Earliest Age to Integrade?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sotelomary, May 17, 2010.

  1. sotelomary

    sotelomary Songster

    I have read that the pullets should be about the same SIZE as the hens when you integrade. This will not be possible for me. I currently have 2 chicks in my bathroom and they will need to go out to the coop ASAP, maybe when they are about 6 weeks.

    I have no place to really put them once they go outside other than the coop. The coop has 3 hens that all get along fine. I will be setting the chicks out in a cage everyday when they get older so that they can see each other. I will also supervise them when they do go out of their cage.

    What is the youngest AGE that you have mixed pullets with hens?

    Do you have any suggestions for me?

  2. CTChick

    CTChick Songster

    Oct 5, 2009
    Since it has warmed up nicely here in CT, what I did was take an old rabbit hutch (legs cut down to 10") add a next box to the side and surround it with wire mesh (like a fence or corral). I have used this as a brooder but now my four chicks have this area to themselves with their own food/water within my larger covered run. This way, the big chickens can see and get used to them, they get hardened (I did move them out gradually over a period of days once they turned 4 weeks) and also addressed the issue of chick food versus layer feed - remember, the chicks really cannot and should not be eating layer feed until they are older (4 or 5 months, right?).

  3. christa7032

    christa7032 In the Brooder

    Sep 11, 2009
    I have the same problem right now but I am figuring that once it is warm enough, I am going to use wire to close off a section of the coop so everyone can live together without being able to get at each other for awhile until they all get along. The last time I had to mix my new chicks with my older birds, the babies had just feathered out and had just stopped peeping, but I did the same thing, I just ran wire down the center of the run until they got used to each other. Hope this helps.[​IMG]
  4. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    I use shelving panels to build a pen in the coop.


    They stay there for another 3-4weeks until they are at least half the size of the adults.

    You definitely can't just dump 6week olds in the coop with the adults. They'll get their heads whacked on and probably huddle in the corner scared half to death not getting food or water. Some adult chickens will kill chicks although I've never had that problem but then I have calm enough breeds I can mix and match at will including roosters without fights that lead to injuries.
  5. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    Luckily, the birds never got the same memos that have been passed around human poultry circles. Like the one that says SIZE dictates when it is okay to integrate a flock. They don't realize their size is supposed to prevent them from communicating and coexisting with one another at all. In fact, they're still operating under the obnoxious idea that personality and language are more important. I know, I know! Absurd! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here's the thing; 1 day, 1 year, 1 decade, no matter the age they ALL speak chicken -- or barnyard bird -- a peck is a peck is a peck and it means the same thing to them all. A fluffed neck, a chest bump, a snaked head, a scratch and a fluff of the feathers, a chase and a sqwuak; they're meaningful across the birds' ages. Their size does not determine their fluency in the language, they're born with it.

    I've housed full grown turkeys with 6 week old Mille Fluer d'Uccles without incident. What you need to consider is not the size of the birds but the personalities within your flock and the setup of their environment. Do you have a die-hard bully in the existing group? A particularly precocious and disrespectful youngster in the brooder? Anticipate problems before they arise and you can have thought about solutions to implement immediately.

    Weather permitting you can start putting the chicks in the big chickens' area, inside a pen, when they're just days old to begin their interactions in a safe way. Once all members of the flock have met through the mesh for a few days you can start letting the chicks out under your supervision and then slowly you can begin allowing them unsupervised contact. If all goes well weather/environment permitting they can easily be living full-time with the flock by 4-6 weeks of age.
    Last edited: May 17, 2010
  6. sotelomary

    sotelomary Songster

    Olive Hill...Thank you sooooo much for your advise! I knew that there had to be a way to integrate chicks at a much younger age and not necessary related to size. I can understand about the size maybe being important in some instances but in the natural state chicks are integrated young. Yes, there usually is their mother with them but why can't we do what the mother does?

    My problem is that the coop is not very large. It's the playhouse coop with the small henhouse and the enclosed area is about 4 1/2 ft. by 8 ft. To place a pen or section off an area is going to be tight. I may remove a small tree stump and roosting bar in the corner to make room. I have 3 hens and I do find them on the bar in the mornings. Hopefully I won't be displacing them too much. I do open the door at 7:00am to let them out into their run and they stay out there till dusk. The run is narrow and long (about 50 ft). It's too narrow to section off for the chicks.

    Sectioning off an area in the coop would be easier since this way I can feed the chicks their crumbles and the hens their layer feed. I prefer this than using flock raiser for all of them.

    So far, my 3 hens are very docile. I will have to wait to see what type of personalities the 2 chicks have. One is an ameracana and the other is a buff orpington.

    You have given me much peace of mind. I thank you.

  7. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Olivehill; thats good news. I didn't quite know what I was going to do and now I have an idea. I'll post a new topic so as not to hijack this one...Thanks!
  8. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    Yes, there usually is their mother with them but why can't we do what the mother does?

    Because you aren't there all day. A mother hen protects her chicks 24/7 until they integrate themselves in to the flock. Most flocks you can't randomly add a chicken of any age without penning it up for awhile and some flocks it won't work to add anything less than an adult chicken that can take care of itself. It depends on your chickens. Another factor with age is letting them outside. Very young chicks with no hen to follow get lost easy and don't make it back in to the coop at night without help. It's more of a problem when free ranging than with pens and I've lost some young birds that way but even with a pen you may be rounding them up every night for a lot longer than if you waited until they are older.​
  9. l'abeille

    l'abeille Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    I've integrated 6-7 week old chicks successfully twice--and I have a very small coop and run. I used hardware cloth to partition off a refuge area in one corner of the run. I left a few inch gap on each side so the chicks could freely come and go but hens couldn't get in. I made a similar refuge in the coop in the area under our two nest boxes with gaps for chicks to exit/enter. Each refuge station had chick food and water and the outdoor one had a perch for entertainment.

    At first the chicks get pecked when they leave the refuge so they stay in it, but after a few days they go out more and more and the hens bother them less and less. By 10 weeks, the chicks were so big they needed bigger entrances but then the hens could get in so I just removed it and it was fine. I had 5 chicks and 2 hens and my refuges were 5 sqft outdoor and 3 sqft indoor. It sounds tiny, but it worked because the chicks don't stay in there all the time after the first week--it's just a home base.

    Good luck.

    edited to add that giving lots of scratch and greens or whatever you use for treats helps distract everyone from fighting during flock integration.
    Last edited: May 19, 2010
  10. anniem

    anniem Songster

    Mar 17, 2010
    Eugene, OR
    Some great advice! I've been thinking about this, too. I have 6 that are almost 11 weeks and then a 2nd batch with a 6 weeker and 3 that are 4 weeks old. Just a bit too much of a spread to put them all together sooner.
    I've been putting a dog pen up next to the big girls run, mostly they haven't been interested but a couple of times they all line up and stare. My boy in the older group has been kinda bad, has pecked at them a couple of times, but I was just letting him stay until he crowed--might have to go a bit sooner.

    A suggestion that I got at the feed store last week was to get some big dirt clods and put them in the run then add the other chickens--they will be so focused on these new mounds in their pen that they won't notice the new chicks right away as new. Kind of along the lines of placing them on the roost in the middle of night and the older ones don't realize the new ones are new. [​IMG]

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