Mixing month-olds with the free-rangers?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by 2DogsFarm, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    I've read the link to introducing new chickens and noone has described mixing in chicks this young.

    I have 5 hens about 1.5yo that are a freeranging flock.
    They roam my property all day and put themselves back in the coop at dark. I leave the coop door open as that's where food & water are and they have access to their fenced yard but that is largely unused.

    The chicks have been staying in a separate section of the coop where they can be seen & investigated but the hens don't seem overly interested.
    I also have a "playpen" for the babies that is outside and they spend weekends there and a couple hours after I get home from work while it's been warm out. Freerangers have investigated them there as well. There's been some looking but no pecking or other aggression when they're in there.

    This weekend I experimented with leaving the chicks out of the pen while the hens were roaming and there was only a bit of minor chasing when the babies got close but no pecking or other aggression I could see.

    Chicks have nearly a full set of their first feathers but are still only about 1/5 the size of the hens.
    Inside the coop I fashioned a door to the chicks' section that is too small for the hens to get through.
    How long should I wait before leaving this door open and letting the chicks out while I'm at work?
    Will they be able to find their way back to the coop & their safe place?
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    It might work. It's such an individual thing.

    I have 3 young but full size chickens (around 20-24 weeks) who were raised right in with the flock by a broody. They don't get pecked... but they roost away from the others, on a board they call a roost, and they hang around separately. They free range and often are not within sight of each other.

    I would watch them together a few more hours. Then I might try setting them on the roost at night.
  3. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    thanks ddawn
    If we get some warmer weather this weekend (it's in the forecast [​IMG]) I'll supervise the chicks out with the Big Girls again for longer.

    The chicks do hang together now so I expect they'll do the same when they're grown.
    It will be interesting to see how they fit into the flock dynamic.
    One of my Delawares is Top Hen, but she is a benevolent despot.
    The bottom position seems to be shared between the other Delaware & the Houdan.

    I don't have anything in the babies' coop setup as a roost - maybe I'll try putting a piece of 2X4 on the ground to see if they'll roost on that. That way roosting in the big coop won't be such a drastic change.
    Right now they cuddle together on a fleece baby blanket I put in their mini-coop when our nights first started getting cold.
  4. sixxchixx

    sixxchixx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2010
    Escondido, CA

    I recently went through the traumatic (for me) introductions between my four 13 weekers and 2 hens. they will probably get picked on for a little while at first. but you have to remember that the little ones are faster runners/flyers than the biggies. just make sure there are plenty of places for them to hide in your yard. and from what the wise sages on BYC tell me "let the chickens be chickens" I have a very difficult time leaving them out there with the mean old hens but they will figure it all out. Good Luck!!
  5. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    sixxchixx - I do try to let them just do what comes naturally.
    My horses taught me that lesson a long time ago [​IMG]
    We can anthropomorphize all day long and the animals still do as they are made to do!

    The babies have plenty of places they can get to in the yard & they didn't seem overly traumatized when the hens chased at them the other day.

    We'll see how it goes next nice day when I can supervise an intro and will report back here.
  6. Ironmaiden

    Ironmaiden Chicken Maiden

    Jun 14, 2010
    2DogsFarm, I will be very interested in your report. I have almost the exact same situation!
  7. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Here's my experience, for what its worth. My adult flock free ranges over the whole farm, except in the fenced yard. My juvenile flock has been let outside each day since they were two weeks old, inside the yard. A couple weeks later when they realized they could fit through the squares in the fence they started wandering outside the yard too, but mainly stay within it. They always come running back into the yard if something spooks them. This is much the way my adult flock learned to explore their world when they were babes.

    The head of my adult flock is Thor, my dark brahma roo. The juvenile flock is actually two smaller flocks living together. My layer chicks follow their cockerel, Impy and the cornish X pullets stay with their cockerel, Ollie.

    There has been some chance meetings, when a chick and an adult bird happen to be foraging in the same area at the same time and come upon one another. Mostly lots of stares and then one of them walks away, usually the adult bird. I have purposely caused some introductions by standing at the fence and calling everyone for treats - big birds on one side of the fence, little ones on the other; so they are aware of each other. I have gone out to the adult coop and brought one of my hens into the yard and sat her down right in the middle of the chicks. With the exception of one hen, all the hens make a beeline back to their flock. The one exception has been been my partially blind hen Lil' Bit. When I bring her around the chicks she will stay, until one tries to get too close. Yesterday she pecked and chased my silkie chick and then made her beeline exit.

    Just this week my adult roo, Thor, realized that those strange noises coming from inside the yard were other males. We've endured several long crowing contests with Thor standing just outside the fence and Impy and Ollie inside the fence, all crowing their hearts out.

    So, for the most part introductions between the adult flock and the juvenile flock have gone smoothly. The little ones have lots of places and lots of room to get out of the way of the big birds. I have been able to relax my guard a bit. Soon the juvenile coop will be moved to the adult chickens "domain" (as soon as we get the big tractor fixed to move it). I intend to have to spend some more time playing referee to make sure all goes well.

    I had hoped to have one big flock, but right now it looks like I will have three seperate flocks each directed by their respective roos.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010

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