Six-weeks old and holding their own at roosting time! (Updated)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by azygous, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I usually merge young pullets with the adults at around six weeks. I've had great luck using the "panic room" method where they start spending days in a secure pen within the larger run at age two weeks while spending nights in their brooder. Then around age four weeks, I open portals into the "panic room" so the chicks can begin to explore and learn how to cope with the adults. They quickly learn to scoot back to safety inside their safe pen when chased or pecked. This year's group of four EE chicks is an especially plucky bunch.

    They've been racing around the entire run for almost a week now, navigating all of the portals cut strategically into all of the pen sections at full speed and even perching brazenly in the big pen with the adults. So I decided they were now ready to move into the coop with the adult hens. I usually close off the pop holes after the last hen has laid for the day, and move the chicks in so that they can get used to their new home without any interference. The tykes had a great time frolicking in the big coop from 3 pm until 6:45. Then I let in the big girls.

    The Fearless Four had wisely chosen the low end of the perch to roost. That avoided a lot of problems. Had they chosen the high end where all the oldest, and high-ranked hens perch, they would have probably gotten squeezed out or painfully pecked.

    All they had to cope with were the two baby Brahmas, lowest-ranked in the flock, pushing them off the end because that's where they're used to roosting. I solved that problem, after a couple chicks got pushed off the end, by running in and getting the staple gun and putting a couple staples into the nest box curtain ( the perch being perpendicular to the nest boxes) to fashion a kind of "wall" at the end so a chick couldn't get shoved any farther.

    I watched while the Brahma kept crowding the chick closest to her, and saw the chick actually peck the big hen to get her to stop crowding her! This is almost unheard of with a full-grown hen and a six-week old chick, one-third the size! It validated my decision that the chicks were ready for the big coop.

    So it went well. This next week will involve teaching them to go into the coop each night without my having to round them up and coax them through the pop hole. This has been accomplished in the past in just a few days or as long as two weeks. But we're now definitely in the home stretch!

    I celebrated by dismantling their brooder and giving the room a good top to bottom scrubbing!


    Night two went extremely well! These four chicks are the most well adjusted of any chicks I've raised. In the past, I've tried various strategies to get chicks merged with the adults, and all were tedious and stressful compared to this present batch.

    I think the reason for my success with this latest bunch is first and foremost, they have been tamed and are very trusting. I do that by daily lap time and cuddling from the second night in the brooder on. And second, it really helps, when teaching them to go into the coop to roost with the big girls, to let the big girls get settled in before trying to coax the tykes to go inside. (But it's still necessary to do what I did the first night by letting them have a few hours BEFORE the big girls came in to get comfortable being in new surroundings.)

    I think tonight they would have gone inside all on their own if I had done nothing. As it was, they were anxious because it was getting dark, and one stood before the pop hole thinking it over, but there was still too much action going on. So I called the chicks into my lap where they cuddled until things had settled down. Then I opened my arms and scooted them onto the perch in front of the pop hole, and they all went right in. They still needed a bit of help getting settled onto the perch, but they were all focused and there was no reluctance or fear. They settled down immediately.

    None of the big girls gave them any hassle, including the hens next to them, which were the same Brahmas as last night.

    I'd say this is a wrap! Good job!
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011

  2. rittert3

    rittert3 Songster

    May 1, 2009
    Ks (Manhattan area)
    The panic room is great idea! I'm glad to here your little pullets are coping so well!
  3. tritty74

    tritty74 In the Brooder

    Sep 19, 2011
    Great idea!

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