when is the right time to let the babies out of chicken jail to play with the big girls?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by notducky, Sep 24, 2014.

  1. notducky

    notducky Out Of The Brooder

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    My babies are 5/6 weeks old, fully feathered and small. My older girls are approx 18/20 weeks old. When I moved the chicks from the laundry room to the coop about a week ago, I put them in our chicken jail. It's 8x3' and is under our nesting boxes. During the day I've been letting the big girls out if the coop, during the chicken for and letting the babies have the run of the coop. So far any time I've tried to let them all play together(I've been there to supervise), it seems like the roo and the guineas push them around, herd them into a corner, flap their wings a lot and sometimes peck at them. The babies retreat to a sheltered spot and I put them back in jail where I feel they are safer. Am I just disturbing the pecking order establishing routine? I'd like to have the babies be able to come out of jail but I don't want them to get hurt.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    The younger ones can easily be attacked or worse for some weeks, possibly til they are all about the same size.. It should help them get used to each other that they are living very close to each other.

    How it goes with integration does avry from flock to flock, a lot.
     
  3. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're wise to be cautious with the babies. It doesn't take much for a big chicken to hurt or kill a little baby or juvenile, even if they're just trying to establish the pecking order. In a natural setting, the mother hen would whoop any bird who tried to assert itself over her chicks, helping them to integrate into the flock. On their own though, the chicks are defenseless.

    Something else you can do is create sanctuaries in the run area where chicks can retreat if they're being pursued by a bigger chicken. Make the access small enough that only the chicks can enter, and they'll quickly figure out that they are safe from bullies there.
     
  4. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    cinder blocks placed strategically in groups around the coop and run are great for integration. They give the bitties somewhere to hide from the bullies. I have done this dozens of times. Its true, it DOES vary from flock to flock.

    I have my babies in with my big girl already (but, she was all alone after the neighbor dog slaughtered the rest of my flock, and she was desperate for company and the group of babies was BIG so its possible she was nicer because of it), and my babies aren't quite fully feathered yet. They are all doing great together. I have one adult in with 15 babies though. Lucky me, I am in Texas, and the slowly cooling temps correlated PERFECTLY to the growth of my little ones.

    If I were you, I would continue to give them supervised "yard time", but be vigilant :)

    When I do intros for babies to an existing flock, I *try* to have babies outnumber adults. Safety in numbers. Chickens don't count well, and they aren't so great at picking one out of a crowd.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2014
  5. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It really makes a difference when the new arrivals outnumber the old birds. This is true at any age--when I had to move all of my new hens and pullets from this year into the main coop, I didn't have much success when I would move three or four at a time because the established birds would harass them back out. When I moved ALL the girls over, though, the established flock was overwhelmed and had no choice but to accept them. The same principle works to an extent with chicks, but since they're at greater risk of injury from disputes, caution is still recommended.

    I've been pretty lucky in that I can put chicks as young as a few days old in with my established flock and not have any problems. As long as the babies have a place where only they can go to get to their food and water, they are able to cohabit with my older birds almost immediately. I suspect this is because my birds are used to babies, and have been exposed to new babies arriving ever since they themselves were babies. Most flocks don't get new chicks on a regular basis, so they never have a chance to learn that the tiny arrivals need to be treated differently than big, grown-up chickens.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What you could do is build a few small doors in your chicken jail, big enough for the babies to escape into when threatened but small enough that the older birds can't get in them. Would be good to make these doors 'adjustable'. A pic of the chicken jail would help me

    I did this with a wire dog crate when integrating different age groups of chicks and it worked great!
    I removed the crate door and used a piece of fencing to cover the door opening then bent it up at the corner to create the 'escape door'.
    By the time the smallers couldn't fit to roost in there anymore they had pretty well integrated themselves with the olders.

    You'll have to keep an eagle eye on them long enough to show the chicks all how to access the doors to their jail, maybe do this while the older birds are locked out of the coop, and then again when the older birds come back inside the coop.
     
  7. notducky

    notducky Out Of The Brooder

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    I think having hiding holes is a great idea! They all hang out in the run together now and no worries. The big birds kinda keep to themselves. I think we'll have to make some secret spots for the babies in the coop this weekend.
     

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