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My Integration Scheme.....Hmmmm?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by gardendufus, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. OK, so I have 4 now 5 week olds (2 BA's, 2 BR's), along with 2 now two week olds (Wellies) who were integrated 2 weeks ago. They are loose in the coop (they are the only ones in there. I had no trouble integrating them. I have just brought home 2 day old GL Wyandottes. I built a brooder (chickenwire sided) and put it in the coop with the big girls, thinking that the proximity with the big girls would ease the integration. The brooder has an ecoglow in it for warmth. I have been putting the 2 week olds into the brooder with the babies at night, thinking at least the babies will have 2 'friendly' coopmates from day one. They seem to be getting along well, sleep together and all that.

    During the day I let the 2 week olds loose in the coop to maintain their relationship with the 5 week olds. I also am going into the coop a coupla times a day and letting the babies out in the group in hopes that they all will get used to each other. I stay in there with them for about an hour or so, making sure they don't get picked on. It is obvious that the Wellies and the babies are getting along fine. One of my BA's (this pullet is the one that has sort of mothered my 2 Week old Wellies since I got them) doesn't HATE the new babies, as she allows them to get close and doesn't peck at them.

    But, the only thing that keeps the BR's from pecking the babies is obviously my presence and the fact that I shoo them away. I'm hoping that what I'm doing, however, will make the integration easier than if I waited til the babies are sufficiently large. I have all the time in the world, so it's no big deal for me to spend time in the coop with them. I never leave the babies out with them when I'm not around to referee.

    Any ideas whether I'm wasting my time or not?

  2. rebecuna

    rebecuna In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2012
    I'm curious about this, too... I have 6 3-wk-olds who all seem to get along fine, and 2 1-week-olds who have been in an adjacent brooder (cardboard box) with a few chicken head-size holes poked in the side so they can see each other a bit.

    Yesterday I put the babies in with the bigger babies for a few minutes while I cleaned out the shavings of the babies, and it was CRAZY in there! The bigger babies were running full speed at the babies and skidding to a halt right in front of them... is this some kind of intimidation tactic? They were screeching and pecking some, too... surprisingly, it was my most gentle, friendly one doing most of the pecking (I do suspect she might be a "he", even though she's so nice! Her comb is at least twice as big as the others, and no real tail feathers yet... so if "he" is, maybe he was protecting his girls?) I didn't dare leave them for more than a few minutes and had to shoo the others away several times. Do they just need to get used to each other or should I keep them separated until they're much older? I'm planning to replace the cardboard divider with a screen so they can really see each other... maybe that will help? I was hoping to integrate them in the next few days.
  3. BuffOrpington88

    BuffOrpington88 Non-Stop

    Mar 20, 2012
    Sounds good. Being together yet separated will really help with integration when the chicks are bigger.
  4. So sorry you are having this problem. My first integration was with 3 week olds and new babies and luckily I didn't have even one instance of aggression between them. This second integration has been totally different......sigh.

    I think it is helping that the middle set of chicks spend the night with the babies and the day with the older chicks. I have been faithful about letting the babies out into the main coop with everyone for a couple of hours twice a day. The older (5 week olds) have shown some aggression and on the first day one of the babies was picked up and thrown. I just wasn't fast enough to stop it. You better believe I am a lot more diligent about watching every move the older girls make towards the chicks now. One of my BA's is fine with them, both of the 2 1/2 week olds are absolutely great with them, even choosing to spend time in the brooder when it is open and the babies stay in there.

    However, my 2 BR's are still aggressive, altho I can tell that the level of aggression is diminishing. Seems to be more of a don't bother me kinda peck occasionally rather than an I hate you, and hope you die so that I can eat you peck. Still keeping an eye on them tho, and the babies are also better about keeping an eye on them and running like hell whenever they come around. Hoping after a couple of weeks things will be a lot better.

    I still think this will be easier than letting them ALL get older, at which time I think the older ones would be even more aggressive. Once again, wish me luck.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Thought I'd update this thread with my experience in 2013, bringing in baby chicks to integrate with my now adult hens. Here's how I did it and it worked VERY well, no problems at all.

    First of all, this only works if you have adequate space. If you have a small coop for 5-6 birds it probably wouldn't work. My coop is about 8 X 10, and I section of a small portion of my coop with chicken wire to separate the babies from the adults. I do NOT, at this point give the babies access to the run. When the chicks are large enough (for me it's about 3 weeks) and the weather permits, I divide my run into 2 sections with 2 X 4 welded utility fencing. The chicks have access to their portion through the people door, NOT the pot door. Since they are still small enough to get through the utility fencing, I put chicken wire in front of it to keep them on their side. When they are about 4-5 weeks old, I remove the chicken wire. This allows them to explore timidly the big girl section of the run. I found that they had the good sense to stay close to the utility fencing, so that if they felt threatened, they could quickly dart back into the 'babies only' section.

    As they got older, they ventured further. There were a few pecks, but the chicks usually left a wide margin between themselves and the adults. When they started getting a little too large to fit through the utility fencing, I went along the bottom row of squares, and bent the wires so that instead of looking like rectangles, the wires looked more like this.... < > < > < > < >. I hope you understand what I mean. Easily accomplished by squeezing every other set of squares together with your fingers.

    I probably left this up til they were maybe 6 weeks old, definitely no longer. Once I saw the chicks and hens occupying the same space (albeit not mixing together, more like two separate flocks in the same space), but the babies not running like they saw imminent death, I took the fence down.

    Now, at 12 weeks, they mingle as tho they have always been together. The little ones have enough respect to let the hens first dibs on any treats, but they are getting braver now.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013

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