Some chicks ready to go outside and others aren't- what to do?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Lydia, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Lydia

    Lydia Out Of The Brooder

    May 21, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I currently have 4-13 week old hens outside in the coop and 15-8 week old "babies" living on the porch in a watermelon bin. Six of these babies- 2 BOs, 2 SLWs, and 2 GLWs- want to be outside and are probably ready for the coop but I'm concerned about breaking up the flock and sending only a small amount of them outside at a time. It's gotten to the point that the bigger babies hop out of the watermelon bin and wait by the porch door in the morning until I let them outside to free range.

    I have been introducing the bigger babies to the outside hens and the outside hens have pecked them a little while all of them free range in the yard. I've been allowing this "getting to know your chicken neighbor" time for about a week and a half. However I have 4 japanese bantams that think that my standard black cochin chick is their mother -even though they're all the same age- and while the cochin is big enough to go outside as well, the bantams are still small and when they're apart the cochin calls for her baby bantams. Neither the black cochin or the blue or silver laced cochins we have seem all that interested in being outside right now. I also have two silver sebrights that I don't feel are big enough to introduce to the large hens without some kind of serious injury happening.

    So, my question is- do I split this flock up or do I continue to keep them out on the porch until they're all ready to be outside so as to keep the flock intact? They are a good group together- we've had no problems- so I would hate to do anything that would cause future conflict. However, these bigger chickens want to be outside- NOW- and let me know on a daily basis. Not to mention the huge poop mess they are leaving in their path from the watermelon bin to the porch door.

    Any light you can shed on this situation would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I don't have lots of experience with this type of issue but I'll give you my thoughts. Since the youngest are 8 weeks old, I'd move them all out to the coop outside. Keep the flock together and just move them out there.

    The 'getting to know each other' through free ranging is a great way to start to integrate the flock. You are right that the biggest concern will probably be the bantams. If the Cochin actually protects them, as a real momma would, then you shouldn't have any major issues. Momma chickens are fierce and other chickens will give them a wide berth most of the time.

    Can you move them all outside by putting up a divider in the coop itself? That way the older chicks can see/hear the younger ones for a week or two before you actually put them together at night. Free ranging allows lots of space for pecked on chicks to run away. Nighttime is often the real problem because they can't get away from the pecking. I kept mine in the coop but separate at night for almost a month. They were outside together everyday but I had separate roost areas at night. I integrated them at night when the youngest were three months old and everybodys done great... but I do have lots of space for them to get away from any 'meanies' if necessary.

    Keep an eye on everybody (especially the bantams) and see how it works out. You may have to keep the sebrights on the porch for a few more weeks/month if they get attacked too much. However, my understanding is that sebrights are pretty flighty??? If that's true, then they may be able to quickly get away from any attacks.

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