When to integrate chicks with the flock...many n00b questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by pixiechic, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. pixiechic

    pixiechic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2008
    North GA
    I have an existing flock of 13 chickens; 10 hens and 3 roosters. 2 of the 13 are silkies - one hen and one roo - but the rest are standard size. They have a good-sized coop (12' x 12' x 9' high) and huge (70' x 130') outdoor fenced-in pen.

    Recently I segregated the silkie hen because she was broody; she's now got 3 baby chicks (1 silkie mix, the other 2 full size) about 2 weeks old. For now, they are in a dog crate in the garage.

    We also have 21 feed-store chicks who are about six weeks old, in the brooder in the garage. Five are banties and two are Cornish Rocks; the remaining 14 are regular size.

    Ultimately, we want everyone together in the same coop and pen, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to accomplish this.

    I have already moved the meat birds to the mini-coop (4' x 4' x 4') outdoors. It's inside the main chicken pen, but away from the big coop. I've kept them inside so far - they are HUGE as chicks go, but still quite a bit smaller than the adults.

    Could I move mama hen back to the coop without her babies, or would that break her little silkie heart? If I put mama and chicks back in the main coop, I think she would protect them and keep them warm, but I'd want to give them a safe place to go just in case. Anyone know a good way to do this?

    As for the rest of the chicks -- as I understand it, it's best to have the chicks almost the same size as the hens before integrating them...which means 4 months old I think. However, they will outgrow their brooder before then. I could build a temporary fence in the mini-coop area to keep them separate from the adults, but I don't think they would all fit into the mini-coop at night.

    I'm wondering if I could use the mini-coop as a sort of halfway house, and move the chicks out there in batches according to size. Even when most of the chicks are too big for the brooder, we could probably still keep the 5 banties and the 3 baby chicks in there for a while. Would a constant stream of newcomers every few weeks be too unsettling for my adult birds?

    Thoughts? Ideas? Thank you!
     
  2. Catalina

    Catalina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2007
    Minnesota
    Whoa! Lots of chicks! If it were me, I think I would try to make a safe place for the mommy hen and chicks, so the other hens could see them and get used to them, but not hurt them.

    If adding the chicks in small batches as they get bigger, is your only option then I would do that.

    But the best option would be to find a way to seperate the teen-aged chicks and hens, so they could see each other and get used to each other.

    If the new chicks out number the old hens (if you added the chicks at once) the hens will be the outsiders and shouldn't pick on them as much.

    Good luck! And I hope someone with more experience chimes in!
     
  3. pixiechic

    pixiechic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2008
    North GA
    Catalina, thanks - I hadn't thought about the fact that the chicks will outnumber the adults almost 2 to 1. Maybe it would be a better idea to find a way to add them all at once, instead of in shifts. 20 half-grown chicks in the mini coop would be crowded, but it's still bigger than the brooder and they'd be outside during the day. Looks like I will be building a fence this weekend, at the very least.

    I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience with this...
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2009

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