When can babies mix with adults?

AP332

In the Brooder
Dec 1, 2018
9
29
36
I have 10 seven week old buff orpingtons that are outside now in the big coop but still inside a large wire dog crate. I also have 4 grown hens, (orpingtons also). The old girls really don't show much interest in the babies except to check on the food that falls out of their cage. I can't remember how old they should be to mix. The babies are getting to big to be left in the crate, should I experiment? I don't want anyone to get hurt but the hens are old ladies and there are only 4 of them to the 10 pullets. If they were any other type of chicken I would be really worried but orpingtons are so mild mannered usually. Maybe I will put wire up and make a bigger space in one corner for the babies. What do y'all think?
 

BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
Premium member
Mar 5, 2019
3,348
10,284
597
SE Missouri, USA
It was my plan to hold off integrating my chicklets with the Big Girls until the younger ones reached 16 weeks due to their different dietary requirements. But ... well, as the poet said, "the best-laid plans of mice and men," and all that ... so we opened the gate between them at 12 weeks and they are gradually integrating. Not fully, because the Big Girls go free-ranging in the afternoon, practically abandoning their small yard and coop, while the chicklets happily explore those two areas but have not yet discovered the hidden gate to the Great Outdoors! They mingle a little and there are no problems, as they have shared a fence for two months now and are well acquainted.
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
5,994
11,079
642
Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
Sooner is better than later IMO... if you're set up for it:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/integrating-new-birds-at-4-weeks-old.72603/ My brooder setup and integration notes are the first link at the start of that article (as my set up is a little different).

Key things for me would be providing the chicks with "chick-only" safe areas as well as a variety of hiding spots in the shared area, placed in such a way that they can't be cornered in. The idea is that if any of the adults decide to chase a chick or two, the chicks should be able to easily make a getaway .
 
Nov 8, 2017
3,782
49,402
1,107
Wisconsin
My Coop
My Coop
Another thing to consider is the health of chicks. If you introduce them at a young age, their immune systems will not be fully developed yet. The adults may be healthy, but have built up past immunities. You may want to keep them separate for a little longer so that you won't run that risk.
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
5,994
11,079
642
Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
If you introduce them at a young age, their immune systems will not be fully developed yet.
I personally believe the best way to build up their immunity is through exposure. It's sort of the same idea behind giving chicks brooded indoors a plug of grass with roots and soil - you're exposing them to a bit of the outdoors early on so they'll hopefully build up immunity to anything that's in there.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
10,183
66,202
1,302
Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
A lot depends on your keeping arrangements.
As to the 'correct' age, there isn't one. Here the chicks mix with the adults as soon as and as much as the mother allows. Some, particularly those that hatch in a tribes coop mix from day two or three and are out free ranging when the mother leaves her nest.
My view is the sooner the better, but as above, it depends on how the flock is kept.
 

ocap

Crowing
7 Years
Jan 1, 2013
4,796
1,208
331
Smithville, Missouri
the way you have described the system that you are using I think you can introduce them now.
You will have to check them every day for a while to see if the "pecking order" that is being established in the flock is causing the lowest chick to bleed on the tail. the older will pull out a feather on the younger and that is the location that I would see the most damage and have to separate one chick for 24 hours to let the injury scab over.
 
Top Bottom