introducing new chicks into mature hen population

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by john morris, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. john morris

    john morris New Egg

    Jul 25, 2014
    lititz, pa
    Hi chicken folk. We have 5 hens that should start laying soon (the were born in July) & 1 roo. In coming spring I plan to buy about 6 to 8 more hen peeps. At what point can I put them with the rest of the flock? Should I expect any issues from the mature chickens towards the chicks? Also - I'm thinking of getting Rhode Island Reds. I read they are good for egg production. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as we are new at this chicken thing. Thank you, John M
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I don't think it will work out. Unless you've a broody hen and slip chicks under her they wont be protected in the flock. You need a small grow out pen until the birds are of good enough size to take the pecking order shake down when introduced to a flock. Even then you need places for them to hide out of sight from those few relentless hens.

    I always use a grow out coop. From brooder to that. And the few times I let broody hatch eggs still had to take the chicks after the hen stopped protecting them, about 3 weeks old put in grow out coop, as they were pummeled by the other hens.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Of course my coop was small and broodies I had would go broody again about a month after hatching so lose interest in the chicks. These dynamics made it so I definitely needed a grow out coop. Then I'd wait until fall and cull the unproductive older hens and sell the young grown birds I didn't want or cull unwanted cockerels before integrating them.

    Flock and management dynamics will dictate how and what age is best to integrate young birds.
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I've successfully integrated all of my baby chicks at around six weeks. However, before that, the chicks have been spending the days in a grow-out pen where they're safe from the adults, yet everyone gets used to belonging to the same flock. Then it's back into their brooder when it begins to get cool.

    Around age four weeks, I open up pop holes from the grow-out pen into the main run so the youngsters can begin to experience the pecking order. The pop holes are 3" x 7 " so the adults can't fit. The run also has partitioned areas where I've installed pop holes so that babies being chased can use them for quick escape routes back to the safety of their pen.

    As long as you provide these escapes to safety, chicks can make a successful and rather uneventful integration into the flock. It's a hoot to watch these half-pints zip around the run at warp speed, evading the adults in hot pursuit!

    The important thing is to make sure there are no dead ends where a chick can find itself trapped and get pecked to death. As long as they have avenues of escape, they rarely, if ever, get hurt. I only had one injury and it was from a baby sticking her tiny head through the mesh of the chicken wire. I rectified that by putting half-inch plastic netting around the bottom.

    By the time they no longer fit through the pop holes, they're big enough to cope with the pecking order.

    Just yesterday, I moved the eighteen-month olds out of the grow-out coop and in with the other adults, getting ready for the new batch I intend to get come spring. The grow-out pen in my run has its own coop so I can move the chicks from their brooder into it as soon as they're feathered out. They grow up in it, and when they begin to lay, they lay their first eggs there.

    If you are able, it really pays off to structure your run and coop set-up to include this special grow-out pen and coop since it really saves a lot of stress trying to integrate chicks into a coop with adults, which can be terrifying for the babies, and you too.

    But if that's your only option, it can be done. But to describe it will take another seven paragraphs!
  5. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    If i read your question correctly, your "chicks " are almost 6 months old now? Is that right?

    If so i would definitely start integrating asap. The temperament of your chickens has a lot to do with how eventful integration might be. If your older hens are very aggressive, it may help to put the newbies someplace where the old girls can see them and get used to them, but won't be able to attack.

    In regard to rir, I love them, and i also find them to be somewhat aggressive when mixed with gentler breeds, such as buff orpingtons, who tend to be very submissive.

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