Help needed! Chick integration at 6 weeks

feliciadawn

Songster
Mar 31, 2020
417
618
151
Delaware County (near Philly), PA
New chick mommy, having struggles. I have 6 chicks -- 5 from a breeder and 1 buff lace Polish from a neighbor, most were straight run, except 2 autosexing ones. I am suspecting 2 as cockerels at this point. They are all about 6 weeks old, with one Copper Marans 5 weeks, and the Polish about 7 week.. Anyway -- I had an accident with my gentle, lovely cream legbar named Woodstock, and she died. The breeders was kind enough to give me a new one, about 8 days younger. I picked her up today. I thought that would work out -- but this cream legbar is dramatically smaller than mine were at that age. She is something like a third of the size of my other chicks. My attempt at introducing them did not go well. Olive egger (half cream legbar, half welsummer) accepted her fine, the Polish potential roo and Marans ignored her, but one Ameraucana kept pecking her hard on the neck. Even when I held her, the Ameraucana tried to access her. Now this Ameraucana is extremely gentle most of the time, and I have never seen her peck at any other chick prior. Also this Ameraucana loves me -- she sometimes flies out of the coop and lands on my shoulder! Note I did not attempt to train this behavior.

So I thought -- I'll set up my alternative coop (basically, a 9 square foot prefab coop) and put her with the olive egger for a few nights. I tried this, and as expected the olive egger was gentle with her. The new little chick even pecked at the bigger one, and this did not incite any reaction. However, the olive egger was in extreme distress, just crying and crying for 2 hours straight. Poor olive is also the one who seemed most distressed when her friend Woodstock died. Meanwhile the little new cream legbar just stayed frozen in the corner. Finally, I moved olive-egger back to the main coop. So now I have my poor baby cream legbar alone for her first night with me. Any suggestions? I cannot do a partition in my main coop -- there is just no way to do it with my set up.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Suffering Succotash
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
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It's extremely hard to integrate a single older chick. It will often take weeks, and even then it may always be alone. Your others ones are bonded to each other already and any new ones are considered intruders.

You will need to separate out the new one for a while so the others get used to it without them possibly pecking it to death. It's also better to bring in more than one chick so they have a friend they are familiar with.
 

Victoria_S

In the Brooder
May 26, 2020
43
11
44
I've heard that maybe putting the chick you are trying to integrate into a dog crate near the other chicks for 2 weeks will help. If you set it up so that the other chicks can see the new one but not peck at her, it may help them integrate and get along. I've been told to do this for 2 weeks and then try to put her in with the other chicks. Good luck, I hope it works out!
 

feliciadawn

Songster
Mar 31, 2020
417
618
151
Delaware County (near Philly), PA
So this morning I took the chicks out in a fenced in part of the yard, and kept the new girl close to me. One of my two Ameraucanas made a beeline for her immediately, even while a favorite food was out for the flock. All the rest are fine with the newbie. I put her back in the alternative coop with olive egger again. This is going to be a process. One thought I had is maybe the Ameraucanas should be in the alternative coop? They are equally matched, and would have no problem regaining their status with the flock if re-integrated later.
 
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oldhenlikesdogs

Suffering Succotash
BYC Staff
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Jul 16, 2015
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Sometimes you gotta juggle chickens around until you find out what works for your flock and situation. Some chickens don't follow the recommended advice. :)
 

feliciadawn

Songster
Mar 31, 2020
417
618
151
Delaware County (near Philly), PA
Update: I put the two Ameraucanas in the alt coop, and put newbie in with the other 3. So far that works. Only the polish potential roo is distressed (he misses the separated ones.). The next issue will be to reintroduce the ameraucanas without them hurting anyone.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Suffering Succotash
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
44,882
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Update: I put the two Ameraucanas in the alt coop, and put newbie in with the other 3. So far that works. Only the polish potential roo is distressed (he misses the separated ones.). The next issue will be to reintroduce the ameraucanas without them hurting anyone.
Do it one at a time. I'd give them a few days to a week or so before adding one back.
 

feliciadawn

Songster
Mar 31, 2020
417
618
151
Delaware County (near Philly), PA
By way of update: my newest little chick, Ariely, is well integrated with the other 3. She is so naive -- she tries to nestle under the others' feathers, like they are her mother! The two Ameraucanas have NOT been reintroduced -- one of them tries to peck at her whenever she goes by in the joint run area (the Ameraucanas are caged in their 2-story coup, whenever the new chick is in the run.) I hope I am able to make this a big happy flock again. Why do the Ameraucanas want to kill her? I am starting to wonder if the more vicious ameraucana is a roo....
 

feliciadawn

Songster
Mar 31, 2020
417
618
151
Delaware County (near Philly), PA
Next update: As of today everyone is together in one coop, getting along! We are having thunderstorms and tornado warnings, so they have bigger things to worry about than pecking each other. Anyway, separation did the trick. I reintroduced the separated chicks 1 at a time, a day apart.
 

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