Integrating chicks with older chickens

PatriotWay

Chirping
6 Years
May 19, 2014
15
2
77
Massachusetts, USA
Its that time of year again and I have (7) 6 week old chicks, all fully feathered. I think they are ready to go into the run/coop with my 5 older chickens and 2 guinea hens. I'm unable to separate them once in the coop so is it okay for the chicks to start eating layer food? I can have a few playdates before I move them in completely but there is no simple way to divide it . Any advice?
 

N F C

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Dec 12, 2013
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Wyoming
Its that time of year again and I have (7) 6 week old chicks, all fully feathered. I think they are ready to go into the run/coop with my 5 older chickens and 2 guinea hens. I'm unable to separate them once in the coop so is it okay for the chicks to start eating layer food? I can have a few playdates before I move them in completely but there is no simple way to divide it . Any advice?

Even though the 6-week olds are fully feathered that doesn't mean they can protect themselves against older (and I presume bigger) chickens without some time for them all to adjust to each other. Find some way that they can all "look but don't touch" each other for a little while (maybe 2 weeks or so). Some pecking will probably still happen even with a proper integration period but it shouldn't last longer than it takes for the pecking order to be re-established.

When mingling the two sets of birds, you want to drop the older girls back down to what the little ones eat and provide a source of calcium at all times for the older girls to have whenever they need to.

Good luck to you!
 

FridayYet

Innocent Bystander
9 Years
Mar 3, 2011
12,756
4,915
541
The Land of Enchantment
Layer food has too much calcium for growing chicks, and usually not enough protein. Like NorthFLChick said, you might want to switch everyone to a grower feed and offer calcium free-choice on the side. Your older hens will eat the calcium as needed. (That's what I did.)

Once you put them together, you can also make a temporary place that the little ones can go in and out of but the big ones can't get into. It gives them a safe place to hide if they are getting picked on.

Good luck with your flock!
 

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