Introducing my baby chicks to year old flock

Rett144

In the Brooder
Apr 13, 2019
18
44
44
Hello there. I need help, please? I have an older flock, year old, and I have 4wk old baby chicks. I need help with knowing when and how should I introduce them? Also, what is the easiest way to do so? How do I keep the older ones out of the younger feed and younger out of older? My older ones have a pretty big run with a nice size coop inside run, and the babies are inside in brooder.
This is all new to me. So, if anyone has any advice, tips, whatever, please help me out. Thanks
 

lutherpug

Crowing
6 Years
Jan 5, 2014
602
635
252
Kansas City Area
There are several different ways to integrate new birds but if I had year old hens and 4 week old chicks I wouldn't try to integrate until the youngsters are closer in size to the hens. As far as food goes, I would just change what you're feeding to "All Flock" or "Mixed Flock" once you introduce the new chickens. You can switch back to Layer once they're all laying. If you have a rooster, I would stick to the all flock feed.

As far as the logistics of the actual integration-provide as much space as you possibly can. You didn't mention how large your coop/run are or how many chickens you currently have but the more space you can give everyone, the better. Give the new ones plenty of spaces to get away from the older birds but not places where they can get trapped. Add feeders and waterers. Add vertical escapes if you can. I built smallish stools and tables out of scrap wood so they had places to hang out away from the hens. Do an extended period of "see but don't touch" if you can. Meaning, the two groups of birds can see each other but can't have physical contact.

Also, be prepared for lots of pecking, chasing, etc. It will be more brutal than you anticipate. Resist removing anyone unless blood is drawn. They'll sort it out. They may remain separate flocks in the same space for a long time, maybe always. But they will stop picking on each other.

Good luck!
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
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Integrating early does work but I assume the two groups haven't had any contact yet, so you'll need to start by keeping them separate while letting them see each other (see but no touch), and you'll need enough run space and run clutter so that the little ones can get away or hide from the big ones once they do have access to each other. Helps immensely to have hiding spots that only the chicks can easily fit into. Photo or specifics on your flock and set up would help, if you're not sure if you have the space for this.

This is how I integrated young chicks: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/short-on-time-recycle-a-prefab-brooder.73985/ however my chicks were raised in the run, so that took care of the see-but-no-touch period without any extra work from me.
 

lutherpug

Crowing
6 Years
Jan 5, 2014
602
635
252
Kansas City Area
Integrating early does work but I assume the two groups haven't had any contact yet, so you'll need to start by keeping them separate while letting them see each other (see but no touch), and you'll need enough run space and run clutter so that the little ones can get away or hide from the big ones once they do have access to each other. Helps immensely to have hiding spots that only the chicks can easily fit into. Photo or specifics on your flock and set up would help, if you're not sure if you have the space for this.

This is how I integrated young chicks: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/short-on-time-recycle-a-prefab-brooder.73985/ however my chicks were raised in the run, so that took care of the see-but-no-touch period without any extra work from me.
Lots of good points. The last batch I integrated were probably about 8 weeks old and I had more problems than I wanted *but* this was largely my fault as I did it back when I still lived in the city and had a much smaller setup so space was at a premium. I probably would have had a smoother integration with younger birds now as I could raise them in the run, like @rosemarythyme mentioned above. My run is 600 sq ft with 24 chickens in it. Your setup will probably dictate what solution might work best for you.
 

Tycine1

Crowing
10 Years
May 26, 2009
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David, Chiriquí, Panama
An all flock type feed, or UNMEDICATED chick starter with calcium / oyster shell in a separate dish for your layers; surprisingly, chickens that don't need the extra calcium avoid it. I typically do the "look, don't touch" approach for 1 or 2 weeks starting at 4 week old chicks, with at least two supervised outings with your adult flock for the chicks near the end of this period... you'll know when it's good timing to do the supervised 'visits', as your adult flock will notice the chicks and go on about their business... pretty much ignoring them. After a couple of these outings, you should be able to integrate them. Now, to get the babies used to the coop at night, and going in at dusk ;p Make certain you have places for them to hide in the coop that big birds can't get to them, and a very low perch (much lower than the adults get) would be a plus. You can expect that *some* adults will peck the little ones, but you're looking for a pretty gentle peck, and might hear a surprised squeak from a chick... If you see one bird constantly picking on one or all the chicks, they're not ready to be integrated yet.
I've always read not to put them together till the youngest are about the same size as the older ones
I've not had much luck with the 'like size' method, it takes more patience and the pecking can be absolutely brutal as they establish rank and file. Adult birds seem to be much more forgiving of chicks than of new adults.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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I've not had much luck with the 'like size' method, it takes more patience and the pecking can be absolutely brutal as they establish rank and file. Adult birds seem to be much more forgiving of chicks than of new adults.
Ditto Dat!!^^^
Think the adults don't recognize tiny chicks as any 'threat'....
....plus they are small and fast targets.
 

Rett144

In the Brooder
Apr 13, 2019
18
44
44
Integrating early does work but I assume the two groups haven't had any contact yet, so you'll need to start by keeping them separate while letting them see each other (see but no touch), and you'll need enough run space and run clutter so that the little ones can get away or hide from the big ones once they do have access to each other. Helps immensely to have hiding spots that only the chicks can easily fit into. Photo or specifics on your flock and set up would help, if you're not sure if you have the space for this.

This is how I integrated young chicks: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/short-on-time-recycle-a-prefab-brooder.73985/ however my chicks were raised in the run, so that took care of the see-but-no-touch period without any extra work from me.

Thank you. I love your set up. Wish I had the room for it. You have helped me with an idea. My run is big and roomy. Right now they haven't meet yet. They don't have all their feathers yet and I live in the mountains and it hasn't gotten warm enough yet for me to take them out. I was thinking in a couple weeks. But I'm using a xlarge dog crate for the brooder, and think that I can just use it in the run. That way I don't have to reconstruct my run and coop.
I have 2 buff orpingtons and 2 Dominiques. They are all friendly, and have been together fron the start, but not sure how they will do with new members coming in, lol.
Thanks again!
 

blackdog043

Crowing
Feb 19, 2017
2,131
3,327
376
Charlotte, NC
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