What would you do? (Time to mix them yet?)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by EggsForIHOP, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    So...we have 11 chickens that are now 14 weeks (and a few days) old - 5 of which are EE's and 6 of which are bantams. We have also got a mess of other babies that are 9 weeks old. Included in that 'mess' are 5 EE's and 5 BO's - which are getting close to bantam size. Basically they are about as big as the bantams are, maybe a little smaller, but not by much I don't think.

    They have all been living within eye sight of each other - and when they get their chance to really 'free range' they can walk up beak to beak (with a little wire mesh in between) and sometimes study whoever is in 'chicken jail', but pretty much then go one about their business while the ones in 'chicken jail' watch with curiosity and envy, but I have still been keeping the little ladies separate from the big ones (i.e. one group is out, the rest are on lock down - next day we switch it up). Cautious? Not I....

    What I am thinking here is this: Eventually, the bantams will be in a bantam only hoop coop. But for now...should I go ahead and try to integrate JUST the bigger/more aggressive chicks out of the younger flock with the older birds? My thought process being: These 10 chicks seem to hold their own and then some. They are smaller than the other EEs in the big coop, BUT they are also the same size as the bantams....so to me it seems that if I snuck them in at night, then in the morning if I am lucky, everyone might just wake up and assume "Hmmm...look at that...they look like they little guys" OR if you ARE a little guy "They look like US!"

    Also, I would do this on a night when I am off and since I work nights I am up all night to be able to listen/watch for potential issues.

    At this point in time, as for in the older mix - they were raised together, no one is really any ones victim based on size (there is one low bird on the totem pole, but he isn't terrorized, just always kinda 'last in line' and he is an EE that defers to every other bird - even the gentlest bantam hen walks all over him when treats are presented.)

    So IDK...is this a dumb thought that has crossed my mind? What would/have ya'll done? My actions are still undecided....
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I would not worry about the difference in size of the bantams versus the full sized chickens. Personality and maturity enter into it much more than pure size. As long as the young ones have enough room to get away, I'd start letting them free range at the same time, initially for about an hour or so but gradually increase it to suit your schedule. You will want to be there for the first couple of times at least just to see how it goes. Eventually they may earn your confidence that they can co-exist. They may not. Depends on their personailties and how much room they have.

    As long as they are very comfortable with where home is to each group and they have sufficient room, I would expect the two groups to stay separate while out free ranging. The little ones will wander into the territory of the older ones and will be driven away. The younger ones will correctly be scared of the older ones. They need separate places to drink and, if you feed them while they are out, different places to eat also. The older ones will keep them away from food and water if there are restricted choices. When it is time to go to bed, they should each go back to their own coop and not mix. Eventually they will learn to tolerate each other, but it will take time.

    I personally do not put much faith in the theory that if they wake up together they will all get along. Chickens establish a pecking order by fighting, intimidation and, yes, pecking. They determine who gets the best roosting spots, who gets to go out the pop door first, and all the other priviledges of rank by that pecking order. Packs of wolves and herds of cattle do the same type of thing. It is how social animals get along peacefully, but determining that pecking order is not always peaceful. It is possible them waking up together helps if you immediately let them out where they can eat and drink instead of standing around and fighting, but I suspect the biggest advantage to this approach is that they handle some pecking order issues before the human is around to know what happens. The losers stay up on the perch while the winners drop to the ground and prepare to leave or eat and drink if that is available and the human thinks things are peaceful. And they are, somewhat. They have determined much of the pecking order. Sometimes it doesn't take much. All that is my personal opinion. I know some people believe it works.

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