Introducing chicks

Madam Daisy

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2020
10
2
13
I have 11 week old chicks which I want to put with my two Polish hens and rooster. My dominant hen received them well. Her hen pecked sister takes out her frustrations on them but they are about the same size so she gets them into a panic but they would probably settle quite soon. I am more worried about what a rooster would be expectd to do with chicks of this age. He started to dash at them so I removed him and didn’t dare to try again. They are separated by wire for now. Would it be cruel to hobble or tether the rooster at first? Thanks.
 

Aunt Angus

Free Ranging
Jul 16, 2018
3,569
8,885
562
Nevada County, CA
I have 11 week old chicks which I want to put with my two Polish hens and rooster. My dominant hen received them well. Her hen pecked sister takes out her frustrations on them but they are about the same size so she gets them into a panic but they would probably settle quite soon. I am more worried about what a rooster would be expectd to do with chicks of this age. He started to dash at them so I removed him and didn’t dare to try again. They are separated by wire for now. Would it be cruel to hobble or tether the rooster at first? Thanks.
Have you tried the "look but don't touch" method yet? I usually keep them separated so they can see each other for a few weeks before a full introduction. And when I do, I make sure there's a safe space the chicks can run to that the adults can't, like a cage set up on bricks that the babies can get under if threatened but is too close to the ground for older birds. You can also make sure there are lots of "obstacles" the babies can run behind/under if needed.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,672
15,658
777
Southeast Louisiana
How many 11 week old chicks do you have? What sex are they? Are they Polish, bantam, or full sized fowl? How old are your two hens and rooster? What do your facilities look like? How big in feet or meters is your coop and your run? Or do they free range? This kind of information might help us come up with specific suggestions for your and your unique situation.

I am more worried about what a rooster would be expectd to do with chicks of this age. He started to dash at them so I removed him and didn’t dare to try again.

Could you please describe under what conditions he dashed at them? How did you try to introduce them? Did they suddenly appear or was it kind of gradual. Part of a rooster's job is to get between his hens and a potential threat until he discovers if it really is a threat. Could it have been something like that?

Once they are part of his flock a good mature rooster should pretty much ignore 11 week old chicks. A cockerel that age should not draw his attention any more than a pullet. In my flock a mature rooster and his hens stay together and the chicks form their own sub-flock and hang separately. If the young ones invade the personal space of the hens they are likely to get pecked so they learn to stay away from the hens if they have room. If they don't have room it can get pretty rough. My mature roosters do not bother the chicks but they also do not protect the chicks from the hens. If he is still an immature cockerel he may not act like a mature rooster.

Before they become part of his flock they are strangers. A rooster might consider them a threat to his hens. I'd think this more likely in a tight space, but with living animals you never know. With sufficient room (pretty much means free ranging) just turning them loose might work as far as integration but I'd still want to teach them where home was before I let them go. That's why I asked all those questions above. They need to be integrated but how best to do that will depend on what you have to work with.

Would it be cruel to hobble or tether the rooster at first?

Not in my opinion if he has food, water, is safe from predators, and protection from the environment. Protection from the environment mainly mean shade if it is very hot where you are. I don't know how much good hobbling would do since he can still fly over to attack if he is going to. I'd have some concerns of his hobbles getting snagged on something where he could be on trouble.

Tethering would not be my choice. It gives the opportunity for something bad to happen to him, either getting tangled up or a predator that would not normally be a threat. In my experience the hens are typically more of a threat than a mature rooster and they are still free. I'd much prefer taking the steps for an integration based on what you have to work with than tethering. The biggest benefit may that it makes you feel better. But as long as he is protected I don't consider it cruel. His hens should hang around him to keep him company.
 

Madam Daisy

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2020
10
2
13
Have you tried the "look but don't touch" method yet? I usually keep them separated so they can see each other for a few weeks before a full introduction. And when I do, I make sure there's a safe space the chicks can run to that the adults can't, like a cage set up on bricks that the babies can get under if threatened but is too close to the ground for older birds. You can also make sure there are lots of "obstacles" the babies can run behind/under if needed.
Thanks I am doing that. I wonder how roosters normally react to chicks of that age? The chicks are half Orpington so nearly as big as him but they work themselves up like babies when they feel threatened. Would the rooster normally see them as hens he would respect or babies to attack at 10 weeks?
 

Madam Daisy

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2020
10
2
13
Thanks I am doing that. I wonder how roosters normally react to chicks of that age? The chicks are half Orpington so nearly as big as him but they work themselves up like babies when they feel threatened. Would the rooster normally see them as hens he would respect or babies to attack at 10 weeks?
How many 11 week old chicks do you have? What sex are they? Are they Polish, bantam, or full sized fowl? How old are your two hens and rooster? What do your facilities look like? How big in feet or meters is your coop and your run? Or do they free range? This kind of information might help us come up with specific suggestions for your and your unique situation.

I am more worried about what a rooster would be expectd to do with chicks of this age. He started to dash at them so I removed him and didn’t dare to try again.

Could you please describe under what conditions he dashed at them? How did you try to introduce them? Did they suddenly appear or was it kind of gradual. Part of a rooster's job is to get between his hens and a potential threat until he discovers if it really is a threat. Could it have been something like that?

Once they are part of his flock a good mature rooster should pretty much ignore 11 week old chicks. A cockerel that age should not draw his attention any more than a pullet. In my flock a mature rooster and his hens stay together and the chicks form their own sub-flock and hang separately. If the young ones invade the personal space of the hens they are likely to get pecked so they learn to stay away from the hens if they have room. If they don't have room it can get pretty rough. My mature roosters do not bother the chicks but they also do not protect the chicks from the hens. If he is still an immature cockerel he may not act like a mature rooster.

Before they become part of his flock they are strangers. A rooster might consider them a threat to his hens. I'd think this more likely in a tight space, but with living animals you never know. With sufficient room (pretty much means free ranging) just turning them loose might work as far as integration but I'd still want to teach them where home was before I let them go. That's why I asked all those questions above. They need to be integrated but how best to do that will depend on what you have to work with.

Would it be cruel to hobble or tether the rooster at first?

Not in my opinion if he has food, water, is safe from predators, and protection from the environment. Protection from the environment mainly mean shade if it is very hot where you are. I don't know how much good hobbling would do since he can still fly over to attack if he is going to. I'd have some concerns of his hobbles getting snagged on something where he could be on trouble.

Tethering would not be my choice. It gives the opportunity for something bad to happen to him, either getting tangled up or a predator that would not normally be a threat. In my experience the hens are typically more of a threat than a mature rooster and they are still free. I'd much prefer taking the steps for an integration based on what you have to work with than tethering. The biggest benefit may that it makes you feel better. But as long as he is protected I don't consider it cruel. His hens should hang around him to keep him company.
Thanks for such a detailed answer. There are four chicks. Dad is Orpington mothers are mongrels. The run is only 8 sq yards minus about 1.5 sq.yds. I closed for the chicks temporalily. Twice a day the grown ups go into the garden and chicks get playtime in the run. I live in town (Jerusalem) so they don't have much space.
The dominant female was ok with them so I let the male in the run and he dashed at them. The henpecked female surprised me by really bullying them. So they don't have much space now but I don't want to rush it and have them pay the price as they are already part of the family.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,672
15,658
777
Southeast Louisiana
1 sq yd is 9 square feet so an area about 7 feet x 10 feet or maybe 4 feet x 18 feet. Once they are fully integrated it could be big enough but the area being small like that integration can be rough. Polish are typically bantam and these four chicks appear to be full sized, so there probably isn't any real difference in size. That eliminates the possibility of a safe haven type integration where the young ones can get through a hole the older ones cannot. Not sure what you have for a coop, if anything. In Jerusalem they won't need much in your winters. Summer heat is more of a danger.

The way I understand it the chicks are in that 1-1/2 square yard area across wire from the older ones, hens for sure an probably the rooster. I'd leave them like that for a week before I tried to merge them. Be around when you try so you can observe them. The area is small so it may not go well but you might get lucky. You may need to separate them and try again later. Base what you do on what you see.

I'd keep food and water in each end. Some clutter can help, especially in a small space. By clutter I mean something they can hide under, behind, or over to break line of sight. A typical example is leaning a wooden pallet against a wall they they can get behind. Fasten it at the top so the wind cannot blow it over and crush them. Some people put a table in there that they can get up on. A satellite dish might give them something to hide under, maybe up on blocks. You need to be able to move in there too. Small areas can be challenging.

Your area is fairly small, that makes it harder. But with patience you should be able to manage. Good luck!
 

Madam Daisy

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2020
10
2
13
1 sq yd is 9 square feet so an area about 7 feet x 10 feet or maybe 4 feet x 18 feet. Once they are fully integrated it could be big enough but the area being small like that integration can be rough. Polish are typically bantam and these four chicks appear to be full sized, so there probably isn't any real difference in size. That eliminates the possibility of a safe haven type integration where the young ones can get through a hole the older ones cannot. Not sure what you have for a coop, if anything. In Jerusalem they won't need much in your winters. Summer heat is more of a danger.

The way I understand it the chicks are in that 1-1/2 square yard area across wire from the older ones, hens for sure an probably the rooster. I'd leave them like that for a week before I tried to merge them. Be around when you try so you can observe them. The area is small so it may not go well but you might get lucky. You may need to separate them and try again later. Base what you do on what you see.

I'd keep food and water in each end. Some clutter can help, especially in a small space. By clutter I mean something they can hide under, behind, or over to break line of sight. A typical example is leaning a wooden pallet against a wall they they can get behind. Fasten it at the top so the wind cannot blow it over and crush them. Some people put a table in there that they can get up on. A satellite dish might give them something to hide under, maybe up on blocks. You need to be able to move in there too. Small areas can be challenging.

Your area is fairly small, that makes it harder. But with patience you should be able to manage. Good luck!
Yes it is about 5 ft by 17. They have a 3 sided shelter and it can snow here in winter. Sometimes can hit freezing with strong winds. I will give a week and try again. Probably the babies will soon overtake the adults in size. That Orpington blood is so cuddly! Thanks
 

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