Introducing new chicks to ONE hen.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mydadsjoy, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. mydadsjoy

    mydadsjoy Out Of The Brooder

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    I've searched the forums and have yet to see an answer to this question.

    Last spring I built a little chicken tractor and stocked it with 3 leghorn hens. They were a year and a half at the time. I just wanted to "stick my toe in the water" so to speak - before building a bigger coop.

    I loved my girls! Those 3 sweet girls were laying machines, but not very people friendly. I let them out to forage, and locked them up at night.

    Late last fall, however, one passed unexpectedly. I have no idea why, there was no sign of trouble. Then Dec. 23rd of last year, I got extremely busy with Christmas projects and (gasp!) forgot to lock up the coop. I remembered at 2am when I was preparing for bed, but it was too late. Something had taken one of my chickens (a sickening trail of feathers leading to the woods [​IMG] ) and the other was found the next morning highly upset - roosting in a tree.

    We've dubbed her "Lucky" and she'll die of old age. The dear has earned her spot, but she's alone and has been since Christmas. She's still laying nearly every day, and she and I have bonded. I've avoided getting her "friends" until I decided what we needed to do for us as well. I didn't want to add a couple of hens, then more later.

    Now - I'm planning to add a flock of Easter Egger chicks. They're arriving in April. The plan is to brood them in the little tractor in and out of the garage until they get to be 4 weeks old or so. I have another A-frame lightweight portable pen that I use for daytime use only, that I'm planning on putting a division in to introduce Lucky to the chicks.

    Lucky - during this time - will be housed in the new coop that will house them all eventually.

    My question (finally) is - it seems to me that 15 chicks introduced to one lone hen shouldn't be in too much danger by 5-6 weeks or so. Lucky is a small chicken. She was at the top of the pecking order of the 3 before we lost them, however. So I suppose she has a little fight in her.

    Anyway - advice? Thanks! (and sorry for the book! [​IMG])
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    I'm afraid the answer is, no one knows -- it's just guesswork.

    Your plan sounds good to me, though 6 weeks might be a little small to get away with it. Or it could work just fine.

    Good luck.
     
  3. mydadsjoy

    mydadsjoy Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2012
    Thank you Judy. At least it's good to know I'm not way off in my thinking. I do believe it will be alright. Poor Lucky seems lonely, I can't wait to see if that translates into "Yay I have friends!" or "Get the heck off my one hen turf!"
     
  4. AndreaStarr

    AndreaStarr New Egg

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    Apr 1, 2012
    I am interested to know how your hen Lucky is doing with the chicks. We, too, have a Lucky, and as of last week, she's an only chicken as well. We have chicks that are only 10 days old, so I'm hoping to learn from your experience.
     
  5. mikaelakate

    mikaelakate New Egg

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Hello, Im in the same situation, tho only introducing 6 chicks to one hen, who lost her flock to a tenant who left the coop door open. Shes very friendly and loves being a part of the family. i just got 6 day old chicks from San Marcos feed. they are in my home and i hope to slowly introduce them to Mistytrickster, our lonely hen.

    last night i took her to the outside of the cage and let her hear the cheeps...she cheeped back rather readily and was very curious. today, i brought a bolder chick out to the coop and could tell right away Misty would begin to peck it.....so we immediately retreated without pushing any boundaries. im not sure if i should have done that....if it could have left an imprint...i hope not. i will wait a week and then bring the cage of chicks out on a sunny day to just sit in the coop, door closed and will sit to watch....
    would love to hear your process...maybe we can bounce ideas off of eachother.

    thanks for posting!
    Mikaela kate
     
  6. jeepguy982001

    jeepguy982001 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i did something similar to what your describing. I sat a 10x10 dog kennel beside the run of my chicken coop. And kept my 2 young chickens in it. So my 1 big chicken could see them and vice versa. Then i waited a few weeks to they were all about the same size then moved them to the run with my older hen in it. And it actually went very well very few pickings and they get along great. Anyway hope this helps or maybe at least gives you some ideas.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I think that you might even get away with it earlier than that. However, in my run, I would definitely have hiding places where little ones can get to, and a bigger hen cannot. The little ones might get a peck or two, but with 15 to chase, she is going to be outnumbered. She'll be dizzy trying to chase all of them.

    I think after I set up the hiding places, just boxes, or large flower pots or things kitty corner to the corner. Depending on the size of your hen, you can also use a "picket fence set up", where one side of the run is fenced off from the bigger hen, but the smaller chicks can escape into it as needed for saftey. I would put the chicks in there for a few days, let them get their bearings. Then at night I would move the big hen. I think the combination of a strange place, and strange birds, that by the time they all get adjusted, you might have made the transition.


    Now I would NEVER suggest this in the reverse, where one has 1 chick, and bigger hens, that will only work with a broody hen, and now always then. But with a bunch of little active, quick chicks, and one big hen..... I think you might get away with it.

    Make sure you also have multiple feed bowls and water bowls in different places so that she cannot keep the babies off feed.

    MrsK
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  8. mikaelakate

    mikaelakate New Egg

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    thank you! your all doing what Im thinking to do....so I'll just keep it up. yesterday i carried my hen in and just put her head up next to the chicks......before long they were all clucking and chirping at eachother.....
     
  9. mydadsjoy

    mydadsjoy Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2012
    Thank you all for your input. The babies won't arrive for a couple of weeks yet, so I'm just reading and learning. [​IMG] Sadly I don't have any help or stories yet to share for those of you doing this now.
     
  10. mikaelakate

    mikaelakate New Egg

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    Hi there, a couple of nights ago, i brought my hen in to the chicks....put some chick food in my hand (hens love chick food), opened up the chick cage, held the hen right at the opening and held my hand in between the chicks and the hen...they all happily ate together. same thing last night....
    Today, she just hopped right on in the cage and hung out with the crew (six 2 wk old chicks)...one chick pecked her, but the rest hopped up on her and they all really enjoyed eachother.....

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f....181244760622.238774.754520622&type=3&theater
     
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