4 new chickens and one older one? How to integrate?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SFChickens, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. SFChickens

    SFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2015
    Hi everyone!

    We had 3 girls for 2 years, and then last month we had a racoon incident and sadly we only had one chicken left.

    We decided to rebuild our flock, and got 4 adorable day old chicks this week, who are chirping away in the garage right now user a heat lamp!

    My question to you: how do I move the younger ones in with the one older one?

    We have a fully enclosed coop and run, inside a well fenced "free zone" in our backyard.

    Thank you so much in advance!
    Shamir
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    You will really need to keep these separate for a while. The older chicken will more than likely kill the chicks if you put them together. A Art has excellent advice on integration, and I hope will chime in here.

    One way gates, with small openings that the chicks can go through, but the hen cannot follow are very good. Separation but right next to each other, so that they can see but not touch is also good. Space and hide outs are very helpful.

    The chicks and the hen will not become a 'flock' until the baby chicks start to lay, but long before that, they should get to where the old biddy will tolerate the babies.

    I too had coons last fall, Ugh! I feel your pain. I too, have chicks ordered for the spring. It will be a long spring - summer before they start laying!


    Mrs K
     
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    You can integrate them best at around 2-3 wks of age with older birds. I'd move your brooder to your coop and brood them within sight and sound of your older bird right now, using the same bedding she is using as an added boost to their immune system. Then I'd open your brooder and let them mingle as they see fit, but leave a way they can retreat to their own brooder space when they feel the need. Feed them the first week in their own space and then watch to see if they are gravitating to the older bird's feeder...if they are and they are eating well together, you can likely take away the feed in the brooder.

    I've done this countless times and I've never had a chick injured or even bullied beyond a peck on the head for getting too big for their britches. The sooner you can get them all eating together, the sooner the integration can be completed.

    The first day you let them intermingle, monitor the interaction for a bit to see how things are working out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Be extra cautious with the heat lamp, particularly in the coop where the older bird can knock it about if it's not secure. Here's a great thread to ask about brooding chicks outdoors and quick integration with older flock members: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Beekissed nailed it.
    Nothing to add, unless I see pics of the coop set up and might be able to make suggestions on how to set up a chick area.
    Knowing your location/climate would help too.
     
  5. SFChickens

    SFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2015
    Thank you so much @aart and @Beekissed !

    I would much prefer to integrate sooner rather than later - because my "brooder" is currently a large amazon cardboard box with puppy pads and a heat lamp, an I can't imagine 4 x 3 month old birds in there!!!!

    We live on the California coast - so it's currently in the 40's at night, 50/60's during the day - and only gonna get warmer. The outdoor brooding sounds interesting - though power at the coop is not currently something I have; but I can run an extension cord if that's a "must."

    OK, here's a CRUDE floorplan of my setup, using this "assemble it yourself" coop which I 'coon proof'd with extra hardware cloth: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008NC5NUE (I borrowed it from my post on how to stop them from escaping over the top of the coop!)

    [​IMG]


    Here's an image from the front (looking from the lawn and desired "no poop" zone):

    [​IMG]

    Please let me know what you think would be the best way to make this work - and thanks so much!!!!

    Shamir
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Both Beekissed and I have pretty large coops......so not sure how the technique she outlined could be implemented it a coop as small as your.
    Not even sure 6 bird would fit in there.
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I agree. Maybe brood them in the run?
     
  8. SFChickens

    SFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2015
    Thanks @Mrs. K !!!
     
  9. SFChickens

    SFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2015
    Thanks both! I will have 5 in there after integrating, and i think there is roosting room for them; If not, i'll be doing a remodel i guess [​IMG]

    At 2-3 weeks how cold will they be ok to sustain? I'd always read to start at 95 deg, and drop 5 deg/week - so that would be in the 75-85* range I should be providing?

    Maybe I can do days outside and bring them in at night for a while?

    Or would you just run the extension cord out there and partition off part of the run for them (making a hole for them to get into their brooder but not letting our big girl in?

    Is it your experience integrating small birds with bigger ones that "once I am over the hump I am good to go" for the most part - or is this a multi-week process you think?

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ADVICE!!!!
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I'd pay no mind to the whole 95* drop thingy...it's just not necessary. If you are using a heat lamp, you'll just watch the chicks for their reaction to raising or lowering the lamp over the brooder. I use a heating pad brooder, so if they still need the warmth of that at night, they can still huddle there or on top of it. If I notice they are always sleeping on top of it, I just remove it and give them a "huddle box" where they can huddle with one another for warmth.

    I'd use the extension cord and arrange for them to live out there from the beginning...it's just easier that way. Here's a thread you may want to read about such things: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    I've found that once you are over the hump you are good to go. There will always be pecking order behavior as the older bird teaches the younger birds acceptable social behavior, but there shouldn't be anything too rough. The chances of increased aggression will be more due to raising them in such a small space and that doesn't change, no matter how old they get, so you may want to expand your coop and run size WAY bigger if you want them to live a peaceful, stress free life.
     

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