Integrating chicks with chickens.

Clairemarie1982

Songster
Mar 12, 2019
112
165
131
Connecticut
Hi! I have a flock of 9, one year old chickens. In April we got 3 new baby chicks. We kept them inside in a brooder but at 3 weeks old we started to take them outside and had them meet and play with the big chickens while they were free ranging (with our close supervision of course). At 5 weeks old we started leaving the chicks outside in the run with the big chickens all day, only to take them in at night when it got cool. Everything seemed great and we didn’t see any pecking issues or problems whatsoever. Then at 6 weeks old the chicks permanently left the brooder and are in the coop with the big girls. They’ve been out there a handful of days now and we have encountered a problem. On one side of the run we have the big girls food and water and on the opposite side of the run the little girls food and water. The chicks are only interested in their own food. We noticed our cream legbar Chocolate, who is our lap chicken and by far the sweetest one, has started pecking the chicks whenever they try to eat their own food. She is literally chasing them off so they cannot eat. This is my first experience with adding chicks to chickens. I was wondering if I did something wrong, and if this is normal and how to handle this situation? Our setup is a coop with an attached covered run- and they are let out in the yard daily to free range when we can supervise for hawks. Thanks in advance!
 

avasfarmhouse

Hatching
May 29, 2020
9
4
5
NJ
I have a similar issue. I got 2 baby chicks in March, and I already have a flock of 4 two year old chickens. We put the chicks: Now a few months old, in a dog crate in the coop with additional food and water sources (we let them into the run or in the coop with big ones, and also watch them while they free range). They still get picked on, everyday by the older ones- Even though they have been with them for about 2 weeks now. I don't know how to stop the pecking... I mean does usual pecking order just happens a few times?
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,891
11,123
636
western South Dakota
Look at your run, is it wide open? Can a bird see every other bird from any position in the run? I often see runs like this. They are basically 2 dimensional, and they make it impossible for a chick to bow to the queen.

That's what I call it, when two birds meet, one bows and gives way, one is lower pecking order, one is above. I have seen chicks when cued, just disappear behind something, under something over something, but gets out of the way. That is bowing. The funny thing is, is within seconds I have seen that very chick come back and eat right underneath the biddy she bowed too.

The problem when the run is wide open, when there are no hide outs, no escapes, no place to go, sometimes the queen takes offense to that, she gives the cue, and maybe the bird moves off, but is still THERE, so now she give a peck, same story. The queen does not reason that there IS no place for the chick to go, just that it is being uppity, and then the attacks become worse.

Add pallets up on cement blocks, down low with just one end up, mini walls out of a small piece of plywood or even cardboard, put feed stations where a bird eating at cannot be seen by other birds, have them all over.

Mrs K
 

Clairemarie1982

Songster
Mar 12, 2019
112
165
131
Connecticut
Look at your run, is it wide open? Can a bird see every other bird from any position in the run? I often see runs like this. They are basically 2 dimensional, and they make it impossible for a chick to bow to the queen.

That's what I call it, when two birds meet, one bows and gives way, one is lower pecking order, one is above. I have seen chicks when cued, just disappear behind something, under something over something, but gets out of the way. That is bowing. The funny thing is, is within seconds I have seen that very chick come back and eat right underneath the biddy she bowed too.

The problem when the run is wide open, when there are no hide outs, no escapes, no place to go, sometimes the queen takes offense to that, she gives the cue, and maybe the bird moves off, but is still THERE, so now she give a peck, same story. The queen does not reason that there IS no place for the chick to go, just that it is being uppity, and then the attacks become worse.

Add pallets up on cement blocks, down low with just one end up, mini walls out of a small piece of plywood or even cardboard, put feed stations where a bird eating at cannot be seen by other birds, have them all over.

Mrs K
Look at your run, is it wide open? Can a bird see every other bird from any position in the run? I often see runs like this. They are basically 2 dimensional, and they make it impossible for a chick to bow to the queen.

That's what I call it, when two birds meet, one bows and gives way, one is lower pecking order, one is above. I have seen chicks when cued, just disappear behind something, under something over something, but gets out of the way. That is bowing. The funny thing is, is within seconds I have seen that very chick come back and eat right underneath the biddy she bowed too.

The problem when the run is wide open, when there are no hide outs, no escapes, no place to go, sometimes the queen takes offense to that, she gives the cue, and maybe the bird moves off, but is still THERE, so now she give a peck, same story. The queen does not reason that there IS no place for the chick to go, just that it is being uppity, and then the attacks become worse.

Add pallets up on cement blocks, down low with just one end up, mini walls out of a small piece of plywood or even cardboard, put feed stations where a bird eating at cannot be seen by other birds, have them all over.

Mrs K
Thank you for your lengthy reply. Yes my run is a wide open rectangle! We have some fun roosting bars and such but essentially yes everything is open. I will create what you have recommenced. We never had a problem with any of our previous 9 chickens getting along. We spend tons of time with them and I have never noticed any issues until these new chicks came. Do you think once the chicks grow and they are all adult hens they will sort it out and be a happy family again?! I guess it’s hard to say huh.
 

Clairemarie1982

Songster
Mar 12, 2019
112
165
131
Connecticut
Are you able to put out some additional food and water sources? Ideally with some objects around the run and coop that block line of sight. Or put up some sort of fence or blockade that the chicks can fit through but the big girls can't fit?
Yes this makes sense, thank you for your reply!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
15,186
28,997
1,002
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
Do you think once the chicks grow and they are all adult hens they will sort it out and be a happy family again?! I guess it’s hard to say huh.

The chicks will remain in their own sub-flock until they're ready to lay. At that time they'll start merging into the adult flock, though they may always prefer their broodmates.

And yes, clutter is key to helping new birds integrate in with an existing flock.
 

avasfarmhouse

Hatching
May 29, 2020
9
4
5
NJ
Thank you for your lengthy reply. Yes my run is a wide open rectangle! We have some fun roosting bars and such but essentially yes everything is open. I will create what you have recommenced. We never had a problem with any of our previous 9 chickens getting along. We spend tons of time with them and I have never noticed any issues until these new chicks came. Do you think once the chicks grow and they are all adult hens they will sort it out and be a happy family again?! I guess it’s hard to say huh.
Look at your run, is it wide open? Can a bird see every other bird from any position in the run? I often see runs like this. They are basically 2 dimensional, and they make it impossible for a chick to bow to the queen.

That's what I call it, when two birds meet, one bows and gives way, one is lower pecking order, one is above. I have seen chicks when cued, just disappear behind something, under something over something, but gets out of the way. That is bowing. The funny thing is, is within seconds I have seen that very chick come back and eat right underneath the biddy she bowed too.

The problem when the run is wide open, when there are no hide outs, no escapes, no place to go, sometimes the queen takes offense to that, she gives the cue, and maybe the bird moves off, but is still THERE, so now she give a peck, same story. The queen does not reason that there IS no place for the chick to go, just that it is being uppity, and then the attacks become worse.

Add pallets up on cement blocks, down low with just one end up, mini walls out of a small piece of plywood or even cardboard, put feed stations where a bird eating at cannot be seen by other birds, have them all over.

Mrs K
Hey, My run surrounds my coop. I have branches to climb on, and a tree stump. But the older flock still pecks at my 3 month old chicks. Its not like they are in the way or trying to eat at the same time as them, the older ones just chase and peck them. Is there any way to stop this?
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
15,186
28,997
1,002
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
Hey, My run surrounds my coop. I have branches to climb on, and a tree stump. But the older flock still pecks at my 3 month old chicks. Its not like they are in the way or trying to eat at the same time as them, the older ones just chase and peck them. Is there any way to stop this?

Do they chase and peck them all the time, or on and off? Are any chicks being injured?

If it's not a continuous harassment and no one is being hurt, I'd leave it alone, it's normal for some of the older birds to really want to keep the chicks "in their place."
 

RumneyRoost

Songster
Jul 24, 2018
283
420
131
Ontario
Keep in mind that some birds will always take more offence to new flock mates. Some people cull these birds because they make introducing new birds much more difficult.

My cream legbar fits into this category. It took several months of living side by side and having supervised time together before I felt comfortable leaving my four chicks with her last year. Even still she pecked the poor barred rock until her head was bleeding (she has a cool scar now...) so again the chicks got put in their dog crate inside the run.
When I reintroduced them, I put the chicks with the flock and put the legbar in the dog crate.
A few days of detention seemed to work. However, she still doesn’t like the Easter Egger for some reason.
 

MANNA-PRO

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