When to integrate 5 week old chicks with just one hen

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mkworden09, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. mkworden09

    mkworden09 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 17, 2015
    Hello. I am hoping everyone can help me. A few weeks ago I lost 5 hens, which only left 1 hen (she is 1 yr old). I also have 4 week old chicks, that I was hoping I could move outside next week. I know when you add chicks to a flock they need to be bigger, but do you think since there is only one hen she would want the company and would accept the chicks earlier?? Any suggestions at all...I know she is lonely. I have had the chicks outside next to the run in a wired dog crate and she is very interested in eating next to them. I know I have to slowly integrate them, but didn't know if I could do it earlier because she is by herself. Please help...thanks in advance
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  2. Dusty Chicken

    Dusty Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would give it a try.

    I lost 2 hens from a 4 hen flock a few weeks ago. 1 of my survivors was injured but recovering well so I purchased 3 chicks that are about 6 weeks old. My introduction went faster than planned since the new chicks kept breaking out of their little yard that I set up. Within a week they are all sleeping together fairly well. I have lots of commotion during bed time but the days are easy since I have a big run & everyone can have space. I think with some time the little ones will learn the new rules & put themselves to bed before the older hens. So far it has been entertaining & no one has gotten hurt.

    Good Luck!
     
  3. mkworden09

    mkworden09 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the info! I should also mention my one hen will only sleep in anesting box now...I am not sure if that's normal or not since I haven't found much on a single hen living on her own. I have found nothing on introducing new chicks to her...I am a nervous for sure! I know she is going to peck them but not sure I can stand it [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Sleeping in the nest box is a bad habit. Chickens poo a lot while they sleep, then she'll lay her eggs on all that poo, unless you clean it out early in the morning, every single day. Nobody likes poopy eggs. Are your roosts at the same height as the nesting boxes? Is she a large breed? Chickens like to roost as high as they are able to get. Roosts should be at least 6 inches above the nest boxes. Larger breeds need larger roosts, usually about 4 inches wide so their feet can be flat and completely covered.
     
  5. Dusty Chicken

    Dusty Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can understand how she would enjoy the comfort of a small secure area like a nesting box. Losing your flock & being alone has to be terrifying. You may try covering the nest boxes at night to discourage her sleeping there. It would be a pain if it were to become a habit. Hopefully the distraction of managing the new chicks will encourage her into a benevolent flock leader.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You can probably feel close to certain there will be few if any problems integrating your hen with the chicks immediately. And by all means, close off the nest box at night.

    I had a terrible problem with several of my hens insisting on using the nest boxes for sleeping. I rigged up a gate out of steel fencing that I blocked the nests with at roosting time. It took several months, but now the hens no longer are intent on sleeping there, so I don't need to block them anymore.

    The reason you should have no trouble putting your chicks with one hen is mainly because there is just the one hen and several of the chicks. Chickens have their own sense of "chicken math", and when it's obvious they're outnumbered, they generally are less likely to be bullies. And your chicks, having greater numbers, will have the self confidence to behave in a manner that won't invite bullying, which seems to be visited mainly upon chicks that are submissive and fearful or when there are less than three in their unit.

    And it's probably going to be a relief to your hen to have a flock again. She may attempt to enforce the pecking order, but I doubt there will be any bullying.
     
  7. mkworden09

    mkworden09 Out Of The Brooder

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    She is a Rhode Island Red and the roosts are at the other end of the coop and much higher than the nesting boxes and the perfect size for her. The funny thing is she is sleeping in there when I close up the coop for the night but there is absolutely NO poop anywhere in there. She is in there when I open up in the morning too or at the window looking for me to come and let her out. She is super sweet and such a good girl. When we lost the others (pretty sure it was a fox, I went away for the weekend and my son didn't do a great job of locking the coop) she laid an egg that same morning. I am hoping she accepts the new chicks and is happy again. I did let her free range with them for a little while today and she didn't seem interested in them at all. Fingers crossed, I will let you know how it goes next week.
     
  8. TerryPy

    TerryPy Out Of The Brooder

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    Because she lost her flock she may be broody.
     
  9. mkworden09

    mkworden09 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok..so I have been letting them spend time together, but I get nervous because she pecks them if they get too excited or run in front of her. I am thinking this is normal in determining pecking order, but this has been while they are free ranging...nervous if I put them in the run together she may get worse...any thoughts? I am a nervous chicken mom I guess LOL
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    An occasional peck as they scoot by her is natural. She's letting them know that they need to take her status seriously, and that she isn't a pushover. It's healthy for them to show her respect and to keep their distance from her, and allow her to eat first, etc. She's maintaining flock discipline. It's important to allow her to do this.

    However, it could easily morph into bullying. You'll be able to tell the difference because she will be very aggressive about it, turning it into a sport, pursuing a chick and delivering painful, punishing pecks that are obvious as bullying. You can discipline the hen yourself when she engages in this unacceptable behavior, and a lot of times, a peck with your finger on her back will get the message across to her. You may need to keep repeating it a few times, but she should quit doing it if you're consistent.
     
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