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when to introduce young chicks to flock

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

how old do chicks need to be to be released into the rest of the flock. mine are 6 weeks old and have had through the fence introductions.

post #2 of 19

Have you ever heard of the "panic room" system of integration? It involves a safe pen with chick-size portals so the chicks can go into the rest of the run or coop and mingle with and tease the adults while being able to retreat back to their safe pen when they find themselves in over their little heads.


I usually open up the portals in my chick pen when my chicks are three weeks old after they're been introduced to the adults through the fencing for awhile. By four or five weeks, after learning self confidence with this panic room system, my chicks are ready to move into the coop and roost with the adults by. My present group of three chicks are just four weeks old and I jumped the gun a bit by already moving them into the coop. Last night, after three nights of me coaxing them into the coop, they went in on their own and even roosted on a perch to sleep.


This method really speeds up the integration process while making sure the chicks are as safe as can be. It also helps to have lots of space, many perches of varying heights and stumps and old furniture the chicks can use to evade any bullies.

post #3 of 19
That's around the age I moved mine together. It's more about how they behave with each other than age. I had my babies and "biggers" living with a fence between for about 2 weeks, and there was no sign of stress or aggression (along with the fact that the babies were trying to get to the other side!) I got rid of the fence so they wouldn't get hurt trying to do crazy chicken things. Sorry for the pun!

I babysat them for about an hour, and watched closely for a day or two, and with no blood drawn or bullying going on left them be. The biggers sure let them know to stay out of their way, and the babies learned fast to abide. I also provided a safe zone that only babies could retreat to. Now babies are 9 weeks, quite a bit more grown, and getting along better with their biggers... but still mind their manners to the elders!

If you feel their behaviors toward each other are favorable, give it a try putting them together. I think many will suggest doing it in the evening when chickens are more calm. If it's rough just separate them again. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
Edited by srhmchlk - 9/2/15 at 6:35am
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

What a wonderfully easy idea, hadn't thought of it. A safe getaway place between the chick area and the older hens. I also have a big rooster that does what roosters do but he is a formidable opponent. I only enter with a big stick. I am hoping he will not hurt the chicks. I also like the idea of just putting them all together and keep a close eye out, I can always separate them again. Thank you both for your very helpful suggestions. Tomorrow I shall create a safe area and in a few days if all goes well I may remove the fence entirely. I think momma is ready to get back to her sisters.

Edited by Evon - 9/2/15 at 4:26pm
post #5 of 19

One word of warning regarding roosters. Generally, they won't hurt chicks, but they can be curious about them. Make sure the safe pen has small-mesh fencing around the bottom in case a chick tries to stick its head through. Roosters may see an inquisitive little head sticking out through the fence and make a stab at it out of curiosity and end up scalping the chick.


This is for the period when the older flock members are getting acquainted with the chicks.

post #6 of 19

I find that the little peeps themselves are more likely than an adult rooster to engage in a game of king of the coop and scalp their brothers and sisters..


If and when they do scalp eachother smear a dab of medicated Vaseline on their wounded heads and they will soon be healed up enough to repeat this feat of arms.

Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

ty! they are curious little buggers.

post #8 of 19

lazy farmerette here, who can never find her tools, and am chronically broke (kids, need i say more). so i wanted the eziest, most natural method of chickie-introduction. i let a broody set in sept--but was still obsessively worried when a chick hatched in (cool) late sept, but decided to trust mama and you guys (mama only allowed one hatchling).


sooo--my experience: closed off the solid sleeping house and left the rest of the flock in the fenced area with roosts. they were squacky-mad, but got over it by the first night. i put my food dehydrator in it for baby warmth. it was in the 50's. i homemade some starter mix from a recipe in 'backyard chickens' and made sure their water was fresh. they really made  mess of the water--so this was challenging. the awesome part was how the baby burrowed into the mom's feather--i couldn't even see her!!! mama kept her warm! then about 23 days old, mama and baby decided to escape. there are cats and pets everywhere-but they were still alive at the end of the day. after the 2nd day, mom had proven she knew what she was doing so i opened the barrier between the coop and laying house. i was a little obsessive--but the 3 roosters and 15 hens had no problems--i mean after the initial squawking! i kept an occasional eye out and fed the rest of the flock a LOT so they didn't get any ideas. i threw branches and firewood around the perimeter of the big yard that they go into during the day, and the sleeper coop, so there were plenty of hidey places. i learned that from youz guyz--and that is good info!


now, all is well, and mama has taken care of baby #1--so come spring, she will be a pro. i feel like a chicken farmer!

post #9 of 19
I have 3 new pullets to introduce to my 5 hen flock. I have been letting all of them free range in the yard. When the pullets get anywhere near the others my BSL, Ruby, goes after them jumping on the back of the first one she catches. This has been going on for three weeks. Should I continue to stop it or let them work it out ? The pullets are 14 weeks old and include a Brahma, Welsummer, and Wyandotte.
post #10 of 19

What you most likely have here is an alpha hen being an aggressive little jerk to the three young pullets. Others who have had this problem in their flock isolate the problem hen for a week or so out of sight of the rest. This gives the pullets some breathing room to get acquainted with the other four adult hens without the stress of the bully being around.


After a week apart, try letting the alpha hen back with the flock. Chances are that while she was in isolation, the pecking order shuffled so there is now a new alpha that will challenge the bully, perhaps keeping her in line.


If she goes back to stomping the pullets, isolate her for another week. Chicken society almost always elects a new alpha during this period, and isolation can also soften the temperament of the bully.


Meanwhile, what you can hope for is that the pullets will have gained some self confidence while the bully is in isolation, making it harder for her to bully them when she does return.

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