A multigenerational flock and chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mrs. K, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I have had chickens for years, now. And I have had broody hens raise countless clutches in the flock. She protected them, and with in a short amount of time, the babies were eating between the legs of a big bird, not their mother, occasionally they would get a mind your manners peck. But not the killing rage that many experience trying to get new chicks into the flock.

    Last fall, I lost most of my flock to predators, and am now in a do over mode, without a broody hen. I am using lattice panels as a one way gate, and the chicks run through it like water. And they do scatter back to safety if the bigger birds get to close. Or tonight, I saw the rooster talk a bit, only to be ignored by the chicks, so he fluffed up his feathers and flapped his wings, and the chicks scattered. I honestly thought he was acting like an Uncle, giving the kids a scare!

    I have been pushing this envelope, my chicks are young, two weeks. However, my big birds seem a little curious about the chicks, and they mostly ignore them, they are not hunting them to kill them. Could this be because they have been around chicks before? The rooster has had several clutches of chicks in his flock, and the hens at least one or two.

    So the questions is: Those of you with multi-generational flocks, does the flock get more tolerant of the chicks, if there have been chicks in the flock before?

    Mrs K
  2. eggbert420

    eggbert420 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2017
    Yes I believe so. My rooster doesn't pay them any attention. Unless they get under his feet then he will nudge them along .
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I do think so.

    I have one pen that has a Silkie rooster, and bantam Cochin hens. the hens are my go-to broodies, and have raised many clutches of chicks in that pen. that rooster is the most tolerant bird I've ever seen, even for a Silkie. The other hens there are also pretty tolerant of the other hen's chicks.

    I think having the birds used to change helps a lot. I know I'm changing composition of my pens fairly often, and I just move birds as I need to. Brooder to grow out pen to cockerel pen to main flock to breeding pens, back to main flock, into a different breeding pen, to a broody pen, etc. My birds are used to change and take it pretty well. I just tossed two pullets, I think they're about 4 months old (lost track, to tell you the truth) into the main flock. None of the older hens even batted an eye. Went out that night and those littles were roosting just fine with the older birds. I pulled cockerels out of the main pen and put them in with the cockerels that had grown up with those pullets. There was a bit of "who are you and can I kick your butt?", but it was over in a few minutes. There are now 8 cockerels in there and they're very peaceful (except they crow their heads off [​IMG]).

    Folks who have a small flock, who have lived together since hatch as a single unit, never seeing another bird, and then the birds are 2-3 years old and the owner wants to introduce chicks....that's where the issues come. Space is usually not enough for all the new birds, and adding birds needs exponentially more space. The established flock doesn't know how to deal with newcomers, they've never done so. So, they're horrible to the newbies, and folks wind up with these long, drawn out integration issues.

    then again, I have a fair tolerance for letting the birds work things out themselves....with adults, of course. Littles need to be protected. I think your lattice is a great idea, I may have to steal that. I'm going to need to be moving some littles out of the brooder earlier when the weather is better, that may be the way to go.

    Never enough pens, I'm telling ya.....

    I think that's so funny about the rooster, not wanting to be ignored! "Listen when I talk, you little punks, or feel my wrath. See how big and scary I am! Pay attention to me [​IMG] "
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I laughed too, cause they scattered like crazy, and really, he didn't move toward them.

    I do think space is crucial, and I have a huge run, and Friday, I put the big ones outside of the run. I unrealistically thought they would stay more in the pen, and they did that first day, but mostly I think because they had been in a rubbermaid tote, and were used to being that close together. Now they are acting more like chicks with a hen, in that they flow out and flow in, but are taking up more space.

    Today I was in school, when I got home, and I nearly gasped as they were out on the big chickens favorite side, the big birds were right there, but pretty much everyone was calm, until old Chrome showed them who was boss. It was hysterical, and they were all back inside the pen in an instant.

    I should post a picture, but it is pretty rustic, cobbled together pen. However, it is really working, and so far the dirty dozen are thriving. I am much happier with them out there, and I think they are too.

    Mrs K

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by