Integrating 15 baby chicks to 7 month old hens (7) and roosters (3)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by nothingincommon, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. nothingincommon

    nothingincommon Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Homestead, FL
    Hello!

    I started off about 7 months ago with 11 chicks 3 males 8 females of different varieties (RIR, Production Red, Plymouth, Ameruacana)

    I lost one plymouth to a hawk unfortunately. I wanted to get more hens and I was worried about integration with the "old" group. They were all raised together and seem to get along very well. I dont think they will be happy with 15 new sisters.

    What can i do to ease the each groups anxiety and mix them all together?

    I have a coop within a coop that I planned on putting the 15 chicks in, the older chickens will be able to see them. I was planning on leaving them in there until they got bigger and slowly introducing them into the older group..


    Please help..

    cheers!
     
  2. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy nothingincommon

    I usually do not introduce the youngsters until they are 10-12 weeks old and use the ‘look but not touch’ method of integration; using wire or a crate etc so that they can get used to each other without the threat of injury.

    Do you free range your flock?

    I let the existing flock out for a free range while the newbies are locked in the coop and run. This gives the newbies the opportunity to explore and feel comfortable in what will be their new home without the threat of being picked on and also learn where all the good hiding spots are.

    Same with free range, but reversed; I let the newbies wander around the garden while the existing flock are locked in. Granted, the existing flock have a good whinge about this ;) but again, it gives the newbies chance to explore, get settled and find all the good hiding spots without being picked on.

    I find that free ranging is a good opportunity to let everyone get to know each other .. space is a great tool when integrating.

    I also find that a water pistol comes in handy .. it is amazing how a squirt of water in front of them can cause a chicken to change her mind about picking on someone

    There will probably still be bickering while the pecking order reestablishes itself when they are integrated, but it should not be quite as brutal.

    Also, when they are integrated into the run and coop, for a couple of months I ensure that there is more than one source of water and food, just in case the newbies are being bullied away from either.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
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  3. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    My Coop
    This article might help you...I have my chicks totally integrated with my older birds, some as old as 3 years old, by the time the chicks are 4 weeks old. I have done this with every batch of chicks and have never had a single issue. As my good friend @Teila said, integration when the new birds are about the same size as those already in the coop and using the "see but don't touch" method seems to be the conventional school of thought. But I'm just not the conventional type - I'm more the lazy how-can-I-do-it-without-stressing-outing kind. [​IMG]

    But it's been my experience - and that of many other people - that the younger the chicks are during the integration process the better the older birds deal with them. They don't see the smaller chicks as a threat to the pecking order the way they do birds that are about the same size. So they just don't bother them as long as there is an additional food/water station, they've seen each other since day one, and they have the ability to get away from the older chickens if they feel insecure or an older bird decides to push his/her weight around. I originally used a big dog exercise pen to house my chicks, and at about 3 weeks I would prop the door open just enough so the chicks could get back in but the Bigs couldn't follow them. Then @azygous shared her "portal door" idea and I stole it and ran with it! It's just a couple of little openings at the bottom of the wire brooder pen with little doors that can be opened or shut. It works brilliantly! When it's time for bed or if the Bigs are getting a bit pushy, the Littles just go home. I also have a big hollow log out there, cut side down, on the opposite side of the run that the Littles can escape under if the Bigs start getting a bit bossy.

    The other thing I do is when I toss the chickens some scratch or a treat, I run it along the wire separating the Bigs from the Littles, some inside and some outside. The Littles are eating it on their side and the Bigs are eating it on their side. They are eating head to head, but they can't reach each other, so they learn to feed nicely together.

    [​IMG]
    You can sort of see one of the portal doors behind the chicks on the far right. It's just a flap that folds up and latches to the wire of the pen when I open it. Notice the hardware cloth that keeps the Littles from squirting through the bars and keeps the Bigs' heads out of their space.

    [​IMG]
    This was before I put in @azygous portal doors, when I just propped open the door. On this day I had been doing that for a few days, so I opened it wide and let the older chickens check out the babies' digs, under supervision, of course.

    [​IMG]
    Gladys checking out the chicks in their safe enclosure, located within the run. You can see Kat on the far side of the brooder. The Bigs can walk around the entire enclosure. The chicks watch the adults carefully and learn so much more from them than they would from me.

    [​IMG]
    Kat checking out a chick when the door to their pen was fully opened. All of the chicks I raise are either hatchery chicks or incubated here at home, but none of the adults are the broodies for any of them - in other words, just unknown chicks with no protecting "mom" hatching and raising them.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Doesn't take long before the chicks are wandering around outside with the adults. Every once in awhile a chick will get a well deserved peck for overstepping his bounds, but it's never serious. By this age the brooder is gone and they are fully integrated, some even roosting and all.

    [​IMG]
    And the result has been one big happy family, chickens of all ages and varieties. I even do Bantams and Silkies right in with the rest, never separating them.

    Here is a link to brooding chicks outdoors with the adults.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors
     
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  4. nothingincommon

    nothingincommon Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
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    Thank you for the responses guys!


    [​IMG]
    These are the guys that killed one of my Plymouth :( They look small from this picture but they are actually very large when you see them dive down.

    [​IMG]

    This is where I plan to put the chicks in. A box within the larger coop

    [​IMG]
    this is the coop

    [​IMG]

    They get to forage on about 3 acres.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Over the last two years many of us have broken new ground integrating baby chicks at younger and younger ages. Years ago, it was scripture that you had to wait until chicks were pretty much the same size as the older flock to put them together. Last summer, my babies were fully integrated, that's fully accepted members of the adult flock, by age two weeks. The little rascals were mingling with the grownups without incident.

    The theory behind early integration is that baby chicks raised along side adult chickens will not only be accepted by the adults early on, but the chicks begin learning the temperaments of the individual adult flock members. Therefore, when I open the portals from the chick brooding pen to the rest of the run, the chicks have already learned whom to trust and whom to avoid by not getting near those tyrants.

    That chicks so young can learn things to improve their safety in the flock of adults was something I stumbled upon by accident through fanatic observation. It was a revelation. That's what encouraged me to go ahead and let my baby chicks start mingling with the adults at a much earlier age than I used to.

    To be perfectly clear, chicks cannot be put directly in with adult chickens until they've been alongside the adults for at least a week which is minimum for older chicks. Newly hatched chicks are governed by instinct and will try to scoot under any adult fluff butt they encounter, so I wait at least two weeks after hatch, during which time the chicks are alongside the adults observing and being observed, before I allow them to mingle. By that time the chicks have become less indiscriminate and are less likely to try warming themselves under the wrong butt to the detriment of their safety.
     
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  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    NIC, those circling birds look like turkey vultures. I never see that many hawks traveling together. Unusual for turkey vultures (according to the literature, yet I really don't believe all that I read) to kill poultry, but you have the experience to state that those birds will. do a google search re: turkey vultures, and tell me if that is what your BOP are.
     
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  7. Yes, those are turkey vultures.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Yes, those are turkey vultures.
     
  9. nothingincommon

    nothingincommon Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Homestead, FL
    I'll try to get a closer shot. It could very well be a turkey vulture. I have seen them dive down towards the chickens in the past but I haven't seen a kill directly.
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I brood in the coop and integrate at 2-3 wks. It helps that you free range, as the older birds will be out ranging while the chicks will stick close to the coop for the first week or so. If you can lower that brooder down to the ground or wrap the legs in netting with just a chick height space under the netting under which the chicks can scoot, they will have a place of refuge their first couple of days...that's also a good place to feed them the first few days or so. I use a haybale brooder, so I just part the bales when I integrate so that only a chick can get in and out of their sleeping and eating area. After a few days of that, I just remove the bales altogether, as I find the chicks gravitating to the big bird's feeder at feeding time instead of their own.

    A trough style feeder thereafter will really help the chicks have access to the feed as much as the adults.

    I'll give you a little trick that will help you integrate in other ways...place a chunk of sod from your range area in the brooder from day one, grass intact is fine. This will give your chicks their first dose of the cocci levels in your soil and allow them to form antibodies for that while they are at the age when they do that best. I even start my chicks out on deep litter from the coop for this purpose.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see below...this set of chicks pretty much dominated one end of the trough a few weeks after integration, while the older birds pretty much moved over and let them swarm the trough...

    [​IMG]
     
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