Originally Posted by lazy gardener
I like to give my chicks sod just as soon as they are eating their crumble well. Really, there's no reason to not provide it just as soon as they start eating. As far as introducing them to the flock... there are a lot of issues specific to each flock. I had a mean bird so had to delay until they were a bit older. As long as their heat needs are being met, you can do it when it makes sense to you in your particular circumstances. Azygous provides a "panic room" with a entrance small enough that the little ones can come and go, but the big ones can't enter. Put their heating pad in there, and you should be good to go. The biggest issue related to early introduction would be if the littles are safe in your run situation? Is the wire mesh small enough that they can't get through it or get stuck in it? Could an aerial predator fly in and carry them off? (this includes: crows, hawks, blue jays, and not winged but certainly a threat: snakes, rats, and squirrels.)
Thank you. I will give them sod.
Also thanks for picking up on my need to work on safety. I had been thinking of overhead safety from hawks but not about crows and jays who can swoop in under the tree cover or barn overhang.
The problem is that we don't have a run-- we have the coop that is strong and locked up at night, and then they have free range around the curtilege of the house. The photo is of our old barn, there are 3 stalls, the chickens are on the left, and it's all closed in with hardware cloth buried around the floor perimeter and up the walls to the roof, but there is an open space at the roof that a weasel could come through, so we still need to put in a HC ceiling. We have one of the auto chicken pop doors. We've only been here 5 months and the adults have been safe. At the risk of overwhelming with a long-winded post, I'll go ahead and send the following:
My plan originally was that they would be allowed to venture into the coop itself at 2 weeks (while being able to run back into the brooder through portals) and I had expected that the littles wouldn't be able to get out the pop door right away and that they'd spend a couple more weeks inside the main coop. Now I realize that the step up to the pop door from inside the coop will not present much of an impediment for very long. Outside the pop door there is a very large overhang of the barn roof and also heavy tree/leaf cover (big oak trees), and a cattle-panel fenced in area that's mainly to keep our 2 pet pigs away from the coop/food area. The chicks could easily wander out the cattle panels and be very vulnerable so I had already planned to attach to it a 3/4"-openings plastic poultry fence that will definitely keep the chicks from wandering into the woods.
Then on the barnyard side, there is a portal that the adult chickens use which I don't know how to fix yet except to confine them. And in fact snakes, rats and squirrels currently could get in the coop during the day when the pop door is open and I have the brooder set up to resist such predators but a determined one could cause harm. But also the rooster keeps an eye on the food/coop.
I expect that the littles will stick close to the adults once they are outside, whenever that turns out to be (and I'm rethinking a lot here). My adult chickens (all 3-4 years old) are extremely savvy about how they move around the property and when the sun is out they stay in shaded areas and actually run if they go between shady spots. The rooster is always on the lookout, herding for safety, and now all the trees are leafed out and there is a lot of cover, and we have had no losses in the 5 months we've been here on the farm. So I believe that they will be teaching the littles all this. It's just that there are other predators that aren't much threat to the adults and I'm sweating it on this. btw my adults are 9 EE hens and 1 blue Ameracauna rooster, the 10 littles are eggs from these chickens.
But yes, now I realize we probably have to construct a run. It's just that the adults are not going to want to stay confined and that would seem contradictory to the goal of easeful integration.