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Managing multiple ages

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by connecticuthens, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. connecticuthens

    connecticuthens Out Of The Brooder

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    Trying to move from wrong forum, Possible double post...


    I'm having a hard time deciding how to manage living arrangements for our flock.

    I have...
    3 one year old hens
    9 five week old pullets
    10 one week old straight run chicks, four of which were hatched by our broody hen.

    I have 2 coops, small and large, both with attached runs. Together inside a larger fenced in area.

    Right now, 2 hens are in the larger coop, where they have been living all year. The mama broody was moved to the smaller coop with her four babies. The 9 pullets are in a huge box in the garage. And the 6 other babies are in the house, under a heat lamp.

    So now, the 9 pullets are ready to go outside but I'm not sure how to manage everyone.
    Can I move the mama and her one week olds back to the larger coop (where they hatched), or is it too soon? Then the 9 could have the smaller coop. Do I try and give the mama the other 6 chicks now? Or wait till they're bigger?

    What do you think?
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd get mama and her 1wk old chicks back with the bigger hens soon,
    have they been in sight of the 2 older hens since mama starting setting?
    Probably too late to bond the other 1wk old chicks to the mama,
    but you could try before moving mama/chicks back to big coop, sooner is better.


    Keys to integration:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).

    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.


    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, tho some info is outdated IMO:
    http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
    AllynTal, BantyChooks and MageofMist like this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    This is what I would do, I would take the foster one week old chicks and chill them a bit, till they are peeping pretty good. Perhaps just put them in a cage outside at dark, you won't leave them there long, but you need them to WANT a warm place pretty badly. Then after dark, in the dark with as little light as possible, you stick those peeping chicks under the broody hen. If it is going to work, she will growl, and within moments the chicks should be silent. This is the hard part, LEAVE them ALONE. You want the mamma hen to relax, your being there, will keep her upset. If the chicks are quiet, they are warm, and they will figure it out, that this is a good place to be. A lot of people blame the broody hen, but the chicks have got to stick like ticks to her. Do not check her until the next morning. Broody hens cannot count, and more than likely, she will take them.

    Now, I would put some partial walls up in the run, I might turn the layers out of the run and lock them out for a day. Letting the broody hen and chicks get the run/coop figured out. My broody hens has always preferred a nest on the floor for 3-4 weeks, so I would make sure that there is good bedding inside the coop. Let the layers in at dark and that is done.

    Personally, I think I would make sure there are more than one feeder, out of sight of each other, and maybe I would have 3 feeders and waters, and maybe 4. Little partial walls, pallets leaned up against the wall, some roosts in the run. And I would add the 9 week old chicks to the whole works the next morning. This will be a lot of commotion, but it will get all the stress over at once. The broody hen should be mean enough to protect her chicks, the older birds are heavily outnumbered by the invaders, and with enough feed to go around, and no way to defend all the feed stations, I would anticipate a few pecks and that is all.

    Thing is, you are adding a lot of chickens, do you truly have space? As in you have measured it? I am getting a head count of 23. For that many birds, you need a large coop, 92 square feet, minimum. Something along the lines of 8 feet x 12 feet. For a run, you should be looking at 230 square feet. If you free range a great deal, you can cheat a bit in the summer, but come fall you need to cull your flock to fit in your set up, or build bigger for the long dark days of winter when they are on the roost 14-16 hours a day.

    Mrs K
     
    Ol Grey Mare likes this.
  4. connecticuthens

    connecticuthens Out Of The Brooder

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    May 2, 2016
    Thanks everyone for the advice.

    So we moved the mama and her babies to the big coop late last night. This morning it was like they'd been together the whole time! The other hens just went out and did their own thing, and the mama and the babies were even out for a little while scratching in the run! Next we are going to move the 9 pullets to the empty coop. I think they are going to enjoy finally living outside.

    So yes, 22 is a lot of birds. No, we don't have enough room for all of them. 4 of the 9 will be moving to a friend's house once we figure out which bird is which breed. Half of the babies will also probably leave once we figure out if they're boys or girls.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Great! Did she accept the 6 other 1 week olds?

     
  6. connecticuthens

    connecticuthens Out Of The Brooder

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    May 2, 2016
    I was too scared to put the other babies in with them. They are still in the house in the brooder.
     
    aart likes this.
  7. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a multi-generational flock and this year, I bought and hatched several new chicks. I have a large coop where the grown layers live and a smaller chicken tractor with a run. The first batch of chicks went into the grow out tractor at 5 weeks. I had 7 more chicks in the house in the brooder, and when they were 5 weeks, they went into the chicken tractor and the older chicks were turned out with the older hens. They integrated easily and the older chicks began roosting with the hens. I added 10 smaller chicks plus two that I had hatched in my incubator to the chicken tractor about 4 weeks later, and turned the second group of chicks out with the bigger girls. There was some normal pecking order stuff, but integration occurred fairly quickly. In about a week, I will be turning the last batch of chicks out with the big girls and rooster, and my integration will be complete. What makes it fairly easy is that they can be in a see but don't touch situation for a few weeks before I turn them out with the rest of the flock. The older chickens and chicks are used to it and so it's no big deal once everyone figures out where they belong. Best of luck to you!
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Also, I think flocks with chicks, get rather used to chicks, and it does not bother them nearly as badly as a flock that has not had any new addition in their life time, then when one adds new birds, they get mean.
     
    Peeps61, aart and Ol Grey Mare like this.
  9. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I thought I was finished with chicks for this season, but I found one of my Silver Spangled Hamburgs sitting on a nest in the front yard. She hatched out 4 chicks the same way last year. She's way up under the azalea bushes where I can't reach her, so nature will have to take it's course, then I can get all the other eggs and unhatched eggs out from under the bushes and discourage the hens from laying there. During the cold months, they were good girls and laid in the nesting boxes, but now that it's warm, they are finding other places. I may need to lock all of them up for a week or so.
     

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