What Should I do?

ClareScifi

Songster
8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
1,888
52
204
My Banty is hatching 4 eggs this week, outside, near the chicken coop. It is sided with a plastic mesh, and my cats can get into where she is. I know cats can eat chicks.

I have heard that my other hens could attack the chicks, as well, as could my rooster, so I feel the chicks are not very safe outside. They could slip through the chicken wire that sides part of the coop, falling into the cat's clutches, and they could also fall outside of the plastic meshing around the run.

Should I put the Banty and chicks in a cage they can't get out of? Or inside the solarium in the house?

Would it be better to put only the chicks in the solarium, with a heat lamp, minus the Mama Banty? She has never been in the house. Could it stress her, being inside?

How large a cage would I need for the Silver-Laced Sebright Mama Banty Hen and her 4 little chicks? Where could I buy one that would work well?

I'm not sure what to do, and I'm worried about the cats getting the chicks!
 

Nocila

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 23, 2012
225
8
83
When my birds go broody, I almost always put them in a cat box with food and water. Most hens don't seem to mind (they actually seem to like their little, secure space), and, when the chicks come, I don't have to worry about any chicks falling out of the nest, or getting attacked by the other birds. If you have a broody hen, I'd avoid taking her chicks from her, as she will usually protect her chicks from harm. (I actually had two hens, one broody, and the other with a set of chicks, that I let out of their cages for a minute... I'll never do that again! Mama was an old english game hen, and the broody hen was an Asil... both being fighting breeds, they were certain that the other hen was after their eggs/chicks. I had to force the two back into their cages, luckily no one was hurt!) The only time I'd take a hen's chicks away from her, is if she appears to be neglecting them. Some hens may reject their chicks, though it is quite rare, and, in that case, you should bring the chicks inside, but unless she can't/won't care for her chicks, she will try to protect them.

Long story short, put the broody hen and her chicks in a cat box filled with straw (and get a container for food and water that attaches to the door so they can't spill, if you can), and keep the chicks with mama, it makes things a lot easier!
 

ClareScifi

Songster
8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
1,888
52
204
Thanks, Nocila! Who sells the containers that attach to the door? I think I have seen those, but I can't remember where?

How would you go about transferring the hen and chicks to the cage? When my other hen had chicks a few years ago they almost fell out of the chicken wire's holes into the yard, near the cats, and I scooped them up and put them in a box short-term to protect them. It took Mama Hen one full month to forgive me, even though I gave the chicks back to her. Every time I approached for a full month afterwards, she would peck me good, and she had never done so previously. She thought I was a chick-stealing monster. Eventually she did forgive me.

This other hen did reject one of her male chicks, because he was rowdy and would not stay under her after hatching (the hen was a nervous first-time mom) and I had to raise him indoors for 6 months. She nearly pecked him to death when he hatched. One of his eyes was stuck shut at the time, and when I took him in, I gave him vitamin water and it opened within 24 hours. Whenever I tried to reintroduce him to the flock, she and his brothers would charge him and try to kill him. When his hormones hit, he tried mating with my hand! One of his sisters liked him, and agreed to his advances. When his Mama saw this, she was enraged, and knocked him off his sister. But within 2 weeks, Mama Hen accepted his advances, and now they are the best of buddies.

He is a fine, healthy rooster, and I am so excited we are hatching his offspring right now. But I worry that his rambunctious genes may come through his babies and the Bantam may try to peck his chicks to death, too. I see a broken shell under her now, but I don't hear any peeping. I hope she didn't kill the chick in the night.
 

Nocila

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 23, 2012
225
8
83
I got them from my local feed store (they are designed for bunnies) for about $3. They only fit on wire doored cat boxes, but they work really well.

It really depends on the temperament of the hen, and the health of the chicks as to how likely they are to reject a chick. If a hen sees one of her chicks as unhealthy, then she will probably kill it because she believes it won't grow into a strong bird. Also, the kinder/mellower hens are less likely to reject their chicks.

When I have broody hens, I generally graft chicks to her, and the chicks actually don't peep much. There were times I thought the chicks hadn't made it because I couldn't hear anything, and they were simply being quiet. Chances are, the chick has just decided to be quiet, as chicks tend to act a lot differently with mama hens.

Since it's so close to hatching time, I'd try to wait until a few more eggs have hatched (it might take a few minutes for the hen to accept her new nest, but I think she'd accept it faster with a few chicks she needs to keep warm. Hens seem to be much more determined to keep the chicks safe, than the eggs...). When you decide to move her over, just put some nice bedding (straw or cloth) in the bottom of the cat box, and figure out how they will access food and water. You can either put the food and water on the door, or put it in the corner, but keep in mind that the chicks will need to access it, and you don't want the water to tip over.

Also, expect the hen to be pretty protective of her chicks for a while. Most birds will get pretty pecky when they have chicks to care for.
 

ClareScifi

Songster
8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
1,888
52
204
Thanks, Nocila! All good advice. StepMama hen is a Silver-Laced Sebright Banty. Do bantams tend to be more rejecting of chicks than other breeds?
 

Nocila

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 23, 2012
225
8
83
I don't know much about broody sebrights, but I do know that banties are no more likely to reject chicks than full sized hens. Silkies are actually one of the best mother birds out there, and, from the sebrights I've seen, the breed seems to be pretty docile, so you shouldn't have any problems.

I've noticed that, when my birds go broody, 9 times out of 10, it's a bantam/small breed, and my main brooder, Mama, though fairly active most of the time, is very gentle with her chicks. Mama is an Old English Game, so she's on the smaller side, and she's one of the best mothers I've ever seen (which is why she was renamed to Mama). If your mama tends to be tame, then you should have no problem with her chicks, so long as the chicks are healthy. (Any hen will probably reject an unhealthy bird, as they don't want to expend a lot of energy on a bird that won't make it, but very few birds reject healthy chicks.)
 

Nocila

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 23, 2012
225
8
83
I probably wouldn't go with the one from the feed store, as some chickens don't really like that kind of waterer (I tried the nipple watering system, which is rather similar, and all of my birds really avoided drinking until I switched back to the tray-type of water system.)

The second link would be more like what we used, but, depending on the size of the cage, you might have to put the food/water a bit too high for the chicks (the one I got was too big for the cat carrier, and I had to put one on top, and to the side of the other.)

I'd probably get something like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/271347377971?lpid=82

This should be able to be placed low enough for the chicks, and the hen should have no trouble with getting food/water.
 
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