This spring and summer have
been all about figuring out how to grow our own chicks. Although
I’ve focused my posts on getting my hatch
rate up, we’ve had
another big problem — keeping those chicks alive for the first two
We put our first set of
17 chicks out in a special section of the chicken coop soon after they
hatched…and we promptly lost four chicks to what I assume was a
rat. (One chick body was left behind, which is typical of a rat
For hatch 2, I kept the
chicks inside for a full three weeks (which just about drove me
batty.) During that time period, we lost one chick to a power
outage — in the future, we’ll always have some backup power on
hand. Then, after moving the chicks to the coop, two more were
picked off by some sort of predator.
All told, we’ve lost a
full 23% of the chicks from the first two hatches to predators.
Not only is it heartbreaking, lost chicks hit you in the wallet since
you’ve paid for the chicks or eggs and the feed to raise
them. One solution would be to seriously predator-proof the coop,
but we like to have our chicks out on pasture as soon as they’ll go
(around a week or two old), and you can’t keep small predators like
rats out of an entire pasture.
The best solution I’ve
come up with is to continue to work toward the plan I’ve had all along
— use broody hens to raise our chicks. When our third set of
chicks hatched, our broody hen had finally settled onto a nest of eggs
were able to slip the chicks underneath her one night. One chick seems to
have been lost in the process, but since then the mother hen has been
making sure that absolutely nothing gets close to her ten little
fuzzballs. It’s too soon to be sure that she’ll be able to beat
my 23% failure rate, but I suspect predator protection will be one more
of a broody hen.