her - feeding, watering, etc., as quietly as possible. She'll get over you being there. Just try not to handle the chicks too much and she shouldn't go ballistic on you.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by