time to move outside


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 19, 2013
Almyra, Arkansas
I just recently started raising chicks as a hobby. I started with 4 Dominque chicks. They are going outside this weekend as soon as the coop and run are ready for them. My problem that I have run into is, I picked up 4 more chicks Friday night, 2 silkies, a lavender orppington and a polish. My intentions where to put them in my brooder with the Dominique's but as soon as they went in the were attacked by one of the Dominique's, on of the Silkies was being dragged around by the foot, so I separated them.
My question is will this happen again, when I put my newest chicks outside with them when they are old enough?


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
They will squabble some to establish the new pecking order. The critical thing is whether blood is drawn. The safest way is to mix them when all are their adult size. Silkies (and Polish) seem to get picked on by large fowl breeds more than others, too. And before 4 weeks, you should be able to mix chicks of different ages without a serious problem. It may be you could mix the other two in now. Some people keep Silkies and Polish with large fowl successfully, and some end up housing them separately. The head seems to be a common target, and since these vaulted skull breeds already have a defect in their skull, you can see why this can be a problem.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
:frow Welcome to the forum! :celebrate Glad you joined us! :frow

I’m going to give you a long answer because there is no short simple answer other than maybe. Hopefully some of this will help you make that transition easier. I don’t know the age difference in yours, but obviously it’s enough to cause problems. Even if they are the same age, you can have problems. Something else I’ll mention. Just because something can happen does not mean it will each and every time without fail. You are dealing with living animals. They don’t always act the same way.

One thing to look for is that it is possible for chickens to recognize which chickens belong in their flocks and which don’t. They might attack any strange chicken that does not belong to their flock. This doesn’t happen each and every time but it happens often enough to be a concern. A good way to help with this is to house the chickens side by side for a while where they can see each other but can’t attack each other. I suggest at least a week. By then they should recognize that each other have a right to be there.

Another thing is pecking order. They are social animals but to live together peacefully each chicken needs to know where it ranks in the flock. What generally happens when two chickens meet that haven’t worked this out is that one pecks or somehow tries to intimidate the other. If one runs away, it’s settled, though there may be a bit of chasing to drive the message home. If one does not run away, that’s a challenge and things can get violent. Usually one of them quickly realizes that they really should run away instead of fighting, so it gets settled. But sometimes they are evenly matched and it really gets violent. Death and destruction really doesn’t happen that often but there is one big key here. You have to have enough room for the loser to run away and get away. The tighter you have them packed in there the more dangerous this becomes. I don’t know how much space is enough space. That’s going to vary by each flock. Each flock has its own unique dynamics.

Another thing that will probably concern you. A more mature chicken will always outrank a less mature chicken and they can be pretty bad bullies about it. That’s probably some of what you saw. The more age difference the higher the risk. How they handle this is that the younger run away and very quickly learn to just stay out of the way of the older ones. They pretty much form a separate flock until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. Again the key is that they need enough room to run away and avoid.

A lot of us integrate chicks with the flock all the time and don’t lose any. Broody hens successfully do that all the time, often weaning their chicks and leaving them on their own with the flock at four weeks. I’m not a broody hen that takes a few weeks teaching the other hens to leave her chicks alone so I wait a few weeks longer, usually mixing them at 8 weeks. But I have a lot of space. If space is tight, it might be better to wait longer, maybe even until they are pretty much full grown. We all have different conditions.

There are some other things you can do that can help, other than providing as much space as you can. Unless yours free range all the time, put some things in the coop and/or run they can hide behind or under, some way to avoid the older ones or at least stay out of sight. And house them side by side for a while.

Provide feed and water in different areas. That way the young can eat and drink without challenging the older ones.

One of the places I see the worst brutality is on the roosts as they are settling in for the night. I suggest you provide extra roost space so they have room to get away, especially while some are too immature to force their way into the pecking order. I went so far as to provide a separate roost, lower than the main roosts and separated a little horizontally so they have a safe place to go that is not my nests.

As I said, many of us do this kind of stuff a lot. Sometimes it goes so smoothly you wonder what all the fuss and worry was about. Occasionally it gets pretty violent. Usually it is somewhere in between, with some pecking and chasing but no real harm done. I wish you luck with yours.


7 Years
Sep 1, 2012
Hello from Oregon & welcome to BYC
Looks like great info given above - best of luck to you & your flock.

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