Integrating Hen with the Brood

tomarcs

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jan 18, 2014
21
0
24
Sonoma County,CA
The short version: How/when do I integrat a solo Silkie hen with 26 eight week old chicks?

The long version:
I have a single Silkie hen that I resecued at the beginning of January, she's fully recovered from nearly being pecked to death by the large fowl flock she raised. At the end of February my delivery of 30 bantam chicks arrived, 26 have survived.

Both the hen and the chicks lived in the garage (sectioned off about 50 sq ft combined for them), and while originally there was a fence separating them this was taken down at one point. They were okay; the chicks were terrified of cluck-o-sauraus and cluck-o-sauraus mostly left them alone. Then she started getting broody and mean to them, so the fence went back up.

Got the coop finished in February. Got the run finished two weeks ago. All 26 chicks have been out there (3 stayed inside for a week, as they were a little runty and some feathers looked missing). The hen went out there for 1 week. She immediately stopped being broody, but kept being moody. Swapped the runty chicks in the garage with the hen, so now the hen's back in the garage because she was terrifying/cornering/tormenting the chicks.

The chicks are 8 weeks old now. The hen is back to laying. Any ideas on intergrating the single hen with the 26 chicks? Have I tried while the chicks are too young, and if so when would the optimal age be?

I've read about having them separate and integrating in groups. She's a solo hen, so the group isn't an option. Having her separate could provide difficult; I have a dog crate, but the trouble would be keeping the chicks out of it. And even in the run she had tormented them a bit earlier; one specific instance a chick was just standing there, she was just standing there looking at it, and then WHAM-O she did a quick attack to peck at the side of it's head.

I do understand that there will be an adjustment process when integrating, but how do I tell if it's going well or poorly?
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
212
216
SE Pa.
At this point I would wait till the chicks are older around 14 to 16 weeks. If you partition the coop and put the chicks in one side and the adult on the other. Then put with her one or two at a time in with her till she has accepted around six and then mingle them in with the rest it should better then just her by herself. Its going well if there are no injuries. Setting up a pecking order can be a rough sport.
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
3,900
581
Southern Oregon
If it's just the one hen, I'd put them together now. Make sure there's lots of space for them to get away from her and let them sort it out. Maybe set up some type of creep feeder area with wire the littles can get through but she can't.?
 
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