Integrating Young Pullets

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AlHawk, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. AlHawk

    AlHawk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a question (like that's new). I have 8 (7f + 1m) RIR & EE that are about 19 weeks old. A couple of them are laying (aside: first eggs are so small and cute). I was lucky to get 5 Barred Rocks who are now 7.5 weeks old. I put the 5 in a dog cage wrapped in chicken wire and put that in the coop (8'x10') last week. Every evening I let them out of the cage into the coop/run area and kick the bigs out to the yard for a couple of hours (2-4). I have attempted to let the bigs in the run (10'x20') with the littles and the bigs chase and peck the littles (as expected).

    OK, so here's my question. How much pecking & chasing is normal when trying to integrate birds like this? There's been no blood or injuries. The littles aren't chased by ALL the bigs. Mainly just 3 (2 RIR & 1 EE). The others either ignore them or just knock them out of the way. The roo pretty much ignores them or a quick butt peck but nothing nasty. What is a "normal" amount of pecking order discipline?
     
  2. Ourpeeps123

    Ourpeeps123 Out Of The Brooder

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    There really isn't a normal amount of pecking. If there's no blood or injuries, that's good. If you put them together, then it would be better to provide a box or crate that the little chicks can hide in for safety. The opening should be big enough for the chicks to get in, but small enough so that the big chickens can't get in. You can also distract the big chickens so that they don't peck the little ones. You can go to Tractor Supply and buy a chicken bird seed block that they can peck at, or you can give them food scraps.[​IMG][​IMG]
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    You are trying to integrate moody teenagers and children. You may have to take more time and not rush it. Adult birds will peck at chicks but don't usually chase them. Your older birds aren't mature enough to know that they shouldn't. So take your time, and separate out the younger ones for a while when it gets rough, and especially at night until you see the older ones are ignoring them.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Ourpeeps was describing what I call the "panic room" method of integration. It makes integration so much easier and safer! I discovered it with my first batch of three chicks eight years ago, and mainly used it at that time to keep the two adult hens from eating up all the chick food.

    Back then I just put up temporary chicken wire in a corner of the run with 5x 7 inch openings in it. The chicks would duck inside when they felt bullied and their food was inside so they didn't have to compete for it with the adults.

    Now I have a grow-out pen in my run with the 5 x 7 portals built into all of the partitions in the run so the baby chicks, starting at age three weeks can have free access to the entire run but the adult flock can't access their safe pen.

    You can see pictures of it and read how I integrate my chicks in an article I wrote. It's the second one linked below under "Articles".
     
  5. AlHawk

    AlHawk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice article,

    I will make a plywood front for the dog crate with a hole in it so the babies can duck in away from the teenagers. Good ideas. Would rather use wire but I am out right now.

    thx
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Might want to make your 'chick portal' opening adjustable......5x7 was plenty fro my skinnier hens to get thru.
    A scrap piece of plywood, cut into an 'L' shape, and attached with a couple deck screws work great reduce opening size.
     
  7. AlHawk

    AlHawk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Made the chick portal door last night and installed it. Tested on bigs and confirmed they couldn't (wouldn't) go through it. Then tested the littles. They all could and would go in and out the hole. That is until they were being chased. Then all sense left them. They absolutely would NOT go through that small door for a safe place. I even put them in the safe spot a few times. They would come out when it was "safe", get chased again and they would run around the coop and past the door.

    They ain't too bright. Will reinstall the door tonite and work over the weekend with them.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Yeah, they can need some 'training' at times.
     
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    That's why I never used a panic door, when they are being chased they just run, when they cross a door threshold they don't recognize the other side as being something they went through. It takes a few months for them to gain some intelligence and familiarity with doorways.

    What I have done in lieu of a door was to raise an edge of my separation pen off the ground a bit, when chicks panic the instinct is to dive under something be a mom hen or a bit of fence.
     
  10. AlHawk

    AlHawk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Update: (thanks for the suggestions): I decided to put the Roo in "time-out" during the day. While the hens stay in the run/coop all day, I put him out in the yard. This is day 3 of that little maneuver. Roo doesn't like being separated from the girls. He walks around the coop/pen looking lost then he stands in the middle of the yard looking even more lost. He and the dog are the only 2 in the yard and they don't play together.

    Since I've done this, the eggs are not getting eaten any more (was pretty sure it was him). The hens are calmer. The 9 week old babies are now becoming more integrated with the 19 weekers. The attacking has stopped but of course there's a little correction/pecking order stuff going on but they're all living together now without major problems. The babies now use both feeders. The older ones still only use the hanging feeder; haven't figured out how to use the bucket w/ PVC elbow feeder yet. No more fights over water either.

    I let all of them out about 1-2 hours before dark to mingle and get their treats. The bigs are allowing the littles to eat with them albeit on the outside of the circle with only a little threatening. Gone are the attacks from across the yard and food/water bickering. They're still not best buddies but they're getting along. I expect them to act as one flock within the next few weeks. Things are looking up! [​IMG]
     

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