Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tucking in the chicks

This is how I protect the chicks at night.

Holding zone

Photo of the holding zone, where I introduce chicks to the established flock slowly. They get used to seeing one another and sharing food and water.

The four chicks move outside

This batch of chicks is killing me they are so cute. Wink, Squirt, Jackie Chan and Madeline Albright are one adorable little flock. I won't allow my hens to harm them again, that's for sure.

I have developed a new way to introduce chicks to an established flock. First, I set up a holding zone, which is a puppy fence set up next to the run. This allows the hens and chicks to share food and water and to get used to one another's presence. They see each other every day and the sharing of food happens with a safety zone for the chicks. I will keep them in this holding zone for two or three weeks. The warm weather meant I could move them out earlier than the previous three.

At night, I put them in a plastic shoe box, the kind from Target, which is lined with some aspen bedding. Then I slide them into one of the nesting box slots. This way, they are safe at night and cannot get pecked at by the hens. They have plenty of room to move around, and could get out if they need to or want to.

At night, I have to get out there to get them into their slot right at sundown or they start to panic. Last night, I got out a little late and they were all lined up, looking into the coop and peeping wildly.

Yesterday morning, I went out to put them back into the holding zone and they were already there! They had found their own way in, probably squeezing through the run so they could get into their own area. The cute thing was that it was wide open; I hadn't shut it the whole way the night before. They just knew that was their place, I guess.