Starting a flock with 3-month-olds and chicks?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by saralrfurlong, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. saralrfurlong

    saralrfurlong In the Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2014
    Upstate NY
    My husband and I started building a coop for a small flock of chickens (5-6). Originally, we intended to raise them all from chicks. However, not as many hatched as expected and we weren't able to get any of our chicks this time around. The person who is hatching them has another dozen due to hatch this week. She said we could buy some of her older birds who are about 3 months old to fill in our flock.

    So, it was looking like we were going to get two 3-month-old black orpingtons and (hopefully) four baby chick lavender orpingtons. Obviously, the chicks will need to stay separate for quite a while and the black older girls will be in the coop.

    But I have some questions:

    1. Will it be okay to just have the two birds out in the coop for a while? Will they be too lonely?

    2. Will we be able to put the smaller birds in the coop with the bigger birds in a couple months? Will that be too dangerous for the little ones? We plan to have a pretty small coop - 24 square feet - with a 100-square foot run. They will also be able to run around our fenced-in backyard during the day. But I worry the little ones will not be safe at night.

    3. Is it even a good idea to have birds of different ages in the same flock?

    I appreciate any insight you can offer!!

    Thanks so much,
    Sara
     
  2. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Crowing

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    Hello & welcome! [​IMG] Your 2 birds will be just fine together. The younger girls should be able to be slowly integrated around 10-12 weeks old. First make it so they can see each other but not touch for a few days. Then one night slip the newbies into the coop. Watch them carefully for a few days since establishing the pecking order isn't pretty! [​IMG] There shouldn't be any bloodshed or aggressive feather plucking, mostly it's like kids in the school yard.... once they all settle down they'll be just fine.
    Good luck with the girls, enjoy their personalities[​IMG]
     
  3. saralrfurlong

    saralrfurlong In the Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2014
    Upstate NY
    Thanks so much for your thoughts. We ended up with 12 chicks all the same age (except one who is a week older). We were worried about getting the 2 ages used to each other. But now I have to worry about our two littlest birds! ;) My husband and I have been paranoid. He told me he is going to set his alarm to wake him up every hour so he can check them! Haha
     
  4. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Crowing

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    Mar 7, 2011
    Finger Lakes, NY
    Make sure he does 'chicken duty' through the long, cold winter ahead! That way, you can stay under the warm quilt! [​IMG]
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I hope you're not planning on those 12 chicks living together in that 24 s.f. coop? If you have cold winters, which it sounds like you do, chickens "cooped" up in the winter can start a lot of aggressive behaviors. And those behaviors don't go away in the spring. IMO, the recommended 4 s.f./bird in the coop is far less than ideal. My 5 girls had 32 s.f. of loft space, and 8 x 12 enclosed sun room under the loft, in addition to an 8 x 8 green house and a bit of run space between the 2 buildings, and I still had one girl who became a feather picker. granted, she may have started that behavior no matter what! But, be sure to give your flock plenty of space and lots of diversions.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    I have about a 24 square foot floor plan and a dozen does ok in it. SD has some pretty cold days. I do set up a sun porch out in the run, and my run is good size.
     

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