have adult chickens and want to get some chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by boof81, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. boof81

    boof81 New Egg

    Jun 9, 2011
    Hi, new here...

    I have 4 adult laying chickens, who have their own pecking order (literally lol) and My daughter recently had baby chicks as an interactive thing at her kindy. Wonderful experience for her, but the teachers have said that parents are able to buy them to take them home... This made my eldest want to get baby chicks...

    I love the idea, i am just worried how my adult chickens will react with the chicks?

    My adult ones get full run of the back yard and although while the chicks are really little i will keep them in their own enclosure... I am worried that my adult ones will get a tad aggressive towards them..?

    When we first got chickens, they got along well, however as we added adult chickens to the group they would peck at each other. [​IMG] I'm just a bit concerned how they will react to the chicks? Does anyone have any info? suggestions even?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I wrote this up a while back on the general subject. It is kind of long, but you may get something out of it, or maybe just more questions. Good luck!

    You'll get different opinions on here because many of us do it different ways. To me, a lot depends on how much room they have and how you manage them. I know it does not help you any, but this is mainly why I am always glad for a hen to go broody. She takes care of this for me. It can be a dangerous time. But yours are not broody raised chicks.

    I'll go through a long explanation of the behavior, then tell you some about what I do, but if my circumstances are different from yours, you probably cannot do it like I do it. Hopefully you can pick up something beneficial from my post though.

    Part of it depends on your chicken's personality. They are living animals with their own personality. No one can truly predict what an individual chicken will do, but we can tell you what we have observed. Some flocks have a chicken that seeks out to destroy any new weaker chicken. Young chicks certainly quality, but it could be any aged chicken you add to the flock. Usually this is a hen, not a rooster. My roosters have always protected or ignored the young members of the flock, but that does not mean yours will. Sometimes a rooster may see them as a threat to his flock instead of an addition, but usually it is a hen with the dangerous attitude.

    Many flocks do not have chickens that will seek out and destroy a weaker chicken. That does not mean you are safe. There are still the pecking order issues. Maturity has a whole lot to do with the pecking order until they all reach maturity. Mature chickens will dominate immature chickens. Think about it as chicken etiquette. It is bad manners for a chicken lower in the pecking order to invade the personal space of a more dominant chicken. In chicken society, the more dominant chicken has the right and the expectation that they will enforce their dominant rights or lose them. If dominance is clear, the dominant chicken will peck, the less dominant is intimidated and runs away, and everything is again calm and peaceful. If dominance is not settled, they can fight to decide which one is dominant. Sometimes you have the seek out and destroy types who chase the weaker ones, but if the weaker has room to run away, this usually does not happen. But if the weaker one does not have room to run away or gets trapped against a fence or in a corner, the dominant one gets indignant and is determined to teach this challenger a lesson, even if the challenger is trying to run away. That is why having enough room is important.

    Food, and to a lesser extent water, is another way for a dominant chicken to enforce its dominance. The dominant chickens will often keep the less dominant away from the food, sometimes to the point that the weaker chicken can suffer from malnutrition. I keep two separate feeding stations available anyway, but when I integrate brooder raised chicks, I add a third and make sure they are well separated.

    Bedtime is the time that I have seen mine be the most vicious about enforcing their pecking order, personal space, rights. This is not during integration but after they are fully integrated. Pecking order is something different.

    I keep my brooder in the coop from day 1. I have a 3' x 5' brooder mainly made out of wire but with a good draft guard and I keep one area in the recommended temperature range. I let the far corners cool off as they will, usually around 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the heated spot. They normally spend most of the first two days under the heat, but after that they play all over, only going back to the heat when they need to. They do sleep under the heat. After they fully feather out, usually around 4 to 5 weeks, I take away the supplemental heat and take them out of the brooder. I then have a space for the adults and the chicks that is separate but where they can see each other. I let the adults free range (no fences so they have a lot of room) but keep the chicks in an enclosure until they are about 8 weeks old. At this time, I figure they are big enough to not be such hawk magnets and start letting them free range. I alternate it, the adults free range one day and the chicks the next day. They have separate sleeping areas and do not sleep together.

    After about a week of them alternating, I let them out at the same time. The chicks very quickly learn to stay away from the adults, but my adults do not go after the chicks. If their personal space if invaded, my hens will peck to enforce their pecking order rights. I've never seen my rooster do that, but he also does not get involved unless an actual fight breaks out. Then he breaks it up. These fights are when the chicks are old enough to try to establish pecking order rights, usually around 15 weeks old. My younger chicks just try to run away. I let them decide where they will sleep at night. Usually around 11 to 12 weeks, the chicks move in with the adults and start roosting. Until then they sleep in a pile on the floor. When they first start sleeping together, I make it a point to open the pop door as soon as they wake up so the younger ones are not trapped in the coop with the older ones. After about a week, I can stop worrying so much about that. They can normally stay in the coop with the adults without too much danger. The younger ones stay on the roost out of the way and the older ones roam the floor where the food and water is. I have a large coop so the young ones can get away from the older ones, at least to a point.

    I think I can do it this way because I have a large coop, a large run, and I let them free range a lot. If your space is tighter, then you might have a real problem doing it this way. I'm also around during the day to watch them, but in reality after I let them out, I don't do much. It just makes me feel better if I am here. I have a fairly laidback flock with a rooster that helps broody hens raise their chicks and hens that ignore the chicks unless personal space is invaded. My circumstances are probably different yours, but hopefully you can pick something useful from all this.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    We had to keep them separated free ranging, unless supervised, until near 8 weeks old. Kept the hens in their run all morning then put the chicks in their makeshift coop when letting elders out in afternoon. They've been around each other since the chicks were 4 weeks. At 6 weeks and ranging supervised things looked well so allowed an afternoon unwatched together. In 3 hours one of the chicks back was bare and all elbow wing feathers pulled out. It looked horrible but healed quick and awaiting the new wing feathers come late summer. The wee ones like to go into the hen run when left open. I think one got cornered in there. Now they seem accustomed with each other though the groups keep distance. No malicious intentional stalking down anymore.
  4. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 28, 2011
    It can be a long process integrating them together. You will most likely need to raise them and introduce at 3 months. Or keep them safe in the coop to where the hens can see them, but not touch. I use a wire dog kennel as a brooder in the coop. This way the older ones see the babies and not peck them. My older chicks would kill the babies if they had the chance, especially when I first started the integration process. It can be done, it takes time and patients for it to happen.

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