baby chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by kitzy, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. kitzy

    kitzy In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2011
    HI Im wanting to get more chicks this spring. My question is: When would i be able to add them to my other chickens. The chickens i got last year are all hens [12]. Id like to get a few more hens. My hen house is 7'x14' with outside 12'x24' run. Next question is: Is this big enough for lets say [24] chickens. Thanks for any input.[​IMG]

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The rule of thumb to keep most people out of trouble is 4 square feet in the coop along with 10 square feet in the run per chicken. There are a lot of different assumptions that go into this. One of the big ones is that they don't spend too much time in the coop and not in the run. I don't know your climate or how you manage your chickens as to whether this is important to your situation or not.

    For 24 chickens you have just over 4 square feet in the coop and 12 square feet in the run, so you should be OK, assuming they actually have access to the run most of the time. One of the things to look out for is that you will have to watch your poop management. That many chickens can make a lot of poop and you may spend a fair amount of time managing that to keep the smell and mess down. It can be done if your coop and run stay dry, but something to consider.

    Another issue. When chickens are crowded, they can become cannibalistic. These rules of thumb take this into account but it also assumes you do not have particularly mean, nasty, aggressive chickens. Most chickens should be OK but you may have one or more that just don't want to share any of their personal space. Even when they free range and have unlimited space, so chickens are just plain mean bullies, but in general, the more space they have the less problems you have with this.

    I prefer to determine how many chickens I want then make sure they have plenty of space as opposed to figuring how many I can put in a certain space, but you asked a legitimate question. I applaud you for thinking this far ahead.

    Integration is another issue. I'm probably not the best person to answer this because I free range mine. They have unlimited space when I integrate them. You don't have that luxury. I have not had any problems with integrating them by 12 weeks and will probably try at 8 weeks with my next batch. That's about the minimum age I want mine free ranging because of hawk/size issues. I really don't anticipate an integration problem. But you don't have the luxury of space.

    The risk of integration is the pecking order issues. Every chicken in the flock needs to know where it stands in relationship to all the other chickens in the flock socially, just like wolves in a pack or cows in a herd. They are social animals and have certain rules of behavior. The way chickens determine their social status is by pecking and occasionally fighting. It is the maturity and spirit of the chicken that counts more than size or fighting ability. Unless you have one of those mean, nasty bullies, once the pecking order is established the flock is usually very tranquil and peaceful. Establishing that pecking order is often not very peaceful, although it is not always all that bad. Mature birds will dominate immature birds, so when you integrate your new pullets with the hens, the hens will dominate until the pullets truly mature.

    There are a lot of different tricks you can use to help improve your odds of a successful integration. House them side by side so they can get used to each other, with them separated by wire. Throw scratch or treats so they get used to eating next to each other. The older hens will probably try to keep the young ones away from the feed and water as a form of intimidation, so provide a few different places for them to eat and drink. Since you probably can't give them a lot of space to get away from the older hens, give them places to hide or get away. These places can be obstacles to hide behind or perches where they can get up and away from the hens. Do not leave them locked in the coop when they are awake. They need the additional space in the run to be able to get away. Give them plenty of roost space. The time I see more pecking going on is bedtime. I've seen lower ranking but adult hens leave their regular roosting spot to go pick on the juveniles. If they are crowded on the roosts, it just makes it easier for the bullies.

    There are no guarantees with any of this. Integration may go so smooth you will wonder why you were concerned, or chickens may die because of it. I'll give you a link to an article about this that I think is pretty good.

    BuffÂ’s Integration

    Good luck with it. People do it all the time, so it is possible. Don't let me frighten you too much.
  3. chkinut

    chkinut Songster

    Feb 25, 2010
    Leesburg, Ohio
    i have 4 girls who are almost a year old. by the beginning of march, i will have a 7 week old, a few 5 week olds and a few day olds. i have a big coop that is open for free range. i have a 7X12 dog kennel as well as a coop big enough for 4 grown hens with a run attached. the babies will be in the dog kennel and some will be in the smaller coop....then the 4 adult free rangers can walk around the new ones for quite awhile and everyone can get use to everyone....i like the idea of feeding treats next to the babies so they can get use to eating beside each other. i won't allow the babies to free range till they are full grown i think/hope everything will go well. good luck with yours!!!

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