How and when should we integrate?

May 24, 2019
7
4
9
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I got 5 baby pullets at tractor supply 2 weeks ago. They’re currently residing in a bin out on my all-season sun porch, but frankly, they’re really stinking up the place!! I also have 14 hens that are about 23 weeks old, most of which have started laying or are getting close! So, I’m wondering when I can move the babies out to the coop?!? I’ve read a few things about integrating right away, and it sounds great, but also makes me nervous! The run attached to the coop has a large area underneath where chickens can go for shade, but I’d have to basically army crawl to get under there, so it worries me that the chicks would get cornered under there, and I wouldn’t be able to get to them quickly to stop bullying... Any advice on how to let them all get to know each other, while also avoiding babies being pecked... possibly to death?!?

I’ve included a picture of my coop and run... the entire part under the coop is open for them to go underneath.
 

Chermak1101

Chirping
Sep 8, 2019
91
72
71
Scranton, PA
I’d like to know what others think as well. I have 8 23 week old laying hens now and a rooster. And 7 8week old pullets & 1 roo. I have the babies fenced off in their own space next to the big ones for a couple days now. Hoping I don’t have to wait too much longer to put them all together.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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I’ve included a picture of my coop and run... the entire part under the coop is open for them to go underneath.

Is the run space pictured all the available space for the chickens, or do you let them out regularly? If they don't get to free range regularly, do you happen to know your total run space or run measurements? Would you be able to expand the run or allow the older birds to free range?

I see potential problems in trying to integrate them while young if that's all the space they can use, as there's no way of providing safe space and obstacles for the chicks without really cutting into the space that's available for the birds already there.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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do you happen to know your total run space or run measurements?
Yes, please....and coop measurements too.
The run seems pretty small for 14 birds, even if they can go under the coop(where you can't get to them if there's problem-without crawling thru poop).
Pics of inside of coop might help too......can you fence off part of the the coop for the chicks?

..and....
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333113

Guest
Looks nice! Thanks for the pictures!

On average, a good age to introduce new chickens is when they are "teenagers"--that is, they still have a bit of baby squeak in their voices, have graduated to adult feed, definitely not laying yet. The teens will know they aren't on the top of the pecking order, and won't waste energy trying to get to the top. They won't be inclined to challenge your current top birds. The squeak in their voices will let your hens understand that they are just babies and not worth going after.

I say, "on average" because chicken personalties vary.

A good method for introducing them is to put them into the coop inside a cage or crate that they can come out of when they feel ready, or retreat to in case they feel too picked-upon. Make sure they have access to the food and water (feeders or drinkers not too high). Watch to make sure they are eating and drinking. You can also scoop each one up and gently feel their crop to make sure they are getting feed.

Sometimes the process of integrating is amazingly short, other times it can take a couple of days. You will know they are fully integrated when the older hens allow the youngsters to eat, drink, and sleep/roost with them. The occasional peck from an older hen is okay.

Hope this helps!

View attachment 1911517 View attachment 1911518 I got 5 baby pullets at tractor supply 2 weeks ago. They’re currently residing in a bin out on my all-season sun porch, but frankly, they’re really stinking up the place!! I also have 14 hens that are about 23 weeks old, most of which have started laying or are getting close! So, I’m wondering when I can move the babies out to the coop?!? I’ve read a few things about integrating right away, and it sounds great, but also makes me nervous! The run attached to the coop has a large area underneath where chickens can go for shade, but I’d have to basically army crawl to get under there, so it worries me that the chicks would get cornered under there, and I wouldn’t be able to get to them quickly to stop bullying... Any advice on how to let them all get to know each other, while also avoiding babies being pecked... possibly to death?!?

I’ve included a picture of my coop and run... the entire part under the coop is open for them to go underneath.
 
May 24, 2019
7
4
9
Here are some more pictures. I haven't measured the run, but I feel like it's quite a bit bigger than it looks in the pictures. They all seem to be quite happy there, and I have no issues with anyone not getting along! I've thought about trying to put the babies in somewhere during the day - even if they're still separate but able to see and be seen - I just can't quite figure out what to use to do that. I've also read several people talk about putting places for the chicks to hide or retreat to if they want to get away from the bigger chickens, but I'm kind of drawing a blank on what kind of "things" to use for that...?
IMG_6569.jpeg
IMG_9959.jpeg
IMG_6701.jpeg
 

Christabean

Songster
Jun 21, 2016
86
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117
California
I've had OK luck with teenage integration, but I put the babies in a pen alongside the main run for a few days or a week first. With my run I was able to make a gap under the door that babies could fit through but older hens couldn't. And once integrated, the babies still had to do a lot of running and hiding. I do know people whose chickens have killed "intruder" new chicks, though, so I definitely wouldn't just stick them right in there.

I agree that run looks cramped for a total 19 chickens when you get the babies in. Just guessing from the size of your birds that the coop's about 8x6, so that's OK if you get a second roost in there lengthwise (about a foot per bird roost length) but the run looks like only about twice that, so maybe 100 square feet? You're in the ballpark but if you can tack another 20 square feet on there (about 6 per bird is often recommended) you're probably less likely to have fighting. It looks like one part of the run is a door? It would be easy to open to an additional pen of 6' chicken wire, if daytime predators aren't a big issue in your area. Or build more covered run around the back. It's a cute coop! Good luck!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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I haven't measured the run, but I feel like it's quite a bit bigger than it looks in the pictures.
You may 'feel', but help us help you.
Everyone has a tape measure, don't they?
Coop too....and your location, please.

I've also read several people talk about putting places for the chicks to hide or retreat to if they want to get away from the bigger chickens, but I'm kind of drawing a blank on what kind of "things" to use for that...?
Here's some ideas:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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Jul 3, 2016
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I've also read several people talk about putting places for the chicks to hide or retreat to if they want to get away from the bigger chickens, but I'm kind of drawing a blank on what kind of "things" to use for that...?

Things like patio furniture, kid's outdoor play equipement, stumps and logs, wood ladders or sawhorses, pallets crates or other scrap wood items, plant pots.

Diagram below is my run set up during integration. Most of my "junk" came from disassembled pieces of my old coop. Nothing should ever be placed in such a way that a chick can get cornered, so any items up against a wall should have at least 2 entrances/exits.
obstacles.jpg
 
3

333113

Guest
Quite honestly, I think 100 square feet is fine for 20 birds or so. You will want to make sure they have enough roost space and laying space (even though -sigh- they all may want to lay in the same box).

If it were me adding run space, I would add it so that it can be separate, if needed. There are times that you may want to separate individuals in your flock, due to molting, injuries, etc. If you can "leave the door open" between the spaces and close it off when you need to, that will give you a lot more flexibility in managing your flock.

For a safe space, I suggest a dog crate, $5-10 at yard sales or Goodwill. This can double as an extra nestbox or be handy for a trip to the vet or to a show.
IMG_20190628_133825772.jpg

BTW, in my opinion, if anyone is doing a lot of running and hiding, they aren't integrated, yet.


I've had OK luck with teenage integration, but I put the babies in a pen alongside the main run for a few days or a week first. With my run I was able to make a gap under the door that babies could fit through but older hens couldn't. And once integrated, the babies still had to do a lot of running and hiding. I do know people whose chickens have killed "intruder" new chicks, though, so I definitely wouldn't just stick them right in there.

I agree that run looks cramped for a total 19 chickens when you get the babies in. Just guessing from the size of your birds that the coop's about 8x6, so that's OK if you get a second roost in there lengthwise (about a foot per bird roost length) but the run looks like only about twice that, so maybe 100 square feet? You're in the ballpark but if you can tack another 20 square feet on there (about 6 per bird is often recommended) you're probably less likely to have fighting. It looks like one part of the run is a door? It would be easy to open to an additional pen of 6' chicken wire, if daytime predators aren't a big issue in your area. Or build more covered run around the back. It's a cute coop! Good luck!
 
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