We have now had the chicks for two weeks and they have doubled in size. They were outgrowing the hamster cage and it was time to move them on to the next stage.
Yesterday I started getting the dog crate and the nest box/coop ready for them. We had to make quite a few adaptions to make the dog crate escape proof. Usually I only have girls in there for a day or two to make sure they know the coop is where to go at bedtime.
This time the chicks may need to be in there for two weeks as I need them to be big enough not to be able to put their head through the dividing chicken wire. I worry on two counts, they could get their head stuck in the wire or they could pecked from the girls on the other side.
If it turns out that the chicks outgrow the dog crate before I feel that the chicken wire is safe for them I will come up with something else to line it with. It already has a double layer of chicken wire but I could put something finer on their side. I will worry about that later.
My husband decided that instead of screwing the perch system down he would use a bolt so that it would be easier for me to remove it for cleaning. The chicks will be in this bedtime coop for up to four months so it needs to be easy to clean.
Movable perch system
My husband drilled a hole through the trough for the bolt to lock in to and put a catch above the trough to hold it in place. It can’t move or tip up but I can undo the bolt and slip the trough out from under the catch to remove it for cleaning.
Nest box/coop filled with pine shavings
The chicks have outgrown this space
This will be the chicks new home
I decided to fill the dog crate tray with soil so that the chicks get used to being on soil. It will be better for dust baths and will provide grit plus it won’t matter if it gets flung out.
We had to modify the dog crate. First we put some aluminium trays under the tray to lift it above the horizontal gaps as we thought the chicks may be able to get through them. Then we had to raise the coop on a piece of wood so that the ramp would drop into the higher tray. We then had to attach some wood between the coop and crate to block the gaps. We also put some wood on the left of the tray to block that gap.
It actually took most of the afternoon getting everything ready. I fixed a water bottle and put in a dish for water and a dish for food by the ramp where it is less likely to get soil flicked into it. The water dish probably will get soil flicked into it but the bottle is a back up.
It was now all ready for the chicks.
This morning I put the chicks in their new home and they immediately started pecking at the soil. They then found both water sources and a minute later had found the food dish.
The chicks in their new home
They find the water
They find the food
The only thing that remains to be seen is if they find the coop at bedtime. I think they will as they seem pretty smart.