Question about integration

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by krista74, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone [​IMG] I have a question about integrating with an existing flock. Some details first:-

    Our Main Flock - Consists of one 15 month old BO rooster, six 15-20 month old RIR hens, and two 15 month old BO hens.

    The ones we want to integrate - two 16 week olds and one 19 week old BO x RIR chicks, who are the offspring of our rooster and hens. We call them 'The Chicks' even though they are getting bigger every day! We are fairly positive they are all pullets - the 19 week old has some small wattles developing now but the other two have no wattles to speak of and really teeny tiny yellow combs.

    Set-up - We have one massive coop, of which a corner was sectioned off and 'The Chicks' have spent their entire lives in that corner. It is, in itself, quite large so they had heaps of room. Momma abandoned them at 5 weeks. The coop is an old garden shed, and it has a massive run attached to it. The Flock also free range outside the run each afternoon, where we have 5 acres of land on a creek. The nest boxes are in the coop.

    ................................

    So, I just wanted to check what I'm doing is ok as far as integration goes. Obviously The Flock is familiar with The Chicks, as they have been able to see and hear them in the coop since they were born. I started out leaving the door to the partition open in the coop during the day, for short periods at first and then longer over the past two weeks.

    At first the chicks did not dare come out of their corner and The Flock didn't really notice anything was different. Then the chicks slowly started exploring the rest of the coop, but would never go out to the run. There have been a couple of pecks when a hen has gone into the coop and The Chicks were out, and The Flock delight in chasing The Chicks back into their corner!

    We are at the point now where The Chicks will sit at the door of the coop, and occasionally pop out into the run. They did this the other day and the rooster had a bit of a go at them. He chased them back into the coop, did one or two pecks, and sort of stood over them.

    My question: Is this continued, gradual exposure appropriate? Is the rooster going to kill them? The hens just seem to chase them inside all day for fun, which they are all coping with.

    The Chicks are significantly smaller than The Flock Hens still. Sometimes I divide the run temporarily in half so The Chicks can come outside in the late afternoon in safety and they enjoy that. It can't be permanent though as the coop is on the chick's side of the run.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts.

    - Krista
     
  2. Eggmachine11

    Eggmachine11 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is very appropriate.

    The rooster is doing his casual things to new flock members.
    As for the hens.To them, their just pullets.I doubt they will kill them.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Do the pullets have a roost in their corner to get up and away from the older birds?

    This sounds kind of like how I did my integration last summer, coop was partitioned and at about 16-18 weeks I took the partition wall down....the youngsters (one was the only cockerel in the coop) spent a lot of their time on their roost. There were some scuffles but they worked it out with no bloodshed. Took weeks for them to start roosting on the main roosts.....about the time that all the pullets were laying.
     
  4. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi @aart

    Yes, they do have their own roost in their corner of the coop, and that's exactly where they run to if they get confronted!

    Even if a bird flies overhead, they all turn tail and run straight into he coop, round the corner, and up onto their roost!

    I am pretty much leaving them to it now. I have not seen them go outside with the big girls yet, even though they are able to do so. They tend to hang around at the doorway, jump up onto the ledge of the door, but won't go out with them. I presume this is because the big girls keep chasing them inside when it looks like they are going to come out? They are not rough about it, I think they just do it to show them who's boss!

    Either way, the big hens stop chasing once the chicks get back to their corner. I don't think they bother to follow them in!

    Re: Eggs - I think it will be a long wait. Even the 19 week old chick still has a very pale face, and quite small comb and wattles. I reckon she is a good 10 weeks off laying still. The 16 week old chicks will be even longer.

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  5. krelm

    krelm Out Of The Brooder

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    A broody hen usually lets chicks go at about 5 weeks, with individual variations and breed variations. (For example, Aseel hens are known to mother chicks for about 6 months) The mother makes them integrate into a flock at that age if they are raised inside the flock to begin with, and so yours should be just fine after their initial 'hazing' by the others if there is plenty of room and places for them to escape to. I think your setup is just fine:)
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  7. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Being that they are part Orpington I am thinking they won't start laying until around the 29 - 30 week mark. That will be in Autumn here so I suspect they *should* lay through the Winter for me like my other hens did.

    The Chicks will sit on the big girl roost during the day but still go back to their pens at night so far. I have three levels to the big girl roost - the original girls and the rooster sleep on the top level, some newer girls are on level two, and I suspect The Chicks, when the start sleeping there, will be Level one!

    This is one of The Chicks - aged 16 weeks. I'll try and get one of the 19 week old this afternoon. They are BO x RIR, and came out this funny orange colour [​IMG].

    [​IMG]


    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015

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