Input on integrating two groups of chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by catchthewind, May 24, 2011.

  1. catchthewind

    catchthewind Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Would love some input on the way we are going about integrating our two groups of chicks. One group is nine chicks, 11-17 weeks old. The other group is fourteen chicks, 7-9 weeks old. The oldest two are Orpingtons and the youngest three are Silkies, so as you can imagine there is quite a big size difference, and the Silkies will never catch up. I've read a few integration articles and posts on here, and it seems like it's better not to intervene unless there is actually blood shedding, but I don't want them to stress each other out either.

    The oldest group went out in the coop first. About two weeks ago we started putting the younger group in the run in a separate area during the day. Last week we put the younger group in the coop in their own area. Now when the older ones are out free ranging, I let the younger ones in the run. Both groups have access to water, but the older ones don't have feed when they're free ranging. I keep an eye on them, and when it looks like the older ones want to come back for feed, originally I was just blocking the younger one's access to the coop temporarily and letting the older ones in. The past few days, I was letting one or two of the older birds in with the younger ones. This went mostly surprisingly well, with a bit of chasing and pecking and noise but mostly nothing serious. One or two of the big ones still don't seem to like the younger ones at all though.

    Yesterday, the older ones were wanting in to the run/coop, so I let them all in together. One of the older ones (Luna, a Brahma) immediately took it upon herself to chase and peck at the babies, but the rest ignored them and went straight into the coop to eat a bit. Luna eventually stopped chasing little ones and went in to eat too. One of the younger ones (a RIR roo) hopped in with them, and I immediately went around to watch them in the coop as I was worried about the one little roo in with the nine big ones. Surprisingly, they completely left him alone. In fact, he was sitting eating food and pushed his way in front of Luna and I didn't see any guarding or pecking on the part of the bigger ones. He finished up first and went back out. Once the bigger ones were all done eating though, they all went out in the run and started chasing the babies around. Again, I didn't see any really serious pecking, besides Luna was a bit rough, but it was constant, non-stop chasing of the babies, and I ended up shooing the bigger ones out so the babies could have some peace.

    So the question is, am I moving too fast? Should I not be letting the older ones have access to the babies at all yet? Or, on the flip side, am I intervening too much? Should I just stand back and let them chase each other around as long as there's no real feather picking going on rather than shooing the bigger ones out again after they've eaten? I'm considering potentially locking just Luna up by herself in the baby's part eventually, since she is one of the only ones who seems to be particularly aggressive towards them, but would that be really stressful for her?

    We're gone for an entire day in a week and a half, and so I won't be letting the older ones free range that day. I would like them to either be completely integrated before then so I don't have to worry about them killing each other, or I'll just leave the babies in their separate area inside the coop and just let the older ones into the run while we're gone that day. They would be fine, I've had to leave the babies inside a couple of times due to heavy rain and they don't fight at all in their little area (though oddly, they do do a lot of chasing and chest bumping in the run, where you would think they should get along better because they have so much more room!).

    Thank you, as always!!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2011
  2. Komaki

    Komaki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 10, 2011
    Gimmie a sec, I want to show you something................................
     
  3. Komaki

    Komaki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 10, 2011
    Quote:[​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Komaki

    Komaki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 10, 2011
    The trailer house is their coop/ home for all of them. But during the day, they get to roam free. So far, not a problem. I have some 2wk olds out there. But here in the swamps, it's warm. Your call in my opinion. Just watch em like the hawk that will be watching too.
     
  5. catchthewind

    catchthewind Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a great set up! Do you do anything in particular to get them used to each other? I am a bit nervous about letting the babies free range because if there were too much bullying going on it would be next to impossible to round them all up. I may try that though, maybe keep Luna locked up for a while at first.
     
  6. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

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    Quote:I like to keep the newbies in a fenced-in area (like a rudimentary corral made of chicken wire, a chicken tractor or the like) in the area where the older chickens are free-ranging. This gives them all the chance to get to know each other from a safe distance. After about a week or two of this, I let the newbies out into the general population and I have never had an integration problem with this method. There WILL be the normal, expected amount of pecking to re-configure the pecking order.
     
  7. hipstershaun

    hipstershaun New Egg

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    I am getting ready to put four 6 week old chicks outside with my 2 one year olds. I have a 4x8 tractor with an additional 4x4 hen house. My plan is to divide the tractor with chicken wire and place a temporary henhouse (courtesy of Rubbermaid) with the young chicks. When I think they are close enough in size and familiar enough with each other I will remove the wire partition. However, I will leave the Rubbermaid coop in place so that the young ones can transition at their own pace and so they have a place to retreat to if they are being bullied too much.

    My concern for you is that by placing them together and then separating them againg repeatedly, you may be dragging the integration process out. As the order begins to be established, it gets interrupted and therefore set back. That being said, I should state that I am new at this as well, so perhaps someone with more experience could give their 2 cents on my observation and process I’ve got planned.
     
  8. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

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    Quote:I think you essentially just re-phrased what I described in post #6, above. It works.
     
  9. catchthewind

    catchthewind Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    Well they can see each other at all times, whether in the coop or in the run. But do you mean that once we decide to put them together without a divider, we should just leave them together? Maybe I will wait until the weekend and see what happens if I let them free range together. I can put the one more aggressive big one in her own space for a day or two. I'm hopeful that since the littler ones outnumber the big ones, no one will get targeted.
     
  10. catchthewind

    catchthewind Chillin' With My Peeps

    366
    2
    113
    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    Quote:I like to keep the newbies in a fenced-in area (like a rudimentary corral made of chicken wire, a chicken tractor or the like) in the area where the older chickens are free-ranging. This gives them all the chance to get to know each other from a safe distance. After about a week or two of this, I let the newbies out into the general population and I have never had an integration problem with this method. There WILL be the normal, expected amount of pecking to re-configure the pecking order.

    This is what it is like in their coop. Outside, essentially the babies are in the run and the older ones are free-ranging around them, so sort of the same thing too. They can see each other at all times, and even peck at each other a bit through the wires, but not actually hurt each other.
     

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