Needing some help


11 Years
Sep 19, 2008
I am the brand new chicken-mommy to 15 laying hens 12 baby chicks, 3 baby guineas, and 8 baby turkeys. My problem arises from the fact that I have no experience in raising poultry!!! I understand the fundamentals and have done research on the net to get a better understanding of what I am doing.

I am somewhat confident with my 15 laying hens. They are all healthy and faithfully produce 6-8 eggs a day. They are still a little young, but I believe that they will be good producers.

Now for my chicks...I am uncertain of their exact age. My husband bought them at a local farm store as a surpirse (and boy was it!!!) We started with 20 chicks. One never survived the ride home, 2 were not very strong to start with and passed away, one baby guinea died for no apparent reason, and finally this morning I found one baby that was evidently pecked to death by its fellow chicks. *heartbreaking*

At what point can I introduce my chicks to the coop? They are all roughly 6 inches in height, but are still very much "little chicks" in comparison to my hens. Also, I have the 15 remaining chicks (not the turkeys) in one 3'x3'x18 in rabbit pen, do I have them overcrowded? There seems to be plenty of room in the cage, but after the pecking death this morning, I am worried that maybe they feel crowded.

My baby turkeys are doing fine, again we do not know the age of them. They were a "barter agreement" with a local neighbor. He was supposed to only bring 2 and I ended up with 8 of them because he didn't want to break up the family. Does anyone know at what point turkeys become self reliant and can be let outside? They practice flying and eat like little pigs. They are very strong and stand 8"-10" tall.

Any instructrions, words of advise, or general tips will be GREATLY appreciated!!! Thanks!!!
Welcome to BYC! We are glad you found us.

Glad that the layers are doing well. You should be getting more eggs pretty soon from them.

As to your chicks, I'd say they are overcrowded with that many chicks in a 9 sq. foot area. Can you give them more space?

Do they have their feathers yet? Or, are they still covered with the fuzzy fluff? I'm guessing that at 6" in height they have most if not all their feathers. If that's the case they can be moved out to the coop now. Just make sure the temps out there stay close to the 75 degree mark for a few more weeks. However, you don't want to put them with your older hens at this point. They should be the same size before integrating the flocks. If you can separate them in the coop with chicken wire or such for a few weeks until they are the right size then the older hens can get used to them through the wire which often helps the introductions.

If you can post pictures of them, that will help us figure out their ages, which will help you know when they don't need extra heat.

Sorry about the ones you lost, that happens and often we just don't know why.

I know nothing of turkeys so can't help you there.
Thank you for the response. I had made up my mind that I was buying another cage today so that I can separate the babies. I have definately picked up on who my agressive chicks are and I need to get them away from my more docile ones.

Most of the chicks still have their downey feathers although the "adult" feathers are beginning to come in. I figure I will still have two to three weeks of them hanging out with me in the house. My husband hasn't voiced too many objections about our temporary roomates, so I think I will keep a good thing going. The only person who seems to not like the arrangement is my 200 pound English Mastiff. After being pecked on the nose a few dozen times, he has no interest in the chicks at all.

As for the turkeys, I am just treating them as over-grown chicken-chicks. They are growing like crazy and are currently practicing flying. They too are getting a larger cage today. They had a few hard thumps in the X-Large dog box they have been living in during yesterdays flight manuevers.

I will attempt to get some nice pictures of the chicks for help in guessing their age. I have become quite attached to these little guys and want to do the rigth things for them.
Without seeing the turkeys, I would guess around 4-6 weeks old. Sounds like they are past the critical first couple of weeks where they try to find ways to kill themselves.

When you ask how soon can they become self reliant and can be let outside, do you just mean being moved to an outside enclosure? I move mine to the barn at about two weeks old, however they still have a heat lamp and are kept where they are either with chicks of the same age or by themselves. I leave the heat lamp with them for the next few weeks but raise it until I know they are nicely feathered. Colorado nights get cold even in the summers.

If they are fully feathered, they would certainly love to be somewhere where they can run, practice flying, and have room to move about. You could let them outside for exercise but be aware that you will need to put them in a safe enclosure at night. I generally do not let any of my baby birds with the general population until they are three months old. I always make sure I put a group of birds out at the same time so there is not just one or two new birds that the others pick on.

Hope this helps. Have a lovely day and enjoy your new babies.
Here is a great referance book, Gail Damerow's 'Storey's Guide to Chickens' is an excellent guide, as well as this web site.
Thank you so much for all of the suggestions!!! I did purchase another cage for the baby chicks. The more agressive ones are together and my docile chicks are with my guineas. So far, everyone seems very happy with the arrangement.

We are planning to allow the turkeys to be "free range" on our 60 acre farm. We had discussed fencing off a small area for them while they are young them allowing them to practice being a proper turkey. Eventually, they will be allowed to roam wherever they wish. I am trying to convince my husband that we need to go ahead a build another small barn for them to stay in at night if they choose. The turkeys are still very much a work in process since they were an unexpected surprise. For the time being, I continue to find larger enclosures for them and do my best to keep them fed, active, and socialized.

I purchased 2 books on raising poultry so I will be giving myself a crash course in the art of raising my chicks. I am hoping to have some time to take some pics of everyone this weekend. Unfortunately we have fallen victim to the aftermath of the latest hurricane (even in Southern Indiana) so my spare time and energy has been put into cutting and hauling trees for the past week or so.

Again, I do want to thank everyone who took the time to offer words of advice. I appreciate the help very much!!!

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