First time trying to add chicks to flock

lukkyseven

Songster
Sep 13, 2018
124
141
113
Maryland
I just brought home 12 new chicks to replace my old layers.

My goal is not to kill all of the old layers until the new ones are of laying age. How would you guys go about doing this? Typical temps for September in MD can be 70s and higher during the day. October starts to cool off and then November is practically winter.

So technically I wouldn't be moving them out until late October (that would be around the 6 week mark of hopefully fully feathered chickens).

Would you start them off in a pen inside of the crate on warmer days? I feel like they're going to need a heat lamp until all the feathers have grown in (just due to declining temperatures).

I do plan on removing about half of my current flock (I have 10) when the chicks are to be permantly moved out into the coop. This is just due to the size of the coop. The coop itself is 4x8' and the run is 8 x 30ish feet. There is ample space, but I don't want to crowd anyone and risk injury to the new chicks.

Any suggestions, questions or anything - let me know

Thanks - Chris
 

SueT

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
May 27, 2015
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I always put my youngsters outside by 4-5 weeks, no heat, even when lows are in the 40's. Wean them completely from heat before them. Make a see-no-touch set-up for them to get used to each other.
Provide multiple feeding stations, more than one waterer.
Rule of thumb for coop space is 4 sq. ft. per chicken and 10 sq. ft. in run per bird. It's going to get pretty crowded fast. The elders are probably not going to take kindly to the newcomers, you'll have to monitor them closely.
Good luck!
 

lukkyseven

Songster
Sep 13, 2018
124
141
113
Maryland
My experience with the 4' per chicken in the coop is grossly over stated. My birds take up very minimal space in the coop when they're roosting. That's also the only time they're inside.

Outside I do plan on setting up a fence to separate the chickens for at least a week, probably 2, but I'll play it by ear.

The multiple waterers and feeders is a great idea. I have extras of one's that I didn't like. They'll work for the short term.

I've pretty much decided that when the chicks will be moved out full time, that I'm cutting my laying stock down to 4 or 5 chickens. I'll see how that situation goes and if it's not great, then I'll just be buying eggs for a few months.
 

Chelsa'sChicks

Songster
Aug 16, 2017
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I put my new birds always where I want them to roost. If your brooder is the coop put them there for a few days straight with a heat lamp. You could do heat lamp only at night, or until they have feathers. When I had fall chicks they had a heat lamp every night until they did huddle under it, because it gets cold here fast too.

Its going to be hard to 'retrain' your old flock and to break them up, but it can be done. Your older hens will bully or can peck to death your new chicks so just research that before you stick them all together if you have never added chicks before.
 

lukkyseven

Songster
Sep 13, 2018
124
141
113
Maryland
I dont want to retrain my old hens. I just want to keep a couple until the chicks start laying. I plan on cutting down the number of layers I have right now to hopefully help with the crowding situation.

When they first get introduced I will be sure it's on a weekend where I can watch them the entire time.

Worst case scenario is that I have to get rid of all my current layers sooner than I wanted to I suppose.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
Some questions on your timing. If you get your chicks now they should be laying early spring. Unless you provide additional light this winter, your hens should molt and quit laying when the days get shorter. So if you keep some hens until the new ones start laying you'll feed some hens through the molt and remove them when they start laying again after the molt. If you are going to remove hem, I'd do it when the molt starts. You may be planning on managing lights to keep them laying but thought I'd mention this.

I think your observations on space are right for you in your current conditions. I don't believe in magic numbers with anything to do with chickens but the guidelines are there for a reason, just like the guidelines for how much heat chicks need are there for a reason. For reasonably good conditions the guideline numbers you often see are overkill, but with a horrible brooder, coop, or run the guidelines may not be enough. If you wish you can follow the link in my signature below to see some of my opinions on space requirements. One of the things in that article is integration. When you try to integrate you may find that you don't have as much room as you think you do.

Often integration goes smoother than you'd believe by reading the posts on here. Sometimes it goes as bad as it possibly can. Again, these guidelines are meant to improve your odds of things going smoothly. Even if you don't do most of what we suggest you may have no issues. Even if you follow our suggestions you could wind up with dead chicks. Life works that way. No guarantees either way.

At 6 weeks your chicks should be more than feathered out enough for your October weather. I've had 5-1/2 week old chicks go through nights in the mid-20's F with no issues. Others on here I trust say they have had chicks go through colder temperatures at an earlier age.

My situation is different from yours, I have a bigger coop and bigger run. My brooder is in the coop but I would not suggest do that. It's not just space but the temperature swings you get. You may get a low in the 20's or a high in the 70's. Those take some managing.

I don't know if you consider your run predator-proof. What I'd suggest is that you build a "Grow-out" coop or pen in your coop or in your run. When you move them out at 6 weeks, house them in that Coop/pen for a week or two. Then let them mingle with your adults during the day when you can be around to observe, mingling a few weeks is good. Base your next actions on what you see. You can try to move them into the main coop at night so they sleep in there. Mine would not sleep on the main roosts with the adults until they mature more, say about the time they start to lay. I don't care where mine sleep as long as it is not the nests and is somewhere predator safe. Or you can just let them sleep where they are now and see if they move in the main coop on their own. In my opinion your biggest risk will be when they first start sleeping in the main coop where the adults are.

Good luck!
 

lukkyseven

Songster
Sep 13, 2018
124
141
113
Maryland
Ridgerunner - thank you for this detailed response. As of this week I have found someone to take 6 of my chickens next week. So I'll be going down to 4 very soon.

The comment about the molt is a good one and maybe I will just get rid of all of them since I wont be getting eggs anyway.

My run is predator proof. I never close the door on my coop because I'm up at different times from my chickens. I could potentially build a sleeping shelter inside of the run if I had to. That doesn't seem ideal though.

The more I sit here and try to come up with a response, the more I think about just getting rid of them all early. I'd only have to buy eggs for a few months. Maybe I could have timed this better, but maybe it was good accidental timing anyway.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,851
21,993
907
Southeast Louisiana
I don't know when those last four will molt and stop laying but it is already September. By the time these chicks are six weeks old I'd be surprise if you are getting any eggs. What to do may be a real easy question to answer.

As far as a shelter in that run, I could see using chicken wire to fence off the back 6 or 8 feet of your run with a human gate and putting a rough shelter in there. For your purposes just a temporary box to keep them out of rain and the worst of wind and maybe a roost. The gate would be the biggest challenge. When the adults are gone, take out the fence and temporary shelter. I don't think it will come to this unless you add lights to extend winter laying.

If you have an excess of eggs now you could maybe freeze them. I don't do that so don't know the details of how to do that and use them afterwards.
 

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