Integrating chicks into flock

railroadwifey

Hatching
Jun 18, 2020
5
3
8
Hi! I need advice on integrating 12 chicks into my flock of 8 pullets. The chicks are 4 weeks old and fully feathered and off of heat in the garage. The pullets are 12 weeks old. I have the chicks in a grow out pen that I plan to move to either the coop or the run. Which is the better option? Both are predator proofed and have sand floor. The coop has ventilation and cool during the day but I can't easily see the chicks without going in the coop; whereas the run is fully visible and has lighting at night too for me to monitor. I just worry if I put them in the run in the brooder box then when its time to fully integrate they won't want to go into the coop. Any advice welcome!
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,311
9,418
596
western South Dakota
Well I do both. I have my chicks trained to go into a small dog crate at night. That is where they sleep. Then when I am tired of them in the garage, I take the crate down to the run. I put it into a sectioned off place in the run, open the door. When it gets dark, I close it up, and set it into the coop.

After a few days, 2-3 I raise up the edge of the fence two or three inches, so the chicks can go out into the run, but run back under if they get chased. The big girls can't follow them.
Within a week, the littles are scampering out among the big, and it is over pretty much drama free.

That night I put the crate in the coop, but I open the door. The next morning, they appear by themselves in the run, and generally find the coop at night on their own.

My set up, the coop is not elevated, and I have a lot of clutter in my run. Hideouts, roosts, platforms, places where birds can get out of sight of each other and multiple feed stations.

hope this helps. This summer I introduced chicks to birds 6 weeks older than them, at 1 week of age.

Mrs K
 

railroadwifey

Hatching
Jun 18, 2020
5
3
8
That does help and seems very efficient. I don't think I can easily move the brooder pen between the coop and run though. Here is a picture of my coop and run. The human access to the coop is the main door and the run access is to the far left. The other picture is the brooder pen they are currently in (ignore the mess). I am leaning towards the run and then may have to "help" them into the coop once the integration is complete.
 

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aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
84,713
98,681
1,677
SW Michigan
My Coop
I am leaning towards the run and then may have to "help" them into the coop once the integration is complete.
Sounds, and looks, reasonable.
Run looks to be weather and predator proof, and the brooder has shelter too.
They may choose to go into the coop when the time is right.
What does the inside of coop look like?
I love that round top door!

I brood in the coop and integrate early:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/integrating-new-birds-at-4-weeks-old.72603/

But still follow the 'rules' of......
Integration Basics:
It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

The more space, the better.
Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

drinkoj

Songster
Premium Feather Member
May 24, 2020
361
631
113
Upstate South Carolina
Everything @aart said. I had and am going through this EXACT situation as of 2 weeks ago, integrating. I used this thread as my bible, https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/my-coop-brooder-and-integration.74591/

I put my brooder in the run, surrounded it with a dog play pen, and after a week lifted the dog play pen up about 3 to 4" so the small chicks could crawl under it but the big girls couldn't. Had lots of cinderblocks and things the little ones could run past, so they could get away from the pecking that will happen. They are all intergrated, a pecking order is being established, and 1 of the 4 younglings goes in the coop on her own. Just have to keep going into the run and putting the 3 younglings in the coop once all my older chicks are inside (older +1 youngling go in around 8:45 pm and I toss 3 the younglings in at 9:15 pm, at 2.5 weeks of doing this). My setup back then, as I removed the dog play pen now.
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
11,804
21,839
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Which is the better option? Both are predator proofed and have sand floor. The coop has ventilation and cool during the day but I can't easily see the chicks without going in the coop; whereas the run is fully visible and has lighting at night too for me to monitor. I just worry if I put them in the run in the brooder box then when its time to fully integrate they won't want to go into the coop. Any advice welcome!
Run for sure, as the older birds will see the chicks more often this way as they're more likely to spend time out in run. Also it can be tough/impossible moving a big brooder into a coop.

As to how to integrate them into the coop... short answer is "Brooder is now closed... To transition into the coop, the chicks will be placed in a small cage to protect them from any hen aggression in the early morning before the pop door opens. Cage will be removed once they show inclination to roost." Longer detailed explanation in my early integration article: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/short-on-time-recycle-a-prefab-brooder.73985/
 

railroadwifey

Hatching
Jun 18, 2020
5
3
8
Thank you all for the feedback! I am moving them to the run today and will use your suggested methods to integrate!! Wish me luck!
 

railroadwifey

Hatching
Jun 18, 2020
5
3
8
They are in! It was so cute!! The chicks LOVED the sand and had their first treats ever :). My big girls were more scared than curious (they are only 11 weeks old...HA). Thanks again for all the advice!
 

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