What age to introduce younger chicks to older ones to avoid pecking?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by middlechick18, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. middlechick18

    middlechick18 In the Brooder

    Feb 16, 2015
    We have an Australorp who is about 5 weeks old and a RIR who is about 4 1/2 weeks old, and then 3 golden comets, each about 2 weeks old. The AU and RIR are in a brooder together and the comets are in a separate one (all female chicks) . Its pretty cold here still (40s to 50s) but is getting warmer so we plan to put the older ones in an outdoor coop at 6-7 weeks, when it will be in the 50s to 60s, but we want to introduce the chicks to eachother before that. When should we introduce them? After we put the older ones in the coop, should we put the younger ones in when they are 7 weeks? We really want to avoid pecking, and we have a nipple waterer which was successful in stoppinng the AU from pecking the RIR, but will this be enough distraction given the substantial size difference? We also might keep the older ones in a bigger pen in our shed and then introduce them there. What is the best way to do this?

  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    While there might be some size difference at 7 weeks and 4 weeks, it won't be as much.

    I think it might be a good idea to introduce everyone to the new digs and each other all at once. Confuse everyone, no one has territorial rights. Put out some hiding spots, just a board leaned against a wall, a box set kitty corner, a platform and some multiple feeders and waters and put them in there in the dark, and I am betting you won't have much trouble at all.

    Mrs K
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    The sooner the better, and here's why.

    Baby chicks form a unit, like a social clique, with the chicks they are raised with. This sticks for life. If you continue to keep the chicks separate, they will be that much farther along in forming that unit, and it may become impossible by age six weeks to permit any changes to it, such as allowing other chicks to join the unit or clique.

    I would begin merging them immediately. I would go ahead and put them all together and see what happens. Quite typically, the ones being introduced into the group will get pecked on the head as a matter of principle. Chicks usually sort out the pecking order very quickly with very little fuss.

    If it looks like it's going to be a gang war, then try breaking up the packs and putting one older one with one of the younger ones, and the other older one with the other two, then later, swap them around so everyone is spending time with everyone, only in small groups. Then next day, try putting them all together again. They should all be good as one big unit by then.

    Make sure, as Mrs K says, that they have lots of space for this. Do not try it in a small brooder box.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  4. Chicken Girl1

    Chicken Girl1 Queen of the Coop

    Mar 3, 2015
  5. fanniefarmer

    fanniefarmer In the Brooder

    Jan 9, 2015
    Salisbury, NC
    Hey I learned a lot here today! I never had to worry about it when I let the Mommas hatch the babies in the pen. She handled it expertly. Now I have all kinds, all ages, all sizes, and all temperaments. It's a chicken jungle around here! But no empty nest blues at least. Being a chicken Mama is great.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by