Chick/Hen Question

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Chicken Boy-17, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Chicken Boy-17

    Chicken Boy-17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey, if I buy some new chicks, can I put them in with my hens? Will the hens take care of them or attack them, or neither? [​IMG]
     
  2. Debbi

    Debbi Overrun With Chickens

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    Ahhh, generally not a good idea. Depends on what breeds your hens are. Hens are pretty territorial and it's very possible that they will attack the chicks. Even if one excepts them, you have the others to worry about. Personally, I wouldn't do it.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    This question can get quite complicated, but the simple answer is no, they will not take care of the chicks. They will not keep them warm, show them how to find food and water, and will not protect them.

    Will they attack them? That one is harder to answer because it depends on a few different things. Personality of your individual chickens is a big question but also the space and conditions you will keep them in enters into it. With very young chicks, there is a pretty high chance they will hurt them. I sure would not do it.

    The bottom line is that you will need to take care of those chicks yourself until you can integrate them. If you have a broody hen, this answer may change, but if you don't have a broody hen, the answer to me is definately not.

    The next question. When can you integrate them. A broody will wean chicks anywhere from 4 weeks to 13 weeks. If she raised those chicks with the flock, they are integrated. Some people integrate chicks as young as 4 weeks. I wait until 8 weeks, and still provide separate sleeping quarters for a month or so after that. Some people would not dream of integrating them until they are 16 weeks old. We have different methods and circumstances. Different things work or don't work for us. I do strongly believe the more space you have the younger you can try, but there are going to be risks during integration no matter what their ages. Sometimes it goes so well you don't know what all the fuss and worry was about. Sometimes chickens get hurt. Usually, there is some commotion but they usually don't get hurt.
     
  4. orpingtonbabies

    orpingtonbabies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You definitely should not just throw in the chicks with the hens. Some will attack them, some will ignore them, none will take care of them (or at least it is very unlikely). The only way to do this is tuck them (depending on how many you have obviously) under a broody hen at night and she will protect them from the other hens as her own babies or raise them inside in a brooder and introduce them to the other girls slowly and carefully when they are old enough to protect themselves. If you do not have a broody, do not put them in the coop yet!
     
  5. Chicken Boy-17

    Chicken Boy-17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the help guys! Also, when should I release the chiks with my others, 12 weeks?
    -They are white leghorns
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  6. Debbi

    Debbi Overrun With Chickens

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    Like Ridgerunner said, you have to integrate them slowly. I have a seperate pen and small coop for my chicks to go in before I turn them loose with the big birds. They can all see each other and interact, but the big birds can't get to the chicks to do them harm. I keep my chicks in the brooder until they are 5 weeks old, then transfer them to the chick pen. It depends on what breed your chicks are, and what breeds the hens are. Smaller breeds or bantams will take a longer time or may never get along with the big bullies. I have Marans, so the chicks are kept in their pen until they are at least 3 months old, and of a good size. Then when the day comes to integrate, I open their pen gate and let them into the run with SOME of the older birds. You don't want to turn them loose into a huge flock of birds, because they will beat the tar out of them! Supervise the first interaction! There will be some bullying, that is to be expected, but if they are pinning them in corners and pulling feathers and drawing blood, you can intervene and may want to wait a little longer to try again. With my birds, I find the roosters are more excepting of the young birds than the hens are. I'm working on an integration right now, and I let them in with the roo and a couple of older pullets, and one hen. The chicks are sleeping with the roo at night, and he takes great care of them! Good luck, go slowly! The peace will eventually come to all...until your next batch of chicks arrive! [​IMG]
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I can't tell you when to try to integrate them. It can be different for each of us. I'll copy something I wrote a while back responding to another post. Maybe you will get something out of it that will help you.


    You'll get different opinions on here because many of us do it different ways. To me, a lot depends on how much room they have and how you manage them. I know it does not help you any, but this is mainly why I am always glad for a hen to go broody. She takes care of this for me. It can be a dangerous time. But yours are not broody raised chicks.

    I'll go through a long explanation of the behavior, then tell you some about what I do, but if my circumstances are different from yours, you probably cannot do it like I do it. Hopefully you can pick up something beneficial from my post though.

    Part of it depends on your chicken's personality. They are living animals with their own personality. No one can truly predict what an individual chicken will do, but we can tell you what we have observed. Some flocks have a chicken that seeks out to destroy any new weaker chicken. Young chicks certainly quality, but it could be any aged chicken you add to the flock. Usually this is a hen, not a rooster. My roosters have always protected or ignored the young members of the flock, but that does not mean yours will. Sometimes a rooster may see them as a threat to his flock instead of an addition, but usually it is a hen with the dangerous attitude.

    Many flocks do not have chickens that will seek out and destroy a weaker chicken. That does not mean you are safe. There are still the pecking order issues. Maturity has a whole lot to do with the pecking order until they all reach maturity. Mature chickens will dominate immature chickens. Think about it as chicken etiquette. It is bad manners for a chicken lower in the pecking order to invade the personal space of a more dominant chicken. In chicken society, the more dominant chicken has the right and the expectation that they will enforce their dominant rights or lose them. If dominance is clear, the dominant chicken will peck, the less dominant is intimidated and runs away, and everything is again calm and peaceful. If dominance is not settled, they can fight to decide which one is dominant. Sometimes you have the seek out and destroy types who chase the weaker ones, but if the weaker has room to run away, this usually does not happen. But if the weaker one does not have room to run away or gets trapped against a fence or in a corner, the dominant one gets indignant and is determined to teach this challenger a lesson, even if the challenger is trying to run away. That is why having enough room is important.

    Food, and to a lesser extent water, is another way for a dominant chicken to enforce its dominance. The dominant chickens will often keep the less dominant away from the food, sometimes to the point that the weaker chicken can suffer from malnutrition. I keep two separate feeding stations available anyway, but when I integrate brooder raised chicks, I add a third and make sure they are well separated.

    Bedtime is the time that I have seen mine be the most vicious about enforcing their pecking order, personal space, rights. This is not during integration but after they are fully integrated. Pecking order is something different.

    I keep my brooder in the coop from day 1. I have a 3' x 5' brooder mainly made out of wire but with a good draft guard and I keep one area in the recommended temperature range. I let the far corners cool off as they will, usually around 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the heated spot. They normally spend most of the first two days under the heat, but after that they play all over, only going back to the heat when they need to. They do sleep under the heat. After they fully feather out, usually around 4 to 5 weeks, I take away the supplemental heat and take them out of the brooder. I then have a space for the adults and the chicks that is separate but where they can see each other. I let the adults free range (no fences so they have a lot of room) but keep the chicks in an enclosure until they are about 8 weeks old. At this time, I figure they are big enough to not be such hawk magnets and start letting them free range. I alternate it, the adults free range one day and the chicks the next day. They have separate sleeping areas and do not sleep together.

    After about a week of them alternating, I let them out at the same time. The chicks very quickly learn to stay away from the adults, but my adults do not go after the chicks. If their personal space if invaded, my hens will peck to enforce their pecking order rights. I've never seen my rooster do that, but he also does not get involved unless an actual fight breaks out. Then he breaks it up. These fights are when the chicks are old enough to try to establish pecking order rights, usually around 15 weeks old. My younger chicks just try to run away. I let them decide where they will sleep at night. Usually around 11 to 12 weeks, the chicks move in with the adults and start roosting. Until then they sleep in a pile on the floor. When they first start sleeping together, I make it a point to open the pop door as soon as they wake up so the younger ones are not trapped in the coop with the older ones. After about a week, I can stop worrying so much about that. They can normally stay in the coop with the adults without too much danger. The younger ones stay on the roost out of the way and the older ones roam the floor where the food and water is. I have a large coop so the young ones can get away from the older ones, at least to a point.

    I think I can do it this way because I have a large coop, a large run, and I let them free range a lot. If your space is tighter, then you might have a real problem doing it this way. I'm also around during the day to watch them, but in reality after I let them out, I don't do much. It just makes me feel better if I am here. I have a fairly laidback flock with a rooster that helps broody hens raise their chicks and hens that ignore the chicks unless personal space is invaded. My circumstances are probably different yours, but hopefully you can pick something useful from all this.

    Sometimes it is so easy you wonder why you were worried and sometimes it is a disaster. Good luck!!!
     

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