Matt, you've already seen the downside of "no protection" and are down eggs. The issue is that it's a moving target. I'd choose to protect the moms and chicks for at least a week, but after that you want them to start integrating for periods at least, because eventually, they all have to be one happy flock. There is potential danger that another mom will kill another mom's chicks if they stray into "her territory" which if she's either scared or dominant could be anywhere in the greenhouse and the risk will be greatest early on. When I first started letting the groups interact, it was with "human" supervision and a large field with fresh grass and bugs to distract from fighting.
Matt McSpadden wrote:I'm still torn whether to simply spread them out throughout the greenhouse so each has her own area but can roam free, or actually build 5 small pens to separate the mothers and chicks from each other. Any thoughts from anyone?
OK, start with the one you bought, but I think the only issue with the nipple one would be the height once the chicks are older and the hens teach them about the nipples? So build them a staircase out of rocks/bricks/wood? If it's the style I'm picturing, I haven't used one, but I do believe they use them with chicks, and layer chicks jump pretty well up onto things - to the point I had to make special lids for Hubby's meat chick feeders or they'd sit on top and poop in the feed ... sigh...
Matt McSpadden wrote:The adults are watered using the nipple waterers, but I did not have time and could not think of a simple nipple waterer that would work for an adult plus chicks. So they just have the normal red plastic ones you get from the store. I like the idea of setting it up on blocks and letting the chicks go under if needed.
OK, so if you got some of the fairly cheap 1"square deer fencing, cut it to be 3 ft high by 100ft - it could be 2 sections, and found something to use as stakes to bang in just inside the electric fence, would that do the trick? Is the electric fencing keeping the chickens in or the vermin out? If they've already learned to respect it, would they give you grief with the extra layer? Once the chicks are bigger - 6 to 8 weeks I'm guessing, you roll it up until next year. It's more work in the short term, I realize. I'd suggest just tying an even shorter bit right to the electric net fencing, top and bottom, but unless I was there, it's kind of hard to picture - that's my idea, take it, leave it or change it!
It is only 100ft of netting. This would be kind of small if I did not move it around. I've thought about getting a second length, but they are all on back order, and this fence fits perfectly over my 20x30 garden beds.