Mixing Old With New

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bajabirdbrain, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. bajabirdbrain

    bajabirdbrain Chillin' With My Peeps

    135
    56
    86
    Dec 30, 2016
    Whidbey Island, WA
    We have a dilemma!

    Wife has been taking care of a neighbor's 2 senior hens for a couple of years, letting them out of their coop in the morning and cleaning their coop and spoiling them with snacks. We have decided to have our own flock and will have chicks delivered about March 28th. Will have about 8 chicks. Our problem is that the 2 old hens, at least 11 yrs old, will suffer greatly when my wife stops "mother henning " them and their owner is the sole care giver. His attitude towards the girls is basically to ignore them, minimal contact, minimum everything. We really want to sever our relationship with him in regards to his treatment of animals but will feel badly if we abandon the old hens. He recently introduced a young rooster which is another story in its self. The rooster is a mean one and he attacks my wife and torments the old gals. He will NOT be considered for adoption!

    SO, we are considering bringing the 2 old ladies into our new family but are hesitant to mix new chicks and old hens. Worried about introducing disease and attacking the babies. Chicks are coming from Meyer. Our coop/run is under construction and is 6x10 and 10x24, fully enclosed and, hopefully, predator proof. What say you about this mixing of ages if carefully supervised?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,909
    2,879
    421
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You are wise to consider disease as a factor in this prospective adoption. It's a much bigger risk to a new flock than the adult hens themselves.

    What you could do is collect stool samples and gather some feathers that have just recently fallen from the hens and take these to a lab and ask that they be tested for avian viruses. These viruses are shed in poop and dander so I'm guessing it would be possible to isolate them. You may be asked to obtain a blood sample which they can tell you how to get.

    Hens carrying these viruses can be asymptomatic all their lives, but the viruses are no less contagious.

    If these hens show no sign of harboring avian viruses such as Marek's, avian leukemias, and respiratory viruses, then integrating them with baby chicks by brooding the chicks in proximity to the adult hens would be a very easy and painless way to go. You can read how it's done by clicking on my article about outdoor brooding linked below in my signature line.
     
  3. bajabirdbrain

    bajabirdbrain Chillin' With My Peeps

    135
    56
    86
    Dec 30, 2016
    Whidbey Island, WA
    Thanks for the reply and warning. Not sure that we would be able to do the blood test/lab testing route for the 2 adult hens. We do plan on brooding the new chicks for only a day or two inside with a MHP to ensure their health and then put them outside in their new coop with their MHP.

    Question, can new chicks walk up a ramp from the coop to the run?? If not, are you suggesting that the chicks are confined to the run or confined to the coop? If coop, it seems that they will just have a "large box" to live in(6'x10')?

    As of now we are probably leaning towards abandoning the old girls to their fate, sadly, unless something or somebody can address our reluctance in mixing ages. TBC, BB
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,909
    2,879
    421
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Yes, it's the safest thing to abandon the idea of adopting the old girls.

    Brooding chicks outside is a very good way to go, either in your coop or in the run, doesn't matter as long as the brooding area is well protected against weather and cold drafts. I brood in my run for two reasons. My coops are too small and I want them to have maximum exposure to the adult flock and the flock hangs out in the run all day so that's where I want the chicks to be.

    This will answer a lot of your question. Ihttps://www.backyardchickens.com/a/reasons-for-tossing-out-your-indoor-brooder-and-start-raising-your-chicks-outdoors

    Chicks are able to physically use ramps at an early age, but if you expect them to understand the concept of going inside at night and outside when morning comes, forget it. They won't get that idea until five to eight weeks of age, and even then, they will need to be taught. A broody hen assumes this job, leading her chicks in and out of the coop as early as one week old. Once my chicks have finished with the heating pad around age five weeks, I teach them to live in the coop, and each night for a few days, I need to show them how to go inside.

    If you brood your chicks in your coop, there's no need for a special pen because there will be no adults to pose a danger. Your chicks will need to be close to their heat source for the first three weeks at least, but by the fourth week, you may be able to open the coop on nice days and let them access the run. That way, they will have imprinted on the coop already and they are more apt to return to it at night. But if the weather is very cold, you probably want to keep them cooped up until they are fully feathered and no longer need heat.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by