Originally Posted by FlyWheel
I guess that's true if they have been raised from hatching alongside the others, but my adult birds didn't even know the little ones existed until I bought them out yesterday. Nor do they have a mama or broody hen to look after them, as it looks from your photos yours did. I would rather they get to know one another through the safety of the chicken wire first. Also it lets me keep each on their proper diet; the layers on laying pellets the growing pullets on grower feed.
P.S. I notice the littler ones are being kept separated from the adults in your coop too.
Basically that's the way I have it in mine.
Nope, not one of the adults in any of these photos was a Mama Hen. All of the chicks in these photos were purchased, either from My Pet Chicken or a local feed store and brought home. After a day or so in the brooder in the house, they went to the outdoor brooder with Mama Heating Pad. In the picture you selected, that's Dumb Daphne the Flock Complainer in the front looking at the chicks, and at the back of the pen is Ida, a Red Sex Link. I also posted a shot of Scout, our rooster, inside the pen with the chicks the first time we opened it up completely, and there's a sweet shot of Kat, a Buff Orpington, getting a beak-to-beak look at one of the chicks when their pen was opened too, plus lots of shots of the chicks at a few different ages, living happily with the rest of the chickens. Not a single broody hen was in the flock of adults. I WISH I could get a hen to go broody!! Just doesn't happen here for some reason. I had one broody, Agatha, a couple of years back and the result was a single chick, Scout. So what I have shown are a group of purchased chicks, no broody hen, and just the adults and chicks learning to co-mingle on their own terms.
If you have your pen set up similarly to mine, your integration should also go pretty smoothly once the adults are used to seeing the youngsters, but since yours are so much older and larger than mine are when I put them outside to live you may have to take extra care. Me, I just open the pen up when they are 3 weeks old so they can meet the adults face-to-face, and they go back into the pen at night. I do that for a few days, then the pen stays open all the time. The Littles can fit back in though the cracked open door, but the Bigs can't follow them. (Now of course I have added portals into the brooder pen as @azygous has.) I generally have full integration by the time the chicks are 4 weeks old and by the time they are 5 weeks old or so the brooder comes out of the run completely. I have a huge hollow log out there laying with the hollow side down. The chicks learn quite quickly that they can fit underneath, but the Bigs can't get under. So if it gets a little tense, they just head for the log or their brooder pen, whichever is closest.
Like @junebuggena I don't buy separate food for them. I use All Flock or Starter/Grower for every bird out there - layers, roosters, chicks and juveniles - and keep oyster shell in a separate container for the girls. Never had an issue doing it this way.....all are healthy, the adults are laying well, and the chicks are thriving.
This year I had 3 chicks I hatched here plus the ones we purchased. They are all living outdoors and have been since the hatchlings were each just a couple of days old. I kept them inside long enough to see that they could eat and drink and to make sure they knew how to use Mama Heating Pad. Then we bought some chicks, added them to the ones we hatched and they all went outside.
This year's group of chicks out in the brooder in the run. Two of them, Yokel and Sweet Pea, were hatched here. They were joined by Sluf a week and half later, just a day after he was hatched here, but he wasn't hatched and in this video yet.
Edited by Blooie - 5/12/16 at 11:43pm