We have been struggling with a few issues regarding both the adult chickens and the six-week-old banty chicks. The issue with the adults has been hens that seem to forget to eat when they are broody, resulting in their ultimate demise. The chicks’ issue is a failure to go into the coop at night, resulting in hubby having to bodily grab each one and deposit it inside. Both issues have been troubling and I’ve been searching for remedies. I can finally see success, though I’ll feel more confident when they continue over time.
With the broody hen problem, I’d been tossing her out into the yard many times throughout the day, but each time she’d immediately gone back inside and back to a nestbox. This past week I decided to take it a step further, and lock them all out into the yard first thing in the morning. Or more accurately, I had hubby do so upon letting them out in the morning. So he’d open their hatch, they’d come racing outside into their yard, then he’d close the hatch behind them. Several hours later, once I had completed my inside bird chores, I would go out and let them back inside. I needed to be sure they were getting adequate water and that anyone who needed to actually lay an egg had access to the nestboxes. The last few days I’d been locking them out again in the afternoon, after tossing scratch feed into their yard. When I finally saw the most broody hen eating the scratch feed I had a feeling things were going in the right direction.
Today, for the first time, our mille fleur broody hen, MF, went outside with the rest when Scott opened the hatch! This is HUGE! A major accomplishment! I’m not sure if she will have any setbacks or if the broodiness is now officially broken – at least for the time being – but we will keep a close eye on the situation I think that once we add the younger chicks to the coop that will also change the dynamics in a major way. We will be more than doubling the number of hens in that coop, and I would think that would make it much less likely for one hen to monopolize a nestbox and get away with it.
As for the chicks, last night they ALL went into the coop on their own! I had been removing their food dish at 4:00 in the afternoon, and only returning it at dusk. Several hours without their food being accessible made them eager to get at it when it was returned, and this seems to have done the trick after several days of conditioning. It is a bit of a pain, but I think once they are in the habit of going inside at dusk they will continue to do so even without the added allure of the food.
Things are looking up!