The unanswered questions about integrating chickens into the flock.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Soot the silkie, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. Soot the silkie

    Soot the silkie Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    9
    81
    Sep 19, 2014
    Humboldt, California
    I've read all about how to make sure older hens don't peck on new chicks, and how to get them used to their new home. But I still have a couple of questions about integrating new chicks into the flock.
    1. How do you make sure the chicks eat chick feed and the layers eat layer feed? Provide them with chick feed and crushed eggshells so the layers will eat the crushed shells if they need?
    2. How do you make baby chicks understand the coop is their home? I trained my other chickens to go in at night by keeping them in the coop for five days. But I think it would be cruel to leave the chicks in when the other chickens went out. I know that's not really a serious problem, but I always want my chickens to be happy as possible.
     
  2. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,784
    136
    228
    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    * If it were me* I would keep chicks separated in the coop until they are old enough for adult feed and big enough to be around adult birds. During this time they will have to stay inside which will teach them "home". once you can combine them, they should catch on to where to lay or you may lock them in until 2pm for a week, for layer training. In the long run, they will be happier if they know where home is and you will be happier if you know where the eggs are. Just my two cents on the floor...[​IMG]
     
  3. Soot the silkie

    Soot the silkie Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    9
    81
    Sep 19, 2014
    Humboldt, California
    I can't keep them somewhere else until they are adults. Any other suggestions? Also, I got my other chickens to lay in the nest by just putting a golf ball in the nest box, and I've never had a floor egg. Ever!
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,225
    3,279
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    The solution to the feed problem most of us employ when we have chicks coming in with adults is to feed everyone the same thing - an all flock feed such as Purina Flock Raiser. Oyster shell is still offered free choice for the adult layers.

    As for integrating the chicks into the coop and imprinting on them it's "home", it doesn't take as long as it takes when you've brought home adult chickens, but the process is different. I usually wait until I'm pretty sure all the hens have finished laying for the day, and I install the chicks as early in the day as possible. I lock the big chickens out so they won't be coming in and messing with the chicks.

    Make sure the chicks have food and water, and let them explore the coop all day. They should be pretty comfortable by nightfall. I try to get the chicks to roost on a perch far from where the adults usually roost. If they won't stay on a perch, then try to make sure they're comfortable and safe in a corner away from the adults.

    At the very last minute, I let the big chickens in. If it's close enough to dark, everyone will be more interested in roosting than harassing the chicks.

    Have you read about using the "panic room" method of integrating chicks into the run with the adult flock? That's really the best way to merge smaller chicks. I've always used it, and in the morning after the chicks have spent their first night in the coop, the big girls chase the little girls out, and they have already learned that safety is in their "panic room", an they go into it right away. If you've never heard of it, a panic room is a safe area with multiple entrances that only the chicks can fit through. Food and water is inside so the chicks do not need to compete for those necessities, but they are free to wander the entire run as well as their panic room.

    Getting chicks to go into the coop on their own at night is a tedious process, and there really isn't any easy way to do it. You need to teach them, and it takes time and patience. Some chicks pick it up right away, and others require a few weeks before they learn to go in on their own. But they all learn eventually.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Soot the silkie

    Soot the silkie Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    9
    81
    Sep 19, 2014
    Humboldt, California
    Ok, I have hears of the panic room thing. Someone I know used it for their silkies who were getting pecked on. I'll try that. Can you get organic flock raiser? And if I can't find one will just oyster shells be ok? I am not a Purina fan.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,225
    3,279
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I'm sure there are many brands of all flock feed. What you want is a 20% protein all purpose feed. Non-medicated chick starter will serve this purpose (pay no attention to the "chick" label), meat bird feed, etc. Anything except layer feed, which has added calcium, which the chicks and non-laying pullets shouldn't have.

    The oyster shell is to supplement the diet of the layers in your flock, in lieu of layer feed. It will supply all the calcium they need. Usually, only the hens who have a need for calcium will be attracted to the oyster shell, even though curious chicks may sample it. They never eat enough to harm them.
     
  7. Soot the silkie

    Soot the silkie Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    9
    81
    Sep 19, 2014
    Humboldt, California
    So I should just give them all chick starter and some oyster shells on the side?
     
  8. TheEggCollecter

    TheEggCollecter Chillin' With My Peeps

    520
    39
    113
    Feb 16, 2014
    Massachusettes
    Agreed. I don't integrate chicken of different ages until they are both able to eat the same food. So until they are both on layer pellets than i would wait.
     
  9. Soot the silkie

    Soot the silkie Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    9
    81
    Sep 19, 2014
    Humboldt, California
    I really can't do that, because in don't have two different places to keep them.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by