Chick integration with hens

Farmlife16

Chirping
Aug 12, 2021
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So I have four 12 week old chicks and four 7 (almost 8) week old chicks that I want to integrate with my hens. The chicks themselves have already been integrated for more than a month and they get along well. My hens are about 22 weeks old and free range for at least a few hours every day. I have six of them. Can I just let the chicks loose and see what happens? The hens have seen the chicks since they were babies, since they free range around their separate run. They have briefly come in contact once, and the hens gave my older chicks a hard peck, after which I separated them. How would you recommend I integrate them?

Thanks!!!
 

BaaKaaawk

Coopster
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 4, 2011
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Lexington, KY
There's a lot of schools of thought on this one. Me personally- I just dump them all together and watch for 30 minutes for a serious problem. If no problem, I come back in a few hours and check again. Your older hens are going to boss around your young ones and let them know the pecking order by of course pecking them. Looks horrible but as long as the chick gets away and the hens aren't relentless, usually in a few days everyone has worked it all out. You will see though that your will get clicks of chicks based on who grew up together. All in all, usually things go smoothly if you have enough room for everyone and you don't have a devil hen.
 

Farmlife16

Chirping
Aug 12, 2021
86
100
88

Farmlife16

Chirping
Aug 12, 2021
86
100
88
There's a lot of schools of thought on this one. Me personally- I just dump them all together and watch for 30 minutes for a serious problem. If no problem, I come back in a few hours and check again. Your older hens are going to boss around your young ones and let them know the pecking order by of course pecking them. Looks horrible but as long as the chick gets away and the hens aren't relentless, usually in a few days everyone has worked it all out. You will see though that your will get clicks of chicks based on who grew up together. All in all, usually things go smoothly if you have enough room for everyone and you don't have a devil hen.
Thanks! I hate to see them get pecked, but I am tempted to just let them out together. Do you think the youngest chicks would be OK? They are fast LOL
 

BaaKaaawk

Coopster
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 4, 2011
923
2,817
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Lexington, KY
Thanks! I hate to see them get pecked, but I am tempted to just let them out together. Do you think the youngest chicks would be OK? They are fast LOL

Typically the lowest hen in your older flock will be the worst offender on the pecking. She already knows where she fits with the others but she will want the new ones to know where she fits to them. That's the one you have to watch. If she just pecks them on the head when they're walking by to say "get in your own space" you're usually good. If however she chases them down or herds them into a corner where they all hunch up in a pile, you'll need to be more diligent. The reason I think you will be successful is your birds re all relatively young.

A really easy thing you can do also is for the first few days put in some kind of 3-4' wire fence in your pen area so they can see each other and kind of interact, but they can't actually touch each other (peck). That will ensure your young ones are safe and get them all exposed to each other so that when they do mix, they aren't completely new faces.

If you have an old flock, or two established flocks, separation is pretty key. But again you're not really in that position.
 

Farmlife16

Chirping
Aug 12, 2021
86
100
88
Typically the lowest hen in your older flock will be the worst offender on the pecking. She already knows where she fits with the others but she will want the new ones to know where she fits to them. That's the one you have to watch. If she just pecks them on the head when they're walking by to say "get in your own space" you're usually good. If however she chases them down or herds them into a corner where they all hunch up in a pile, you'll need to be more diligent. The reason I think you will be successful is your birds re all relatively young.

A really easy thing you can do also is for the first few days put in some kind of 3-4' wire fence in your pen area so they can see each other and kind of interact, but they can't actually touch each other (peck). That will ensure your young ones are safe and get them all exposed to each other so that when they do mix, they aren't completely new faces.

If you have an old flock, or two established flocks, separation is pretty key. But again you're not really in that position.
Thank you, that helps a lot! I think I'll let them out together today. We'll see how it goes
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,066
22,770
907
Southeast Louisiana
Can I just let the chicks loose and see what happens? The hens have seen the chicks since they were babies, since they free range around their separate run. They have briefly come in contact once, and the hens gave my older chicks a hard peck, after which I separated them. How would you recommend I integrate them?
You have done the look but don't touch. What you are thinking is what I'd do. Let them all out to free range together and see how that goes. If the younger chicks invade the personal space of the older they might get pecked, probably will. They should very quickly learn to stay away from the older ones. It may take them a time or two to learn to stay away. It may be the older that crowd the younger at first. But I anticipate you will soon see two groups of chickens each hanging in their own groups but staying separate.

I would be extremely pleased if each group went back to their own coop to sleep at night. That helps keep things peaceful. I don't now what your main coo looks like, but I would not try to put them all in the same coop at night until they had proven to me that they can leave each other alone while free ranging for a few weeks at least. Just take your time, life should be good.
 

Farmlife16

Chirping
Aug 12, 2021
86
100
88
You have done the look but don't touch. What you are thinking is what I'd do. Let them all out to free range together and see how that goes. If the younger chicks invade the personal space of the older they might get pecked, probably will. They should very quickly learn to stay away from the older ones. It may take them a time or two to learn to stay away. It may be the older that crowd the younger at first. But I anticipate you will soon see two groups of chickens each hanging in their own groups but staying separate.

I would be extremely pleased if each group went back to their own coop to sleep at night. That helps keep things peaceful. I don't now what your main coo looks like, but I would not try to put them all in the same coop at night until they had proven to me that they can leave each other alone while free ranging for a few weeks at least. Just take your time, life should be good.
Thank you! I am planning to have them them sleep separately from each other. I just want them to be able free range together.
 

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