Mixing chicks of different ages

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LuluLuckybud, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. LuluLuckybud

    LuluLuckybud Hatching

    Jul 10, 2010
    I have 13 chicks that are 4 weeks old that I want to put outside in a contained coop with attached enclosed pen. The problem is that right now I have 4 chicks out there already, they are about 6-7 weeks old. I don't want to let the older ones out with the rest of the free-range flock for another couple of weeks. Is it OK to just put the 13 young chicks right in with the slightly older chicks or will there be an uproar? Or would it be better if I just let the older ones out with the rest of the adults and let the younger ones have the coop/pen to themselves?
    Thanks, Lulu

  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Anytime you mix birds you run the risk of some (mostly smaller) ones getting bullied. If you do mix them watch them closely, and seperate if some are getting hurt.
    I don't think I'd put 6 week olds in with adults.

    Good luck & welcome to BYC

  3. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Songster

    Jun 17, 2009
    West Central WI
    I have mixed chicks within 10 days of age of each other without too much issue. There was plnty of space, feed and waterers.

    Good Luck with your plans!
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    They're all different. Sometimes they accept each other with no fuss, and sometimes there's a merciless bully or two that make it their mission to torment the small ones.

    I've come up with a nearly perfect solution: I install a "panic room" when introducing a new, younger crew to the older ones. Right now I have six ten-week-olds in with six one and two-year olds. I partition off half the pen with a small pop hole joining the two pens. The pass-through hole is just large enough for the smaller pullets to get through, so their feed is protected from being devoured by the big girls, and if anyone gets bullied, she can race back to the safety of the pullet pen.

    For two weeks I've had my three tiny four-week-olds inside another partitioned pen inside the pullet pen. This week, I will be cutting a pop hole into that pen so the babies can begin mingling (and learning the pecking order) with the rest of the flock. Their pop holes will be just large enough for them to fit through, so neither the adults or older pullets can reach them in their panic room. As they grow, I'll need to enlarge the little pop hole to accommodate their size change.

    It also helps to have two pop holes when someone is really in an urgent panic!

    After everyone has achieved near same size, all the partitions can then come down. (Until you get a new crew of tiny youngsters). This gives everyone the opportunity to get to know one another, learn the pecking order without getting traumatized, and it gives me breathing room from all the refereeing, which is still a necessity at roosting time!
  5. LuluLuckybud

    LuluLuckybud Hatching

    Jul 10, 2010
    Quote:At what age would you put young ones in with adults? I have usually gone by size. Earlier this summer I put some 5-week olds in with the adults (they had a mom to defend them, but she took off as soon as she got her freedom and never looked back!). These 6-7 wk old chicks don't have a mom and they are much smaller. Still, I thought I would turn them loose at about 8-9 weeks and take my chances.
  6. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    I have been able to integrate even tiny chicks with our adults which include VERY big Brahma boys, but we know how they behave and always carefully monitor introductions.

    Chicks always spend time behind chicken wire before the introductions so that all birds are familiar with each other (and the dog, cat, and goat!)

    My birds free range, so there will be a place for chicks to run if they want to, though this has never been needed,

  7. LuluLuckybud

    LuluLuckybud Hatching

    Jul 10, 2010
    All the chicks are well-known to the flock from behind chicken wire, so that is not a problem. I just worry about turning them loose when they're so small because of predators. I guess that's a little silly. Predators will take big ones or little ones, they don't care! I don't lose many to predators anyway, sometimes none for years at a time, but this year I've lost 4.

  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I think either way could work or either way could be pretty rough. It just depends on the personalities of your chickens and how much room they have. Whichever way you go, I suggest additional food and water stations. Whenever I integrate, the older ones keep the younger ones away from the regular food and water sources so I provide extra. They don't hang out together anyway but segregate themselves by age group. That helps keep the conflicts down.

    I'd probably try the 13 in with the 4. I think the numbers will help protect the younger ones since the older have more to pick on. They may not concentrate on one or two specific chicks that way. I don't have any proof but I feel that the younger ones are at more risk than older chickens from predators. Snakes, cats, and possibly hawks immediately come to mind.

    Good luck!
  9. LuluLuckybud

    LuluLuckybud Hatching

    Jul 10, 2010
    Quote:I really would prefer to do this BUT the space is a bit weird....very small inside space (wouldn't allow me to put in separate feeding and watering stations) and while the outside pen they would have access to is very large, I can't get into the pen without dismantling it, so if there were problems outside I wouldn't be able to intervene. Sigh. My chickens are all very gentle and always have been, so I guess I will just have to take a chance one of these days. [​IMG] Thanks for everyone's input.
  10. babychicks1203

    babychicks1203 In the Brooder

    Jul 28, 2010
    Oxford, Indiana
    I have been putting mixed ages of baby chicks together. They range from 5 weeks to 3 days.
    I just make alot of comotion...(clean out the waterer, feeder, and also the pen itself) and slip the new ones in at the same time.
    There is so much going on that the don't realize that there a new ones in the pen. It has seemed to work for me so far.

    Good Luck!!!!

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