When to integrate new chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by robyn8, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    281
    23
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan
    I have 3 BOs and a silkie cockerel. All will be about 9 mos when I get my new chicks. Coop is 8x8, run is 8x16. We do minimal free ranging right now. I'm getting 4 new pullet chicks in April and plan to brood them in the coop in a 4ft dog kennel with a premier heating plate (the kind that heats over the top of them like a mama hen). I'd like to do the panic room integration method when it's tims by making a small opening into the dog kennel and also opening up an area underneath the coop that I don't think the big girls will be able to get into.

    My question is what age to start the integration? And how exactly? Short periods of time while I supervise? Close to bed time so the everyone is more chill? Any suggestions are welcome!
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. peopleRanimals2

    peopleRanimals2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    654
    85
    121
    Jun 30, 2015
    Rhode Island
  3. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

    5,706
    952
    316
    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    I've done POL "so they can stick up for themselves" and side-by-side brooding with integration many weeks younger than that. This time, I'm using side-by-side again and starting even younger with the shared ranging introduction because it went SO much better with the juveniles than the POL pullets. The chicks bow down to the authority of adults readily. IME, that makes for a better outcome. I'm also doing this with supervision and ensuring they can get away if chased which can be a problem in enclosures (cornering is dangerous).

    Of course, they're all individuals and you're adding a rooster to the scenario so that's always an if. I'd suggest being prepared to keep them at "look, don't touch" for as long as is required.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi. [​IMG]

    I am using the panic room set up. I agree it is much easier than than integrating POL girls. It really is a personal choice and can depend a lot on your flock, when you do it. I would say have plenty of hiding places they can duck under or run around when being chased. My broody had her babes fully integrated at 1 week. My chicks with no broody are still using their panic room a bit, but mostly integrated now by 6 weeks. Hopefully future ones will be even sooner, these guys were brooded indoors still, so they have only been on pasture together. And I have a lower roost in the coop for the new kids and they eventually make their way up to the higher roost when they are ready.

    So after they know good and well that their safety is in there, say maybe a week of look but don't touch.. then a couple hours of supervised coop freedom to ensure they know how to get back to safety. I might even be the one to initially chase them and help them learn how to get back before there is any real danger.

    Roosters aren't particularly a problem. They have an instinct to protect chicks to ensure the survival of their offspring. Depends on your boy. My BO are quite bossy, maybe even mean. But in a flock of 50+ there are enough dynamics no one usually get focused on too much. I say sooner is better!

    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,220
    3,276
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You're already halfway on board with the integration plan I use and recommend. Have you read my article on outdoor brooding? It's linked below. It described the process and it has pictures.

    If your chicks are raised in proximity to the adults from day one, they are observing the flock, learning the different personalities and temperaments. So they will be ready to begin to mingle by age two weeks with supervision during the first week.

    I let the chicks have very short trips to the "big girls' world" at first, then I increase these excursions gradually over the week. By the time they're three weeks old you can trust them to take care of themselves, running back to their panic room as they need to. Watch them carefully so you can judge how well they handle themselves so you'll know when they can continue to mingle without supervision.

    Keep their food and water inside the panic room for the first ten weeks. After that, I get out my old camp table and set it up in the run with their food on top of it. This way they get to eat in peace through POL, after which time they usually have earned their places in the pecking order.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    19,580
    7,592
    546
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Robyn, first, I want to give you a huge ovation for being realistic and not maxing out the space in your coop and run. That fact alone will make your flock management much easier and reduce or eliminate any integration issues. You rock!!! As for the heating plate, have you used it before? Is it something you already have? The reason I'm asking is that some of the heating plates don't provide enough heat for outdoor brooding in cold weather. Have you done a comparison with the heating pad cave method? I can speak from experience that the heating pads DO provide ample heat for outdoor brooding, and many have used them outdoors even during the winter. (they are also very easy to put together, can be used for multiple uses when not brooding chicks, and cost a fraction of the price of a heating plate.) Now, I'll get off that soap box!

    I suggest that you start supervised integration any time after 2 - 3 weeks. Definitely have your integration done while your chicks are still peeps (before they start to get their cluck.)

    Agreed, integration while they are young is much less traumatic. IME, roosters are less likely to harass chicks than female birds, and the teens of any gender can be more aggressive to chicks. My roo LOVES his babies. And I've had hens in the past who have been on the nippy side with chicks.
     
  7. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

    5,706
    952
    316
    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN

    Sadly, the rooster was the aggressor here. I never would have guessed because he was such a wuss (seriously, I have a hen that challenged his authority). That's why an if.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,536
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'd start at a few weeks, short periods when you can supervise. IMO bedtime isn't a good time. My birds aren't chill at night, they're competing for roost space, and before that trying to stuff themselves to have a full crop overnight. I think that would be a poor time to introduce littles. I'd go for mid day or afternoon, whenever you're available. Do a few trials and make sure the littles know where to go to get away, then they should be fine on their own.
     
  9. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I agree... roost time is when all havoc breaks out at my place! Lots of competition and the boys feeling frisky. Also not right at breakfast, but shortly after once the main crowd had dispersed a little. [​IMG]
     
  10. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    281
    23
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan
    This is all such great advice! Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Yes I did buy the heating plate already and no i haven't used it yet but I haven spoken to many people who have used it well at the outside temps I'll be expecting for mid April in Michigan. If it doesn't work well outside I'm not opposed to bringing them inside. I know people love the mama cave but I just feel more comfortable using something that was designed and manufactured for this purpose and the cost wasn't much more.

    I do have another piece of new information to add to this though. One of my hens appears to be broody. She started yesterday afternoon. New chicks should be here in 4 weeks so I'm wondering if I can sneak them under her. I don't know how many eggs she's sitting on now and I'm not totally certain our eggs are fertile. Any thoughts? Is that a horrible idea?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by