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Integrating chicks of different ages

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Renee572, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. Renee572

    Renee572 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I currently have 2-11 week olds and 4-5 week olds. They have been in the same coop for 1 week now. I do have a dog cage in the coop that only the Littles have access to. They have food and water in there. I had hoped they would start venturing out and getting to know the bigger chicks at some point but they seem very content to stay in their space. A few days ago I did take the dog cage out and put the chicks in the coop. I stayed to supervise and there wasn't a huge amount of chaos although the bigs just chased the Littles all around the coop, giving them a chance to regroup every now and then. No one got hurt but they didn't seem like friends either. So I put the dog cage back in for the littles.

    My question is... are there any other things that I can do to help them get along? The 4 littles are not gonna fit in the dog cage much longer so I need them to get along.
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Integration takes time even when birds are the same size and age. Due to the age and size differential of your chicks it will take more time. Create a space in the coop other than the dog cage that only the smaller birds can access. Provide feed and water there to assure they are eating and drinking and give it time.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I used that technique for about the same age gap and by the time the littlers wouldn't fit in the crate they had integrated pretty well.

    Will be interesting to see if now that they've been forced out of the crate, they may venture forth more often.
    You might want to try that again to 'force' the issue. See what happens.

    You might have to create another 'safe space' for them too tho.

    Best of cLuck to ya!
     
  4. LoveThemBirds

    LoveThemBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with the top users.

    My chicken flock is of seven hens.I will be interhgrating them at a month and a half.
    I would suggest watching tutorials,or how people do things.

    LoveThemBirds
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    A week isn't all that long. At five weeks, they're just at the age where they won't be able to resist exploring.

    How big an area is the coop? Do you have room to rig up a temporary "panic room" in a corner? It doesn't have to be elaborate - just a 2" x 2" frame with chicken wire. I would make it at least 4' x 2'. Twice that if there's room. Cut two 5"x 7" pop hole in two sides so they have more than one entrance from a couple of directions. This is key to their having the confidence to go explore, knowing they can get back to safety.

    It also helps to have several pieces of "furniture" to jump on, run around, or hide behind, such as an old chair, small table, tree stumps, fruit crates, etc. The more the better. You might think about building some low perches, maybe fifteen inches high that the chicks can perch on. This will give them a place to loaf out in the main coop where they can watch the bigs in safety.

    Even though the older chicks are so much larger, the youngsters have the advantage since there are twice as many, and this gives them confidence. If you build them a new safe enclosure, I guarantee they'll be exploring in no time.
     
  6. Renee572

    Renee572 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone. Last night when I went to check on them I actually found the 4 chicks out of the dog cage, they were perched on top of it and still away from the 2 Biggers but it's a step in the right direction. I think I will take the dog cage out and make a little spot for them to hide safely as you all have said. I really don't think the bigger ones are going to hurt them, I'm pretty sure they would have already done it if they were. I know they are just showing the chicks they are in charge.

    Sadly we lost 14 of the chicks we hatched, having hatched 18 I was sure this was going to be an easier integration because the 2 bigs would have been really outnumbered. But luckily their are 4 chicks so hopefully as they get bigger they feel better about exploring.
    [​IMG]
    Here's my 4, aren't they so cute!
     
  7. Renee572

    Renee572 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I ended up taking the dog cage out about 2 hours ago and the 6 chicks seem to be doing just fine. The bigs are not chasing the littles and the littles are being allowed to get to the food and water just fine. I decided to just see how it goes before I set up a hideout for the littles. I have my front and back doors open so I will be able to hear any squawking/peeping should any of the littles feel in danger but so far so good.
     
  8. WashingtonWino

    WashingtonWino Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May I jump in on this thread? I have a similar question. I have 2x1 week olds and 5x 3 week olds. Since everyone is so young, they are all in a big brooder in my spare room, with a hardware cloth partition between the two groups.

    My question is this: should the two groups be joined together when they are six and eight weeks old, respectively, and they all graduate together to the outdoor coop? Or should they be joined together in the brooder, BEFORE graduating to the coop and then everyone goes out together? I'm wondering if moving out to the coop would be so stressful that everyone is disoriented and won't fight, or if the opposite would be true and the move would make them more likely to fight. I know there's probably not going to be a pretty solution and there will be bullying, but I'd like it to be as smooth as I can make it. Any thoughts?
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'll bet they'll be fine...will probably always be kind of 2 subflocks..or at least until they start laying, that can change things up.

    Are there other birds out in the coop?
    If so, they littles should probably be integrated together before moving out there.

    If there are no other birds out in the coop, you could go either way.
    You are correct that placing them in a strange place should reduce the territoriality aspect of integrating them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  10. WashingtonWino

    WashingtonWino Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aart:

    Nope, these are my first chickens, there's no one else out in the coop. So perhaps the plan should be to put them all out together at 6 and 8 weeks. I'm inclined to think that integration time would be a bad time to confine everyone to the coop (no access to the run) for "coop training"/teaching them that the coop = home?

    Thank you for your help Aart!
     

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