When to merge?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jtay72, May 27, 2016.

  1. jtay72

    jtay72 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have three eight week old chicks, (give or take). They've been in their own separate cage inside my main coop which houses two older birds, since they were about two weeks old. So all five have shared the same enclosure for the last six weeks. At what age should I let the young ones in the enclosure with the two older? I tried letting one out yesterday to see how the two older would react, and one of my older birds got on TOP of the younger and started pecking at its head! I know about the pecking order and the abuse the newbies get to begin with and all that, but I thought she was going to kill her! Would she do that?? They're back in their own separate cage for now, but it's VERY clear they want out and I'd love to let them out, but I'm afraid of what the two older birds will do. Do I just need to wait till they're bigger and can defend themselves a bit better? Do I throw the three out with the new ones and hope for the best? At what point do I just say, ok, you guys are just going to have to deal with it? Oh, and these are NOT free range. TIA!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Put them together like you did, play referee for as long as you wish to hang out than separate them again. The next day do it again, repeat, eventually the older ones should mostly ignore the young ones. I always separate at night for a few weeks after they get along during the day to keep them safe. I wouldn't just combine them and think they will work it out, you could end up with dead chicks.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    How much space do they have (feet by feet) in coops and runs?

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.
     
  4. jtay72

    jtay72 Out Of The Brooder

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    Helena
    That's an interesting bit about feeding near the dividing line. I hadn't heard that before. That's a good idea. Total space of run and coop is about 48 sq feet.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I think it's time to expand your run. While you are doing it, why not create a run with partition(s) that you can close off when necessary? I find it very helpful when dealing with a bully or new chicks.

    I also install permanent chick-size openings, I call portals, in every partition so chicks can use these as escapes by which to evade a bug bully. This also enables you to provide a feeding station just for the chicks so they aren't chased off from food and water by the big kids.

    48 square feet really isn't large enough to give all the chickens enough room to operate within an existing pecking order. You will have problems until you enlarge the space. Here are a couple of pics showing how I partitioned my run, and how small 5 x 7 portals enable the chicks to pass through the partitions when they are old enough to appreciate the dangers adults present. I usually begin allowing my chicks to mingle briefly with the big chickens around age two to three weeks. They are usually fully integrated by age four weeks.[​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It works even better if it has large enough mesh for them to stick their heads thru.

    Your 48 sqft is the foot print of a run under a smaller coop?
    Enough room and roost length in coop could be tight for 5 birds.
     
  7. jtay72

    jtay72 Out Of The Brooder

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    Helena
    [​IMG]The coop is about a 4.5 square. L, H, and W. It was the tower part of an old play set that I enclosed, attaching nesting boxes to the outside. The run, not including the space under the coop, is about 8 feet long, 4.5 feet wide, and 6ft tall. I probably got my measurements wrong earlier [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Both run and coop are kinda tight for 5 birds that are best-est of friends...really tight for integration wars...errr negotiations.

    Would be great if you could set up a temp day pen for them all to mingle in...25-50 foot roll of 14ga 2x4 x 6' fencing set in a circle with a few posts would do the trick.
    Overlap ends by a foot or so for a 'door', stick a couple 2x2's thru mesh holes for low roosts, and a waterer....maybe something for shade.
    Put the juniors in there for a few hours or longer for a day or two, let them get comfortable in there.
    Then put one of the bigs in there with them, sprinkle some scratch on the ground...and see what happens.
    Immediately remove any overly aggressive bird to an isolation place(the littlers cage?), then try the other older bird in with the littlers.
    Could even put olders in littlers cage and let the littlers check out the main coop and run.
    Juggle them Chickens!
    Just keep mixing and matching them up...it will break up the territoriality and give diversion as the olders get used to the youngers sharing space.
    This is what I did to integrate 2 groups of older chicks and it took almost a week before the aggression abated enough to leave them all day in there.

    Just an idea.
     
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