August 5, 2022

Barnyard Babies: Baby Chicks & Turkey Poults

After the feud between Mama Hen and the ducks, we decided that the best thing was to move her and her baby chicks into the old duck/new turkey yard. 

The turkey yard. Originally built to be a duck yard, but rejected by the ducks.

I reckon it's the poultry nursery yard for now. But before we moved them, we did a number of things to varmint proof it. 

We added 2-foot chicken wire on the bottom of the welded wire fence.
This will keep chicks from slipping out and varmints from slipping in.

The bottom portion of the chicken wire was folded to extend like an
apron around the edge of the yard, It's weighted with boards and rocks.

Over the top, Dan made a pole frame for bird netting to keep renegade
chickens from trying to fly in, and turkeys from trying to fly out.

Close-up of the netting. I like that it's nylon and not plastic.

For right now, Mama Hen and her three chicks are at the far end of the yard, where the old duck houses are.

Putting her and her eggs in the dog crate turned out to be a better idea than we first expected. She settles the chicks down in the crate at night, so we can close it to for an extra layer of safety.

We started them in a small enclosed area. After a few days, Dan moved the little fence and expanded their area. Eventually, we hope to put them with the other chickens, assuming they'll all accept that. For now, this is safer.

It's hard to get pictures because Mama puts herself between them and me!

Under the chicken coop overhang, Dan built a turkey roost.

The poults were about to outgrow the chicken tractor by this time, so we moved them into their section of the new yard.

They've grown a lot!

We don't know for sure (because turkey people say it's very difficult to tell), but we think we have two males and one female. Call it a hunch, but we both have the same feeling.

Of the hen and chicks, the turkeys are very inquisitive. When the chicken tractor was out in the pasture, the poults were always calmer when chickens were around.

However! Any time they get too close to the fence, Mama Hen lunges at them. They are timid, though, and immediately run off. Dan saw them hop the fence for a closer look and Mama Hen went full blown mama bear ballistic. He said they couldn't get out of her pen fast enough.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, our varmint proofing didn't work. Mama Hen switched from the dog crate to the duck house, and yesterday morning, one of the chicks had disappeared. Last night Dan covered the opening with chicken wire and put out two live animal traps. He checked on them at bedtime and had caught skunks in both traps. He found a third skunk in the yard! That one has gone to skunk heaven. I'm so glad he secured Mama hen and the remaining two chicks. Otherwise, we'd probably have lost the other two as well.


Cederq said...

I wished varmints would respect our feeble attempts to safeguard our precious chicks, and the young'uns and the adults...

Leigh said...

Kevin, me too. But I reckon all they see is a tasty meal.

Annie in Ocala said...

Dang them skunks! Fortunately there are none left in my home area. When I lived across the county every dog got sprayed once. The skunks steered clear of the property and the dogs only once (each) went thru the 'treatment'... I do have possum and coon pressure and occasional bear and/or coyote issues here but the catahoula dogs.... Raised right of course... are the best lgd I could ever hope for.
I had 13 chicks hatch in the spring(to a broody hen) and they all made it! Of course the roos went to freezer camp and I have kept 3 pullets thinking I could loose one or some of the original 7 hens but haven't yet and might see if I can sell this trio of pullets as these layers have strong desire to sit... And fortunately a neighbor with a huge number of replacements if necessary.
Still hoping for some turkeys in my future but getting infrastructure for them is something I don't have yet.

Leigh said...

Annie, it's an ongoing battle to keep them safe. And for some reason, everything likes chicken! They always seem to be the target. But a good guard dog is priceless. And so is a good broody hen!

Ed said...

Two skunks in live traps! I can't imagine what followed. I once had to remove a brood of young skunks from our lumber building on the farm. I used a piece of 12 foot long 2 x material to lash a toy plastic sand shovel onto and scooped them up one my one and dumped them in a bucket which I then carried elsewhere on the farm and dumped them out. Even from 12 feet away, their smell was nearly overpowering!

Leigh said...

Ed, amazingly, Dan just tossed a blanket over the cages, put them into the back of the pickup, and took them out to re-home them. Honestly? I think Dan is a skunk whisperer. This summer alone, he's caught and re-homed probably more than three dozen skunks (we're overrun!) and never gotten so much as a drop of spray released. They are actually pretty friendly little creatures. I once had one run up to the back porch steps and look expectantly at me. I just told him there was nothing for him on the porch, and off he ran.