11 week old pullet and 10 day old pullets - how do I merge them?

Barry Natchitoches

Songster
11 Years
Sep 4, 2008
649
43
194
Tennessee
My broody hatched two babies successfully in late December -- and one of them is looking like it is a rooster. We are about 99% certain at this point that we have one pullet and one rooster.


We only live on a suburban plot of land, and already have one rooster. We just can't handle another, and will be looking to rehome the little one if he turns out to be a boy.


But that leaves a single, solitary pullet that would have to be merged in with 9 bigger, more agressive hens and one rooster in the main henhouse once she turns 16 weeks old.


My wife (and I guess me too) figure that would be too cruel, to do that to the solitary little pullet. Especially since she is half buff orpington/half easter egger, and is very meek.


We were planning on getting three buff orpington chicks in March anyway, so we got to thinking:


What if we tried to merge this older pullet in with the babies that we have on order right now? We'll be getting those baby chicks next Wednesday, when the older pullet is 9 weeks old.


We KNOW that we'd have to physically protect the little babies during the period of time when there was a big difference in their sizes.


But the plan has always been for the three babies to live in the 8 foot by 3 foot chicken tractor that we have, which is independent from the main henhouse, and to allow those chickens to free range longer hours during the day then the birds in the larger henhouse are allowed to do.


So, we got to thinking -- why not merge this older baby in with the younger ones, and let all four of them live in the chicken tractor at night and free range during the day.


Our problem will be how to break the December hatchling pullet away from her rooster companion (who she has been with since birth), and then how to get her to merge in with the younger birds with the least amount of friction.


Here's our idea, and we would love your suggestions for improvement or warnings to consider:


We have a large dog cage, about 3 feet by 2 and a half feet by 3 feet tall, or something like that, which we can use until the birds are all big enough to go outside in the chicken tractor.


Right now, the (currently) eight and a half week old pullet is living with her roo hatch mate in a similar sized dog cage that is permanently situated in the big henhouse. There are nine other, older birds that live in that henhouse, but they cannot get to the little ones because of the screen I put around the dog pen. All of the birds get to go out into their own chicken yard for several hours in the afternoon. The two babies are locked away from the bigger birds in a special segment of the outdoor yard that the bigger birds cannot get into.


The 2 day old chicks we'll get next week will live inside in their regular brooder for about the first two weeks, and the two hatchlings from my broody's December clutch will continue to live outside in their special cage during that time.


But when the new chicks are about two weeks old, we're thinking about putting a partition in the inside dog pen, and then putting the three babies on one side of that partition and the (at that time) eleven to twelve week old pullet on the other side. I have already made the partition -- a wooden frame filled with screen mesh, which I have the ability to put anywhere I want and will tie into place so that the birds will not be able to move it.


This will mean that our eleven week old pullet will be able to see and hear the younger ones, and for all practical purposes, will be living with them. Yet she will not be able to get to them to hurt them.


Once the babies hit two weeks old, they should just need 80 to 85 degree temps, and that is not too much warmer than room temps, so we figure that a heat lamp off at a distance (on the babies side of the cage) will probably keep it marginally warm enough for the babies while not forcing the older bird to burn up. It might take a bit of experimentation to figure out where to place the lamp to make things tolerable for all the birds.


Our thought is that by living this close to the baby chicks, the December pullet will not be too lonely, and will grow to accept them as part of her flock. And likewise, the babies will grow to accept the larger pullet as part of their flock.


Once they go into the chicken tractor outside (probably three to four weeks later), we hope that they can live together without partition, but if that is not yet posssible, I'll build a partition for the tractor the right size to separate the December pullet from the March babies.


Meantime, the minute that the other December hatchling begins to crow, that will confirm what we suspect, and we'll rehome him.


We know from past experience that the baby boys begin to make honking sounds that will eventually evolve into a real crow around 12 weeks. So if by about week 13 or 14, we are not hearing that sound or seeing other things that confirm the other bird is a roo, then we'll take the older bird out of the cage with the little chicks and put her back in with her hatch-mate in the main henhouse dog cage.


Does this seem doable?


Is there a better way to merge the lone older pullet hatchling with the three baby chicks?


Your insights, warnings and suggestions are wanted...
 
Last edited:

tammyd57

Songster
9 Years
Feb 12, 2010
1,108
14
151
Central Valley, California
The only caution I can see with your plan is if you put the December pullet back with her same age friend after they have been separated for anything over a week or two. Chickens tend to 'forget' their friends rather quickly sometimes and may need monitoring to make sure they are re-friending and not fighting or picking at each other excessively. You should expect some picking as they work out who gets to be boss, but may need intervention if blood is drawn.
 

DaveD

Songster
9 Years
Feb 11, 2010
140
5
109
Long Island, NY
Why not put both of the older ones with the new ones, so that if the "roo" ends up being a girl, she is already with everyone else. And the possible roo wont be lonely while you wait and see.

-David
 

Domestic_goddess

Songster
10 Years
Mar 26, 2009
1,747
24
173
Utah
What has worked for me is putting a smaller pen with the younger chicks inside, in the main coop. The older ones hear and see the chicks and get use to them being around and then when released they are use to them already, of course they will be pecked on some but hopefully all will work itself out. I'm planning on doing this in about 6-7 weeks with my new babies, i've done this in the past as well and it works.
 

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