Flock behavior and free ranging

KM2H

Chirping
May 24, 2021
39
61
66

Hi guys, I have attached a video of my older flock and the chicks that are turning 3 months old on the 5th. They are still frightful of the big hens and not really hanging out rather they have their own clique. Is this normal? Everyone have been living together for weeks now and no change. Also in two occasions the baby had gotten out of the coop/run and free ranged for a while. They have places to hide out at least from aerial predators and my hens have a hard time being happy unless they are free ranging. Sometimes I have let the older ladies be miserable in the run all day for the sake of socialization but I don't enjoy seeing them so miserable. Most of the time I let the babies out in the run with all they need in there, I let the older flock free range with access to the coop but with the run access closed that way the babies are somewhat safe in the run but the wind can blow the door that access the coop through the run and that is how the youngsters have gotten out. That door can be fixed and problem solved but I wonder if I should let the babies start to free range too, at least for part of the day? What is you all opinions/ experience with something like this? TIA
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,037
22,674
907
Southeast Louisiana
I don't see anything unusual at all in that video and nothing unusual in your post. As mentioned, it's typical for mine to stay separated by maturity groups for a long time. At time sI may have a group of adults and as many as three different age/maturity groups, each forming their own sub-flock.

My goal in integration is that no one gets hurt. All that one big happy flock can and will come later. Even later they could easily spend a lot of their time in separate groups. As long as no one gets hurt life is really good.

I've had broody hens wean their chicks as young as 3 weeks, some wait until over 2 months to wean them. My broodies raise their chicks with the flock. At whatever age those chicks are weaned they have to make their way with the flock on their own. If the flock free ranges, the chicks free range.

I typically have brooder raised chicks roaming with the flock at either 5 weeks of age or 8 weeks of age. Which depends on circumstances. I'm sure you understand the risk from predators of free ranging, for the chicks and the adults. I would have had them free ranging before they were 3 months old.
 

LEMAYTXCKNCOUNSELOR

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Oct 23, 2021
215
1,056
153
We have 8 and 10 week old chicks that we just started letting out to free range and what you described is what we are seeing. They roam in random little gangs and mostly stay away from the adults. I also have my guinea keets with the chicks because they end up friendlier and not so wild and flighty.
 

Perris

Still learning
Jan 28, 2018
4,491
19,504
777
Gower, Wales
I free range and broodies raise chicks within the flock, and my experience is just like Ridgerunner's. I also have 3 separate coops for the night, and the birds choose where they sleep and who they roost with. Currently all the grown ups are in one coop, the 4 month-olds (less one) are in another with the granddad roo, and the 3 month olds plus one 4-month old are in the third coop - their broody just left them last night. The 3 month olds are just starting to spend part of the day with the main flock; the 4 month olds spend most of their time with them. So yes, quite normal behaviour by your birds.
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
4,627
13,490
536
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
You can see my flock in my signature below. What you can't see is that I've been hatching birds, essentially every three weeks, since December of last year. Meaning that I am constantly integrating groups of 6 - 10 birds, every three weeks +/-.

Its my experience that birds will tend to remain in groups which travel together, forgage together, etc, even after integrating - and that those groups are very slow to decay and reform - usually triggered by my culling one or more males from the flock, altering dynamics.
 

KM2H

Chirping
May 24, 2021
39
61
66
I don't see anything unusual at all in that video and nothing unusual in your post. As mentioned, it's typical for mine to stay separated by maturity groups for a long time. At time sI may have a group of adults and as many as three different age/maturity groups, each forming their own sub-flock.

My goal in integration is that no one gets hurt. All that one big happy flock can and will come later. Even later they could easily spend a lot of their time in separate groups. As long as no one gets hurt life is really good.

I've had broody hens wean their chicks as young as 3 weeks, some wait until over 2 months to wean them. My broodies raise their chicks with the flock. At whatever age those chicks are weaned they have to make their way with the flock on their own. If the flock free ranges, the chicks free range.

I typically have brooder raised chicks roaming with the flock at either 5 weeks of age or 8 weeks of age. Which depends on circumstances. I'm sure you understand the risk from predators of free ranging, for the chicks and the adults. I would have had them free ranging before they were 3 months old.
Thank you for this explanation it's very helpful. They are all free ranging today. I'm going out and checking on them but also praying because mother nature does what it does and yes, predators are out there. So far they are doing well 🥰
 

KM2H

Chirping
May 24, 2021
39
61
66
You can see my flock in my signature below. What you can't see is that I've been hatching birds, essentially every three weeks, since December of last year. Meaning that I am constantly integrating groups of 6 - 10 birds, every three weeks +/-.

Its my experience that birds will tend to remain in groups which travel together, forgage together, etc, even after integrating - and that those groups are very slow to decay and reform - usually triggered by my culling one or more males from the flock, altering dynamics.
This is good news then. I think I might have one or two roosters in what I thought were 5 females but I'm still hopeful since they are still young, I don't know what I'm doing and waiting is best. Hopefully I won't end up with more roosters I know what to do with. 😁
 

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