Introduce now or wait longer?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jenn-, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. jenn-

    jenn- Chillin' With My Peeps

    203
    4
    63
    Mar 5, 2015
    Southern Alabama
    I know you guys are probably sick and tired of this question as I see several topics already started, but I think this is a different enough of a situation to start a different thread.

    My FIL picked up 12 chicks about a month ago. At the time there was about a 2wk difference in age and I'm not really sure he realized that. He had them all in one brooder and within a couple of weeks, a couple of the bigger ones were feather pecking everyone else. I told him he needed more space so he got another brooding space and separated them by age. Well he can only keep 6 in town (the rest are going out to his farm) and originally it was going to be a mixed up flock but the smaller birds are all barred rocks with a random australorp thrown in there. The bigger birds are red sex link and production reds. The bigger birds are now hanging out in a small coop/run outside but the littler ones still need more temperature protection so they are inside and outside depending on the weather. My question comes, if he wants to mix these two groups up keeping some of the black ones and mixing some of the red ones, will it be easier if he goes on and does it now, or will a couple of weeks not make much of a difference? Does it matter that the bigger birds would have to go back to brooder confinement after being "free" if he does it now?
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,733
    6,856
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You're probably looking at an integration issue, even tho they are only 2 weeks apart in age you've already seen that the bigs are picking on the littles. You might be ale to put some of the littles in with some of the bigs without carnage, but I doubt it.

    I'd wait until the brooder chicks are old enough to live outside, get rid of the birds he is not going to keep, then split the coop with wire(or use a wire dog crate or cage) and put the smaller chicks in the coop to begin the integration.

    I had the exact same situation last spring, here's what I did and some other notes on integration, and I'll add some pics of my set up down below:

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.


    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.


    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock


    I actually removed the door to the crate, moved piece of fencing down lower and bent up a corner of it for the littles to get thru.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. jenn-

    jenn- Chillin' With My Peeps

    203
    4
    63
    Mar 5, 2015
    Southern Alabama
    Thank you for the helpful reply. Do you think he needs to to be concerned about medical issues at this point? All 12 chickens came home together and lived together for about 2 weeks. The red sex linked actually plucked the production reds (same size) to the point they had bare behinds. I think the smaller chicks fell into line faster. He has to wait to do the split until the chickens that are farm bound can stand their own against the existing ones. They are completely free ranged out there with them coming in only at night so I'm hoping they will intergate easily. Either way his farmer hand will have to be the one to handle that. I'll start digging through the links when I move over to the computer.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,733
    6,856
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
     
  5. jenn-

    jenn- Chillin' With My Peeps

    203
    4
    63
    Mar 5, 2015
    Southern Alabama
    Thank you for putting together such a helpful cut and paste reply. I was afraid I'd get blasted for not using the search feature, but I did. I just didn't use the right terms. The few I did pull up dealt with adding to an old existing flock. That seemed more like the farm situation.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,118
    3,322
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Don’t ever worry about getting blasted for asking a question. If someone gets their knickers in a twist about it, just consider the source and ignore them. Even if you have been around for a while it can be hard to find the answers. For a newby it can be really difficult.

    Aart gave you a very good answer. You might read my response in this threat for a bit more. It is written more for chicks and adults but many of the principles still apply to your situation. You might pick up something useful. Just where I say adults think of the ones that are two weeks older. It’s more about maturity than age and the older ones are more mature.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/964275/too-young
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,733
    6,856
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by