Adding new chicks to my flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cloaking-chickens, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. cloaking-chickens

    cloaking-chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 18, 2011
    Introducing my 9 week old chicks to the flock; can or should I attempt the integration? The background: I have 28, 9 week old chicks, 24 hens / 4 roosters, living in a 12x6 enclosed trailer brooder. I feed them chick-starter and every snack I can find, only healthy foods. My older flock is 4 RIR hens (all 1 year old), 1 Ameraucana hen, and 1 Ameraucana rooster (both 8 months old). The 4 RIR hens are truly “mean girls”; they fought the Ameraucana’s for weeks when I introduced them to my RIR hens. My RIR’s are so big and so spoiled that I don’t see how the new chicks would have a chance of surviving. The coop is 500sq ft, I open the back door before the sun rises and they have 2 archers to free range. I can wait until the chicks reach 16 weeks, but I’m changing their bedding weekly, which would be crazy if I have to wait 16 weeks. I’m really in over my head and could use any advice with this integration. Thank you for your time.
     
  2. blueberrychickens

    blueberrychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    can you divide the 500 sq ft coop w/ some chicken wire so they can see each other for a while before actually being together?? That's what I would try to do, if I had that much space.
     
  3. cloaking-chickens

    cloaking-chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 18, 2011
    Yes, I can easily wire off the coop. What do I do once that’s done? I’ve read books and tons of pages on this site; most often they say just put them in at night, and keep an eye on them. My RIR’s are mean girls; they were ruthless to my other two chickens.
     
  4. blueberrychickens

    blueberrychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 12, 2010
    Hudson, MA
    I would leave them for a week or two so they can kinda get used to knowing each other. Then let them mingle while keeping a close eye on them. Stay close by to break up any scuffles. This is my plan when I introduce my new babies to my big girls.
     
  5. cloaking-chickens

    cloaking-chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 18, 2011
    That sounds like a great plan, thank you.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    My flock is generally laid back. I have never had a hen that aggressively goes after younger chickens. If a younger chicken wanders into their territory, they will peck them to remind them that inferiors don’t invade the private space of their social betters, but when the younger one runs away, it’s ended. The hen does not chase them to cause harm.

    I house my chicks in the brooder in the coop from Day 1. They can see each other. When they are around 4 to 5 weeks old, I move them to a grow-out coop and run, but again they can see each other. When I am comfortable the chicks have learned that the grow-out coop is their home and they should return there to sleep at night, I just let them out to free range with the flock. Usually this is somewhere around 8 weeks but I have done this as early as 6 weeks.

    What normally happens is that the younger ones get pecked when they try to mingle with the older ones. They quickly learn to stay away from the older ones. I have separate feeders and waterers set up so that is not a conflict point. The younger ones find their own place to hang in the shade during the heat of the day and their own place to dust bathe. They go to separate sleeping quarters at night. I find the worst bullying takes place in the coop as they are getting ready to go to bed.

    I’ve had a broody wean her chicks as early as 3 weeks. Those chicks were raised with the flock and slept in the coop with the adults. I set up a separate roost, lower down and away from the regular roosts, so they could get some separation from the main flock. Those chicks were picked on if they tried to mingle with the main flock, so they stayed separate. If I was a little late opening the coop, those young chicks were either on the roosts while the adults were on the floor, or they hid under the nest boxes where the adults could not get to them easily.

    I really think room is the key. If space is tight to where the younger ones can’t maintain that separation, you are more likely to have problems. But if you can give them extra perches or roosts and places to hide under or behind to keep them out of the adult’s sight, it will be easier.

    But occasionally you get a hen that is especially aggressive. They can make it a lot harder. I wish you luck.
     
  7. cloaking-chickens

    cloaking-chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 18, 2011
    Thank you so much for the detailed reply. My 4 RIR’s hens are a little spoiled and have a routine, which they don’t want anything or anyone messing with. They get their crumble, scratch, shells, and a lot of people food…maybe a little too much. A friend of mine who also has a handful of chickens always remarks about the size of my RIR’s, calling them RIR turkeys. This weekend I’ll divide the coop in half, give them a week to talk out their issues; then I’ll do a quick pat down, and let them out into the yard. I found a new home for my rooster and will get rid of him before the integration, which is going to be such a shame. I have read so many stories on this site about bad roosters, and he has never given me one issue, but I just don’t have the skills (yet) to manage 5 roosters. Thank you again for the replies.
     

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