Integrating chicks and ensuring they get back to the coop at night...?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ev-chicka, May 22, 2019.

  1. ev-chicka

    ev-chicka In the Brooder

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    We have an existing flock of 1 year olds and a new flock of 4-8week olds that will integrate in a month or 2...the young ones have their own mini coop and outdoor area at the moment to keep them separate but able to see one another. My question is, when we integrate the young ones to the big coop, how do we train them to go in at dusk? I’ve heard it’s a good idea to lock them in coop for a few days, but that’s not possible b/c it will be shared with the older ladies and they need access to it...?
     
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  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Puppy Dreaming

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    I round mine up at dusk until they learn on their own. I generally integrate at 4-8 weeks depending on temperatures, and if my chicks are off heat. Don't wait too long. If they are bigger they will be seen as intruders instead of just someone's chicks. Size of the set up will dictate how easy or hard integration goes.
     
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  3. ev-chicka

    ev-chicka In the Brooder

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    Sorry just seeing this! Thanks!! Mine are 5-9weeks now and I was going to wait a few more weeks at least til the youngest ones are bigger...I’ve read they should be closer to the size of my existing hens, but that would be quite awhile. Do others think it’s better to integrate sooner than later?

    And mine free range during day but within a fence (not secure run) so my worry is that the chicks will hide in some nooks and crannies somewhere rather than heading back to coop...would you just plan to spend some time chasing/Rounding them up each night til they get the idea?
     
  4. m16ty

    m16ty In the Brooder

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    I wasn't putting my chicks in with older chicks, but we had a time getting them used to the new coop. When I moved them out of the brooder and into the coop, I left them locked in for 4 days with the brooder light in there with them. I opened the door on the 4th day and they wouldn't go out, they would stand there piled up at the door and one would get pushed out, and they would scramble like mad to get back into the coop.

    After a couple of days with the door open, they finally ventured outside. The brooder light was still in the coop and they would go in every night. It finally turned downright hot outside and the chickens had fully feathered so I took the brooder light out. The first night they wouldn't go into the dark coop with no light, they were all huddled up out in the run. I moved them all inside and put just a regular light inside the coop. After that I'd go out there before dark, turn on the light, all the chickens would go in at dark, and I'd go back and close the coop up and turn off the light. I did this for about a week until one night I was late getting in and didn't turn the light on before dark, the chickens were all in the coop. Now they go in the coop without light.

    All that being said, it would probably be a good idea to put a light in the coop at dark for the first few days. This should insure the new chicks go inside. It seems like nighttime really freaks new chicks out that have spent all their life under a brooder light.
     
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  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Puppy Dreaming

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    I generally start by letting chicks goof around in the coop while the big birds are out. Than I spend some time teaching them how to go in. Either herding or picking them up and putting them in. There is some work on your end as chicks become familiar with a new home. Next I move mine to the coop or shed.

    I usually have a separate pen in my coop where chicks are initially penned and they become homed to that pen after a week or so. They will want to return to it especially if that's where their feed is. Integration is a process that for me takes a month or so to complete.

    Young chicks learn to avoid adults pretty quickly. It's important there are places chicks can slip under or through to escape and older birds cannot. You will be surprised how young chicks are mostly accepted. They do get occasional pecks but in general are mostly ignored. Mine go out at about 4 weeks depending on the temperature here.

    I start with that initial penning so the adults get used to seeing them. About a week. Than I start supervised mingling. I lock chicks up if things get too rough. The first day they are out generally an hour or so. Each day they are out longer. After a few days I generally feel comfortable enough to leave them out until later. I generally round them up and back to their pen for the night. Eventually I leave everyone out.

    My chicks initially don't go far from their pen. It can take a few weeks for them to start to venture further out. By than they know where home is and generally put themselves to bed.

    So if I was you I would at least start by putting your chicks where your older birds can see them at least for the day if you aren't ready to move them out. They need to be weaned off heat and mostly feathered. That's when they are ready. Definitely don't wait too long.
     
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  6. ev-chicka

    ev-chicka In the Brooder

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    I’ll definitely use the light in the coop to remind them where to go! Thanks so much for that!
     
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  7. Duck_life

    Duck_life Songster

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    what i did was heard them in the coop at a certain time at night and also my first clutch of chickens i've ever had just went in at night.. just try herding them in at one certain time to keep a routine
     
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  8. ev-chicka

    ev-chicka In the Brooder

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    That’s helpful, thanks!! I’ll move them where they can be seen not touched for a week and then start slowing integrating and hope for the best. My ladies are RIR which I’ve read have trouble with newcomers. Of course I hadn’t planned on expanding when we started last year;)

    Do you think another option might be to have them free range together during the day and then have the mini coop as an option for some to return to at night? And some might choose to roost with the ladies and others in the smaller coop? I’m integrating 9 chicks that vary in age from 4-9weeks so thinking the older of these might go with ladies and the younger ones remain in the transitional small coop? Or am I making things too complicated?
     
  9. ev-chicka

    ev-chicka In the Brooder

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    11299ADA-378A-4FFF-9F14-3921A6315783.jpeg 52A1824E-E680-424A-822F-DCC128808718.jpeg This is the small transition coop...
     
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Puppy Dreaming

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    If you home them to the smaller coop that's where they will return. They will not eventually go to the other coop on their own. They may go there to goof off but not to sleep. You will need to force them in there eventually. Chickens are creatures of habit.
     

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