Ideal age to integrate 8 babies with 4 laying hens?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Pequena Bandada, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Pequena Bandada

    Pequena Bandada Small Flock

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    Jun 13, 2010
    We have 8 day-old chicks arriving in about a month to expand our small flock of laying hens. At what age should I put the two groups together?

    I'm not in any rush to combine them; I'm basically asking so I'll know how to construct the new coop. If we can put the "babies" in with the grownups at 6 weeks, I would construct the coop differently than if I need to keep them separated for 20 weeks.

    Also, how much space do the babies need? I've read that 1 sq foot in a brooder is OK to start, and then move to 2 sq ft. How long will that last before they need the typical 4 sq foot in an outdoor coop?

    In case it matters, the grownups are 2 Australorps and 2 Easter Eggers and the babies will be 1 Salmon Faverolle, 1 Barred Rock, 1 White Leghorn, 1 Red Star, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Bantam Silkie, plus 2 other Bantams.
     
  2. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    I usually integrate brooder chicks at around 12-14 weeks. You may want to wait a bit longer since you'll be trying to do it during the winter when they usually spend more time in the coop. It usually works best if you can pen the youngsters next to the main flock for a week or two before you actually put them all together. I put mine outside (no light) between 4-8 weeks depending on the weather. You may have to add a light though, I'm not really sure since I haven't tried it in the middle of winter before. Other then a bit of logistical challenges I think your timing is great with the new chicks though since they should be coming into lay with the Spring.
     
  3. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I don't combine until the youngsters are about the same size as the adults.
     
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I put mine out in their own little "grow out" coop with a temporary "run" made with poultry fencing and garden stakes around it, right inside the main run... when they're between 8 and 12 weeks of age. This allows everybody to see everybody, hear each other, and even bump chests through the poultry fencing without any danger of injury to the youngsters.

    They stay there for about 3 or 4 weeks, then I just remove the temporary fence and they all mingle together. By that time, they're at least a lot closer to the same size as the older birds, and the older birds just notice them like, "Oh, it's you, not some stranger in my territory."

    It's worked for me about 5 times so far.
     
  5. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    I have a very similar question because I'm not quite sure what to do. I have 8 babies that are 7 weeks old now, still quite a bit smaller than my 3 big girls. I have had the youngsters out in the coop but separated with some chicken wire since they were about 3 weeks old. Their area is has gotten too small and I feel bad having them cramped in there all day so the last few days I've been letting them out with the big girls for a few hours at a time under close supervision. Today they have been out together all day without me in the coop with them (I've been close by in case of a problem though). So far I've had no real issues, the big ones just chase them off when they come to close and I've seen a couple of pecks here and there but nothing serious or mean. The big ones don't seem super thrilled but also haven't gone after them as far as I'm seen. Do you think they're okay to just leave together now or should I continue to separate them when I'm not around? I definitely don't want the youngsters getting hurt but I would also love for them to have more room!
     
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Youngsters old enough to run fast when adults are around are allowed to free range without fences together. However, lots of space, and no bed time quarreling. I don't force youngsters to sleep with the adults till they are about the same size 16+ weeks or so. Most damage occurs to each other if they are confined or fighting for sleeping spots.
     
  7. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    My broody hen kicks her chicks out on their own at about 8 weeks, so I do the same. I haven't lost one yet. Usually, at that age and in the winter, they all hang out together and know not to infringe on the big birds roosting areas. They tend to hang out together on the ground at night.
     
  8. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    That seems to be the case with my little ones. They cluster together and for the most part they've kept their distance so far. Every so often one of the youngsters gets brave and tries to join the big girls at the feeder or waterer. They make a little noise and chase it off with no real issue.
     
  9. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    I forgot to mention one other important thing I do when integrating new birds into the main flock--Set up extra feeding stations. It seems like one or two bossy hens always make it their job to guard the feed and run the newbies off so I make sure there are two or three feed/water stations so nobody goes without.
     
  10. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    What Kittymomma said.
     

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