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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by beachbum14, Mar 30, 2015.
What's a good age to set my baby chicks out and will the other older chickens get along with them?
You can do it as young as a few weeks as long as you put them in a protective enclosure.
I begin introducing my chicks around two weeks when the weather is nice. They have a pen inside the main run. I leave their carrier in there so they can go into it when they begin to chill down. Then it's back inside to the brooder.
The enclosure has 5" x 7" pop holes that I open into the adult run and let the chicks explore the adult portion of the run around thee or four weeks. They run back inside their "panic room" for safety.
By age six weeks, they've mastered evading the adults, and are pretty much full members of the flock by this time.
Don't try putting little chicks in with adults without a safe enclosure for the chicks to run back to when they're chased. It won't work. The adults would hurt them or kill them. With a panic room, the chicks become aces at outrunning the adult chickens and it's awesome to watch them zipping around at warp speed just one chick-length ahead of an adult.
If you don't want to do the panic room, then you'll need to wait until the chicks grow to practically the same size as the adults, then introduce them slowly.
I like my way better.
That sounds fun to see I think I'll try that I appreciate it I'll let you know how it works out
You could write a book about either one of your questions, there are so many what ifs and conditions involved. We are all unique. What works for one person may not work for another.
When can chick take the outside temperatures? What are your outside temperatures, especially your lows? Can they get out of a direct breeze and still have good ventilation? Have they been acclimated to colder temperatures?
My 3’x6’ brooder is in the coop. The chicks go in there straight from the incubator, even when the outside temperature is below freezing. I only heat one end but keep that end pretty toasty. There have been mornings ice was on the far end. The chicks stay where they are comfortable. Initially that’s almost exclusively on the warm end but as they age they play more on the far end, just going back to the heat when they need to warm up. My chicks are acclimated to colder temperatures which helps them feather out faster and they are better able to handle the cold. They also have great ventilation overhead but good draft protection on the level where they are.
If the lows are in the 40’s I generally turn the heat off by five weeks of age. One particularly hot summer I turned daytime heat off at two days and nighttime heat off at five days. By their body language they were telling me they did not need it and they didn’t. It’s not just that each of us are unique, each time brooding is unique.
When can chicks integrate with adults? Guess what, there is no set answer for that either. I’ve seen a broody hen wean her chicks at 3 weeks, leaving them on their own to make their way with the flock. But she had spent three weeks teaching the other hens to leave her chicks alone. She took care of integration. The other chickens had accepted the chicks as members of the flock. Those chicks still had pecking order issues. Older chickens outrank immature chicks and can enforce those rights, so the chicks quickly learn to avoid the adults when they can. In my flock it is really rare for a hen to even threaten a chick, I’ve never seen a dominant rooster do that, but occasionally you get a real brute that will go out of her way to be a bully.
With my brooder in the coop, the chick are raised where the flock can see them and get used to them. Since the rooster sees them as baby chicks he assumes they are his and has a protective instinct for them. By the time I let them mingle, they are accepted members of the flock, though they still have pecking order issues they will have to handle. If you introduce them without a break in period, they may be seen as intruders and may be attacked. Maybe, maybe not. But it is a good idea to house them with the adults for a week or more behind a fence so the adults can see them but not get to them.
One way chickens have learned to live together in a flock is that when there is conflict the weaker runs away from the stronger. It’s imperative that they be able to run away and get away, even with a little chasing. The more room you have the better. The chicks normally learn to form a separate flock and stay away from the adults as much as possible until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order.
I’m raising 19 chicks right now. When the minimum temperatures hit the 40’s I moved 12 of them to an unheated grow-out coop but left 7 in that brooder for my own reasons. They were just over five weeks old. The next day, at about 5-1/2 weeks old, I opened that brooder door and let the chicks mingle with the adults. No problems at all, but I have a lot of room. I’ll let the other 12 out to mingle when they learn to sleep in the grow-out coop instead of on the run floor. My run is 12’ x 32’ plus I have about 45’ x 90’ in electric netting. This particular brood is not as afraid of the adults as many are. Each brood is unique.
Not everyone can do this. If you don’t have sufficient room, if you cannot get them used to each other before you let them mingle (or sometimes even if you can), or if you happen to have a brute in your flock you might need to wait until the chicks are practically grown to be able to successfully integrate them. Even then there could be some fairly severe pecking order fights, especially if room is tight.
One of the things you can do to help reduce integration stress is to create room, even if room is tight. Put things in the coop and run so the chicks can hide behind it or under it. Some perches high enough that the chicks can use them to get away from the adults can help. Provide different feeding and watering stations so the chicks can eat and drink without having to challenge the adults. A safe haven can help, a space with an opening big enough so the chicks can get in but the adults cannot follow. Housing them side by side for at least a week can really help, but it does to solve all problems.
Chickens are living animals. You cannot predict with accuracy how any chicken will behave, but I really think the most important aspect of integration is how much room they have.
I warned you it would be two books. Good luck!
How old are your chicks? Is the weather warm enough for them to be out of the brooder for a couple hours? Those are the first considerations.
You need to keep them secured in their safe pen in the beginning, only letting them mingle with the adult flock after they and the adults have grown accustomed to each other. During this period, the chicks will be gaining confidence and the adults will be learning that the chicks are part of the flock and not intruders to be slaughtered. Give them at least one week in the safe enclosure before you open the pop holes for them to explore the rest of the run.
My chicks haven't hatched yet and they are old English red bantams. I kinda got too far ahead of myself cause I'm not quite ready for bitties. Matter of fact I'm having to let my hen set on the eggs cause I have no incubator. Does the fact that they are bantams and considerably smaller change the care process of bitties?