Need help with merging chick flocks into coop


Chicken Tender
8 Years
Jun 24, 2011
King George, VA
My Coop
My Coop
We have five 6 week old White Leghorns happily living by themselves in our coop since they were 4 weeks old. They huddle together at night in the inside front of the coop by the door and sleep there on the floor. I tried putting them on the roost, but they seem to prefer the huddle arrangement. I also have three 2.5 week old chicks (hatched Aug 9th) - two are mutts (possibly Olive eggers/mix) and one is an Ancona - these are currently in a brooder inside our house. My goal is to move the brooder bunch to the coop next weekend when the WLs will be 7weeks old and the brooder mates will be 3.5 weeks old. I'm attempting to merge both flocks in advance of our vacation. I have a housesitter/chicken tender but I don't want to over tax her with brooder & coop chicks.

I'm thinking after this Irene mess passes at the start of next week I will put the brooder bunch outside during the day in the run inside an exercise pen for a period of time so they can all see each other and get used to one another. I tried this with the pen outside the run yesterday and the WLs were very curious, but no fights broke out. How long do I need to do this "look" period before trying to merge the two? I want to merge them in next Saturday - a week before we head out on vacation - so that I can watch them for a week to see what fights will happen and take action if needed. I do have a storage section in my coop where I could house the brooder bunch if need be - however it doesn't have a separate run area. I don't have power in there either - so I would have to run an extension cord if I needed to have a heat lamp for them. You can see it in this pic under the manure board - there's 1/4" hardware cloth covering the opening at the bottom and I've added chicken wire to cover the top. It's accessible from the outside of that door & there's a little chick door just in case.

Additionally - the "what breed/sex am I" section thinks the WLs I have are 4 roos and 1 pullet - will that dynamics make a difference in moving in the new flock at this age?
The one on the left is the only one with short yellowish comb, the other four look like the one on the right.

The brooder bunch

When I do merge them - what's the best way? Rush around in the run doling out treats and create chaos during the day and sneak the three in while the WLs are distracted and eating? Or should I "sneak" in the brooder three while the WLs are sleeping - if so how? Just lay them in the big pile too? Or stick them in a different pile somewhere else in the coop? I suppose I could put them all on the roost together knowing that the WLs wouldn't have fallen asleep there & everyone would wake up in a new place.

Oh, what to do!

I'm going to go ahead with the merge starting tomorrow as the babies will be 3 weeks old - but I've decided to do a whole week of them inside the run while inside the exercise pen so everyone get's a good amount of looking at each other. Then on Saturday I will move the 3.5 week old babies out to the coop with the then 7 week olds - if it goes okay I'd like to sneak the babies in after dark and listen in the a.m. for problems. If it doesn't go okay I'm thinking I'll have to put the babies in the storage side for awhile.

But my question is - should I pile them near the white leghorn pile or put everyone up on the roosts since no one sleeps up there right now?
Personally, I would be VERY hesitant about mixing tiny babies with older chicks (well, I would be more than very hesitant really). Where you put them doesn't matter - what matters is that you monitor VERY closely for days to make sure that none of the little babies get abused. I would partition off an area of the coop with wire and leave them in there until after vacation. That way they're all in the same area (making it easier on the pet sitter), but have their own space/feeder/waterer. I would wait until after vacation to attempt integration.
How will you keep the new baby chicks from eating the Grower chick feed that the older chicks are eating? That is where I am confused. Starter feed, then Grower, then to the Layer feed. IF the older chickens are suppose to eat the Grower Feed, and the new baby chicks the Starter Feed, how does that get separated? The chickens do not know the difference as to which feed is theirs?
The way I always merge the flocks is I put a smaller "coop" in the same run (after they have been side by side for a few days). Last time I put a dog house in the run of the hens. I had it against the side so that the chicks could go in and out and the hens could get in. I also put the chick food in the little house, plus some water.

I have never done this younger than 4 weeks, but I have never had a problem. Now I have 7 week old chicks completely integrated with 8-12 month hens. I took their house out yesterday and no problems!
I'm quite new at this too, but the newer three birds I introduced to my slightly older three RIR's were eating pullet raiser by the time they merged. When the time came for the RIR's to start laying I added free choice oyster shell calcium to accomodate that. As a younger gal gets toward laying she's got the additional nutritional support right there. That's what has worked for us. But like the earlier poster said - you've got to be vigilant about protecting those little ones from extreme abuse. Things can get out of hand in a hurry.

this is how I integrated my 3 little EE about 5 weeks I put them in the coop,
for 2 weeks they stayed in the cage, in the day I would let the older girls out first, to free range,
then released the younger ones in the coop/run. At night I reversed it...they are all now living together...
a bit of stress during the pecking order establishment, but it is working fine now.

They say not to release them till they are the same size...I have a silkie and one cochin, so they were
the same size as them...its all good.

Make sure the younger/smaller ones have a hiding place to get to when the pecking starts...
@Cluck - As far as different feeds - for now I'm thinking I'll keep them all on the Manna Pro Medicated Chick Starter until I get back from vacation because they list that as for 0-8 weeks old and the White Leghorns will just be at 9 weeks old - so I'm hoping that they'll be fine with it. Then I plan to switch everyone to Purina Mills Start and Grow (medicated) as that takes them from hatch to 18 weeks. When the WLs get to 18wks I'll switch to Purina's Layena for them and move the feeder up so the littler ones can't reach it so easy & I'm hoping that will deter them from eating it. The littler chicks will still have the Start & Grow in another more accessible feeder until they are big enough to eat from the big dish. They also will have their food in their own areas - so most likely the littles ones won't be venturing over to the big ones food dish area.

@Teach - I am leaning towards keeping the little ones in the storage side of the coop until we get back so they'll be safe from pecking order stuff until I can be there to keep a better eye on everyone. I can move my supplies out and easily convert it to a chick area as the wire is already in place and I already have a door there too. My chicken sitter can let them in the mini exercise run I made for a little time while she checks on them & spends time there.

Then when I get back I'll try Baby & JodyJo's methods of simultaneous "coops" for awhile until everyone is getting along and a pecking order has been established. In the mean time I think I'll pick up some of that bluekote? stuff for wounds to have on hand.

Thank you all!

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