Integration issues

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by trifecta, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. trifecta

    trifecta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started integrating my first batch of pullets this weekend. For the past month, all the chicks have been in the grow out pen which shares a wire wall with the big chooks coop. The coop is 30 sq feet. They are only confined there to sleep and have free choice access to an electronet run which is roughly 1200 sq feet so they should have plenty of space. There are multiple feed and water stations on opposite sides of the run.

    As somewhat expected, my 3 isa brown hens have been less than gracious to the newbies. The Marans roo has been fine. However, there has been some minor bloodshed on the chicks, which has led them to think going through the net is a good option. They are quite easy to round up, but after 2 days of this with little improvement I'm at a loss on what to do come Monday morning. They stay happily confined unless the hens are chasing them, and the hens are actually hunting them down on occasion (ie, no apparent reason for the scuffle) which is super aggravating.

    My best guess at this point is to let them all out of the coop tomorrow am, and then lock the little ones in the coop while I'm at work with feed and water, allowing them out with the group again in the evening when I get back from work.

    Does that sound like a reasonable plan? Any other suggestions?
     
  2. Leihamarie

    Leihamarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How old are your chicks?
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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  4. trifecta

    trifecta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicks are 7 weeks.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Maybe give them another 2-3 weeks before trying to integrate again
     
  6. Leihamarie

    Leihamarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would definitely recommend giving them at least a few more weeks in the grow out area while still being in full view of each other. They might be a little too small still to integrate without a mother hen. If there is any way to feed them in the same place on either side of the fence, that may also help by giving them the illusion of "eating together" which is a part of flock behavior. When you try to integrate them again, give them an area that they can escape the bigger birds when they need to, that the bigger girls can't squeeze into. Also, when you try integrating them again, put extra activities for everyone to do in the run like a flock block, a pumpkin or a head of cabbage hung from somewhere so they have fun things to do OTHER than hunting down the newbies. With all of the additional steps, it SHOULD help a bit.

    Some feather puffing, chasing and pecking is to be expected and is all a part of the integration process. Blood and jumping on the backs of other chickens to rip out feathers should be intervened upon.

    You might consider starting the integration process again when you have the time to watch them for the first couple of days or so (maybe a long weekend) to help the first part go smoothly.

    It may take some time, but it'll happen. If all else fails, you can take the top hen and the lowest hen out of sight for a few days and that often helps when other methods fail.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Places to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not dead end traps) and/or up and away from aggressors can really help.
    Put lots of stuff in the run area...for distraction and respite.
    Logs, roosts, pallets, old chairs/tables, bales of hay.

    How many chicks?
    Pics of your set up might help prompt some specific ideas.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I regularly integrate 5 to 8 week old brooder-raised chicks with my flock and I have electric netting. My broody hens regularly raise their chicks with the flock from Day 1 or occasionally Day 3. Sometimes the chicks going through the netting is a problem, sometimes it isn’t. Each brood is different. The only thing consistent about chickens is how inconsistent they are.

    Another question, what breed are your chicks? My curiosity is actually how big are they? I have full-sized chicks, mixed breeds, and normally by 7 to 8 weeks they are too big to get through the netting. The other part of that is how big are the holes in your netting? I got my netting from Premier. Yours may be getting to the point that they won’t fit through the netting, but if you have bantams or a different type of netting you may have a way to go.

    With my set-up I have a grow-out pen, coop and run, where I can lock them up if I need to. I’ve done that a few times and is a big part of why I sometimes wait until 8 weeks to integrate instead of 5 weeks. My brooder is in the coop so the chicks are basically raised with the flock. I haven’t had much of a problem with hens going out of their way attacking the chicks, but I use behaviors like that as a reason to select which hens join me for dinner instead of getting to breed. My flock is pretty laid back in that regard. Others don’t have flocks like that.

    My suggestion is to fix up a place where they can see the other chickens and be seen but can’t get through the netting, a grow-out pen. Once they are too big to get through the netting try integrating again. Or live with it for now.

    Sometimes I have another problem with the netting, though this year it did not happen even once. I raise cockerels as well as pullets with the flock, whatever hatches. When the cockerels hit adolescence and start their dominance/pecking order fights, occasionally one will get trapped against the netting and go vertical to get away from the attacker. They might land on the wrong side of the netting and do not know to fly back in. They are usually around 4 months old when this starts to happen. Interestingly it’s always the cockerels. Over the years I’ve only had one pullet do that, I assume getting away from an amorous cockerel.

    Unless you have Silkies that can’t fly, at 7 weeks your chicks can fly as well as any other age chicken. Are you sure they are going through the netting and not over it?

    It took a few years to work this out, but I found the shape of the netting layout has a lot to do with whether they fly out of not. If I create sharp corners or even narrow sections the number of cockerels flying out increases. I once configured the netting with a narrow section maybe 15’ to 20’ wide leading from the coop to an area more spread out. I was having one or two cockerels get out every day. They were evidently getting trapped in that narrow section. Now I round off my corners and keep the netting more like a square than a rectangle.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    If you rig up a panic room for the chicks, which involves a safe pen with small 5 x 7 entrances that prevent the adults from following the chicks inside, you can confidently leave the chicks with the adults and not worry about them.

    The panic room system permits safe integration of chicks as young as two to three weeks. Scroll down to the block of article by azygous and click on the link for brooding chicks outdoors and you can read all about the system and see pictures.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Azygous I was thinking about you and your panic room idea when I wrote that above. I almost mentioned it. But since they can get through the netting, the other side of the netting is their panic room. That’s why I suggested locking them up until they cannot get through the netting.
     

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