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When Can I Mix My Eight Week Old Chicks With My Full Grown Hens

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have been raising chickens for the past six years.  We have never mixed flocks before.  This year my wonderful husband made a large chicken run and coop that can house all of our chickens.  We have five adult hens and 17 eight week old pullets.  I have been doing a lot a reading about mixing flocks but was hoping to get help from people who have done it successfully before.  I was wondering when I can mix my younger chicks with my older ones and how to go about feeding the different groups.  Both groups are heavy breeds such as Barred Rocks, Delawares, Buff Orpingtons, and Black Australorps.  Any help would be appreciated.

Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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post #2 of 12

You can try, I have chicks the same age as yours right now and I have to keep them away from my hens. They want to be with them and the hens dont want them with them. I did have some chicks at the same age a couple months age and they where fine with my hens. The difference was that they where more outgoing, and spent most of their time in woods and not trying to fit in with the hens. All I can say is try it all hens and chicks are different


 
Chickens are like potato chips
     You can't have just one 
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Chickens are like potato chips
     You can't have just one 
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the post.  I would love to move them sooner than later.  The coop and run they are in is a little small and they are starting the smell.  I have to clean the coop about twice a week to keep up.  I considered putting up some chicken wire inside the run to separate the chickens for a few days.  I would put the chicks in the temporary enclosure for the day and move them back to their coop at night.  My husband thinks that is too much work and time.  He agrees with you that it doesn't hurt to try.  I just don't want the chicks to get hurt by the larger hens.

Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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post #4 of 12

Here's a page that may help:  http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-adding-to-your-flock

It
may work fine.  On way is, if they free range, have them spread out by tossing treats everywhere when you put them together, then let them wander for a while.  This worked for me.  Some people have had good luck setting the new ones on the roost just after dark; by morning, hopefully, they think the new ones were always there.

As someone else said, chickens are vicious little dinosaur cannibal heathens ....

Your idea of putting them close together with wire between for a few weeks is another approach often recommended on here.  That would also let the young ones get up to the others' size.  It can be a pretty rinky-dink chicken wire fence, nothing elaborate; should not really be much work, just staple it up.

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

9 hatchery and mutt hens

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

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Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

9 hatchery and mutt hens

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

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post #5 of 12

I have the same problem. Huge coop with guineas relocated, now only 4 chickens - they are 17 weeks old and I have eight weekers in my barn that need to GO. I can't free range unless I am home, too many nasties, but I do have a large run. I'm pondering trying the smaller ones in a dog cage to see what happens.  Are the hens more likely to accept the younger ones if they aren't old enough to lay yet? or does that make them more mellow? smile

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have looked at that article in the past.  I think I'll have to be a little patient and do the temporary fence idea and see how it goes. 

Thanks for your reply.

Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

What do you normally do about feed for a mixed flock?  I considered putting two containers, one with non-medicated chick starter/grower and another with layer pellets, or one container either with both feeds mixed or with just one of the feeds (layer pellets or chick starter/grower.  Any advice?

Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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Living in CT with my husband, three kids, two dogs and flock of chickens

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post #8 of 12

I just feed everybody starter/grower and put oyster shell out separately.  The hens love it and I feel good because they get a little more protein.  I've never seen a young one eat any oyster shell.

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

9 hatchery and mutt hens

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

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Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

9 hatchery and mutt hens

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

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post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawn 

I just feed everybody starter/grower and put oyster shell out separately.  The hens love it and I feel good because they get a little more protein.  I've never seen a young one eat any oyster shell.


Agreed! Another option to unmedicated starter/grower is flockraiser. Either will work fine, but for whatever reason at the feed store we frequent flockraiser is a dollar or two cheaper per 50 lb bag then starter/grower.

NHR, SLW, BR, BO, EE, Wellies, BC Maran, Olive Eggers and 1 of the cutest barnyard mixes you've ever seen! Plus Hank, our farm puppy in training!
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NHR, SLW, BR, BO, EE, Wellies, BC Maran, Olive Eggers and 1 of the cutest barnyard mixes you've ever seen! Plus Hank, our farm puppy in training!
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post #10 of 12

For a mixed Laying/Young Bird flock I feed Grower with Oyster Shell offered separately.  The ones that need the calcium to make eggs eat the oyster shell.  I've seen the young ones take a bite or two but don't eat enough to hurt hemselves.  It's usually that they try it when they first see it them leave it alone. 

I agree with housing them side by side for a week or so with wire separating them, then let them mix with as much room as you possibly can.  Start out with them mixing under your supervision and pretty soon you will have a pretty good handle if you need to be there or not.  Instead of moving them back to their coop at night, if you can fix a safe place for them to stay at night in the run but separate from where the older ones sleep, it will work out better.  That way, when you totally mix them, they will each go into their own coop at night.  Bedtime is often one of the most vicious times for mixed flocks.  At other times the young ones can more easily get away.  If you cannot house them separately, I suggest you make sure you open the pop door very early so the young ones are not trapped in with the older ones with no escape route after they wake up. 

Something that I find that helps is to set up separate feeding and watering stations.  The older ones will often keep the young ones away from food and water, sometimes to the point that it is downright dangerous to the young ones.  Either they don't eat and drink enough or they get attacked when they approach the food and water.  You will notice that the younger ones are scared silly of the older ones.  That is normal and called self-preservation.

I appreciate your not wanting the young ones to get hurt.  There is a difference in establishing a pecking order and a chicken being injured.  They establish the pecking order by intimidation.  The more dominate one will approach, bluff, or peck the heck out of the weaker one.  The intimidation is accomplished, the chickens go their separate ways, and the flock becomes relatively peaceful when they all learn their proper place in the flock.  Occasionally you get a Matilda the Hun that will actively search out to destroy.  Or that intimidation peck can actually draw blood.  Then the integration does not go well.  Most of us manage to integrate chickens without serious problems, but the process is not without risk. 

Good luck!

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought....Abraham Lincoln (Freedom carries responsibility)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.....Judge Learned Hand  (The more sure your are that your way is the only right way, the more likely you are wrong.)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought....Abraham Lincoln (Freedom carries responsibility)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.....Judge Learned Hand  (The more sure your are that your way is the only right way, the more likely you are wrong.)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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