We purchase pullets in Spring 2011 and had a wonderful, stress-free year enjoying our ladies. We were devastated this spring when we lost two birds (and a bunny) to raccoons. We also learned that you can't always introduce new adult birds without considerable bloodshed; down one more bird. Did I mention you can't bury a pet chicken without other wildlife exhuming their little bodies? It has been a tough month at the Rohe Ranch with considerable carnage. We did not sign up for this roller coaster ride.
Take for instance our new brood of babies. I spent several hours renovating an old dog kennel; sturdy with plenty of space for growing ladies to get some exercise. This is going to be their home until they can take on the adult ladies later this fall so I took the time to make it secure. What I didn't anticipate was the overpowering curiosity of four naughty resident felines.
Nobody told the chicks to run for cover when the cat's paw slid through the chicken wire. They apparently didn't get the memo that the perimeter was off limits. Poor Baby Chick took a couple claws to her backside. Poor Reese the Cat got nailed with squirt bottle shot of water to his head, scruffed and placed on the patio in Time-Out. (No animals were injured in this incident.)
See? All I read about preparing for these chicks, the "crumbles", the pine bedding, the temperature; I didn't realize proper placement of the heat lamp and dishes is vital to the set up.
I moved the heat lamp to hang from the MIDDLE of the kennel so they can nap in the center far from swiping claws. The food and water is also now centrally located so they can sleep and eat without molestation. I also added a cardboard barrier, almost like a crib bumper, around the perimeter to keep the ladies safe and prevent the cats from suffering my wrath. I know they can't help it; it's in their nature to torture tiny peeping feathered objects. I've witnessed the damage they can do to our local chipmunks.
In the meantime, I will continue to tweak the babies' home until they have a fighting chance. Or can at least wallop a cat back with a precise blow of the beak. I realize I will never be a step ahead of nature but will do my best to make their care and comfort my priority.