Expanding the Chicken Family


Aug 6, 2017
Central Virginia
We couldn't resist and picked up 2 buff orpingtons, 2 calico princesses and 2 sapphire gems to add to our flock. It is one big melting pot with there already being the 4 leghorns, 2 brabanters, 1 RIR, 1 EE and 1 Andalusian. We have the little gals in a tote brooder with their electrolyte/probiotic water, heat lamp and chick crumble.

My plan is to build an outdoor brooder with small attached run for when their feathers start to come in. This way they can interact through a barrier with the girls and familiarize themselves. Then I will move to sectioning off part of the big run/free range so there is either a barrier or plenty of running space. The current flock is really quite mellow having a nice large run, plenty of scraps, the composting and multiple water stations. I intend to add a second food station just in case there are dust ups at that time.

Does anyone have personal experience with the breeds they could share? Any flaws in the tentative plan I am proposing? My current flock is just now crossing the line from pullet to full chicken. I remember how wild they were when they were young pullets-jousting and running around crazy.

My coop is designated for 15-20 chickens but I will have to redesign their roosting bar to be one long straight across. Right now it is a two tier ladder design. This will hopefully keep them from pooping on one another and allow them to stretch out. My current girls have no distinguishable rhyme or reason to their roost pattern-everyone just squeezes in wherever they can.
How big is your coop? I would always have at least 2 roosts the same height minimum. As your birds sexually mature you will see more dominance behaviors, oftentimes it causes roosting problems as dominant members won't allow subordinates to sleep near them.

Integrating chicks can go simple if you have plenty of room or extremely hard if you don't.
Oh boy. I was under the impression that 3 square feet was enough per chicken for sleeping space along with 6 nesting boxes. Automatic door opener to prevent confinement. Planning to add another 6 ft of roosting bar as well.

A 25x25 run makes about 40 s/f per bird unless I am doing my math wrong. Additionally, I am finishing plans to run a tunnel to our garden which gives another area of 50x50 if it works well and they do not jump the fence too much.

The integration plan is to be very gradual. Right now they are 2 day old chicks in a tote. When they get old enough to be outside that is the outdoor brooder I mentioned building so they will be separated but looking at one another daily. When they are decent sized pullets, part of the current run will be partitioned to keep separation with a larger chance of interaction.

Read the article: had a very similar plan in my head, must not have conveyed it properly pre-coffee this morning. With their own separate condo, they will likely be sleeping separate with supervised play times with an even later integration than detailed.
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I was under the impression that 3 square feet was enough per chicken for sleeping space along with 6 nesting boxes. Automatic door opener to prevent confinement. Planning to add another 6 ft of roosting bar as well.
Weeeelll.....it could be, depending on climate and run.
Is your run weather and predator proof 24/7/365?
Roost space for 15 birds in a 6x8 would tight, but might depend on how it is setup.
Got pics of coop, inside and out?
Do you have power in the coop?

Integrating as young chicks is much much easier than older birds,
setting the space up to facilitate might not be so easy but well worth the trouble IMO.
Tiny chicks(4-6 weeks old) are not as much of a 'threat' to the adult birds as older chicks (3-4 months old). Making the access 'doors' to the 'safe' chick space is much easier with the size differential of tiny chicks vs adults.

Location, Location, Location...please add your general location to your profile.
Climate is a very important variable in chicken design, it really helps us to know.
I will have to get some shots. Already posted outside shots, no inside shots. No power. Still a work in progress but I have the time and resources to get caught up on what I need to do to make it a happy place.

My understanding was that the birds should be of a comparable size before full integration. With chicken's tendency to kill and eat anything smaller than them. That's why I had the plan for separate sleeping quarters but increasingly shared run space. So when they fully merged it would have as little drama as possible.

I know a starting inside shot would help. But what kind of interior ideas have been posted or known already?

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