We spent the weekend a couple hours north, so I had to split up one cage of grow out bunnies into two, to ensure they’d have enough food over the weekend.
This meant the cage the hens had been hiding in overnight was locked out from their use.
We arrived home earlier, and not only were all three hens okay, but the only one laying right now had picked the lower, still open cage to lay eggs in. Those were unmolested. I saw zero signs of the hens being harassed. The rabbits didn’t flip out like I’d walked in with a running chainsaw, or anything else.
The hens still aren’t using the coop proper, it looks, but that hadn’t stopped the raccoon before.
The grow out chick pen handled the weekend fine. Before we left, I upgraded them to the “nipple” style bucket waterer — 5 gallon bucket — from the 1 gallon gravity fed. That was about 2/3rds drained. They polished off the 1:2 chick starter:meat bird feed I left them, and all were visibly larger than when we left. No signs of weakness or illness, unlike the chicks I raised in the spring.
The chick starter is medicated, and I have to wonder if the chicks in the spring were “over” medicated by it? Even though it supposedly is supposed to be fed from day 1 to onset of lay (non broilers) or until week 4ish for broilers. Or if one of those birds had something that was highly communicable, and just wiped out all of the younger birds. Of the four who survived what-that-was, only one still lives — the hen now laying. The other three were among the first casualties of the raccoons.
Either way, the spring was disheartening as I lost close to $500 in chicks, and July-August capped that off with the near annihilation of my adult flock.
Hopefully the worst of that is over.
Now I need to concentrate on the brooder coop, for the incoming chicks. Once those are settled in, I need to cull some rabbits, followed by working on moving the lower set of cages to a different set up for winter. That will 1) keep things cleaner over winter, 2) more easily enable repairs of water lines as necessary, 3) allow me to work on reworking the water system in the hopes of not having as many issues as I did last January. Since I’ll be somewhat restricted in what I can and cannot do by sometime in January, if not late December, for several weeks, I do need to get ahead of this problem before the cold sets in.