Question on free-ranging babies...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DillardHome, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. DillardHome

    DillardHome Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2009
    Claxton, GA
    Hello BYCers!

    I recently had two chicks hatch under my broody hen. I had separated Momma and eggs from the rest of the flock before they hatched. The chicks are 1 1/2 weeks old now. My flock all free-range during the day, a few days ago I decided to let Momma and chicks out to free-range also with the rest of the flock. Of course I watched to be sure the flock didn't get an attitude with Momma & babies. Everything went great, everyone just did their own thing. Momma & babies even went to the coop and run to scratch around, nobody even seem to care. Even the roo let one of the chicks have a piece of cracked corn he was about to eat. Momma & babies even went into a nest box when the others came into the coop to roost in the evening. I have let them out the last two days with no problems.

    However, I always put Momma & chicks back in their hutch later in the day because I worry the chicks need the Chick Starter. If I put the Starter out while the chicks free-range the other chickens will eat it.

    My question is... if the chicks free-range during the day do they still need Chick Starter? [​IMG]

    Tips and input are always appreciated!!!! [​IMG]
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Yes! The chicks should not eat layer. The layer will damage the chicks' organs.

    I raise mine much the same way. I just feed everyone starter or grower or flock raiser, anything but layer, of course offering oyster shell separately. The chicks will eat little if any of the oyster shell.

    You should not count on their getting all that they need from foraging, though it should cut down on how much feed they eat.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 26, 2010
  3. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Yes. I've had quite a few broody moms with chicks under their belt on our free ranging place now, and I always "supplement" some chick starter or flock raiser feed. Our place provides a LOT of food, and I even have some 5 month old pullets (who by choice) that only eat about a quarter cup of feed a day. But, for chicks, it is wise to give them the amount they need - And make sure it is out of reach of your older hens. Especially if you chick starter is medicated. If you're having troubles with that, then switch to non-medicated or get some flock raiser feed.
  4. WalkingWolf

    WalkingWolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2009
    North Carolina
    Get a box or tote, cut only holes big enough for the chicks to get in plus some air holes all around the box. You can make chick starter available to the chicks all day this way. I feed my chicks starter with a little water this cuts down waste and helps keep the chicks from getting an impacted crop. If you do not add water to the starter then put water in the box also.

    BTW scratch or cracked corn is really bad for the chicks, lack of nutrients will hinder their development. I only use scratch for the adults when it rains, because the pellets break down on wet ground or in the feeding pan outside. You can buy food that is for both adults and chicks you just have to make oyster shell available to the layers. I really wish the food manufacturers would make a pellet that is yellow so it could be tossed in grassy areas. Adding a coating so it would not break down so fast when wet would be nice too.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  5. andalusn

    andalusn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 6, 2009
    Ridgefield, WA
    My Cochin hen raised her latest chick as free range.. seems to prefer showing her how to scratch and they spent a lot of time in the yard working over the grass and then would bring the chick into the chicken area and check out the corn I put down daily as scratch. Sometimes I would add a little chicken starter to the corn but not much. All of my chickens (20) scratch the same area and the chick held it's own but the momma hen was not interested in the feeders at all so the chick avoided them too. I find that free ranging them thy do just fine with a momma hen showing them the ropes.
  6. DillardHome

    DillardHome Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2009
    Claxton, GA
    Quote:So in your experience the chicks did just fine without (or very little) Chick Starter as long as they are free-ranging with Momma? Because I honestly am not sure how I would have the Starter accessible to chicks only even using WALKINGWOLF's tip of a tote with holes. It is a great idea however chicks stick to Momma like glue and if she doesn't go into the tote they surely are not either, and how would I get them to know to go in for the Starter they seem too busy wandering to even want to?

    This is my first time attempting to free-range babies, before I kept them in a hutch until they were old enough to slowly be introduced to the existing flock (I did when they were fully feathered). They just seem so much happier doing what the big birds do [​IMG]
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Prior to releasing hen and chicks from hutch, give them starter then. A single crop filling will likely meet needs in event free range forage too lean.
  8. Frannabelle

    Frannabelle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2009
    when my broody bantam hatched out her 2 babies in Sept. I just let her take over. I had flock raiser and scratch offered for my whole flock and oystershell in a small feeder. I kept a small dish of food and water by the nest box so the babies could get it. I never had to separate them from my flock, everybody just accepted that there were now 2 babies, plus she did a very good job of protecting them.
    She actually did not take them outside of their coop house until about day 5, and even then for about a week, she would take them back inside after a while, take them out again and so on, until about 2 weeks old then she was out with them and the whole flock. My rooster was great with the babies from day one, always offering them food.
    These babies thrived with the mama, ate scratch, flock raiser and whatever they found in the yard. Of course, it was warmer then, so your babies will probably need a lot more starter/flock raiser.

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