Another integration question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RBOutdoors, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. RBOutdoors

    RBOutdoors Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 5 hens and 2 roosters in my adult flock but we have 35 new chicks that are 5 weeks old. I free range my adult birds and the little ones are starting to be let out for a few hours a day.

    My question is how long till they become one flock or how long till the little ones tag along with the adults? I am sure with that many birds there will be cliches but I was just wondering when the adults will start teaching the little ones how to survive outdoors.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know that they will ever start teaching the young ones, though the young ones will probably learn some stuff from watching. I've had them keep to their own groups for months and months. I have one hen who kept to herself for over a year before she really started hanging around with the flock; she wouldn't even sleep on the roost with the others for months. With that many chickens, you will probably see them break themselves into a few groups, especially if they have the space to keep separate. Once the young ones are about adult size, I'd just let them work it out unless someone starts drawing blood.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It will be a few months because of the pecking order. More mature chickens always outrank immature chickens. If the young chickens get into the personal space of a mature chicken it will usually get pecked to remind it that it is not supposed to mingle with its social betters. The young ones quickly learn to keep far away from the older ones.

    If your space is tight, the young ones could be in danger. A broody hen will often wean her chicks at 4 to 5 weeks old so you can integrate your 5 week olds, but they need to be able to get away from the older chickens. If a mature chicken pecks an immature chicken and it cannot run away, this is seen as a challenge and the older chicken can get furious.

    You'll be surprised how quickly the young ones learn to survive just based on instinct. It's pretty normal in my flock for the young ones to stay in a separate flock until they are laying. That's generally when they merge with the older ones.
     
  4. RBOutdoors

    RBOutdoors Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they stay separate can I at least get them to go the the same coop at night? Right now the little ones are in a small portable pen that I move around.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You could, but I would not. The roughest time I have integrating younger birds is at bedtime. It's usually a lower ranking hen, but the adults can get especially brutal to the young ones on the roosts. I've had broody raised chicks that were sleeping on the roosts with Mama start roosting on top of the nest boxes and in one case start roosting outside the coop when the hen weaned them. I use a grow-out coop with brooder raised chicks mainly so they have a place to sleep not in the coop. Usually around 12 weeks of age I move them in the big coop or they move in on their own.

    You can move them in and they might do well, especially if you have a lot of room. I put up a separate roost away from and below the main roost so the chicks would have a safe place to go when they are in there and would not have to share the roost with the adults. Most broody raised chicks make it OK sleeping with the flock, even at 4 to 5 weeks old. They don't all always move elsewhere. But with brooder raised chicks I find it easier to have them sleep elsewhere for a while.

    If you do move them in I'd make very sure to open the coop at the crack of dawn for the first week or so especially. Give them a chance to get away.
     
  6. Panth

    Panth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 16 adult hens and a roo, and have 14 new 7 week old babies. I started putting the "kids" in the coop about week 4, but they have their own space. At first I used a large dog crate, but soon moved up to just fencing off part of the coop (I am lucky to have a large one). This allowed the adults to get used to the kids, and the kids to get used to all the normal coop activity. The adults freerange, while I use the original chicken run to allow the babies their own outdoor space. This week, as they hit 7 weeks old, I took all the seperators in the coop down and let them all be together (I have a very mellow flock and a very laid-back rooster). This works fine because I made sure to put up several areas that the chicks could go hide if they needed to, like leaning plywood to make a hideaway. I used chicken wire across the chicken run enterance and made a "doggy-door" in it that is chick sized so they can walk in and out without the adults being able to push through. Once they get bigger, I will just take that down also, but everyone seems to be doing great. With so much space, there are plenty of ways the babies can stay out from under foot.

    PS: I still use a red heat lamp kinda as a security blanket for the babies to show them where to perch at night and give them a bit of a night light so they can see to get away from the adults.
     

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