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I want to introduce my 1.5 year old hens to my new chicks!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have only been raising chickens for about 2 months now and started with two RIR. I loved them so much I got 4 bantams and 2 coronations. My new chicks are about 5 weeks old. I have a few questions about introducing them to eachother. Is there a certain age the chicks need to be first? My 2 hens free range but since I am expanding I created an enclosed run for them to all stay in once they are introduced. A few days ago I put one of my hens in the run with one of the chicks just to see what would happen and the hen went immediately after the chick and pecked at it repeatedly and the poor chick just squawked helplessly so I scooped it up and that was it, now I am scared to try again. I have heard that sneaking the chicks in during the night is successful a lot of times but here's the thing. My 2 hens are in a pretty small coop so I built a nice size coop before I got my new 6 chicks so they would all have more room. Now the chicks are in the bigger coop. I want them all to be in this bigger coop together eventually. So essentially I can't sneak the chicks in, I would be sneaking the hens in. Any advice would be appreciated since I am so new to this!
post #2 of 9
Please don't put them in at night, you need to pen them next to each other for a bit, a week or two, until everyone gets used to seeing each other, than you begin supervised mingling, returning them to their pens when anything becomes too much, eventually you should be able to let them together during the day, and eventually all the time, making sure you have places where the chicks can retreat to and the older ones can't follow, putting one chick with one hen resulted in what you saw happen. Start slow, good luck.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 9

I recently integrated 10 younger birds into my small flock of subadult birds (the adults were two Jersey Giants hens and one Ameraucana Roo).

 

I had them in a pen outside with an attached run after an acceptable quarantine period (around a month kept in my garage).

 

After about a week, I started free ranging the younger birds while supervised. At one point, I had to separate my big birds from the little birds and switched coops (put the big birds in the smaller coop, and the little birds in the old bird's coop).

 

Everyone was on even footing after this, but even then, I had a spot for the little birds to retreat to that only they could fit through. I cut out a piece of hardware cloth, tapered the ends so the birds wouldn't get caught when walking through, and fashioned it into a gate.

 

The little coop worked as a retreat for the little guys to go to if they felt threatened, and the big birds could not fit into the smaller opening.

 

Most people recommend to not mingle small birds such as yours with mature birds just because of the risk of injury. It can be done if you're very careful, but I'd still wait until they're around 10-12 weeks old.

 

My birds were approximately 12-13 weeks or so when they were first mingling with the big birds. Even now, they don't fight back (the small ones,) if one of the mature birds decides to be a bully.

 

Chicks are very fragile so it is best to be very careful and take it very slow/supervise.

post #4 of 9

Here's the way I've been successfully doing it for years now.

 

I introduce the chicks to the older flock as early as possible by having the chicks in an adjacent secure pen so everyone becomes acquainted over a period of time. When the chicks are very young, they spend only a small part of the day outside. These days, though, the chicks are installed as soon as I get them into the secure pen and brooded right there.

 

At age three weeks, I open small chick size openings from the secure chick pen into the rest of the run and let the chicks mingle. They have their secure pen to retreat to when the pecking order becomes stressful. There are also plenty of perches and things to run behind and hop up onto to evade bullies out in the main run.

 

Your hen attacked the chick when you exposed her to it because it was an outsider. She didn't know it as a member of her flock. You need to either introduce chicks gradually over a period of time using side by side pens, or brood them in proximity to the rest of the flock so they will be considered part of the flock. I prefer the latter because the chicks are accepted as flock members from the very start and integration is therefor a breeze.

post #5 of 9

Yes - that's what I was saying too. If you provide a safe haven, it helps a lot. :)

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Is there a certain age that's better for free ranging chicks? I'm worried they may venture off since there are 6 of them and 1 of me or do they usually do okay?
post #7 of 9


When I put my newer chicks in the electric poultry wire area, they were small enough to fit between the smallest graduated squares of the fencing. They really did fine, and didn't venture outside of it. You do want to provide them a protected area if you're not supervising them at all times, though (imo).

 

When I was free-ranging my birds without the protection of the electric poultry netting, I lost 90% of my flock (even though the birds were older, around 4 months). It also depends on your predator population; I live in a heavily wooded area that is overrun with four-legged predators.

 

If you're simply going outside with the birds for free-ranging and they are docile, they shouldn't go far from you. Mine stayed around me for "protection" I guess when I brought them out for the first few times.

post #8 of 9
Mine start to free range as soon as integrated, around 8-10 weeks, they will start off slowly staying close and they slowly expand there travel area, though it can take a month or two.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #9 of 9

Same with my chicks. They stare at the open doors of the run and watch the adults come and go, but they are six weeks and older before they venture out far beyond the safety of the run. And even at ten weeks, which they are now, they only venture a few yards beyond the run. They have yet to make it to the Holy Grail of Chicken World, the compost pile.

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