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How much of an age gap is ok in a brooder?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Oktober, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Oktober

    Oktober In the Brooder

    Jun 6, 2011
    Rhode Island
    I'm just starting off with chickens this year, so please excuse this question if it is a bit too noobie.

    There are one or two breeders in our area that are selling brreds of chicks that would like to raise (target is 5-6 chickens). However, as you might imagine, the hatch dates are not the same and can vary by as much as 2-3 weeks. We would like to have 2 silkies, 2 wyandottes, and 2 orpingtons in the flock and the plan was to have them all 'grow-up' together so everyone is familiar (i.e. minimize later integration problems). However, how do we go about getting all the different chicks into the same environment together when some might be 2 day old chicks and others being 2 week old pullets? Do we get them all to a certain age before combining? Other thoughts?

    Also, would there be a concern if we source the chicks from more than one breeder and try to combine them? We were going to purchase the chicks from My Pet Chicken, but several of the breeds (i.e. silkies) are back ordered for 3 months or so. As such, could we purchase some of our chicks from a mailorder shop and then source the others from a local breeder? Outside of communicable diseases, are there other concerns? We'll likely have to deal with the same differences in ages I mentioned above too.

    Thanks for any advice you might have!


  2. BarefootMom

    BarefootMom Songster

    Jul 20, 2010
    Half Way, Missouri
    it really depends on size and attitude

    day old should not be with 2 week olds---that is like leaving a newborn to play with a 2 year old

    2 week olds could be with 3-4 week olds--think 2 year olds with 3-4 year olds

    Unless they are bantys and have never been with standards...

    But really use your own judgement based on sizes. I have some that are 2-3 weeks apart but mostly the same size. (2 week old Polishs with 4 week old Silkiesand golden seabrights...not much size differences)
  3. TheJuan-n-Only

    TheJuan-n-Only Songster

    Sep 10, 2010
    I will be following these answers as I will also have a "diverse" age group coming Saturday![​IMG]
  4. PetRock

    PetRock Crowing

    Apr 28, 2010
    SF Bay Area, CA
    We integrated four 1-2 day olds into a brooder flock of five 2-3 weeks olds this year. I was told up to 3 week age difference was fine. We put little hut in the brooder so the smallest ones would have a place to hide from the big ones. Three of the little ones used it for the first hour and not at all after that. It might depend on the personalities/types of the chicks. Our oldest group was comprised of three Ameraucanas (two Silvers and one Blue Wheaten), one Buff Brahma, and one Blue Langshan. The younger group was one BW Ameraucana and three Olive Eggers. One of our oldest two (Silver AM), who ended up being a cockerel, pecked on the babies a few times but the babies pecked right back. We kept a close watch on them but within 24 hours, they were all one happy family. They are now 9-12 weeks old and do everything together, including avoiding the 1 year old hens! It was a positive experience for all of us!
  5. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Songster

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    I just hatched three day olds last week and put them in with two 2 1/2 week old chicks that hatched in a previous batch. Mine were fine... The bigger ones just inspected them warily for the first few minutes and then accepted them. In fact I think it has made my now 3 week old Silkie go broody already... She sits on them and protects them like they're her babies! LOL (For the record I do know that they will not actually go broody at 3 weeks old [​IMG])

    The big thing is to watch them like a hawk when you first introduce them. Some will be ok and some will not and it's your job to keep the little ones safe until you know. Have a backup container (cardboard box will be fine) and an extra heat lamp in case it doesn't go well.

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