Adding chicks after the brooder

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by EELover, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. EELover

    EELover Chillin' With My Peeps

    117
    0
    99
    Jul 15, 2010
    Ok so I talked to my DH and we decided to get some pullets to add to the flock. I went to the feed store and bought some. They are about 4 days old. How do I add the chicks after the brooder? I was planning on adding them when they are fully feathered but I'm afraid that my roosters will kill them if I add them right away. My husband can put up a separate fence in the run (for 3 weeks right?) but what do I do at night? They all sleep in the coop. Do I gather them and put them in the brooder for 3 weeks? I need advice!
     
  2. EELover

    EELover Chillin' With My Peeps

    117
    0
    99
    Jul 15, 2010
    Does anyone know what I should do?
     
  3. CowgirlPenny

    CowgirlPenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    733
    1
    131
    Feb 17, 2011
    South East TN
    I asked this. I have 3 five day old chicks, and 12 almost five week old chicks. Everyone seemed to say that I should move the big chicks and the little chicks into an unfamiliar place together so that they are only concerned about being in a strange place. Then move them all back into the coop/run together.
     
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,852
    32
    249
    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    Basically, I think the best advice is to keep the younger birds separate until they're full grown, the same size as the adults, and then integrate carefully watching for severe bullying. Use a separate grow out pen for the littler ones until they're old enough to integrate.

    If you put teenager birds in with the adults, the bullying will be much, much worse. I wouldn't recommend trying that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,143
    3,357
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You'll get different opinions on here because many of us do it different ways. To me, a lot depends on how much room they have and how you manage them. I know it does not help you any, but this is mainly why I am always glad for a hen to go broody. She takes care of this for me. It can be a dangerous time. But yours are not broody raised chicks.

    I'll go through a long explanation of the behavior, then tell you some about what I do, but if my circumstances are different from yours, you probably cannot do it like I do it. Hopefully you can pick up something beneficial from my post though.

    Part of it depends on your chicken's personality. They are living animals with their own personality. No one can truly predict what an individual chicken will do, but we can tell you what we have observed. Some flocks have a chicken that seeks out to destroy any new weaker chicken. Young chicks certainly quality, but it could be any aged chicken you add to the flock. Usually this is a hen, not a rooster. My roosters have always protected or ignored the young members of the flock, but that does not mean yours will. Sometimes a rooster may see them as a threat to his flock instead of an addition, but usually it is a hen with the dangerous attitude.

    Many flocks do not have chickens that will seek out and destroy a weaker chicken. That does not mean you are safe. There are still the pecking order issues. Maturity has a whole lot to do with the pecking order until they all reach maturity. Mature chickens will dominate immature chickens. Think about it as chicken etiquette. It is bad manners for a chicken lower in the pecking order to invade the personal space of a more dominant chicken. In chicken society, the more dominant chicken has the right and the expectation that they will enforce their dominant rights or lose them. If dominance is clear, the dominant chicken will peck, the less dominant is intimidated and runs away, and everything is again calm and peaceful. If dominance is not settled, they can fight to decide which one is dominant. Sometimes you have the seek out and destroy types who chase the weaker ones, but if the weaker has room to run away, this usually does not happen. But if the weaker one does not have room to run away or gets trapped against a fence or in a corner, the dominant one gets indignant and is determined to teach this challenger a lesson, even if the challenger is trying to run away. That is why having enough room is important.

    Food, and to a lesser extent water, is another way for a dominant chicken to enforce its dominance. The dominant chickens will often keep the less dominant away from the food, sometimes to the point that the weaker chicken can suffer from malnutrition. I keep two separate feeding stations available anyway, but when I integrate brooder raised chicks, I add a third and make sure they are well separated.

    I think you are right to be concerned about bedtime. That is the time that I have seen mine be the most vicious about enforcing their pecking order, personal space, rights. This is not during integration but after they are fully integrated. Pecking order is something different.

    I keep my brooder in the coop from day 1. I have a 3' x 5' brooder mainly made out of wire but with a good draft guard and I keep one area in the recommended temperature range. I let the far corners cool off as they will, usually around 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the heated spot. They normally spend most of the first two days under the heat, but after that they play all over, only going back to the heat when they need to. They do sleep under the heat. After they fully feather out, usually around 4 to 5 weeks, I take away the supplemental heat and take them out of the brooder. I then have a space for the adults and the chicks that is separate but where they can see each other. I let the adults free range (no fences so they have a lot of room) but keep the chicks in an enclosure until they are about 8 weeks old. At this time, I figure they are big enough to not be such hawk magnets and start letting them free range. I alternate it, the adults free range one day and the chicks the next day. They have separate sleeping areas and do not sleep together.

    After about a week of them alternating, I let them out at the same time. The chicks very quickly learn to stay away from the adults, but my adults do not go after the chicks. If their personal space if invaded, my hens will peck to enforce their pecking order rights. I've never seen my rooster do that, but he also does not get involved unless an actual fight breaks out. Then he breaks it up. These fights are when the chicks are old enough to try to establish pecking order rights, usually around 15 weeks old. My younger chicks just try to run away. I let them decide where they will sleep at night. Usually around 11 to 12 weeks, the chicks move in with the adults and start roosting. Until then they sleep in a pile on the floor. When they first start sleeping together, I make it a point to open the pop door as soon as they wake up so the younger ones are not trapped in the coop with the older ones. After about a week, I can stop worrying so much about that. They can normally stay in the coop with the adults without too much danger. The younger ones stay on the roost out of the way and the older ones roam the floor where the food and water is. I have a large coop so the young ones can get away from the older ones, at least to a point.

    I think I can do it this way because I have a large coop, a large run, and I let them free range a lot. If your space is tighter, then you might have a real problem doing it this way. I'm also around during the day to watch them, but in reality after I let them out, I don't do much. It just makes me feel better if I am here. I have a fairly laidback flock with a rooster that helps broody hens raise their chicks and hens that ignore the chicks unless personal space is invaded. My circumstances are probably different yours, but hopefully you can pick something useful from all this.

    Sometimes it is so easy you wonder why you were worried and sometimes it is a disaster. Good luck!!!
     
  6. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    a lot depends on your flock and how aggressive they are.
    Mine freerange. I wait till the young birds are about 12 weeks then put them in a pen in the coop at night let the big gals out to free range then let the young ones out to eat in the coop then let them out to range they tend to stay in 2 seperate flocks for several weeks here never had a problem with pecking. BUT like I said they freerange and have lots of room to stay away from eachother.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by