This is Jasmine, she has lived among our flock of chickens for years. She usually waits for the hens to leave the coop, then sneaks in and eats their food. She lives under a pallet in the feed room, when she has babies, there’s a nearby hole in the corner of the barn, pretty sure she keeps them way down in there. I’ve seen her take hay, shavings, or whatever else she can find down there for nesting material. Once she destroyed my broom, I guess the bristles where quite a find for her building project. Last winter a quilted moving blanket used to cover my coop was shredded to bits! The cool thing about that was only the stuffing in the blanket was used, she left the outer material, wanting only the soft fill for her babies.
Jasmine will join the flock to eat when fresh greens are offered, they all seem to live in harmony. It is not uncommon to see them all gathered around the drinker, Jasmine hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care that she’s a little different from her chicken family. However, oddly enough, she never raises her babies to be flock bunnies. All her young are briefly introduced, then never to be seen again.
After a devastating monsoon storm that destroyed our barn in 2014, two coyote and hawk attacks, feral cats, and one resident bunny killin’ dog, Jasmine is still here. Tough ol’ gal!
Mamma hen was separated from the flock five weeks ago to hatch and raise her baby chicks in a quiet and safe environment. The chicks are now two weeks old and it’s time to move Mamma and her babies back to the coop. To keep harmony among the flock, I’ve closed off a corner with hardware cloth to allow visibility between existing flock, Mamma and babies. The frame is merely PVC pipe cut in 3 foot sections with wire attached using zip ties.
Here’s the set-up I’m using from Nursery to Coop…
Inside Nursery Coop
Coop Transition Pen
Moving the hen with her chicks is best done at night when all the birds are sleeping. Last night wearing my handy head lamp, I headed out to the nursery coop. Throwing a blanket over the nest, I took Mom and her chicks, nest box and all, and placed it in the designated transition pen inside the coop. Come morning it will be introduction time! Safe, peaceful, and everybody is happy.
After a week or so, I’ll allow Mamma to take her babies out of the enclosure. She will protect her babies from the existing flock, and at about five weeks, she will begin putting distance between her and them.
Many chicken keepers allow their hens to hatch their eggs in a secluded area within the chicken coop. Others move hen and eggs back to coop three or four days before the hatch, both ways are certainly okay. I just like to give my hens a quiet place to do their mothering, it’s merely a personal preference.
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