I put six Cornish Cross chicks into our coop from day one. They are in an enclosure I made out of wire shelving for walls and ceiling covered with chicken wire to keep them from escaping. I call it the brooder pen. The area I kept them in was large enough for them to stretch and flap and play to their hearts content. I also put a Brinsea brooder for them to snuggle under when they need to. Since they are meat chickens, they have grown very fast, and are nearly half feathered at two and a half weeks old. Now that they are adapted to our big laying hens that share the coop with them, and the hens are not at all interested in them, I have started leaving the one side up high enough for the chicks to wander around the rest of the coop floor. They spend nearly all day away from the brooder and are doing just fine. If I wasn't concerned about the temps dropping at night I would consider just removing it since I never see them using it anymore. Maybe they still do at night, so, until they are fully feathered it will stay.
We also have a couple of two week old chicks living in a plastic bin on a table next to our dining room table. It's set up in front of a window for them to watch the big girls free ranging in the back yard, and to enjoy the sunshine. They also have a Brinsea brooder that they only use occasionally. When I was waiting for that brooder to arrive in the mail I used a standard heat lamp to keep them warm, and they spent most of their time huddled under it. I think they are much better adapted to ambient temperatures with the brooder.
Now that they are getting more feathers I am preparing a space in the coop to set up their brooder bin so they can still enjoy a window, and be able to hear the goings on of the bigger hens with all their cackling and clucking. We're preparing a run and shelter for the meat chickens alongside the main coop, and once they are ready to move out there the little chicks will be moved into the coop in the brooder pen.
My concern right now is that we are picking up a couple of chicks tomorrow and I really want to put them in with the littles in the kitchen brooder, but, wonder if they are too old now to accept the new chicks into their space. I have been waiting for IFA to get black austrolorp chicks and they were supposed to come in a week ago but were delayed a week, so the other two chicks, a buff orpington and a golden sex link, grew a full week more than I felt comfortable with putting these new ones in with. I am only getting two new chicks, so, I really want them to share space and grow up together.
Any thoughts? Will they be okay with that much of an age difference?