Integrating new chicks with teenager chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DenisaG, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. DenisaG

    DenisaG In the Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2019
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    Hey, all. I've read through a few threads on integrating chicks with older birds, but I've found myself in a slightly different situation. Our "old" birds are 6-7 weeks old, looking and acting like chickens and not baby chicks anymore. They've had full access to the coop and run for about three weeks now and are starting to feel at home. Then I went into TSC for some wood shavings and came out with half a dozen golf-ball sized bantam chicks. They're hanging out in the house, in their little Rubbermaid tub brooder, getting loved up by my kids all day long.

    Thoughts on integrating teeny birds with teenager-y birds? I think we'll probably keep the bantams in the house for a while, yet, but I imagine I'll want to get them outside in another 3 weeks. That seems to be my limit on chickens in the house :)

    Our "coop" is actually an old barn; the chickens have access to two rooms which are approximately 12x12 each, and the run is probably 4x the size of the coop interior. I've got plenty of space to work with, just need some ideas on how to make it work, especially given that the new guys are going to be so much smaller than the "big" birds.

    Thanks!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    The younger the chickens are that you are integrating new chicks with, the more difficult it is. For example, I have 22 adult chickens and recently got some new chicks. The youngest are age two weeks while a couple are four weeks. The youngest of my adults are four years old now.

    Today, I opened up the chicks' pen so they could come out and experience mingling with the adults. With the exception of my younger rooster who is four and hormonal and half crazy with lust, all the chickens pretty much ignored the chicks as they raced around exploring.

    Flash back to when I fell for four chicks at the feed store sweet talking me into taking them home some seven years ago, I had four six-week old chicks still in a brooder. I didn't exactly toss them all together, but one by one I tried introducing the chicks to the older chicks. It went terribly. The larger chicks viewed the babies as playthings or irritating distractions, pecked at them and wouldn't give them even the smallest break.

    I ended up partitioning the brooder so the two groups could get to know one another, but it really never worked out that the older chicks accepted the younger ones. This has been my experience trying to integrate younger chickens with baby chicks. The babies are treated as sport and bullied and chased, even after everyone grows to be the same size.

    Okay, now. Size. It's important. Bantams are small and never will get to be the same size. I'm sure there are flocks that happily tolerate bantams and standards together, but when you have young chickens that are standard breeds and new chicks that are perennially small, you are facing a loooong integration that may not be resolved for a very long time.

    When I decided to get some new chicks this spring, the feed store didn't have the breeds I wanted, but did have a breed I'd always coveted, so I bought two chicks. They were already one week old or more when I got them. A week later I got a call that the breeds I wanted came in. I got four and after a few days inside waiting for a miserable cold front to move out, I moved all the six chicks in together. It went smashingly well because #1, the chicks were only two weeks apart in age, and #2, they were all under four weeks of age. After four weeks, you cannot count on older chicks accepting day-olds or any chicks younger for that matter.

    I can't really give you the advice you probably wish to hear. Perhaps others will be along to describe how they managed to get standard older chicks to accept bantam babies.
     
    Sherloki likes this.
  3. DenisaG

    DenisaG In the Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2019
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    Well, while you're right that it's not the super encouraging answer I wanted, I do appreciate your honest sharing of experience. :)
     
    azygous likes this.
  4. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    What you can gain from my post is what the nearly worst case scenario could be, the worst being older chickens killing or maiming the younger ones.

    Knowing the risks and consequences of things not working out, you may be able to get creative in order to avoid any injuries as you attempt to integrate.

    Being forewarned is being forearmed. Its chicken keepers that have no clue what risks they may be facing that suffer the most heartbreaking tragedies. That's why I've been so brutally honest.

    I did have one casualty one time when I had baby chicks and didn't understand fully the risk adult chickens pose to them. A two-week old chick stuck her head through normal gauge chicken wire and got totally scalped by an adult. It took a lot of wound care, and she survived and is still alive and well at age eight. But now I put up twelve inch panels of smaller gauge fencing along the bottom of the chick pen. I just hate having my chickens suffer from my learning curve.
     
  5. getaclue

    getaclue Crossing the Road

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    Another member did a great set up for introducing chicks. They did the standard, leave them in the crate a few days for everyone to get accustomed, then they put in panic doors on the crate, made from securing wire mesh, and cardboard on the crate. The chicks can run for safety, if needed.
    Panic doors.jpg
     
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