Integrating little ones with big ones? Help!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ksage618, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. Ksage618

    Ksage618 New Egg

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    A little background info first. I am a first time chicken owner and I started out with a flock of 10 babies back in April. The very day they went outside, due to freak events, my dog was able to gain access to them and killed the entire flock. This has been fixed and will not happen again. Seems learning lessons in raising chickens is usually fatal :( Anyhow, I was so saddened and traumatized by the whole event, SO OVER the process of raising babies, and could only afford 5 feathered pullets. As we all know, the older they are the more expensive they are. So we got 5 feathered pullets and they have thrived outside and 3 of them are now laying for us. We live in city limits and have a 10 hen limit and no roosters allowed. Our original intention was to get another 5 babies in the spring and add them to the flock making it a flock of 10. We want 10 hens because I will be selling eggs to neighbors and also using them to supply my food truck. Well, we went into Big R 2 months ago for some feed, and walked out with 5 more babies. They're SO CUTE and I had my children with me so there was no way we were leaving that place without more babies. I knew integrating them into the existing flock was going to be a pain but I just told myself I would cross that bridge when I came to it. Well, I'm halfway over the bridge at this point and can't bring myself to go the rest of the way. This is where I need help from you guys!!

    Being a newbie chicken owner and a lover of animals, this is a hard one for me. I have a friend who owns chickens and when I was at his house one day he pointed out one of his hens and said if he ever put a baby chick in there she would kill it in a second (believe me all this seemingly random info does have a role in the big picture here). Bare with me! So initially we brought the 5 babies out in a wire dog kennel and let them spend the day out in the enclosure with the big ones in the safety of the kennel, and at night we would simply put the kennel in the coop. We did this for a week. I worked up the nerve to let the babies out to mingle with the big ones and it was just short of a disaster. All of the big ones were on the little ones like flies on you know what. My rhode island red and my russian orloff were ruthless in going after the babies. Not just pecking, actually biting as well. The babies ended up scared back into the kennel. I ended up traumatized and they haven't been let out since. They outgrew the kennel so I had to make modifications. I enclosed around the bottom of my coop with netting, and put in a temporary divider inside the coop. So every night once the big ones are roosting, I shut them in the coop and round up each baby one by one and place them by hand inside the coop. Every morning before letting the big ones out I take each baby out and place them in the safety of under the coop for the day. It's a royal pain in the butt.

    We have finally arrived at my question, aren't you excited? So, what do I do? Do I just let the little ones out, keep a close eye on them, and let what happens happen? I am terrified I am going to lose a baby in the deal. I don't know my flock like my friend knows his so I have no idea if I have a bird who would simply want all the babies dead or not. Am I just being a big fat pansy about this and I need to just suck it up and let nature be nature? If so, feel free to tell me that!! :) I am almost ready to just find a home for the babies and say screw it. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!

    P.S. In case it matters to anyone here are the breeds I have: Of the 5 adults I have a rhode island red, russian orloff, white leghorn, silver leghorn, and a mottled ancona. Of the 5 babies I have a black sex link, buttercup, blue andalusian, cochin, and a turken (or naked-neck).
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  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Since you have had problem when they were younger I'd wait till they are 12 weeks and nearing adult size before trying again. When you do just open the separation enough for the young to wander out by themselves. I would also put somethings in the run to break the lines of sight and they can go around. Keep a second feeding station during this period. More space also helps, if you free range that allows them to keep apart a little. And yes watch them for signs of blood being drawn. With them being bigger they should be able to take the strife of setting up a pecking order better.
     
  3. Ksage618

    Ksage618 New Egg

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    Thank you! I hadn't thought about putting "obstacles" out there to give them hiding places. I am perfectly ok with waiting until they are more near adult size, it's just a pain in the meantime. I wish I could free range them but my dogs would eat them, and I'm pretty sure they could jump right up and out of my yard's fence. They have a fairly sizable run (18'x22') so hopefully they do well. How stressful! If my stupid dog hadn't killed my original 10 I wouldn't be in this situation.
     
  4. Ksage618

    Ksage618 New Egg

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    *UPDATE*
    For anyone interested...

    Turns out I'm just a big sissy. I finally worked up the cajones to just let the younger ones mingle with the big ones again and see what happens. Well, it was pretty uneventful. Only 2 of the big ones have any interest in picking on the lil ones, and the other ones only give them pecks when they want them to go away. So basically I was being a spaz for no reason and it seems all is well in my chicken world.
     

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