When to mix different aged chicks in brooder - timing and strategy?

Fire Ant Farm

Get off my lawn
May 5, 2015
6,170
2,556
356
South Texas
I have a solo pullet (Paula) who is 10 days old - she's been on her own since Sunday night, when her sister died. I've played with her every day, and got her a mirror for short term company (based on advice here - she's a big chirper!). I managed to get another order of three chicks which arrived today. They are exactly one week younger than her (3 days old).

I have them set up in a shared brooder with a screen between the sections - Paula has a red lamp to keep her at ~90F, and the babies have an Ecoglow (which they love). Here's a photo of the set up.





Paula is lonely and very anxious to meet them (as I think you can see in the photo). The two new girls are likewise quite interested in her now. There's also a baby boy who had some leg problems, so he moves more slowly - the baby girls push him around a lot at the feeder. I think the girls might hold their own if Paula pecks, but I'm not sure about the boy. (One of the baby girls tried to fly today - crazy!)

I wasn't going to put them together in the first couple days, but after that, I'm interested in opinions/thoughts/experiences regarding when I should put them together. When babies are 1 week? Sooner? Later? All at once, or supervised playdates at first? I was thinking that it might be best to do it on a Friday night, since I'll be able to monitor them closely all weekend if something goes wrong. That would be either this Friday (Paula 12 days old, babies 5 days old) or next Friday (Paula 19 days old, babies 12 days old). Paula is really lonely, but I don't want that to lead me into not doing this thoughtfully...

- Ant Farm
 

junebuggena

Crowing
Apr 17, 2015
23,103
8,140
491
Long Beach, WA
Since they are all about the same size, I would just let them be together. Keep an eye on them, but only intervene if somebody is actually getting injured.
 

Fire Ant Farm

Get off my lawn
May 5, 2015
6,170
2,556
356
South Texas
Just a follow up: I took them all out, removed the partition, cleaned out the brooder and set it back up with bedding, etc., with everything in a different spot (to avoid territoriality). Then I put them in together, They are ecstatic at being able to be together and getting along great. The little two girls are so bossy and pushy that I don't think Paula will be a problem. (She's just so relieved not to be alone anymore.)

Thanks for the tips!

- Ant Farm
 

manychitlens

Chirping
5 Years
Feb 27, 2014
249
14
71
Northern California
So glad to hear they are happily getting along! I wouldn't worry too much about adding chicks like this in the future, although it's always great to be cautious. :) I added chicks in 3 sets (2 first, then added 3 more that were about a week younger, then added 1 more that was around the same age). All chicks were under 3 weeks when the additions happened and they were all just happy to have more friends. :)
 
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