Oy, stressful coop situation.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PopVultureATX, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. PopVultureATX

    PopVultureATX Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 6, 2011
    So as I mentioned the other day, I decided to take the light off of my brooder box with two 5+week old chicks in it. They really liked it, and after several (some successful) attempts to jump out of the box over the next couple of days, I decided to get brave and put them out in the coop last night with my full grown RIR.

    Everything seemed fine last night. One of the chicks (ironically the less spunky of the two) jumped up to one of the roosts. I helped the other up, and everything was great.

    When I walked out this morning, much to my surprise, the chicks had managed to get out of the coop via small gap along the bottom edge. In the future, I'm going to put bricks around this area to keep predators out / chicks in. The real problem, however, came when I put the chicks back into the coop. My RIR started making really angry noises (squawks, kind of growls) and going after the chicks. I can only assume that this is why the chicks fled the coop in the first place.

    I guess one plus is that when I bought the RIR, she had a slightly clipped beak. She came from a larger facility and was purchased by the guy I bought the chicks from so that he'd have some larger birds to sell. Of course I then I thought this was a pretty inhumane practice, but now I sort of see why they do it. If she had a sharp beak, she could've easily killed my chicks.

    I've brought the chicks back inside to the brooder box (they're not happy about that), and my RIR is still in the back yard squawking. She's REALLY PO'ed. So there's my question... what on Earth do I do about this? Let the chicks stay in the box a couple more weeks until they get a little bigger, more capable of standing up to the RIR? Will it always be like this?

    I'm sure y'all have had experiences like this before... any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    The general advice I've seen on here is that chicks that young and small should not be put directly in with full grown chickens, they are easily killed. Usually most people wait to fully integrate the young ones until they are about 16 weeks old and nearly full size.

    You could build or rig up (large dog crate, or move your brooder?) a separate area inside the coop for the young ones so they can all see each other, but not get injured. I have read that some people mix such ages with little problem, but others have chicks killed.

    Granted, I have NO experience integrating my flock yet, so hopefully someone else will give you some ideas!
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I do not attempt integration until chicks are at least 12 weeks old, sometimes even 16 weeks. I use "grow out" coops and pens. This can be something as simple as a big dogloo dog house, or a quick box you fix up with a doorway. Put it IN the run, and then place a temporary fence around it with a little bit of space, using garden stakes and chicken wire. Let the chicks live in that space for two weeks, maybe more, maybe less, depending on their size.

    The other flock members will be able to see them, hear them, peck through the chicken wire without harming them, chest bump against the fencing, etc. during the separation period. By the time you take down the temporary fence and let them all mingle, the chicks will not be strangers, nor be all that much smaller than the older chickens. There will still be some pecking order issues, but mostly just squawking, chasing, some minor feather pulling, and mostly displays, not real attacks. As long as the younger ones learn the older ones have more status, they'll be fine.

    DO continue to provide extra feeding and watering stations so the older ones cannot block the younger from sustenance. That's very common.

    I have integrated many batches of chicks into my flock in this manner. It works very well for me.
  4. PopVultureATX

    PopVultureATX Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 6, 2011
    Thanks so much for the tips, y'all. Now I know. It takes a forum... [​IMG]
  5. TheSitcomGirls

    TheSitcomGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 17, 2010
    My 10 week old peeps spent the past two nights in the coop locked up with the big girls. They had been free ranging with them during the day for two weeks and all seemed fine. The peeps had started flying up and roosting on a ladder stored on top of the big chicken enclosure! I was getting tired of climbing up there every night and getting all five of them down and putting them in their little chicken pen. But when I put them with the big girls they were tossed off of the perches, chased and pecked. There was a big ruckus!

    So I put a new perch high up in the big chicken coop. Then I put the peeps on the high up perch at dusk, before the big girls come in to roost. They just about completely fill it. All the big fat girls can't jump that high and the smaller ones don't jump up because there is no place to land! It seemed to work. I did have a couple of chickens the first night who tried to get up high with the babies....but I wouldn't let them. Last night nobody even tried. Little peeps stayed up on the perch, quiet as church mice and waited until I opened the door in the morning to come down. All the big chickens are interested in the AM is food, water and let me out!

    But I wouldn't have done this until the little peeps were ready to roost up high. The ladder is like 8 feet off the ground....so they were ready!

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