Introducing 7 week old chicks to 13.5 week old chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by WindyCity, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. WindyCity

    WindyCity New Egg

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    May 16, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    Hi there, I am super-new to chicken raising & this has been a dramatic week. I'd appreciate any help I can get!

    First of all, I've been introducing my little chicks (7 weeks) to the bigger ones (13.5 weeks) for about two weeks (3-4x/week) by placing them in a pen covered by chicken wire so they couldn't be pecked. The younger ones are 3 pullets & the older ones are 2 pullets and a cockerel. Yesterday I introduced one of the babies to the cockerel by holding her in my arms -- he climbed up on my lap & took a big chunk of feathers out of her neck. I really liked the cockerel (even though he was sold to me as a hen) & figured I'd keep him until I saw his aggressive behavior (which has been amping up along with his hormones & crowing). I finally made the decision to give him back to the store I got him at so he could be sent to a farm.

    Realizing that the remaining 13.5 week olds would now have to re-establish a pecking order, I decided to integrate my 7 week olds overnight so that the pecking order would only need to be established once in the entire flock. The 13.5 week olds haven't been as interested in the 7 week olds as the cockerel over the last two weeks, so I hoped for the best & took a chance.

    So I integrated the baby chicks onto the roosting bar with the older gals at dusk. At first they were pecked a couple of times by one of the older gals. I clapped my hands loudly to make her stop & she did. The little ones continued to make a lot of crying noises for about an hour or so, then everybody slept peacefully. I got up at the break of dawn to open the coop to the run & everyone was fine. I kept them in the attached run for most of the day. The older gals chased & pecked at the little ones all day long, but they never truly behaved in a life-threatening way...no major chunks of feathers went missing & no blood was drawn. I finally put out more feeders & water stations in the run, and there was peace for a while. Eventually I let them all free-range in an adjacent fenced off area & they seemed to be much happier all around.

    The problem I'm facing is that the little chicks don't know how/where to go to sleep at night. The cockerel took care of herding the older hens at night when I first moved them outside (at age 8 weeks), but neither of my remaining 13.5 week old pullets stepped up to do that for the little ones today. So I had to pick up the little gals one by one & place them on the roosting bar tonight (from an outside door) instead of being able to shoo them up the ladder like the first set had done 7 weeks ago. The little ones again made noise for about an hour or so before it got dark enough for them to relax & settle down.

    Should I just keep the little ones locked up in the coop by themselves during the day after the older gals have gone down into the run every morning? I'm thinking a few days of doing this could help them realize it's home/where they sleep. But it has been in the mid-80s & hot during the day, so I'm concerned that locking them up all day could be harmful...plus, they wouldn't get to establish a pecking order with the older gals. Also, the coop has a hardware cloth bottom (except for the ladder which pulls up to form part of the base), so the little chicks wouldn't have the opportunity to scratch at pine shavings like they do in the run. But if I don't keep them confined to the coop for a few days (a week?), will I have to tuck them into bed every night? How long would that go on for?? Or should I just let them sleep down in the run if they want, instead of forcing them to sleep in the coop on a roosting bar? My older gals didn't start sleeping on the roosting bars until 11 weeks old, but they would sleep on the hardware cloth floor of the coop just fine. I never had to lock them up, but I had to push the 7 week olds off the roosting bar this morning to get them down on the ladder & into the run for food/water!

    Thank you so much for reading all this (I know it's a lot)...any and all help is truly appreciated!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  2. TheChips

    TheChips Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2013
    "Yesterday I introduced one of the babies to the cockerel by holding her in my arms -- he climbed up on my lap & took a big chunk of feathers out of her neck."

    Thats something I personally wouldnt do. You are just giving the other an advantage to attack while she's being held down. Like a set up!

    "Neither of my remaining 13.5 week old pullets stepped up to do that for the little ones today."

    Its not a hens job to take a place of a Rooster and do all the duties a rooster normally does for his flock. Even if they are first in the pecking order. They dont tend to a younger chicks needs unless they are with their mother or hatched with a hen who thinks those are her babies.

    "Should I just keep the little ones locked up in the coop by themselves during the day after the older gals have gone down into the run every morning?"

    I really dont suggest you do that. Its not their fault they all arent getting along yet. Why punish them while the others are outside and theyre locked up in a coop on 80 + degree days.

    What I suggest you do (and this is only my personal opinion) is if your coop and run are big enough, to somehow create a barrier between them. Let them get familiar with each other through the chicken wire where it is a safe environment.

    Have supervised visits with them all out together, throw them treats, throw scratch on the floor so they can keep busy, stratch around and not pay so much attention to the chicks. While you are watching them. Then, when you leave, the younger chicks go back to their safe area. Then little by little have the supervised visits longer. Maybe go water the flowers while keeping watch. It takes time but eventually they will start to get along. Even have occasional pecking which is normal. Especially if you have dominant hens, they will always push their way to get attention and get the first pick of the food.

    I think you should let them sleep where they want. They will figure it out. And they might not be interested in roosting up there yet.

    I know its stressful! But they will get there. :)
     
  3. WindyCity

    WindyCity New Egg

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    May 16, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the response, Chips! I may just be experiencing beginner's luck, but I'm happy to report that everyone seems to be getting along. The chicks now find the roosting bar on their own every night -- they wait until right after sunset & still peep nonstop after they're up there until it gets dark, but otherwise they're managing pretty well. And there is still some chasing going on by the big girls, but I extended the run area so the little ones can get away easily when they are chased. There was lots of supervised time over the last few days but, really, having the extra space is what made the most difference! Now they all mostly leave each other alone (except for the occasional chase here & there) & things seem to be working out fine. Thanks for all of your advice. I now know (very clearly) never to introduce chicks to a cockerel the way I did! And there is much more peace in the flock since he was sent to the farm. All is well :)
     
  4. TheChips

    TheChips Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a bantom rooster and even though he is small he can get out of hand. I can only imagine what people go through with normal sized ones. My neighbor up the road had a legend" rooster a few feet tall. He looks very intimidating. I'm glad everyone is getting along better! I'm sure they'll always get a few pecks here and there if they're lower in the pecking order but seems like you have it under control. :)
     
  5. lovemy6hens

    lovemy6hens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 4, 2013
    Central Texas
    It's far too hot to keep them locked inside the coop.
     

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