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Moving new chicks in with the old - how soon is too soon?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cheapcheepcheep, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. cheapcheepcheep

    cheapcheepcheep Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
    Littleton, MA
    Hi,
    I have three 2 year old hens - a Barred Rock and two Buff Orpingtons.

    I recently got 3 new birds - a Speckled Sussex and two Silver Laced Wyandottes.

    With the first chickens, I think I moved them out at about 8 weeks old. They were feathered out, and it was warm at night, since it was August. I was thinking of moving the new chicks out when they were 8 weeks old, which is next week. However, I read something else on here that if they are much smaller than the other chickens, it could be bad. I intended to keep them in their dog crate and put them in the run for a few days before trying to let them be loose in there without protection. Should I wait? My concern is that they are getting awful big for the dog crate, so I may need something else to keep them in if I need to put it off for a while.

    Thanks!
     
  2. chickencreek

    chickencreek Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 10, 2014
    maybe letting the chicks out in the run for a little while. but make sure you watch them and if they get pecked on put them back in their dog carrier. But make sure to do this every few days and if they keep getting pecked on wire off an area where they can see each other for about 2 to 3 weeks until the chicks can fend for themselves.
     
  3. cheapcheepcheep

    cheapcheepcheep Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
    Littleton, MA
    Thanks, I'll give that a shot. I have next week off, so I can monitor how things are going more closely.
     
  4. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 4, 2014
    Maine
    For what it's worth, I introduced 2 different age groups of chicks to my established hens this spring/summer and found that the younger chicks were accepted flawlessly by the hens vs. the acceptance of the older chicks.

    The two hens are between 3 and 4 years old and the first batch of newbies I introduced were three pullets. The initial intros were made through side by side runs when the pullets were about 12 weeks old. Then without partitions by 15 weeks. There was a lot of distain for the pullets by one of my hens in particular but she's over it now (though she still won't share the roost with the trio).

    The second group (just two chicks) were introduced at 2 weeks old on the warm sunny days in a small run inside the big run. There was a lot of staring by the rest of the flock but once they had supervised time to mingle (at 5 weeks), the hens and the top pullet took very kindly to the little ones whereas the 2 pullets lower in the pecking order had a harder time adjusting to the babies. The chicks are now about 10 weeks and they're in with the big girls all the time. The two hens even share the top roost with them.

    My theory is I waited a little too long for there to be a smooth adjustment with the introductions of the older pullets because they were closer to maturity/POL and therefore a much greater threat to the established hierarchy. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe chicken math got the best of my hens and once they realized the trio wasn't going anywhere...what's two more? [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. cheapcheepcheep

    cheapcheepcheep Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
    Littleton, MA
    Ah, that's interesting that maybe them being younger might make it smoother. Good to know, thanks!
     
  6. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're welcome and good luck! You may also want to provide a shelter that is large enough for the chicks to get into but not for the hens in the beginning of the intros. Even if it's just a cardboard box with a hole cut out and something to weight it down on top. That way the chicks will have a safe place to get away if the hens aren't very welcoming.
     
  7. cheapcheepcheep

    cheapcheepcheep Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
    Littleton, MA
    Have had them in a dog crate in the run all week, and have been bringing them out and setting them alongside the run on weekends for the past few weeks. Thought I might sneak the youngsters into the coop tonight, put one in, and the alpha went after her. Oddly, the other hen in there came to the defense! But I put her back in the dog crate with the others and may leave them sequestered for longer. They're getting too big to be in the dog crate for much longer, though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2014
  8. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some pecking is to be expected any time introductions are made; it's how they establish their hierarchy but it's good that one of the older girls stepped in. Have you allowed them supervised time in the same run without barriers? If not, that would be my next suggestion and if you have room to keep the crate in the coop at night with the little ones in it (mainly for early morning protection) I will suggest doing that as well if you're not already. Your younger girls are around 10-12 weeks now? Mine were fully integrated by this age and though I initially kept closed them in their crate in the coop at night, the first time I found the two youngest on the top roost with the two oldest and top hens, I stopped closing them up. They do still have an area in the coop where they can fit (along with my smallest POL pullet) but the big girls can't just in case they need to get away.

    Make sure you have plenty of roosting space too as the top of the hierarchy won't want to share with the peons. Typically it's 12" of roost per bird but larger breeds may require more.
     
  9. hfrink

    hfrink New Egg

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    Sep 1, 2014
    I have 13 pullets (12 weeks) and 6 hens (2+ years, not sure.) Right now, I have the hens in the main coop and the pullets in a smaller one. We have been letting the free range together in the evenings. I'm hoping that will help the transition go better.
     
  10. cheapcheepcheep

    cheapcheepcheep Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
    Littleton, MA
    Yesterday I tried the supervised together time, though a little different from how you suggested. I let the grownups out into the yard, and then opened the dog crate so the little ones could explore if they felt like it. The grownups didn't pay too much attention, since they were out foraging, and the little ones got to check out the run, and even started to venture into the yard a little. They all got pretty close to each other outside, and then I eventually ushered them all back into the run. They even got along pretty well in there. There were a few moments of the alpha chasing the little ones, but everyone seemed fine. I'm going to try this again today, and maybe leave them in the dog crate in the run during the week while I'm at work, and let them out for a little bit each night when I get home, and then hope that by next weekend everyone will have figured it out, though I can leave it in longer if I have to.

    The grownups kept sticking their heads in the dog crate and eating the chicks' crumble, so I suppose that's another thing to figure out. Plus, one of my grownups is broody, and I had her separated. I put her back in the coop last night, and this morning she was out in the run with the others, but I bet she's back in the nesting bucket by now. She may have to get up to speed on all this later.
     

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