Monday, June 22, 2015

Catastrophe in the coop.

We had 11 baby chicks hatch the other day.  Now we are down to 9.  The mother hen has been doing a fine job taking care of them.  Unfortunately the chicks are too small to make it into the coop.  So the first day or two out they just settled down near the coop.  That wasn't going to work.  I put water and food in the chicken tractor and moved them into there.  That's where they've been staying at night.  They've been going in there on their own. 
There just the slightest gap under that front rail. It's enough for some of the chicks to get under.

The problem with keeping them in the chicken tractor is that several of the chicks (normally 3-4) slip under the front of it in the morning.  When I get out there I find all of the birds pacing back and forth frantically.  The ones inside are trying to get out and the ones outside are trying to get in.  Then I prop up the front of it and everything is fine.

Last night I left the prop there so they could all get out at the same time. When I went out this morning I saw the mother hen in the yard with her chicks following her.  They looked happy.  Then I got to the coop.  I knew something was wrong.  Their waterer and feeder were both outside of the tractor and laying on their sides.  Then I saw feathers everywhere.
The block of wood is still there propping up the tractor and the feeder is not in there.
That pile of brown feathers is from the mother hen's tail.  I don't know what did this.  I'm guessing either an opossum or a fox.  I don't know if a hawk would or could do this. Regardless, I can't leave the tractor propped up like that anymore.

Tonight I go out to lock up the coop and what did I find?  That birdbrained chicken settled down under the coop!  I had to get a broom and my kids.  I nudged her out with the broom, put her in the coop, and closed the doors.  Then I had to shoe the chicks out and have my kids catch them.  It was chaos.  The chicks were chirping like crazy and the mother hen was squawking.  Eventually we caught them all and put them together in the coop.  It took a few minutes for them to quiet down.  They'll be safe in there.  I just hope they decided to go back in there tomorrow.  Catching them every night isn't going to be much fun.

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