When to integrate the chicks with the flock?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Carli, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. Carli

    Carli In the Brooder

    May 4, 2010
    The chicks will be 8 wks. on Friday. They've been in a brooder with their mama in the flock run surrounded by chicken wire. They've all been acquainted through the fencing since birth. When can I let them into the run and remove the brooder?
  2. Carli

    Carli In the Brooder

    May 4, 2010
  3. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    This is an excerpt from my BYC page concerning adding to your flock. Hope it helps:

    Introducing chicks to adults: Do not introduce chicks to adult chickens until the chicks are fully feathered and as close to the same size as the established flock as possible. BYC Member "Pumpkinpup" discovered "that as long as the chicks are still making baby noises, don’t put them with grown birds!" She had three bad episodes in her early chicken experience, and that was "enough carnage to make a believer out of" her. It is absolutely safest to wait until the chicks are sixteen weeks old.

    If you MUST introduce younger chicks to adults, here is a method which succeeded for BYC Member "Ruth". She put some chicks in a pen (a Chick-n-Hutch) inside the run with the "big girls". The big girls all came to say hello and check them out. For the first two weeks, she let the babies out into the closed run while the big girls were out free-ranging. Then, under Ruth’s supervision, the chicks stayed loose in the run when the big girls returned to the run for feedings. She says "the big girls never bothered the babies and the babies were really quick to learn to run and stay out of their way". After several weeks, in the evenings, Ruth left the chick’s hutch open so the chicks could escape into it when necessary, and to chose when to put themselves to bed, and Ruth would come out later to close up the hutch. One night Ruth came out to close the chick hutch and they weren’t in there. She looked in the big coop and the chicks were snuggled up on the floor with her dominant hen. From then on, the chicks were treated just like the rest of the gang and allowed to free-range the property and come and go as they pleased.

    Introducing very young chicks to other young chicks (during the brooder stage): Here’s a method used by BYC Member "Davaroo" with some degree of success (paraphrased):

    "Keep them apart until nightfall. When the group of chicks in the brooder are all settled down, slip the new chicks in as quietly as possible. In the morning, turn on all the lights and make a big commotion. Fill the feeders and waterers with a big, messy fuss. Your little peepers will be so worried about the commotion you’re making and getting to the freshly placed food, that they will forget to fight very much (at least not more than usual). Being flock birds, chickens flee danger together, and they feed together for the same reasons. These activities are "bonding" for them."
  4. StormyMoon

    StormyMoon Songster

    May 1, 2010
    Alvarado, TX
    I have chickens and chicks of all ages, the thing is if they will be locked up together in a run or coop then it isn't a good idea to put them in with hens that are older.

    My chickens are all free ranged I put my baby chicks with the older chicks around 3 - 4 months of age they only use the coop at night and during the day they have a full acre to range on.

    When locked up like on cold days I use a dog crate to keep them apart from the older hens if the chicks are very small, but they are still in the coop.
  5. lotzahenz

    lotzahenz Songster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    I agree, when they are quite large, almost same size, it is safe if your flock is fairly docile. I just lost a very special chick who was quite old, a broody hen pecked her to death. Also, be careful at this age, the older chicks will pile up and suffocate the ones on the bottom. I have lost many half grown birds this way. A good reason to raise them on wire. HenZ
  6. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I usually don't integrate until they are at least 16 weeks.

    I'm going to try and add some at 13 weeks this time around. Hope it works.
  7. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I try not to intergrate. I don't like disturbing my existing flock by adding to it. If I want more birds I build another coop. I tried to integrate & noticed egg production dropped .
  8. SeeMeShiny

    SeeMeShiny In the Brooder

    Oct 14, 2010
    New England
    My coop has a special under-the-house area, and I'm hoping to put my babies there when it has warmed up some. It will expose both the big birds and the baby birds to the sight, smell and sound of the others, but the babies will be physically separated. When they are closer to the same size I thought I'd open the small door so the new chickens can get in and out of their space, but the big hens can't get in.

    My questions- we allow our existing flock to free range over a pretty substantial field and yard- several acres of space. Plus they spend a lot of time visiting my neighbor. Do you think it would be safe for the little guys to free range at the same time? They will definitely not be roaming as far and wide, and there's so much space no one will have to compete... do you think the existing flock would leave the new birds alone and follow their usual routine? Also, I have 2 roosters who are not especially aggressive, but they're still roosters. Will they pose an additional threat to the smaller birds?

    I have quite a bit of time before this comes to a head, we've still got a couple of feet of snow on the ground and it's snowing out right now (ugh), so the babies won't be leaving their home in the house anytime soon.
  9. Kaneke

    Kaneke Songster

    one thing I noticed in the original post, that hasn't been mentioned since -- these chicks are WITH THEIR MAMA

    I would think that would have a considerable bearing on the "integration" -- it's not as if the chicks were being introduced by themselves

    concern might be --- what will happen with mama

    "mama don't 'low no peckin' pickin' 'round here" .... maybe ?

    might very well depend on how protective mama hen might be ... and whether she is ready to let the chicks go now
  10. secuono

    secuono Songster

    May 29, 2010
    I toss mine in at 6-8weeks, lock them in for 2 days and then open the door on day 3 to resume normal routines. Never had an issue...
    Big enough coop, tons of roost spots, food and water in various places, things will be fine.

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