Integrating New Chicks with a Small Temporary Coop Next to Main Coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GeneticFreak, May 26, 2019.

  1. GeneticFreak

    GeneticFreak In the Brooder

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    First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for the wonderful bits of advice I have pulled from this site. I have been a "secret" reader for over a year now. I read this forum like I would the Sunday paper back in the day!

    I know there are many topics on integration. Last year, I was successfully able to integrate some younger birds with slightly older birds (I am talking like an age difference of 12 weeks and 20 weeks so not too drastic) based off of info from this site. I used the "split the run in half" technique to get the birds accustomed to each other. I would bring out the younger birds in the AM and put them back in their "holding coop" in the PM. I basically made a fence type contraption to split the run in half.

    This year I would like to try and integrate some younger birds with what is left of my existing flock. I was thinking about buying a cheap coop from Tractor Supply and setting-up it up right next to my main coop and run so that the birds can get use to each other. After some time, I would remove the temporary coop and place the new birds in with the existing flock? Has anyone tried this? I figure it is like the dog crate idea, just with a larger place to roam. The birds could see each other all day and act accordingly. Lastly, this would eliminate the labor of moving the birds from their holding coop to the main coop each and every day until it is time to let them be together.

    Thank you in advance for any feedback.
     
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  2. Perris

    Perris Crowing

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    hello @GeneticFreak ! welcome to BYC :frow
    I don't quite understand what you propose, as I don't know what Tractor supply coops look like. But a larger version of a dog crate sounds good in principle...
     
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  3. GeneticFreak

    GeneticFreak In the Brooder

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    Hi Perris, appreciate the welcome and the feedback! Just to clarify, I have a fairly large coop and run and I am thinking about placing a temporary "mini" coop and run right next to the main one, in order for the birds to get accustomed to each other prior to putting them all together in the main coop and run.
     
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  4. Perris

    Perris Crowing

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    sounds fine to me! Good luck! :thumbsup
     
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  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    I don’t know how big your setup is inside, but I use a wire dog ex-pen with hardware cloth zip tied to the bottom couple of feet to keep the Littles from squirting our before I’m ready to start integration. By just folding the end of the ex-pen, I can change the shape and size of the brooder pen. That sits right in our covered run so the adults can wander around it on 3 sides. (The fourth side is a windbreak.) Some people like @azygous have setups big enough to provide the chicks with a whole room of their own. Others like @Ol Grey Mare have rigged perfect brooder pens under the roosts or nesting boxes.

    I hang feeders and waterers side by side, the chicks’ on their side of the wire and the adults’ on theirs. I run scratch along both edges of the wire so they eat their treats together. That way they are learning to feed peacefully head to head, so when I integrate we’ve avoided bullying away from the feeders. I had been doing this for awhile, cracking one side of the pen open so the chicks could get back in but the adults couldn’t follow. Then @azygous started raising them this way, and I happily stole her brilliant portal door idea and incorporated in my setup. Works like a charm! I’ll post some photos at the end of this post.

    At about 2 weeks I let the Bigs outside and then open the portal doors to let the chicks explore the run. This is supervised, of course. I gently herd them in and out of the run and brooder a few times until I am confident they can find their way back in if they need a warmup under Mama Heating a Pad or if the Bigs scare them. The way I was originally doing it, just propping the end of the pen slightly, they’d sometimes just run back and forth in panic but not quite make it all the way to the opening. Using the portal doors gives them a strong visual, and having more than one means they can get back in from either side. I also have a few hiding spaces placed so if they are too far from the brooder they can still find security. By the end of that second week or early in the 3rd, the doors are latched open all day long, so they can come and go. But I still lock them at night. By 4 weeks they are totally integrated and the brooder and heating pad are removed completely. They’ve weaned themselves off heat by then anyway, so there’s no point in losing the space anymore. And they are going in and out of the run with the adults, wandering around and learning to be chickens. Hope this helps.

    3C485445-DC3B-417D-B252-495BF3419871.jpeg
    The brooder pen is visible to the far right. The green fencing is because snoopy Miss Mathilda would fly in over the top, but didn’t have room to amp up and fly back out! Kinda hard to see but there are chicks at the feeder.

    6F3A13F9-6A1C-4AC1-97D0-7DF0393F4F43.jpeg
    @azygous brilliant portal doors! You can see a couple of chicks standing to the right of it. The others are already out.

    AC4CCEB9-B521-4340-AECB-E4FF5F560900.jpeg
    Our official “chick greeter” Tank. She’s a Light Brahma and she felt her job was to stand there and encourage the chicks to come out. That’s a Silkie chick in front of her waiting for the rest to join them.

    4DA656E9-EDC5-430E-BDA2-01D6416D0323.jpeg
    Most of the chicks are out. They were 4 weeks old, and I took these shots just before I put the phone down and removed the pen completely. They were fully integrated and all was peaceful, unless a chick overstepped his boundaries. Then he’d get a peck on the noggin to remind him that he was still low in the pecking order. I never interfered with that.

    B0C0682F-A333-424A-9E89-A2B415C0A615.jpeg
    And here they are, outside the run with some of the Bigs. I do this every batch, every time, every year.
     
  6. CSAchook

    CSAchook Crossing the Road

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    I have a similar setup to what you are describing and I love it! I have a large, sturdy, homemade coop at one end of my run and a tiny prefab coop at the far other end of the run. Last year I used my mini-coop for my broody hen and chicks and it worked a treat. I connected the mini-prefab to a sectioned-off part of the run so that everyone could safely interact through a fence when the chicks where small. Once they were about six weeks old, they all moved into the main coop with very little fuss. Since I had a broody hen, she decided when to make the move, but you could make that call on your own I am sure.

    I will say also that having a second coop, even just a tiny one can be incredibly useful. You can use it for broody hens and/or baby chicks, or as a hospital for injured birds that need some peace or to temporarily separate a bully from the rest of the flock. :thumbsup

    Here are a few old pictures of my set-up (my run is twice the size now but everything else is the same). Please ignore all the boards and other mess in the pictures :oops: IMG_1910.JPG IMG_1904.JPG IMG_1906.JPG .
     
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  7. GeneticFreak

    GeneticFreak In the Brooder

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    May 26, 2019
    This is the type of set-up I was talking about. Thank you very much for the response and the pictures. Plus, great point regarding the potential uses for a secondary coop. I just ordered one!
     
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  8. GeneticFreak

    GeneticFreak In the Brooder

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    Thanks for all the pics and all of the info!
     
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  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    My Coop
    You are so very welcome! I do tend to get a bit wordy, though. :oops:
     
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  10. CSAchook

    CSAchook Crossing the Road

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    Great! Glad to help. One thing I forgot to mention is that most prefab cops have very poor ventilation, so you will likely need to cut a few extra holes it it :)
     
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