Can i mix large breeds with bantams?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by marlene, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. marlene

    marlene Songster

    Aug 17, 2011
    I have read a lot about integrating and how best to do it, i am now ready after many weeks of all the hens and chicks seeing each other across a wire fence to put them all together. My concern is that i have read about mixing them when they are all nearly the same size, some of my chicks are bantam cochins, so much smaller and will always be smaller, will it be ok to mix the cochins with normal sized breeds?
    I will be supervising the integration carefully to make sure no one gets hurt, if they seem to get on with just the ussual pecking here and there for 3-4 days, can i assume it will be ok to stop supervising them? or will i have to watch them for longer?
    Thanks for your help and suggestions.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    A broody hen does not wait to wean her chicks until they are the same size as the others. I don’t either. Often, you will find that a bantam will be higher in the pecking order than a full sized chicken when they reach maturity. It is more the spirit of the chicken than the size.

    There are three different types of aggression you need to be aware of when you integrate. If you have two or more roosters in the two flocks, they will determine which one is dominant. Sometimes that is a fight to the death or one gets injured in these fights, but often they reach an accommodation and work well together in protecting the flock. If they are not both mature enough to know they are roosters, this won’t happen immediately.

    Then you have the territorial type of aggression. Chickens will sometimes protect their territory from strangers. This does not always happen and surprisingly it is usually a hen that does this instead of a rooster. Some chickens, when they see strangers, will try to run them off or kill them. A lot of times this does not happen, but it can be deadly. This is where housing them side by side for a while comes in real handy. They get used to each other and recognize each other’s right to exist. So you probably won’t see this.

    Then the one you are practically guaranteed to see. They have to determine a pecking order. Occasionally this goes so smoothly you wonder what all the worry was about, but there is practically always something. Mature chickens are higher in the pecking order than immature chickens. That is just the way it is. You’ll notice I mentioned maturity, not age. I’ve had some at 15 weeks that could establish a position in the pecking order, but that is pretty rare. I’ve had some twice that age that still had not managed, but most manage before that.

    If a chicken lower in the pecking order invades the personal space of one higher, the higher has the right and almost the expectation to put that lower ranked chicken in its place, especially if there is a maturity difference. What normally happens is that the mature chicken pecks the immature chicken and the immature chicken runs away. Order has been reestablished. You’ll find that the younger chickens quickly learn to stay as far from the older chickens as they can manage. Occasionally you will get a brute of a hen that goes after the young ones, but that does not happen all the time. I hardly ever see anything like that.

    One of the things you can do to help is give the young ones as much of a chance to get away and stay away as you can. Give them as much room as you can. Put in extra perches for them to stay on so they are out of the way. Or give them something to hide under or behind. But mainly give them as much space as you can. For some people with smaller set-ups, this is not easy.

    Something else is to set up different feeding and drinking stations. One area of conflict is the feeders and waterers. As part of the intimidation of maintaining their advantage, more mature chickens will sometimes guard the feeder and waterer to keep the younger away.

    Something that I’ve seen several times with broodies that might help you understand. I’ve seen chicks maybe two week sold leave Mama’s protection and stand beside other hens at the feeder. Sometimes the other hens ignore the chicks, at least for a while. But usually one will peck the chick to remind it that it is bad chicken etiquette for an inferior to eat with its betters. The chick runs back to Mama as fast as its little legs can carry it. Mama ignores this behavior. The other hen had a right to discipline the chick. Now if the other hen comes after the chick, Mama takes an entirely different attitude and protects her baby. The point is that some pecking is normal and not a cause for concern, but occasionally it gets to be a bit more serious.

    Hope this helps a bit. Good luck!!
    1 person likes this.
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I have only had chickens for less than a year, but my first flock included several bantams and 2 ful size polish, among 38 chicks. Since they were raised together they mostly get along. I had to separate the polish due to pecked head feathers, and stupidly I put the 4 banties with them in a pen for 2 months. The problem when I reintegrated them was that ever since then the banties and polish are low in pecking order and stay in the coop much more than the others. All of the large chickens go out into the barnyard freely, but the rest just go out there a little. No one gets violent, but the little ones and polish know they need to watch themselves. I think just keeping an eye out is wise, they will probably be okay.
  4. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 22, 2009
    As long as you supervise things I believe everything will be fine.
  5. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Songster

    Jul 9, 2011
    Northern Wisconsin
    I have never had any issues, I have silkies, chocins, and bantams among all my heavier breeds! They weren't raised together and when integrated they were fine. I think they are fine because they are always content and have so much room and things to keep them occupied all day that fighting just isn't a goal. (they free range) I have noticed my one buff will peck my bantam once in awhile if she trys to eat before she does. But its nothing its a small peck and its over.

    I have a silkie and her one chick (the rest didn't hatch) in the house in a large dog kennel (its been negatives here). They won't be introduced till the chick is much older and when I am home for the full day to watch over them.
  6. MadabtChickens

    MadabtChickens Songster

    Jan 24, 2012
    near Branson, MO
    I have kinda the same question. I want to get 2 Silkies, 2 Rhode Island Reds, and 6 Ameraucanas. I was worried that the size difference between the Silkies and the RIRs would cause the Silkies to be bullied. So I'm gathering from what everybody says I just need to keep an eye on them. Lovin this forum already. [​IMG]
  7. marlene

    marlene Songster

    Aug 17, 2011
    Thank you all so much for your input, feel a bit more relaxed about the integration now

  8. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Crowing

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    I have 8 week old babies I'm trying to integrate with my two adult hens. Right now, the babies are in a separate pen that is inside the big girls run. Last week, I gave them LOTS of protection. But starting today, the fence openings are bit bigger and big hens can get their heads in there to deliver a peck. I've also let the babies out into the big girls run and the big girls have shown them that they are in charge. But nothing more. Probably because I was RIGHT THERE. I wouldn't DARE leave them alone just yet.

    But I'm FREAKING out about integration. My two adult hens are clearly not happy about these three new additions.

    How do you create an opening that is only big enough for the babies to get through?

    I tried this, but now matter what I do, my FAT BO who tips the scales just under 5 lbs can squeeze through.

    So do I just make lots of hiding places and go that route?

    Will the adult hens actually kill a baby?

    I'm really eager to get them all integrated but I also don't want to lose anyone so I'm willing to keep them separated for another month or so until they are a bit bigger.
  9. marlene

    marlene Songster

    Aug 17, 2011
    My babies are not so young any more, they are between 13-18 weeks old, so i'm hoping they will be ok with the big girls. My concern was mainly for my cochins because they are so much smaller than the other breeds i have.
    Like i said, i will be supervising the intergration very carefully to avoid any injuries.
  10. twisted troy

    twisted troy In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2010
    When I intoduced bantys with my larger birds I should have kept them in the coop longer than 2 weeks together. When I turned them out to free range they became 2 separate flocks although they came home at night to the same coop, I did have lots of crossbreeding and was pretty proud of the results.

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