Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Keeping them safe

Talk with any parent about what is necessary to raise kids and the topic of 'keeping them safe' will inevitability come up.  Whether talking about human children or the babies about the farm, one needs to consider the surroundings and what to do to keep them safe.
Like most children, chicks are forever curious about their worlds.  As they scratch and peck, they look to their mom to tell them what is good to eat, what's best to stay away from, and to protect them from day-to-day dangers.  Since we can't watch over them 24x7, we build in safe guards.

The pastures and surrounding grasslands are all pesticide free which limits the worry that someone will eat something bad.  Any questionable weeds are removed by hand before the chicks are released into the run.  A well placed 2x4 acts as both a doorstop and a step, although the babes seem to prefer to burst out of the house in flurry of feathers.  Flying end-over-end, coming to a rolling stop just before the waterer, one somehow expects them to throw up their wings like an Olympic gymnast and shout, 'Ta-DAAA!' when they finally come to a stop.

Plastic chicken wire has been placed over the threshold.  This serves two purposes: put two fingers together.  This is the width of the hole or slot that if left open, a chick will attempt to squeeze into.  If one chick goes, the rest will soon follow after.  This wouldn't be so bad if they had the sense to get themselves out however a chick will sit and call to its mom until it hears her clucky encouragement to back out of the hole.  Since I don't speak fluent chicken, we're at a distinct disadvantage.  Under the circumstances it is sometimes best to screen those temptations than to tempt fate.
The other purpose of the plastic chicken wire is to discourage any would be predators from hiding there.  Everybody loves the taste of chicken.  Unfortunately this includes rats, snakes, turtles, cats, dogs, coyotes, and a long list of birds the live in our area.  A determined predator may not be kept out, however a slightly less determined one will.
The chicken tractor has small access doors on each end which can be locked.  Additionally, the protruding laying boxes have a cover which can be lifted providing access from the outside.  To keep coyotes and other large predators from openning and entering the coop from the laying box flap, a small hook and a very large rock has been added for extra peace of mind.
The little doodles are growing quickly.  More hoops will need to be made until the portable chicken is finally ready for the season.  Stay tuned...

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