May 31, 2015

Baby Chickens Report

It didn't take long before our chicks outgrew their box in the pantry and needed bigger quarters. I decided to go ahead and move them into the chicken coop. Before we could do that, however, we needed to set things up to accommodate them.

The first thing we had to do something about was the roost.

"Tree" roost right after it was built.

I love the idea of the tree roost, but in reality it didn't turn out to be very practical. For one thing, some of the less intelligent birds had a hard time figuring out how to get up and down. For another, since the bars were permanently placed, it was difficult to clean out under. We decided to go back to a conventional style roost with removable roosting bars.

(Notice the peeling whitewash? A new coating is on my to-do list)

That left better room for a brooding pen for the baby chicks.

My baby Australorp chicks

All was well for the first couple of days. Then one morning I discovered three chicks were missing. After our last incident of disappearing chicks, we were pretty sure it was rats. I beefed up security, added screens over the top, and Dan set up the animal trap. So far so good.

Hopefully this is rat-proof. The window screens add a "roof" to the pen.

I feel kinda bad for these little guys with no mama.

We currently have 14 chicks

Not that she could protect them from predators, but because there is no one to teach them about finding food and to fuss over them the way mama hens do. I believe that everything that is intended to have a mother ought to have one. Fortunately, none of the hens is hostile toward the invaders in their coop. A rooster might have something to say about it, but we have no rooster at the moment except for the little up and comers. Hopefully they'll all make it.

Baby Chickens Report © May 2015 

19 comments:

  1. Awwww - poor little baby chicks - being eating by rodents. I worry about locking animals up at night due to their not being able to "escape" a predator should they need to. Yet, they are locked up for their protection too. Yin and yang...

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    1. Dani, I know what you mean. it's the same with fences; they can be seen as either imprisoning or protecting. The chickens, at least, wouldn't run off into the dark. They just sit there and let themselves get picked off. :(

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  2. I must say I admire your first idea, the nesting tree, shame they couldn't figure it out, it would have made such a funny picture :)
    shame about the poor things getting eaten too x

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    1. Well, some of them are refusing to use the new roost too, even though that's what they had before we built the new coop. Go figure! LOL

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  3. Interesting about the roosting tree...we were thinking about that approach. I find you have to be compassionate enough to love animals to care for them well but stoic enough to deal with their mortality as well.

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    1. Critter keeping truly does require an emotional balance, which is not always easy. The worst is if their deaths are preventable, or what I think I could have prevented. Sadly, we thought our new coop was more rodent-proof than that. Another hard lesson learned.

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  4. The reason I haven't added any chickens to our place yet is the predators. Between the hawks, eagles, snakes, possums, foxes, cats, rodents. I doubt I would have any chickens left in a month.

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    1. That would be tough, because it would mean seriously inhibiting things like free-ranging. I think that's why folks turn to things like chicken tractors, which would be more work. The question is, are the eggs and an occasional chicken dinner worth it??? (Glad our situation doesn't require me to answer that)

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  5. Too bad the tree didn't work out, I was looking fwd to stealing that idea. My chicks (happy dance- got our first "farm" animals!) are too big for their box and fly out of it, but not big enough to fly back in. Instead of hunting for easter eggs, i hunt for easter eggers LOL.

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    1. Congratulations on your chicks! Very exciting news and a welcome addition, I know. The tree roost might work if it was designed a bit differently, just not sure how. The conventional roost was the easiest, quickest solution for rearranging the coop.

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  6. chickens seem to have a mind of their own!!!

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  7. I hate rats!

    It's funny how the hen's feet completely disappear when they settle on the roost.

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    1. What's even more amazing is that they sleep that way!

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  8. Maybe a rat in the coop would make the stubborn birds use the new roost? lol I hope would you don't have to go under the roost to find eggs, that would get old fast.

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    1. Mostly they'e been laying in the goats hay feeder. One thing I like about this roost is that I can toss scratch underneath and they'll stir it up for me. There wasn't room under the tree roost.

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  9. Farms are always adapting, aren't they? Good to see you implemented change as it was required. I've found one of my coops (our first one) quickly outgrew its usefulness, but you have to start somewhere!

    I wonder if you have a python getting in? We actually had tin on one of our outside brooders, as a roof, which we thought would keep predators away. But one night we heard the chicks going off, to find a large python had squeezed under the tin (their coiled bodies are strong) and was in the process of swallowing a chick.

    We managed to save it and relocate the python somewhere else. We then put bricks on the tin and didn't have any other encounters with snakes.

    Though in your case, its more likely to be rats, as snakes can swallow a lot of chicks and you'll often find them still coiled up in the pen digesting, the next day. The question is, will the rats be able to push up the roofing if its not very heavy? And if you had to put weights on it, will it risk the roof buckling and perhaps landing on the chicks?

    Glad to hear things are working now though. :)

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    1. I never thought about a python. In our location it would have to be someone's escaped (or set free) "pet". That would be a terrible thing to find in the process of feeding. Our rat snakes are smaller and only seem to do one bird at a time. So far so good, though, for the chicks. No more have disappeared although the trap remains empty and untripped.

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  10. Leigh,

    I loved your homemade tree roost, it's a shame some of the chickens just didn't understand what to do. Your new made roost seems to be working for them. Hopefully, whatever's eating your chicks won't have an opportunity now with the changes you and Dan made.

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