Teaching my new chickens to go in at night like my other hens - help

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by KeriannG, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. KeriannG

    KeriannG Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi everyone - I have 6 BSL that are 8 months that I got as babies. I followed all the forum advice for getting them to go in at night, roosting, laying, etc. They all are doing great - yeah. Now chicken math - recently added 3 four week old chicks (Buff, Maran and an Ameracuana). I again followed lots of forum wisdom for integrating; a separate run area, separate roost area in coop, then followed by integration with a safe area but still a separate roost area at night in the same coop. All is going well, they are 8 weeks and other than an occasional peck the bigs leave them alone. However the littles are terrified of the bigs and run for cover whenever the girls come by, even though the bigs really don't bother them. My run has many different areas so they can find space. So a few questions - do you all think they will remain 2 flocks or as the littles catch up size wise will they possibly fully integrate and not be so skittish. Second and my current bigger problem is how do I teach the littles to go in at night on their own like the bigs. I understand they are scared of the bigs but do have there own safe space in the coop with a roost, a sectioned off area with a small door. Right now after the bigs go in I go out to the run to retrieve the little guys who are always waiting by the door for me. I can't train them by enclosing them in the coop for a week as that would block the girls access from their nesting boxes. Any and all advice appreciated!
     
  2. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    8 weeks is too young to expect the babes to integrate freely at night with the adults. That only happens if you flock hatch and they've been raised within the flock.

    To integrate purchased birds takes awhile. You will see 2 separate flocks for a number of months until they finally do grow to size, and then finally integrate. I've seen it almost take a year to where the two separate groups have melted into one.

    However, until then, I would have a separate area outside of the main coop for the littles to roost, or be prepared to place them in at night for a number of weeks. They are likely getting harassed a lot more than you realize, usually first thing in the morning as the birds wake.

    But yes, eventually they will integrate.

    LofMc
     
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  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    I agree with Lady of Mc C. A separate entrance into their own roosting area might facilitate the process but may be impossible in your coop arrangement.
     
  4. KeriannG

    KeriannG Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the help. One clarification, they do have a separate enclosed roosting area in the main coop which has an opening that only they can go in and out of. In the mornings they do come out of their little coop on their own and venture out with the bigs - although much later than the bigs, a smart thing of course. At some point I realize I'll take down this separate area and help them all roost together. It is a large roost area so they will be able to get space. Any suggestions on age when I can attempt this. Again they are now 8 weeks. Thanks:)
     
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    I have the best integration near point of lay. The young pullets are a lot less skittish then, and settle quickly into the flock. You want to integrate them just before that so there is less friction on the next boxes...so about 14 to 18 weeks of age is a good time. I just begin to free range them together at that time, and soon I'll lock up at night and see they've all roosted together in the main coop with the young pullets laying in the boxes.

    LofMc
     
  6. KeriannG

    KeriannG Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you LofMc. I guess I jumped the gun on the 'run' integration. Although they do have a safe house in the run which they use as necessary. Thank you on the advice for the night integration age. I will wait until they are 14-18 weeks before I remove the coop within the coop. Thanks!!!!
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Not sure if I agree with the "...The young pullets are a lot less skittish then...."
    That hormonal surge near POL makes them kind of crazy......
    ......but it will start some of them spending more time with the main flock after they start to lay.


    I'd remove the safe zone 'coop' (is it just a temporary wire wall?), but leave a roost up in that area for them to use and maybe even feed/water.

    If they go out, they can learn to go in.....but you might have to herd them for a time.
    Rattling treat can inside might help.
     
  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Each flock is of course different in temperament, and breed makes a difference, but I see settling into the main flock as the young pullets begin to get close to point of lay...the trial period. It's sort of like the hormones make them brave enough to stand up to the older girls. Until then, they just run and hide. As they start to consider nesting and laying, it's only a matter of a couple of weeks, or even days, and they have a place in the flock.

    So for my flock, I see integration happening as the pullets get old enough to see nesting boxes as something other than extra shavings or hay.

    I do get a bit more flack in the flock as they settle into their rung of the ladder. However, they do finally make attempt to integrate...and that was the OP's original concern.

    And, since I've got a nice rooster, he smooths over any integration issues. He escorts the young girls into the main flock, but they only respond to his advances when they get close to point of lay.

    My experience anyway.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  9. KeriannG

    KeriannG Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice - I will try out a roost without the walls. The safe coop is an enclosed area. I built it so I could easily disassemble and reuse as necessary. I attached a pic - just in case anyone is interested. Also included a pic of my safe room within the run, again just for interest.

    This forum has been key for me. I learned everything I currently know about raising chickens here. Thanks all[​IMG]

    The safe coop
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    Another
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    The rest of the coop
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    The safe room in the run
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You've received a lot of great advice and encouragement. I have a suggestion you might think about - sort of roosting training wheels for the pullets.

    Wait another month when the chicks will be getting almost as large as the adults. Then rig up some partitions along the roosting perches. When you remove the safe pen and roost for the chicks, supervise roosting for a few nights, encouraging the youngsters to choose spots on the perches that are at the far end from where the adults roost, and are protected by partitions from the adults.

    I find this helps with any age to give any timid ones a bit more courage at roosting time.
     

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