Geez! Already!

Dottie and chicksDottie n chicks 1st day outGoldie n chicks

Free ranging the chicks, a set on Flickr. You can click on the photos to see them larger.

Well, I just can’t believe it, but every hen is different and Dottie is no exception to the rule.  The chicks were 1 week old yesterday and she took them from the confines & protection of the chicken yard outside the fence to the side of the  chicken yard where we have a row of pine tress.  So, the chicks are learning to free range.  Now we have to be ever more vigilant.

Hawks are definitely around, we’ve heard them, we’ve seen them.  The crows have left.  What, you ask, do crows and hawks have to do with one another???  I read way back when we first had hawks and wanted to find out how to deter them, it said, that if there are crows around you won’t have hawks.  And for us, that’s true.  While we have nesting crows here in the spring and they hang around thru July early August, we truly don’t see any hawks.  Now that the crows are leaving, the days we don’t hear any crows, we hear and see hawks.   You can read about that here on the Common Crow.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I posted that Goldie took her 5 chicks out to free range at 11 days old, now Dottie’s 6 chicks are only a week old!  They never cease to amaze me.

Another thing going on, is Dottie has decided to leave the broody box with the chicks and take up sleeping in the same corner that Goldie and her chicks are sleeping in.  There’s plenty of room and as long as the moms are butt to butt theres no problems.  If they can see each other, especially Dottie, if she even sees one of Goldie’s chicks on her back she pecks the chick, then pecks Goldie, then Goldie pecks Dottie.   The 2 nights I’ve seen this happen, I’ve grabbed Dottie and put her back in her broody box and put the chicks in with her.  Last night after I did this (it was still early, my moms take their chicks to bed about 5:30, so theres plenty of daylight yet) Dottie took the chicks back out.  I rolled my eyes, thinking more trouble coming in the hen house, just a few minutes later, she was back in the hen house, so I followed.  To my surprise, she took the chicks back into the broody box! Yeah!

Goldie & ChicksShared CornerMama Hens & ChicksDottie with chicksGoldie with chicksSo cute

Mama hens not sharing, a set on Flickr.

It won’t be long before Goldie moves her chicks up to the nests where the hens lay.  We have an old metal 12 nest unit from the old chicken farmer days.  It’s on the wall and safe.  All our broody’s move their chicks up there and sleep with them in the nests until the mom leaves the chicks.  Then the chicks stay in the nests and perch on the perches on front of the nests until they are old enough to work their way into the roosts with the other hens.  You know how that pecking order goes.  It takes a while.  Goldie tries about once a week to see if the chicks can get up there.  It should be any day now, I think they’re ready.

So how ’bout you??  Do you let your mama hens free range with their chicks??  We have decided that when the moms leave their chicks we will this time, take control and confine the chicks to the safety chicken yard, until their bigger, way bigger.

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