Young Chickens : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

A couple weeks ago, we purchased a milking doe ( 3/4 nubian ) and a little over a week later, purchased our second doe who brought with her twin six-week old does as well.

Last night, I bought 12 "chicks" who are old enough to hear early feathers, though not their colored ones. ( you can tell I'm still a rookie at this :)

Anyhow, our intent in purchasing the "chicks" ( chooks, for our friends in Austrailia :) is so that they'll rustle through our bedding hay, picking out the bugs and feasting on what the goats leave behind. I've read in Joel Salatin's books about doing this and about the wonderful compost we'll end up with if we do it correctly.

My question is ... how old should the "chicks" be before we allow them to leave the goat barn and move about our yard more freely ?

Currently, our goat pen wraps around two sides of our goat barn and is walled in with used pallets. The 'chicks' are still small enough that they could certainly fit between the pallet boards and we have a dog who'd love to chase / eat them, since they're so new to her and she's not had time to learn "DON'T DO THAT".

Talk to me. How old / large should the "chicks" be before we allow them to range more freely ?

We plan to put both the goats and chicks in for the night, so as to minimize losses to predators.

Respectfully submitted, L. A. Smith

-- L. A. Smith (LARSmith@IMCNet.Net), June 13, 2000


L.A.: We have a similar situation, except sheep and chickens. Right now, only three of the chickens are little, born on Easter, and they have been out foraging in the sheep pen for about three weeks now. They do tend to get through the fence, but stay close. I was worried at first about hawks or the cats getting them, not the dogs, as our Lab knows she isn't to touch the poultry, and the other dog is too old to care. So far, so good, and the chickens are really scratching things up and doing a good job. I just held the chicks and put them up to the dogs's muzzle at first and told her "NO!" She hasn't tried to mess with them since. I think I would wait maybe a couple weeks before putting yours out, and then do it on a day when you can be home to keep an eye on them. They will go inside at night if used to being in there. All our chickens just go in the hen house when it starts to get dark. What type of goats did you get? Are you planning to milk them? What kind of chickens? Good luck! Jan

-- Jan in Colorado (, June 13, 2000.

At 3 weeks, they have no need for extra heat. At 4 to 5 weeks they are pretty self-sufficient, and need only the feed such as chick starter. However, I would suggest a separate place where the goats can't get to it - sort of like a creep feeder, otherwise you'll be feeding chick feed to the goats. Eventually, as in when they start to lay (@ 5 months) they should have their own "digs"! Gawd, does that go back! GL!

-- Brad (, June 14, 2000.

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