Questions about introduction of 6 week olds to 18 week olds

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by archmichelle, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. archmichelle

    archmichelle In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2008
    Portland, OR
    So I’ve begun the arduous task of introducing my 6 and 8 week old chicks to my 18 week old Dellie pullet and 17 week old BO roo. I say arduous because I have 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, and 2 tanks full of fish and none of them have ever been quite so stubborn when it comes to getting along.
    I started by putting the 3 youngsters in the enclosed coop while the older 2 ran around the fenced in run (which surrounds the coop.) This started about 2 weeks ago. Seemed to go fine the older ones were curious, and made a lot of noise, but it all seemed pretty normal. This past weekend, I decided I would try letting them free range together under close supervision. Surprisingly, the older pullet seemed much more aggressive than the rooster. She went after them almost immediately, but I would shoo her away and everything would be fine for awhile again. I now have a spray bottle I use on her which works great. The babies would stay together on one side of the run and the older ones would do their own thing. The rooster just ignores them all for the most part. He would walk past them, and not even look in their direction. They of course would chirp up a storm because I’m sure he looks like a giant to them. Each evening I put the babies back in their brooder in my outbuilding. Works fine, except they are getting so big now, and my brooder is only a large Rubbermaid container that now they just have enough room to lay down and sleep and walk around a bit in. When I leave them in there too long they pop off the chicken wire lid I have on it and jump out to run around the outbuilding pooping everywhere! I didn’t have this problem with my first group because I moved them out by the time they were 6 weeks.
    So now the question is, when do I attempt the overnight stay? I thought about trying last night, but one of the 6 week old chicks was scared to death by the time evening rolled around and she was chirping so loud I thought she was going to wake my neighbors. They had been in the run all afternoon with the older two and I guess the trauma of getting chased by them was still too fresh in her mind. I thought maybe I would attempt a night run on Friday (sneak them in while the older two are asleep on their roosts.) Is this still too soon though? I’ve read many of the old posts about fencing off an area in the coop for the smaller ones and not introducing until they are all the same size, but I don’t know if I have the proper set up to be able to do this, not to mention isn't that going to take at least another 6 weeks or so? Since I only have 2 in my current flock, I maybe able to try separating them for awhile, and then bringing them all back together after a week or so to establish a new flock, but it will be a pretty large undertaking to attempt this, and how likely is it that it would even be successful? To complicate things even further, it seems my rooster is also getting to that age. I’ve caught him grabbing his pullet companion’s neck twice and he’s started chasing her around the run in the mornings. Will his extra testosterone be an issue with establishing a new pecking order in the flock? Any advice would be very helpful. I know a lot of this is trial and error, but I also don’t want to force anything if it’s too early. I have a portable fence enclosure that I use for my rabbits and I could probably figure out a way to make a roof for if I have to. Again though, is it going to need to be for 6 weeks?
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Ok, coming from me with no personal experience just what I've learned on BYC:

    You really need to wait to introduce them until they are the same size.
    Whether you wait or try to get them together sooner you definitely want to put the younger birds on the roost at night with the older ones while they are all sleeping. It often helps when they wake up together in the morning. I don't know if it will help in your situation considering the trouble you've already had.

    I'm sure someone with personal experience will come along and be able to help you.

    Good luck.
  3. chickenwoods

    chickenwoods Songster

    Apr 29, 2007
    I cant introduce 6 weeks old to full grown.
    Unless you want dead chicks.
    It was rough watching 3 month olds introduced to full grown hens.they roughed it out though and are all still alive.

    I would make a chicken wire cage inside your area for the chicks. untill they are about 3 months. then let em rough it 3 months theyre big enough to not get killed i guess lol.
  4. archmichelle

    archmichelle In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2008
    Portland, OR
    Quote:Thanks, Ticks. That's an interesting post that didn't come up in any of my searches. My problem is a little different though. My rooster is already part of the 2 chicken flock. I'm tring to introduce younger pullets. I have raised the pullets from day olds so they have been the equivolent of quarantined for over 30 days. I think what I'm going to do is use my movable rabbit run as a make shift coop. I will put a box in their upside down with a hole in the side that they can go in at night. I'll put the make shift coop in my chicken run, right next to the coop, but obviously the bigger chickens will have no access to the babies except for sight and smell. The hardest part will be figuring out how to cover it. I don't want to use something heavy like plywood because if it fell for some reason it would smash the babies. Maybe a tarp would work? This should buy me a few more weeks hopefully.

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