Adding to Flock and changing feed?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kaybug137, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. Kaybug137

    Kaybug137 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    few questions. I've got a flock of different ages, I'm wanting to add my new youngsters to the flock, the older ones are laying not a year yet. The youngsters are around maybe 7 weeks or younger not sure. And should I change them to All flock?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Integration seems to go best (from my reading here, only) if you house them with a fence between them but so they can see and hear each other for a few weeks first, and if you wait til they are all about the same size. Whenever you mix them, there will be some squabbling and pecking as they rearrange their pecking order. If they start drawing blood, you may have to separate them again.

    Some people do just put them together and let them work it out successfully. I imagine this works best if they have a large yard with places to hide from each other, and with several feeders and waterers in different places.

    Here is an extensive article about mixing flocks:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock

    At 7 weeks, your chicks should probably not eat layer, so yes, feeding them all flock raiser (or starter or grower) is a solution. You will probably have to offer calcium such as oyster shell separately. Young chicks in my experience ignore the oyster shell. I don't know whether anyone has ever established an age at which chicks can safely eat layer feed, but I've read several times that it's OK aorund 12 weeks.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Feeding Layer, which is basically Grower with loads of added calcium, is indicated for only those birds in full lay. When a flock is diverse, a Grower or Raiser is appropriate, offering the layers in the flock some calcium source on the side.

    It isn't really about the age of the birds as to whether they can eat the calcium loaded feed, but again, whether or not they are expelling that high calcium through laying an egg. Birds in moult don't need it, roosters don't need it, older birds who lay sporadically need very little of it.

    Un-passed calcium builds up in the renal system and causes gout and potentially other destruction. For this reason, many breeders who always seem to have very diverse and mixed flocks simply never feed layer. Since calcium damage cannot be seen, one would never know what's going on, in there.
     
  4. Kaybug137

    Kaybug137 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thank you both! I'm going to try to find some type of coop wireing to make a little place in the coop so they can get to know each other without hurting the little ones. also, when would it be safe to free range the youngsters?
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Sure. Will the little ones get roughed up by the larger birds? Yes, quite often. Will the little ones scoot whenever they see the larger bird coming? They'll sure learn to do so. [​IMG]

    I find that birds brooded together have a bonded flock attachment. Integration happens between differing groups, but those brooded together tend to maintain their bond within the flock.
     
  6. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

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    Just like Survivor...people, and chickens stay with the original tribe! lol...
     
  7. Kaybug137

    Kaybug137 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Will they know when to come home? and would I have to worry about them running away? They're still pretty small, my Jersey Giant is the biggest in the group almost the size of my Leghorn Hen, an my Lakenvelder hens.
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Chicks, from ages 6 weeks to 12 weeks, rarely wonder very far. They dash back and forth, from inside to outside the coop. They are very leery of the outside world and skittish. They'll not wander far. Day by day, week by week, as they grow accustomed to their surroundings, they'll grow more familiar and a little bolder each day.
     
  9. Kaybug137

    Kaybug137 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The two silkies use to be taken care of their mothers, as for the other three I got from the feed store,
    You think it'd be best to move them to the coop before letting them free range? They are currently in the house.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You might get something useful from my two posts in this thread.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...t-age-chickens-and-giving-them-the-right-feed

    For people that don't think the extra calcium in Layer can harm their chicks, I'll offer these studies, one where they started the Layer at hatch and one where they switched to Layer at 5 weeks. I've heard various things about what age it is safe to switch to Layer but I haven't seen anything that specifically studied that. I suspect there is not one "magic" age for every chicken in the world but will depend on the chicken and how it is managed.

    Avian Gout
    http://en.engormix.com/MA-poultry-i.../avian-gout-causes-treatment-t1246/165-p0.htm

    British Study – Calcium and Protein
    http://www.2ndchance.info/goutGuoHighProtein+Ca.pdf

    If you house them somewhere for a week or so, they associate that with home and should return there every night near sundown. The only exceptions I've ever seen was where either a bully beat them us so bad they did not want to go into the coop or for some reason they want to sleep just outside the coop. In either case, they sleep very close to the coop. They still associate that area with home. It's not hard to find them.

    Something I regularly see. My grow-out coop is about three feet off the ground and has an 8 x 12 run attached. When I move them from the brooder to the grow-out coop I leave them locked in the coop section only for a week or more. When I let them out into the run, several or sometimes all usually sleep at the foot of the coop outside in the run next to the opening. They are not roosting yet. I think what is happening is that since they are not yet roosting they look for a low place sort of protected where they can huddle for the night. I have to physically move them from that spot to inside the grow-out coop for them to get the message. I've had chicks that got the message after one time and I've had to do this for a couple of weeks for some. Some sleep in that coop from the first night.

    As I mentioned in that other thread, I usually wait until they are 8 weeks old to integrate them with the adults. I don’t wait that long so much for a size or age thing. Sometimes that’s just me busy with other things, but it’s usually that long before I’m comfortable that they will go into the grow-out coop every night and not try to sleep by the door.

    I’ve had plenty of broodies raise their chicks with the flock and wean those chicks before they are 5 weeks old. I have lots of room during the day and on the roosts at night, both of which I think is important. Those chicks avoid the adults because the adults will pick at them if they invade their personal space, but I have not lost one yet to the older hens. Age does matter, but if you have space, they will generally work it out.
     

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