Introducing pullets to the flock

NinetreesMom

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 15, 2012
228
13
73
Dixie, WA
Hello all! I have four 5-week old chicks and four 1-year-old hens. At what age do you usually introduce babies into the flock? What is the best procedure? My hens free-range around my pullet pen, but they pretty much ignore each-other. I foresee a different story if the babies ventured onto the hen's turf (ie the main coop).
 

wildriverswolf90

Songster
8 Years
Aug 4, 2011
7,488
46
243
polk county, NC
You have to wait til they are close in size usually between 14-18 weeks. The best way is to slowly introduce the young ones to the older ones, through a fence, in a pen where they can see each other, 'talk' to eaeach other get used to one another. And then after about a week of that the best time to the babies in, once you plan to leave them there, is at night, put them on a low roosting pole or further down the pole from the rest of the flock. There is going to be pecking, and chasing, so make sure you have at least two feeder and two waterers so they aren't bullied away from a place to eat and drink.
 

farmer boy

Songster
7 Years
Jul 5, 2012
1,229
15
131
Canada,NB,River Glade
it depends on your birds to my friend told me i can add my chicks to my flock at 6 weeks but it depends on the flock mine are all pretty nice to each other sometimes mean but most of the time they are nice she said i could add my chicks once their 4 weeks old to my silkies ... and like wildriverswolf90 said through a fence i use a pen in my coop so they see each other all the time
 

Chickey24

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jun 10, 2012
13
1
24
Montana
I'm in exactly the same boat! My 5 chicks are now 5 weeks old, and I have 6, 1 year old laying hens-no roo. Although this is my first time introducing new girls to the flock I read quite a bit on BYC and in my books. From what I read, hens usually let the chicks outta the nest on their own at 4 weeks so in theory this is an adequate age to introduce. That said, most on these forums recommend a much older age-and I have to agree. They seem WAY too small to ward off a feisty hen and you will probably risk loosing a chick. Good that you have equal numbers for chicks to hens so they can have safety in numbers! And on that note, make sure you have adequate space for the hens when they are in the coop (roosts, nesting boxes, and square footage for both coop and the run for when they are not free ranging), because adequate space decreases squabbles. As the previous post states, I have wired off half of my coop and plan to introduce the chicks to the hens through the fencing and will bring them in to their brooder at night. I plan to do this for a couple weeks. I also read the first time you integrate them (without fencing) should be when free ranging so there is plenty of room to get away and they are slightly distracted. Place them in the coop together for the first time at night and allow to come out first thing in the morning. These are all the tips I've read and plan to incorporate with my flock. Sounds like we can expect some pecking as new order is found within the flock and unfortunately needs to occur-you should only step in if the blood is drawn or the pullet/hen cannot get away from the aggressor. Good luck!
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aggiemae

Songster
7 Years
Mar 18, 2012
1,408
138
216
Salem Oregon
We started putting our 2013 chicks out in the portable run about 2 weeks ago in sight of our free ranging hens. We let the chicks loose in the yard a week ago and the hens were awful to them so we waited another week. Yesterday we tried again and after some obligatory pecking and squawking it went lots better. Today the hens are shooing the chicks away from the run and the main waterer but they are eating side by side and earlier I saw them all dusting together.

Hens on a roost are very sound sleepers they also don't see well in the dark. I am going to put the chicks in the coop tomorrow night. I do it after then hens are sleeping. Usually I just stick the pullets on the roost with the sleeping hens.The theory (my mother's) is that the hens will hear and smell the pullets all night and thus grow accustom to them...But I make sure I am up at the crack of dawn so I can open the coop so they can escape if necessary. These chicks are and exceptionally wild bunch and I need to get them out of the utility room and are few weeks ahead of schedule. They are 8 weeks old and don't roost yet so I will just put them (sleeping) in a large dog crate on the coop floor.
 
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NinetreesMom

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 15, 2012
228
13
73
Dixie, WA
Thanks everyone! I think I will take a hybrid approach and let them free range together in a few more weeks, sleeping separately. Once I get peace in my yard, I will probably try the after-dark sneak :D
 

Chicks Galore3

Artistic Bird Nut
8 Years
Dec 16, 2011
8,139
183
326
Iowa
Have 6 little ones to add to my current flock of 12 too. They are 4 weeks old, and have already seen the biggers, through a fence of course. Most of the hens were afraid of them! There was one, my little miss broody, kept coming around the pen and making her broody noises.
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NinetreesMom

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 15, 2012
228
13
73
Dixie, WA
That is cute! My broody took more interest at first, but ignores them now (through fence also). I have space to keep two groups of chickens separate, for now, until we move in the fall (then I can have my dream coop with plenty of options!). I have some hatching eggs coming next week, so then, assuming I get some chicks (first time with shipped eggs), I will eventually have to decide whether to move my current 5-week-old chicks (who in 2 months will of course be 13 weeks) in with the big girls, or move the little ones in with the older chicks. Decisions decisions!
 

MANNA-PRO

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