Trying desperately to introduce 9 weeks old chicks into hen house

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lillpistol, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. lillpistol

    lillpistol New Egg

    Jun 28, 2011
    We have 3 Rhode Island Reds, 2 ISA Brown's, 2 Americana's and 2 Barred Rock Hens that are a little over a year old. They are the first chickens we have raised. This year, the kids begged us to get some more chicks, so we ended up with 6 more (1 Brahma, 3 New Hampshire Reds and 2 Black Australorps) They are now 9 weeks old. A week and a half ago I decided it was time to put them in the coop and out of my house, but the older hens were really mean, so we built them a pen inside the coop to give the chicks and hens time to adjust. A couple days ago, I slid the lid open enough for the chicks to get in and out if they wanted, but the big hens couldn't get in. Today I went to check on everyone and my beloved Brahma was lying on the floor of the coop pecked to death. My next step this coming weekend was to go in at night and put them on a roost. Now I am terrified that they will all end up dead.

    I need help integrating them. Should I just wait it out a few more weeks until the chicks are bigger? I want to get them back outside so they aren't cooped up all day. Do we need to build them a temporary run?

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. lauriej57

    lauriej57 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 17, 2010
    Southwest Michigan
    You have the right idea by putting them a pen inside the coop, gives them a chance to see each other and get used to each other.

    Your best bet with integration is to wait until they are all close to the same size as each other.

    Do you free range your chickens at all. I have found my best way to integrate, is to let them all out to free range. They are all so busy scratching for bugs, bathing, and just having fun that they don't notice each other so much.

    I have never tried integrating at night, though I know many others believe in it. Chickens may have pea sized brains, but they are smart, and when they wake up in the morning, would they just look at the new ones and think, I know you. Or would they think, oh noo, you were not here yesterday, you don't belong, and then peck peck peck.
  3. shellyga

    shellyga Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2010
    Mine free range during the day.. and I have tried three different ways to introduce. Keep in mind that my chick grow out pen is attached to the regular coop so they have seen each other from about 4 weeks on (when they move out of the brooders in the house). I don't start trying to intergrate until they are about 12-16 weeks old depending on size

    #1 - put the new "teenchicks" in at dusk when everyone is settling down. Most of the chickens are on the perches getting situated. No one picked on the newbies.. but I noticed them pacing back and forth at the wire divider trying to get back to the other side with the chicks... I considered this method somewhat successful for me

    #2 - have the "teenchicks" already out in the free range yard THEN let all the big guys/girls out.. they are so busy looking for the one bug that moved in overnight that they do not notice newcomers. .. this is my method of choice

    #3 - move them into the coop durng the day. Once the initial run all over the yard is over, alot of the chickens come back to the coop to the nest boxes, food and water.. the new chicks do not know what to do outside the coop so of course here they are.. sitting "ducks" for any aggression. Alot of pecking and fussing...I do NOT do this anymore.

    Keep in mind that a certain amount of pecking is going to occur regardless. The older chickens are letting the younger ones know their place in the "pecking order".. the only time I have lost one was my fault.. chick was too young and I had two new mama hens.. they do NOT tolerate any chicken - large or small - around their newly hatched babies.. I always sit in my "chicken watching chair" to observe interactions with the newbies...

    Good luck

  4. fifelakelooper

    fifelakelooper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2009
    fife lake, mi.
    Quote:I have had similar problems...I have a two groups of chicks with a 3 week difference in age and did the same things you did. Started with a fence dividing the coop in half...they stayed like that for over two weeks....figured it would be ok but instead the older chicks ganged up on a chick who ventured inside, hogged BOTH feeders and waterers and the heat light I have on one side for the younger ones. (no deaths) So I put back the divider....waited a few more days and the young ones started roosting on the perch and getting over on the older side....then...if they fell or panicked would be penned in with the older chicks. Not good. So down came the divider again. I put a box in the coop with a hole big enough for small ones to run in and I put two square wood panels in the corners of the enclosed run for them to run behind to evade the older ones if they were sucessfull getting out the pop door past them. The older ones are still pecking and chasing them but more of a "warning" at this point for pecking order. Plus I have 13 little ones and only 5 older ones so they are outnumbered. I don't know how long it takes to get it to work but make sure you have more than one places the chicks can escape to.
  5. lillpistol

    lillpistol New Egg

    Jun 28, 2011
    Unfortunately, our chickens are kept on property that belongs to my in laws, and she doesn't want them to free range because there will be poop everywhere. I would like to free range them, but can't at this time. I think I may just give it a few more weeks. We might build them a temp run so they can get out of the coop. Thank you for your advice.
  6. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Becki, first off, they are much, much too young to be integrated into an adult flock. THey need to be on chick feed until at a minimum, 18 weeks. If you have absolutely NO other choice, you can switch all the chickens in the pen to chick feed, making sure the adults have oyster shell, and try to put the oyster shell in a location that the chicks cannot get to. If they consume it, it will damage their organs at this point in their lives.
  7. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Quote:This is also how I do it. Since you can't free range them, expect some fighting and pecking to happen. Definitely wait until the chicks are the same size, they will be outnumbered 9 to 5, so I'd recommend supervision when you let the newbies out at first.

    Free ranging isn't too bad poop wise, if you run around with a hose afterwards - free fertilizer! [​IMG]
  8. BarefootMom

    BarefootMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    Half Way, Missouri
    Quote:I disagree if OP is feeding a flock raiser that can all be together. OP has not stated what she is feeding. My chicks (now 12 weeks) have been with the big girls since they were 6 weeks old. I feed flock raiser if the feed store has it- occasionally they have been out and I mix start n grow with scratch grains and feed that. I haven't had a drop in egg laying and my chicks are all doing great.

    9 weeks is not too young.

    OP is there some way you can partition off part of the coop with chicken wire. That way the older girls can see them and it is a bit more humane than leaving them in a cage?
  9. lillpistol

    lillpistol New Egg

    Jun 28, 2011
    The chicks are still eating their own chick food. I think I will just partition off more of the coop for them until they are bigger and section off part of the run for them. I don't think I can handle finding another dead chicken.

    Thank you!

  10. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Agree that they are much too young. A sort of measure is the language the chicks are speaking. If they are still making chicks sounds (and at 9 weeks they are) you're going to have a hard time. Once they sound more like chickens (16+ weeks) it will be easier for them to be accepted by the mature hens. With the feed, basically you keep them on the chick feed until they start laying eggs. At that time, they will mostly like also have an adult "voice" and can be integrated in with the adults.

    Another way to look at it is are they really physically capable of handling what the adult chickens can dish out (how big are they compared to the adults?) 9 weeks they are too little.

    I'm sorry for your loss. [​IMG]

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