introducing new young chicks to existing small flock:3hens,1roosted 21 chicks!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by tloveshomestead, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. tloveshomestead

    tloveshomestead New Egg

    Mar 4, 2014
    We are newer to chickens. We have had 3 hens and 1 rooster for about 7 months. We couldn't wait to grow our flock, January came and so did chick ordering. So now we have 21 chicks that are 2 weeks old now. We have them in a spare room in our house. They are getting big and a little stinky, we clean there brooder everyday, any way I want to get them outside very soon. All together we have 8 different breeds. This is our introduction. Feeling a little worried about what to do next.
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop

    You new babies will need to be brooded under heat until they are about 5 or 6 weeks old. By 6 weeks old, they can pretty much tolerate cooler temps.

    As for mixing these babies in, you can't do that just yet. They need to grow up for several months as the adult birds can hurt them. When you do go to mix them in, you will need to keep them in a cage or wired off area within the flock so everybody sees, but nobody touches. This way the pecking order of the existing flock is not upset all at once. Throwing in new birds causes chaos and blood baths or even death happens. So leave these new babies separated but within the flock for several weeks and by this time, much of the pecking order has been worked out. When mixing day comes, there should be little aggression. However always intervene if it turns bloody.

    Good luck with your new flock and enjoy BYC!
    2 people like this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Welcome to the forum. Sorry but this may get a little long. You have two different issues.

    First is brooding them. I don’t know where you are or what your weather is like. That can have an effect, but I’d guess you are still seeing pretty cool temperatures outside. What chicks need in a brooder is food, water, protection from predators, protection form the elements, and in practically all conditions, a heat source. None of this absolutely says they have to be in your house. I built a permanent brooder in the coop. I have 22 chicks in it right now about 1-1/2 weeks old that went through outside overnight temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit. I kept one section of that brooder toasty and the food and water pretty close to that heat source but some mornings the far reaches of that brooder were frozen. I consider the older chickens in the flock as potential predators at that age so they are definitely locked out of the brooder.

    I have no ideas what facilities or possibilities you have. If you have a garage or other outbuilding that provides decent weather protection, you can set up a brooder out there. It depends on how predator-proof that building is as to how solid you need the brooder to be. Many people just get a large appliance box and use that. If they outgrow it, get another one and tape two together.

    You might read my post in this thread for help in deciding when they don’t need any more heat.

    Your other problem is integration. You’ll read a lot of different things on here about when you can integrate them. That’s because your facilities play a huge part in what can work for you. We are all unique. The way I do it could be a disaster for others. Some people consider me way too safe. One basic rule to remember is that chickens usually solve disputes by the weaker running away from the stronger or avoiding the stronger to start with. That means they need enough room to run away if they are chased.

    Chickens can recognize which chickens don’t belong to their flock. It doesn’t happen all the time but occasionally one will attack an intruder. A way to really reduce the chances of this happening is to house the chickens next to each other for a week or so before you let them mix. None of this stuff comes with absolute guarantees since you are dealing with individual living animals, but I do recommend housing them side by side with a wire fence separating them if you can. Some people can’t and it still normally works out.

    Chickens, like other social animals, set up a pecking order so each chicken knows its place in the social order of the flock. When two chickens that don’t know what that status is share personal space, one normally tries to intimidate the other, often by pecking. If one runs away, they’ve settled it, though there may be some chasing involved or a repeat performance. Occasionally they are fairly evenly matched so it takes some skirmishing to settle it. On really rare occasions they may fight to the death but that really is rare. The biggest danger in this is when a chicken cannot run away. If it can’t get away, it may just hunker down, quit fighting, and take the punishment. The winner doesn’t realize it has won because the other did not run away so it keeps attacking. That is why space is so important.

    The last key to the puzzle is that mature chickens always outrank immature chickens and are often not shy about enforcing those pecking order rights. That’s why you usually see a group of younger chickens form a separate flock. They are simply avoiding the older chickens.

    The younger the chicks the more danger to these confrontations. This does not mean that every hen will automatically seek out to destroy any chick they see. Some of my broodies keep a pretty tight rein on their chicks and keep them close but some allow their chicks at two weeks age to mingle with the flock. Usually the older hens ignore the chicks but if they invade the elder’s personal space, they might or might not get pecked. If they get pecked the chick runs back to Mama as fast as those little legs can carry them. Mama ignores this. That chick needs to learn proper flock etiquette. But if that hen chases the chick, Mama immediately teaches her that’s not really necessary.

    I’ve had a broody totally wean her chicks at three weeks and leave them to find their own way with the flock but she had spent three weeks teaching the others to leave her babies alone. My brooder and grow-out coop are where the adults can see the chicks as they grow. I have lots of room and turn my chicks loose to mingle with the flock at 8 weeks. I’ve never lost one doing it this way. If space is really tight, you might need to wait until the young ones are practically grown before you integrate, and even then if space is tight you can have issues. Different things work for different people.

    I’ll end my rambling by saying that I’ve never had a problem with a dominant rooster. A good dominant rooster takes care of all his flock members. It doesn’t happen every time, but I’ve seen a rooster go take care of chicks if they get separated from Mama until she can figure out the concept of “gate”. They are living animals and I’m sure others have had issues with roosters but I never have.

    Good luck with it and once again, welcome.
    5 people like this.
  4. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

  5. Jeanna Marie

    Jeanna Marie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2013
    Brooksville, Alabama
    Fabulous response!
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I think the biggest mistake people make is brooding chicks in the house and then keeping them there for too long. Young chicks are not food competition for older birds, but older, fledged chicks most certainly are. So, folks take older, fledged chicks out to a coop and run full of established flock members and expect it will all be nice, but it rarely is.

    I brood my chicks right in the matter the cold temps. That's what heat lamps or heat sources are for. The big chickens are exposed to the sound, sight and smell of the chicks from the first day. By week 2-3 they are out of the brooder and fully integrated with the flock with absolutely no issues of pecking, injury, etc. This has the duo-fold benefit of early exposure to flock structures and norms and also to flock pathogens, so that they are fully inoculated at the age when they can best form antibodies....later on that is not so easy and it's why you'll often find 8 wk old chicks being the most susceptible to coccidiosis.


    They never seem to get pecked at this age...and they don't wander too far from the coop. At this early age they are learning about social structures within their own group and by watching the big chickens. They even run to shelter when the rooster calls a warning..they are very fast learners. By the time they venture further from the coop they are already wary enough to free range effectively and safely within a flock structure.


    At this age, they still eat without any signs of aggression from the big flock, but if you'll notice they keep to their end of the feeder....they have received mild correction from encroaching into the big bird's feeder space and have learned the value of not going there. No wounds, no chasing, nothing but a mild peck on the head to teach them boundaries.


    They very quickly will learn to wait their turn and when the big chickens go back out to forage, they then spread out on the feeder and can eat as they wish.


    Quote: [​IMG]


    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  7. tloveshomestead

    tloveshomestead New Egg

    Mar 4, 2014
    Thank you for your advise. It makes sense, but I think it may be too late to do what your saying because they have been in the house for 2 weeks. Also I don't know if this matters but my chicks were not from my little flock they were through the mail.I do wish I could have done it the way your talking about, then they would not have to be in my house anymore. We live in the south so as soon as possible we plan to get them out there. Our rooster is a Brahma mix he is very gentle. My most aggressive hen is a Rhode island red. She's the boss. The other 2 are barred rock and a buff. Thank you for taking the time to write:)
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Mine are rarely from my flock either....that has little to nothing to do with it. Babies are babies to chickens.

    I'd build a brooder out in the coop/run right now, while they are still young and let them be introduced in that way now. In a week or so you may be able to let them out in the population and supervise all interactions. If they don't go well, put them back in the brooder and wait a little while longer. Now is the time to do it if you are going to.

    You'll never know if it will work unless you try. I think that is why I've learned what I have about chicks and flocks, because I simply tried it out to see what would happen and it was successful each and every time. Now I don't even worry...I just do it, watch that first interaction and then leave the flock to teaching the young ones what flocking is all about.
    1 person likes this.
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Welcome to BYC - great opinions given. Good luck with the integration.
  10. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture

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