The Natural Chicken Keeping thread - OTs welcome!

MargaretYakoda

Songster
7 Years
Jan 28, 2013
609
172
201
Irondale, Wa
For some reason, the computer is eating my posts, so, here goes again. This is a wonderful addition to the brooding tool box. It doesn't have to be an either/or approach when considering MHP vs WH. IMO, in my zone 4 area, I'd start with MHP, and graduate to WH, perhaps building an insulated box, using a box within a box with a layer of insulation (even newspaper would work) or using an old cooler upside down, door removed with a cave opening cut on both long sides, with duct tape sealing the exposed styrofoam. Exciting that it holds heat so well for chicks at 3 days old. Margaret, how many chicks???
Yep. 19 chicks.

I think mass is key to this no supplemental heat method. I know that hatcheries won't send out fewer than six chicks. That's probably the minimum number.

Here is how they were doing about an hour ago. It has begun to rain a bit, and they do have a tarp over them at the moment. I'll check on them in a bit, but I don't hear panicked chirping so they're probably OK under the tarp in the rain.

0.jpg


EDITING to add that I will be giving away all the cross breed chicks tonight or tomorrow. That will leave me with about ten chicks. This could change the thermal math pretty drastically.

Also, although they are outside, they're also about teen feet from my open living room window. If they are in distress I'll be ale to hear it and respond right away.
 
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lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,098
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Yep. 19 chicks.

I think mass is key to this no supplemental heat method. I know that hatcheries won't send out fewer than six chicks. That's probably the minimum number.




That will leave me with about ten chicks. This could change the thermal math pretty drastically.

Also, although they are outside, they're also about teen feet from my open living room window. If they are in distress I'll be ale to hear it and respond right away.
My typical brood is about that size. so this should work well for me. I do hope you keep us posted about how the removal of half of the brood affects their response/temp inside the WH. Sweet that you have them within ear shot.
 

MargaretYakoda

Songster
7 Years
Jan 28, 2013
609
172
201
Irondale, Wa
My typical brood is about that size. so this should work well for me. I do hope you keep us posted about how the removal of half of the brood affects their response/temp inside the WH. Sweet that you have them within ear shot.
Absolutely will keep everyone posted.

On a Facebook group just now I am responding to a person whose emergency is their heat lamp died suddenly and her chicks look like floppy rags. If more people learn that the heat lamp is (for most of us, maybe all of us) an unnecessary annoyance and a fire hazard then these emergencies would never happen again because our chicks would be hardy from day one.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Dreaming of Spring
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
47,193
86,310
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Wisconsin
I still use a heat lamp and like the control it gives me. They are only a fire hazard if used improperly. Even the heat pads can fail. Any system used requires some attention and knowledge of what is best. You have a good idea going, but once again it won't work for everyone.
 

MargaretYakoda

Songster
7 Years
Jan 28, 2013
609
172
201
Irondale, Wa
I still use a heat lamp and like the control it gives me. They are only a fire hazard if used improperly. Even the heat pads can fail. Any system used requires some attention and knowledge of what is best. You have a good idea going, but once again it won't work for everyone.
Well, Yeah. Everyone should use what works for them. That said, I suspect as this method gets more use we will discover ways to make it work for everyone. That day is not today, though.
 

TheDawg

Enlightened
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Jan 18, 2008
71,500
311,544
1,886
Another poster has referred to this as a "broody bucket" because she uses a 5 gallon bucket with the wool strips hanging from the top. 

The idea for the wool hen and the broody bucket is to use no heat at all. When I transfer the chicks outside I will remove the seedling mat. BUT there is a styrofoam box I am building right now that is key to the whole thing. That and sheer numbers of chicks. This time around I will have eleven or twelve outside with no heat beginning tonight or tomorrow. and I'm pretty sure they'll do fine. Because I've had seventeen chicks in outside in my earlier version (which was "borrowed" and never returned) Those chicks at three days old were in temps as low as 45 degrees overnight and 65 during the day with the wool hen. No illness. No apparent issues at all. 

The idea here is to develop something that works to brood chicks without a broody hen and with no electricity needed at all. It looks like this is the ticket for that. 


Love it
 

TheDawg

Enlightened
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Jan 18, 2008
71,500
311,544
1,886
Another poster has referred to this as a "broody bucket" because she uses a 5 gallon bucket with the wool strips hanging from the top. The idea for the wool hen and the broody bucket is to use no heat at all. When I transfer the chicks outside I will remove the seedling mat. BUT there is a styrofoam box I am building right now that is key to the whole thing. That and sheer numbers of chicks. This time around I will have eleven or twelve outside with no heat beginning tonight or tomorrow. and I'm pretty sure they'll do fine. Because I've had seventeen chicks in outside in my earlier version (which was "borrowed" and never returned) Those chicks at three days old were in temps as low as 45 degrees overnight and 65 during the day with the wool hen. No illness. No apparent issues at all. The idea here is to develop something that works to brood chicks without a broody hen and with no electricity needed at all. It looks like this is the ticket for that.
0.jpg


Three day old chicks. They spent the night in the wool hen. This is only the third time I have tried a wool hen, and these are the youngest chicks I have had outside with no heat lamp. These chicks are three days old and they have been outside 24 hours straight in 60 - 70 degree weather. There are 19 chicks in this brood.

I wasn't 100% sure how they would do so my first move was to take them all out of the wool hen and put them in my basket to observe them carefully. Every single one was warm and active!

Right after hatch I had them under the wool strips in a laundry basket. (see previous video on this channel) Under towels at the bottom of the laundry basket I had a seedling warming mat. Yesterday I removed the seedling mat just before taking the chicks outside. They don't appear to care.
Even the chick with the slightly open navel seems to be thriving.

High temp yesterday was 69°
Low temp last night was 53°
Forecast for today is the same.

I used about 1/4 of a 1" styrofoam panel, a wool blend blanket (100% wool is better but I didn't have any on hand) hardware cloth, duct tape, and an old cat bed/toy/napping thing.
Chicks. Thriving overnight outside in 53° weather with no broody and no supplemental heat.
700
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700
700
700
700
700
@Leahs Mom You wished to see this? :D
Thanks for the "how to" pics. The 1/2" HW cloth on the "floor" in front of the opening? Just for use as a ramp?
Yep, it's just a ramp. I'm not sure I am happy with it.... We'll see how it goes.
wow this is impressive. I'm using a heating pad overhead at the moment. I will watch to see how this carries on thank you for posting this!
Check THIS out. I just checked the temp inside the wool hen. 98 degrees. Yeah. I think they'll do fine.
amazing! Worry wart me would be checking all the time that they were wandering out and not finding their way back in. It looks so cozy in there!
@MargaretYakoda Wonderful! I was going to ask you if you had checked the temp in there ... you beat me to it! :thumbsup :weee
For some reason, the computer is eating my posts, so, here goes again. This is a wonderful addition to the brooding tool box. It doesn't have to be an either/or approach when considering MHP vs WH. IMO, in my zone 4 area, I'd start with MHP, and graduate to WH, perhaps building an insulated box, using a box within a box with a layer of insulation (even newspaper would work) or using an old cooler upside down, door removed with a cave opening cut on both long sides, with duct tape sealing the exposed styrofoam. Exciting that it holds heat so well for chicks at 3 days old. Margaret, how many chicks???
Yep. 19 chicks. I think mass is key to this no supplemental heat method. I know that hatcheries won't send out fewer than six chicks. That's probably the minimum number. Here is how they were doing about an hour ago. It has begun to rain a bit, and they do have a tarp over them at the moment. I'll check on them in a bit, but I don't hear panicked chirping so they're probably OK under the tarp in the rain. EDITING to add that I will be giving away all the cross breed chicks tonight or tomorrow. That will leave me with about ten chicks. This could change the thermal math pretty drastically. Also, although they are outside, they're also about teen feet from my open living room window. If they are in distress I'll be ale to hear it and respond right away.
My typical brood is about that size. so this should work well for me. I do hope you keep us posted about how the removal of half of the brood affects their response/temp inside the WH. Sweet that you have them within ear shot.
Absolutely will keep everyone posted. On a Facebook group just now I am responding to a person whose emergency is their heat lamp died suddenly and her chicks look like floppy rags. If more people learn that the heat lamp is (for most of us, maybe all of us) an unnecessary annoyance and a fire hazard then these emergencies would never happen again because our chicks would be hardy from day one.
I still use a heat lamp and like the control it gives me. They are only a fire hazard if used improperly. Even the heat pads can fail. Any system used requires some attention and knowledge of what is best. You have a good idea going, but once again it won't work for everyone.
Well, Yeah. Everyone should use what works for them. That said, I suspect as this method gets more use we will discover ways to make it work for everyone. That day is not today, though.
Loving this idea but I wish I had heard of it when i got my first chicks. I used MHP which worked well but this seems like it would work well too. I had 9 but 1 died and now I am adding 5 in October so both are probably too small of numbers of chicks to make it work? But I could have just gotten them all at once last year and used it. I say wish I would have seen it then because I won't be adding any large numbers of chicks anytime soon. 8 produces almost more eggs than we can eat. 13 will produce way more eggs. But maybe one day I can add more and use it. Great idea though
 

Leahs Mom

Free Ranging
8 Years
Feb 9, 2012
11,572
4,990
562
Northern Indiana
Need some advice/thoughts re: COCKEREL BEHAVIOR

I'm curious to hear folk's experience adding younger chicks into the ranging flock.

I have 5 SFH that are apx 18 week old. 2 of them are cockerels. These 2 boys are from very different lines.

I have some 13 week old Buckeyes that are "VERY LAID-BACK". They have a completely different personality than the SFH. My older birds that aren't sfh are treating the Buckeyes fine. Normal "this-is-my-territory" type stuff/. The 2yo SFH are a little more aggressive and the 18 week olds more yet.

I dare not let the cockerels around the little Buckeyse. One of the boys (the nicest looking one) went after one of the Buckeye kids like an eagle - legs out front, landed on and started to attack.

None of the other breeds have ever shown that kind of behavior toward younger birds. Yes...the normal "get out of my territory" stuff, but never a full-on aggression-with-intent-to-kill type attack.

So here are my questions:
I'd like to hear other's experience with this. Would that kind of behavior be reason to be done with that cockerel? I know he's young and needs time to learn his manners. Do I expect him to grow out of that behavior...or is that unrealistic? How much time should I give it?

caf.gif


Since the weather is going to be so hot the next few days I'm actually going to pen the 2 cockerels so they're not running after any of the girls to the point of heat exhaustion. So they'll have a bit of a break from them.

The Buckeyes are in the barn pen during the day until I'm there to let them out and observe after work.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Dreaming of Spring
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
47,193
86,310
1,522
Wisconsin
Your boys are at that age where their hormones are surging and they aren't thinking clearly. I would keep his behavior in mind, but not necessarily cull him immediately. I would remove him for now. They can take a few months to calm down and even out. It could mean down the road that he's a good protector of your flock. Teenage boys of any species tend to be a bit too much, and I try not to judge them until they mature a bit. Many turn out nice when as adolescents were horrible.
 

Leahs Mom

Free Ranging
8 Years
Feb 9, 2012
11,572
4,990
562
Northern Indiana
@oldhenlikesdogs

My plan was going to be to let each of the 2 sfh cockerels rotate in with the girls so that I could observe their behavior and decide which to keep. But with the little Buckeyes coming up I think it might be too dangerous for them!

There are 3 Buckeye cockerels in that group for sure. All the Buckeyes are really, really, really gentle little souls. These are the first Buckeyes I've had but the experience so far is great. I just don't like to have herds of birds that all look alike!!! :)


Anyhow...
I could pen those 2 boys in a dog kennel right where all the birds free-range and keep them in a separate pen in the barn at night. OR I have a little chicken shed with an outdoor kennel/run that is across a fence from the barn and they could house completely away from the others. Which would you suggest?

Will it drive them totally nuts to be housed in close proximity in the current area? Will they be so aggressive when they get out that they would just "go nuts" on the girls?
 

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