Integrating 16 week old chicks

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8 Years
Nov 5, 2012
I have a small flock of buff orpingtons. One got broody in July and hatched out 3 babies for me. Unfortunately Mama died when they were about 10 weeks old. They are in a tractor near the pen with the "big kids" (1 roo and 5 girls). Two of the 16 weekers (I know one of them is a roo and I think they both are) are pretty well grown and have their grown up voices, although they are not crowing. The other one is a runt and is still making baby noises. I've waited to integrate, because I have read that if they are still making baby noises they should not be put in with the grown-ups. I really want to integrate them all together to disperse some of the pecking order aggression. Should I go ahead and integrate? Integrate the two big ones? Wait til the other batch of 5 week old chicks are bigger and integrate them with the 16 week old crew? Any suggestions appreciated; I thought Mama would be around to help me with this!
Welcome to BYC. I would think at 16 weeks they should be ok to integrate. They should be pretty close to full height. There will be the pecking order to sort out, but just keep an eye out for over aggression. I would wait on the batch of 5 week olds til at least 15 weeks old. If you can integrate them while free ranging them(if it is possible in your set-up). That tends to help. Also maybe add an extra feeder and water so no one gets blocked from it.
Integrate all of them together. If you can block off an area where the younger ones can see the older ones but not peck at each other for about a week - it goes smoother. Prepare for pecking, chasing, bullying - let them work it out unless there is blood drawn. Put them together at night. Be frequent with treats during the time they are adjusting to each other, it helps distract them. Give them plenty of room, and put an extra feeder and waterer out so they aren't kept from food.
You should be fine to do it now. There will always be an order established when introducing new ones to the flock. The young roos will not be a threat to the main roo until they are older. They figure that out as well. Just keep an eye out for over agression.
Thank you all so much for the help! We put them in with the "grown-ups" after dark last night (the one time I am glad dark comes so early here these days ). I got up several times in the night to check on them
. At one point my big, not-so-nice roo (I have bruises on my leg from his spurs!) was on the roost in the coop snuggled right up next to my little runt who still makes baby noises! There is some territorial stuff going on this morning, but in general all seems to be going pretty well. It is interesting to watch how the whole pecking order is having to be re-established among everyone, not just the new kids. I still have my little 5 weekers in the brooder in the basement and they will be there for a while.
On another note, my layers had mostly quit laying for the past several weeks. I was doing well to get one egg a day. I'm wondering if part of that was due to the 16 weekers being in the tractor right next to the pen where they could see each other? I'll be quite happy if all the girls will start laying again. I resent having to BUY eggs at the grocery store when I am also buying feed for the hens!
Oops, sounds like a baby got out of the brooder in the basement....
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