Raising Chicks to 2 year old Hens in a Small Coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PAW, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. PAW

    PAW In the Brooder

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    I have 4 hens living in a 8 x 8 raised coop. Due to the small size of the coop I am considering building a small makeshift coop in my run (8 x 40). My idea is to house the established hen in the temporary coop in the run while the chicks grow. Run is well built and bird netting on the top. Have never had an issue with predators, but maybe that's because the hens are secure in the main coop.
    When the chicks grow to hen size I will introduce and everyone lives back in the coop.
    What are your thoughts about my plan?
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Crowing

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    An 8x8 coop is a very large set up for only 4 hens. I would just place the brooder inside the coop. You can place it on sawhorses to conserve floor space if you feel it's taking up too much space.
     
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  3. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    I agree with Percheron chick, 8x8 should be plenty large to brood chicks side by side with only 4 hens, and that should make for an easier integration too. Any photos of the inside of the coop to see why you think you might not have space?
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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  5. jane s chickens

    jane s chickens Crowing

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    Should be able to have 16 LF hens in that coop.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I assume that is an 8 feet x 8 feet coop, nothing other size makes sense. Why do you think it is small? How many chicks are you getting? Maybe you live where the run is not available a good part of the year? I'm not sure what your thinking is on that. I hate to assume and miss out on an important detail.

    There are a lot of things you "can" do, but just because you can do them doesn't mean you have to. I don't know what age the chicks will be when you move them out there but that is pretty irrelevant in many regards. Some of us with power out there brood in the coop or the run straight from the incubator or post office, but others wait a lot longer to put them out there.

    If you move the hens to a different coop they will be trained to lay there instead of using their current nests. Then when you move them back they will have to be retrained. Or leave them access to the new coop for laying. Moving them around like that can be a disruption to them laying but you can manage that. Maybe you've read on this forum that integration is easier if the hens go to the chicks area. For me keeping the hens laying in the nests would be more important than any perceived benefit for integration. But again I don't know what your thinking is.

    You want to build a make-shift coop in the run, I think to depend on the run for predator protection. That run is not predator proof with that bird netting, though it may be pretty predator resistant. If you build a coop I'd suggest you make it predator proof, not make-shift. A separate coop you can depend on can give you a lot of flexibility to handle problems down the road. I like flexibility, it reduces my stress levels.

    If I were in your situation I'd choose one of two different paths. Instead of building a new coop you can partition off a segment of the existing coop to house the chicks. How big it would need to be would depend on how many chicks and how old they would be before you try to integrate them. I'd give a lot of consideration to putting in a pop door from that area to the run and partitioning off a section of the run with a gate that can isolate the chicks until you are ready to integrate. Then open it up so they all have the use of the entire run. That 8' x 40 run is a bit narrow for that but you could manage.

    My preferred way would be to build a predator-proof coop in the far part of that run and build a fence to section off a part of that run off so it could be isolated with the new coop. Instead of a predator proof coop you could build a predator proof run around it with heavy wire on top. There are always different ways to approach these things. Your current run may prove adequate tot the task, you never know what a predator will do, but there is a risk that I think could be reduced. My main reason for preferring this is that the 8' run is fairly narrow. It's going to be easier to work with if it stays 8' wide instead of trying to carve off a separate run section.

    A lot or us do not wait until the chicks are the same size as the hens before we integrate. I've found that size is not important, maturity is. Until pullets start laying they avoid the adult hens regardless of size. You need to give the pullets the ability to avoid the adult hens until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. That is a separate issue than integrating. We are talking about behaviors and with living animals there are always exceptions to behaviors but in general don't expect them to roost together snuggling against each other until they are all mature. They may mingle some during the day but most of the time they stay separated by choice.

    There are a lot of different tricks you can use to integrate chicks a long time before they are all the same size. Most of the time that goes really well but you can have issues. That mainly involves housing them side by side for a while, providing different feeding and watering stations, and giving them ways to get away from and mostly avoid the adults. But if you wish to wait until they are the same size, you can as long as the facilities are big enough while they are growing. Aart's link gives better details on how you might approach many of those. A lot of those points are valid even if you wait until they are the same size.

    Your basic plan will work with some predator risks which I think you recognize. A lot of us would approach it differently but that does not mean your method is wrong. Once you go through it and gain the experience you will probably come up with changes yourself, most if us do.

    Welcome to the forum, glad you joined.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    But.....you did. ;)
    Really, best to start a new thread.
     
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