Last year was an awful year to be a chicken at Jordan's Croft. The losses were staggering – 200 eggs, 30 expensive purchased chicks, a dozen hatchlings, 20 adults and pullets.
The worst was this winter, when every night some kind of animal got into the coop and killed at least one of the flock. I lost the secondary rooster and all but 2 hens. I was attached to my flock; I raised them over the last 3 years. I bought a trap. I caught two cats, a dog and a rooster.
With some help from friends, we secured the coop, stopped the killing – after 2 weeks I figured it was safe to buy a couple more hens.
I've been collecting eggs since the first week of March. They started hatching a week ago. I picked up 9 chicks at the feed store. Now I have 20 chicks and a small clutch of eggs. The problem with hatching is at least half of the hatchlings will be roosters. So you need to hatch twice as many eggs as you want hens.
The difference this year, as I no longer have hens to raise the chicks, is that I set up a secondary brooder in a kiddy pool. This area is twice as large as the 55 gallon water trough I usually use.
Additionally, I bought a very large brooding box. It will be heated with a 100 watt bulb and put in chicken world. The youngsters will be able to run in and out of chicken world, yet have a warm place to go back to when they get chilled. The investment has been large, in order to get over the losses.
Maybe this will be a better year.