Red Junglefowl and Natural Nests

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jabowery, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. jabowery

    jabowery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm interested in a breed of chicken that not only broods naturally but will nest naturally on a free range protected from predators.

    The closest I've found is the Red Junglefowl, however it looks like genetic pollution from domesticated chickens has put the natural subspecies in danger.

    Does anyone have experience with creating an environment for this breed where they will naturally build nests and brood successfully?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  2. JimArcher

    JimArcher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Red Junglefowl are smart. If there is a coop around, with nice basket nests with grass or straw - they will use that. If they have no housing, they will probably find a nest if you are giving them a lot of cover. My rooster was trying to convince his hen to nest naturally and kept calling her into nice sheltered spots, but she is laying in a basket nest in a coop. She is smart.
    Why not get Guinea Hens? They love to hide their nests.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    American Games also a good option. Success is not just about breed / species and predator management. I routinely have hens nest on the ground in field or woods. Vegetation type and and its arrangement is also important. My birds like to nest near edges or clumps of vegetation where the view from above is at least partially obscured. The edge part involves close proximity to areas with short vegetation which is easier for small chicks to forage. Another consideration is soil moisture. When I get lots of rain over several days hatch and survival of young chicks takes a nose dive.


    I use free-range dogs and hotwire to keep ground dwelling predators out. Small open cages are also put over nesting hens so they are protected from owls.


    What arrangements do you have for chicks going to roost? That first week of roosting up is critical.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  4. JimArcher

    JimArcher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Centrarchid: I like your comments from extensive experience. I like the way you do things.
    BUT: I would not like my birds to nest in the wild here in Laos. Place is teeming with ants. Pipped eggs are a good meal for the ants. We also have snakes that eat eggs and small prey. Chicks riaised in the wild will be very wild. You will have no control. They will disperse when they get older. Might as well raise pheasants. We have a small black hen (I think she is part jungle fowl) with 9 chicks and we pick them up at night (off the ground in a coop) and put them in a cardboard box on the porch. Usually there are already some ants under the hen. Soon they will be able to fly up and sleep in a nest basket like my other little hen and her chicks. The hens try to get their chicks to go up from day one, but for some time - until their wings grow out - they will not be able to join momma. You could try leaning boards up to a roosting board or nest. Every time you try to catch the fowl up for vaccinating or other things, they will become wilder. They should learn you are a source of food and treats and positive relationship. If the chicks were to hatch during a rainy and cold period, you will probably get 0 survival. If you still want to try this make sure you use hens that are already fairly confident with their manager/owner. Good luck.
    Some pictures from Laos.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have heavy predator pressure as well. Three wild canids (Red Fox, Coyote, and Grey Fox) plus domestic dogs. Bobcats with a penchant for harem masters and domestic cats that will take chics up to one pound. Raccoons, Virginia Opossum, Badger, Mink, Striped Skunk weasel go for all life-stages. Redtailed Hawks and Coopers Hawks, are here year round and the larger and sometimes more ballsy Feruginous Hawk is here during the winter. The Great-horned Owl that can take down adult wild Turkey and visit nightly for six months at a time and when young I can have 3 juveniles hunting my pasture all at same time plus parents coming in on occasion. Large Bull Snakes, Black Rat Snakes, and Speckled King Snakes, Copperheads all pose threats to chicks where the Bull Snake can handle birds pushing a 400 grams. Some small rodents (species not known with certainty) will first attack feet of chicks under hen then drag them off to be consumed. I have ants as well and they have forced hens to abandon nest.

    My flock is closed nor do we vaccinate. Dogs go after all the predators indicated above with vet bills resulting from a bout of Parvo and a Copperhead bite.


    You can make serious inroads with your fowl, especially if they have a little domestic in their background, by taming hens as chicks then having bring chicks to you to be hand fed later. The pure Red Jungle Fowl appear to have behavioral plasticity similar to crows where taming is relatively easy so long as you do not stress them by over-handling or improper movements for being in close proximity to wild animals.

    The dispersal part is problematic and not restricted to Red Jungle Fowl. Sometimes my young adult American Games will disperse into woods or fence row far enough their new home range does not overlap with my managed areas. If not retrieved, then outlook for those birds is not good unless predator abundance is low.
     
  6. JimArcher

    JimArcher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow!!! A real battlefield. I am surprised you have any birds left.
    I couldn't do that. I appreciate my birds too much and like to see the results of breeding. I would get too depressed.
    I admire your tenacity.
    What survival rate do you have - of nests and chicks hatched? Successful nests %, % of chicks reaching maturity?
    Some survival of the fittest and natural selection!!
    Thanks.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I produce more than enough to maintain flock by some margin. When birds reared solely outside I consider it good to produce four chicks on average per clutch hatched. That average can easily be doubled when nest and roost in barn. With American Games, two to three broods is not unrealistic. When conditions optimal and chance favors, 12 or even a little more can be realized. You can also have half dozen come up with zero. More than half of clutches set yield at least one chick hatching. Percentage wise, survival less than 50% of those hatched. I cull more than half the remaining survivors.


    Weaker chicks have a harder time with mother nature but some predators are not getting just the infirm, they hammer the unlucky as well. I do not loose hens much but every year I have at least a couple hens that get de-feathered when attacked and broods usually do not fare well. Dogs work to prevent predator from systematically going after birds where many more losses would occur.
     
  8. JimArcher

    JimArcher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi again, Centrarchid.
    I was thinking about this game hen I had in Peru. I had a small piece of land in the Oxapampa area of Peru - up in the mountains. I had a dog adopt me and she had pups. The custom in that area is if you give someone a dog, they give you a chicken. This guy gave me a black game hen. She was a glossy blue-green black. Really beautiful. She had access to a coop and nests, but she hid her nest in some rocks that were covered with grass. Well-hidden. When the chicks hatched I managed to catch them all up and move chicks and mom to a small coop. Kept them there until the chicks were old enough to run with mom in safety. The father was nice local-type rooster, which was a gold-barred big fellow.
    They told me there were two main strains of gamecock in the Oxapampa area. One strain made good mothers and the other strain was so "game". or violent, that the hens would actually kill their chicks Very poor mothers anyway. No experiences to back that up. Oxapampa was a big cockfighting area.I never went to see a bout.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    One the creation of habitat. Area needs to be an acre or two minimum. A mosaic of microhabitat types with lots of edges desirable. Areas for loafing ideally such that obstructs hawks and provides good view of surroundings. Make so birds have good dust bathing location. Look into cover crops suitable for your location

    Brambles
     

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