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Integrating new chicks... Advice needed!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kemcconnell, May 31, 2016.

  1. kemcconnell

    kemcconnell Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 12 hens and 1 rooster that are free range. 4 of the hens are 3 years old and the others and the rooster are a year old. I recently ordered several Rhode Island Red and Speckled Sussex eggs from Meyer's. Half of them were damaged when they arrived. I hatched 12 of the "good" eggs and those chicks are now 4 weeks old. To make up for the damaged eggs, the hatchery shipped 16 additional eggs a few weeks later. They just went into the incubator 4 days ago...

    Any advice on successful methods of integrating chicks into flocks with older hens as well as advice on how to integrate the ones that will be hatching with the younger chicks would be greatly appreciated! Any methods that anyone has tried as well as temporary coops or ways of separating the younger ones from the older ones during integration that have been successful?!?! Pictures of your set up would be great as well!!!

    Oh and is there any hope that the year old rooster will cooperate with integration or should I try to make other plans for him to make the process more successful?!

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I pen my chicks separately where they can be seen, either in the coop or next to it. Adults can look but not touch. Usually a week or two after, I start letting them mingle. Adult chickens should mostly leave them alone. If your coop is too small you will have troubles. The more room the better.

    I would integrate the older group first than expect it to take longer to integrate the second group. Don't rush things. It's usually combine them, than separate when things get rough. The first few times can last minutes. I always pen them separately at night until I'm sure they will be okay.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    First, I hope you have PLENTY of space.

    I would suggest making separate but adjacent pens with small adjustable 'doors' in the wire walls separating the pens.
    This just worked very well for me, brooded the week old chicks on one side of wire wall in coop, then at 4 weeks opened the little doors for the chicks to move back and forth between their little coop/run and the main coop/run, after about 2 more weeks took down the wall completely.

    Hard to say if you should integrate the older chicks into the flock first.....
    ....or integrate the 2 chick groups together first, then integrate all the chicks into the flock.

    Depends on what your coops/runs are like now and how you can make separate enclosures.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Where is your brooder? My brooder is built into the coop so the chicks go into that straight from the incubator. They are raised with the flock but separated.

    I’ve done almost exactly what you are talking about this spring. I have a mature flock of one rooster and 8 hens. I currently have 15 chicks that are 13-1/2 weeks old and 19 chicks that are 5-1/2 weeks old, all raised in a brooder in the coop. I also have a broody hen scheduled to hatch in a couple of days. Man, it’s a mess down there.

    I have an 8’x12’ main coop with built in 3’ x 6’ brooder, a 4’x8’ grow-out coop, a 12’ x32’ main run, and an area about 45’ x 90’ enclosed in electric netting. I also have a 4’x8’ coop inside that electric netting I’ll use for the broody and her chicks. Mine don’t free range like yours but they have quite a bit of room. The main run is sectioned so an 8’x12’ section can be isolated with the grow-out coop. I find it very helpful to have different facilities, it gives you so much flexibility.

    The first group of 15 consists of 8 that I hatched myself, 2 pullets and 6 cockerels. I also bought 7 cockerels to raise with them. My main goal is meat. They were raised in my brooder in the coop until they were about 5-1/2 weeks old, then I moved them to my grow-out coop. When they were used to putting themselves to bed in the grow-out coop instead of the run, I opened the gates and let them range with the adults, probably about 7 to 8 weeks old, I can’t remember exactly.

    The second group of 19 were raised in that brooder in the coop. When I got back from a week babysitting my grandkids I opened the brooder door and walked away. The chicks were five weeks old. They eventually came out of the brooder to the coop floor but it took them two days to leave the coop and venture outside. That brooder doubles as my broody buster so I put an extra broody hen in there to break her as soon as the chicks came out. I’ll keep her in there until that other broody hatches to make very sure she is broken.

    Also when I got back from my trip last Sunday I took the two 13 week old pullets from the grow-out coop and moved them in with the adults. I currently have the 13 cockerels locked in the grow-out coop/run section so the pullets go to sleep in the main coop. I’m not sure when I’ll let them out to graze in the electric netting with the rest, probably another week. I’ll probably start butchering them at 18 weeks and finish them off at 23 weeks. One of the ones I hatched will be kept as next year’s flock master so I want them back with the main flock fairly soon. The two pullets will be evaluated for egg laying before I decide to keep them or put them in the freezer. That’s why they are with the main flock now.

    When that broody hatches and brings her chicks off the nest I’ll move her and the chicks to that coop in the electric netting for a couple of nights, then let them go. After that the broody should take them back to that coop to spend the night so I can lock them up safe from predators, mainly owls. If the main coop were not crowded I’d leave them in there but that coop is getting way too crowded. After I butcher the older cockerels I’ll move some of the younger cockerels so they sleep in that grow-out coop to relieve some space pressure in the main coop.

    I don’t know if you can get anything beneficial out of this or not. I really like having extra facilities so I can separate them, especially for sleeping. Having lots of room realy helps, I’d say it is essential for what you are going to do. Good luck!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I forgot to mention, I want a mature rooster with the flock when I integrate chicks. As long as the chicks are introduced young enough he assumes they are his. I’ve had roosters help a broody with her chicks or spend some time with brooder-raised chicks when I let them mingle with the flock, showing them food and such. You are dealing with living animals so I’m sure some others have had problems with a mature rooster and chicks but I never have. An important part of this is that it needs to be a mature rooster. An immature adolescent cockerel is not a mature rooster. At one year old yours should be OK.
     
  6. Teresa3612

    Teresa3612 New Egg

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    I have 3 pullets and 2 Roos that I got on March 23. I got 3 more pullets on May 16th. I have the new girls in the brooder in the coop since the first week. Is it safe for me to put the two groups together now? The older ones have the run during the day and put themselves to bed in the coop at night. I put the littles out in a dog kennel I have during the day and put them to bed in the brooder around 8:30. They are getting kind of big for the brooder and I really want to integrate them now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016
  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi there kemcconnell and Teresa3612

    There is already some good advice on this thread. Probably a bit late now for you kemcconnell but I thought I would share what I do.

    I only have hens as we are in a no rooster zone so I can not help with regards how the roosters will go.

    I have found time and patience to be the best method.

    I have the ability to separate my youngsters from the adults and I personally like to keep it that way until they are at least 3 months old; just to give them the opportunity to fill out a bit more before they have to take on the big gals [​IMG] The runs are joined by wire so there can be lots of looking and vocal interaction but no touching.

    As space is the best tool with integration, I then let them have supervised free range time but pop them back into their divided runs at lock up time.

    In the beginning, if the big gals are free ranging, I close them out of the run, remove the divider and let the youngsters explore the areas they have not been in; this gives them the opportunity to become accustomed and learn where to run and hide if need be. An area they have never been in plus big chickens can be traumatic for youngsters so they will benefit from being familiar with the surroundings.

    I also switch this around and let the youngsters out for a free range and keep the big gals locked in; giving the youngsters the same opportunity to get used to the garden, hiding places etc without the big gals giving them grief. [Note: the big gals are never impressed when this happens and have no qualms vocalizing their disapproval [​IMG]]

    If you have an existing hen who is fairly easy going and placid, you could try introducing her to the youngsters and if she bonds, she may be able to help introduce them to the flock. If you have any bullies, I would definitely keep a close eye on them.

    Distractions are also a good thing to have around so the older girls have something better to do than chase and peck the young ones. If they are in the run together, maybe some leaves or clods of dirt for them to scratch in or hang a head of cabbage for them to peck at. If you have the room, some hiding places for the youngsters or extra branches etc will be helpful.

    When they are integrated in the run, I also provide two lots of food and water for a couple of months to ensure that all have access.

    Good luck with them and please let us know how you go?
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I know i already shared this, but my integration went super easy this time, and my youngest group yet. They were penned for 5 days than i opened the door yesterday and away they went.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    25 chicks, vs 35 adults, so far chicks are winning.
     

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