Is this integration going well or would it be best to wait?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sandykopandy, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. sandykopandy

    sandykopandy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2011
    After losing two of my three beautiful hens to a dog attack, I made the difficult decision to get two chicks with the intention of eventually integrating them with the lone hen. After a month of exposing the hen to the babies and squawking loudly at her every time she got that "about-to-peck-you-on-the-fuzzy-head" look in her eyes, I placed the babies (4 weeks old) in a predator proof dog crate next to the lone hen's coop. Within a short period of time after that, she seemed to tolerate them pretty well during free grazing, only giving very occasional warning pecks (nearby- no contact) when they did something she didn't like. A few days ago the babies wandered into her coop while she was out and spent much of the day enjoying the place- like Hansel and Gretel having stumbled upon the gingerbread house. When the "witch" returned, they did okay. Again, not much aggression at all- only warning pecks. I decided to let them sleep there. My hope was that the hen would let them share her perch, but she did not. I placed a perch nearby but they seem too worried to use that. I don't blame them because the hen stares at them which apparently means, "Don't even THINK about it." So instead of sleeping on a satisfying perch, they sleep huddled in a little corner, not with the adult. Each day they seem a tiny bit more comfortable, but I'm wondering if this is okay. Would they be better off returned to their dog crate where they will perch and feel safe or is it better for them to sleep in the corner for now with the hope that eventually the hen will let the join her? I should make clear that the coop is not large enough to partition a separate area for them. They are either in the coop with the hen or in a different abode. What I'm wondering is, is this going well with a good prognosis for eventual full integration or would it be better for me to return the babies to the dog crate and wait until they are large enough to insist on a perching place? In other words, is it better to integrate as soon as you can with the babies not getting to perch or is it better to let the babies get a tad bigger in a separate crate, waiting until they are big enough to insist on a perching place? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not sure what your concern is about them roosting? My brooder raised chicks often prefer to sleep in a bunch on the floor instead of on the roosts until they are 10 to 12 weeks old, though my current brood started roosting at about 6 weeks. They roost when they are ready.

    I find that chickens can be pretty strong about enforcing their pecking order rights when in the roosts. Those chicks are probably being pretty smart to not force the issue.

    I personally think your integration is going pretty well. Many broodies wean their chicks about the age of yours and those chicks then get along in the flock OK. They are lowest in the pecking order and will try to stay away from the more dominant chickens so don't expect full mingling until they are pretty much adult. It sounds like your hen is not especially aggressive. I think you will be taking bigger chances by separating them and trying to put them back together later.

    I would try to avoid leaving them locked in a small space together. The young ones need room to get away when she does enforce her pecking order rights. I'm not sure how your coop is set up, but I'd expect you to find the young ones perched on the roosts in the morning when the older one goes to the coop floor so they can try to keep away from her.

    Good luck!
     
  3. sandykopandy

    sandykopandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Thanks. My concern was mostly about whether I'm doing the right thing in putting them together prior to them all being the same size- whether I'm creating potential future problems. The fact that they seem to want to roost and did sit high up when they were in the other crate made me wonder if I was forcing them to have to take a step away from their instincts in order to get along with the adult. But from what you say, this is all very normal and just fine and I should stop worrying and that chances are, they will all get along just fine once the babies are bigger. I find it amusing how many figures of speech come from the chicken world and pop into my head all the time. Right now the one that comes to mind is that I need to stop being such a mother hen!
     
  4. bhazell123

    bhazell123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When I introduced a new chicken to my flock the Roos seemed to pec at it but a few day later they were fine and now she seems to be the leader . So I would leave them together unless she is jut plain plying there feathers out like my neighbors chickens did ( that was scary) but if they are in the coop with her at night then u should be ok to go because if she didt want the little ones it would be pretty tragic . But that's just my experince since I've gotten mine
     
  5. srpaint

    srpaint Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I too think they will be ok. My chickens do the same thing. The lower ones stay away from the ones higher up. And after a few weeks they all have "their" spots to roost.
     

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