introducing 5 week olds to flock free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lilmama, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2010

    I have 4 hens, one is broody with chicks and they all free range (in a fenced yard) together.
    I also have two pullets at about 5 weeks of age. They are in their own small coop (and once a day I let them in the big coop when the others are out.)
    The pullets spend most of their time in the little coop just crying and longing to join the others. I am so tempted to let them out but I know they are really young. I also don't know if I could catch them at day's end to get them back in their own little coop...
    What do you think? MAybe just safer at this point to keep on as I have been? Keeping them in their little coop and letting them out once a day to the big coop for a bit?
    It's hard to hear them crying and not just open that door and let them join. Thoughts please!
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would give in, but then I have no resistance to that sort of thing.

    Could you put something in the doorway to make it small, so they could get back to where they've been living but the grown hens couldn't follow?
  3. jadeybaby70

    jadeybaby70 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2009
    When I let my big girls out to free range they seem more preoccupied with searching for worms and dust bathing than the smaller chicks. They know the little ones are there, their pens are close to each other. If I put them in the big coop with the big girls, then the girls might think that they are intruders. If the little girls get too close then the big girls will give them a little peck. The little ones def. overreact but but are just fine. The girls look at them like they are crazy and carry on with their business. I think it's a good way to let them get to know each other. It's how I introduced my little roo.
  4. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2010
    how old was your roo when you let him with the big girls?
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You will get a lot of conflicting information and opinions on this. So many different things work for different ones of us, depending partly on the personality of our chickens and partly on our conditions.

    Some broodies wean their chicks as early as 4 weeks old, though some go longer. Those chicks normally make it with the flock fine. The younger they are the more risk you take, but you do not absolutely have to wait until the chicks are grown to integrate them.

    One problem you will almost certainly see is the pecking order. The more mature chickens are higher in the pecking order than the chicks. If the chicks invade the older chickens personal space, the older ones may (not absolutely, without a doubt, every time will, but may) peck the chick to remind it of chicken etiquette. If the chick runs away, life is good. That means the pecking order has been properly established and is again working. If the chick does not run away, maybe it is trapped in a corner or something, then the other chicken may get irate and tear into it. This is the danger. But if the chick has room, it will almost certainly run away.

    Most hens accept this as the way things should be and then proceed to ignore the chick. Occasionally you will have a chicken in your flock, usually a hen, that will seek out to destroy a weaker chicken. Most flocks do not have these hens, but a few do. I don't know if yours does or not.

    The chicks will probably hang out away from the older chickens where it is safer. But then they may be able to mingle with them. It depends on the personality of your individual chickens, especially in a flock that small. I really expect them to keep their distance.

    When night-time comes, I would expect your chicks to want to go back to where they are used to sleeping. You should not have to catch them at all. I have had problems when first letting chicks out to free range that they do not understand how to go back to their normal place. With my latest batch of 14 chicks, I had to help 5 get back into their coop. They had been going in and out all day to get to food and water, but when it came time to go to bed, those five could not figure out how to go in the door. Those lovely birdbrains! They huddled up next to the coop and were very easy to catch, but I had to help them two nights before they all figured out how to go in through that door at bedtime.

    I usually wait until mine are 8 weeks old to start letting them free range with the older ones. That is just so mine can get a little more weight and size on them so maybe they are not such targets to hawks. I know I am being over protective since a hawk can take a full grown chicken, but that's just the way I am.
  6. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2010
    thanks so much.
    I think I"ll give it a try this afternoon. the yard is big and there is plenty of room for them.
    love this board! so much great advice. [​IMG]

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