When to move chicks to general population

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dolcib, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. dolcib

    dolcib Just Hatched

    16
    0
    14
    Jun 5, 2016
    [​IMG]

    Hello!

    I have 4 adult chickens (3 sex linked red and a white leghorn) and just acquired three 7 week old chicks (two buff orpingtons and a barred rock).

    Currently, the chicks are still eating medicated chick feed. They are living in the same run as the adults but within the confined of an extra large dog crate. They have a cat carrier inside the dog crate for shelter. They have been living outside for 2 weeks in their previous home. I had planned to keep them in the dog crate (the wire kind with the bottom removed so they can eat grass that grows between the wire). How long should I keep them separate from my adult chickens? A week? A month?

    Your thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,874
    2,847
    421
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    After a period of about a week, maybe two, your new chicks will have learned a great deal about the different temperaments of the four adult chickens. You will then be able to let them all begin to mingle. But limit it to a short period at first, increasing the exposure over several days. I am assuming they will all be free ranging? If they are confined to the coop and run areas, they will all need plenty of space and perches so the smaller chicks can escape bullying when needed.

    At some point you will also need to teach the chicks how to go into the coop to sleep at night. With older chicks such as yours, it helps to install the chicks in the coop after the adults have settled in for the night. That will take care of the first night, but then you will probably need to show the chicks how to go in for a few nights until they understand the coop is where they need to sleep.

    Many of us who have raised our chicks alongside the adult flock, use a panic room system to integrate when the time comes, which for my flock is when the chicks reach two to three weeks of age. The panic room is an enclosure where only the babies can fit so they're safe from adult bullying.

    I have an article that includes discussion of this integration method along with outdoor brooding. It's linked below my post.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. dolcib

    dolcib Just Hatched

    16
    0
    14
    Jun 5, 2016
    Thank you!!! My other question is how long do they need their medicated feed? The big girls have been trying to nibble on it.
     
  4. Sally_O

    Sally_O Out Of The Brooder

    52
    5
    48
    Aug 4, 2010
    Kentucky
    I just came in to ask the same question only my situation is a little different. I have 15 5-week old chicks (5 buffs, 5 astrolorps, 5 LIreds) to be added to my older "flock" of 1 easter-egger layer, 1 ee rooster and one barred rock. And the barred rock is broody, hasn't been off her nest in two weeks.

    There were 27 layers but we processed them because they were almost 3 years old. These 3 that I have left are about a year old, chicks from the first layers.

    So the 15 chicks will outnumber the older 3. I was hoping to make a small opening in the brooder just letting them out, see what happens. My set up is completely free-ranging with a nice large coop. I don't have the facility to ease a transition... no run or cages or anything. So at some point, it will be just opening the door and letting to happen.

    I'd like to do it sooner rather than later because the chicks are HUGE at 5 weeks. I don't remember my first batch being so big, but then I had no older hens to worry about. They are going to run out of brooder space before too much longer.

    I guess my question is, what do I need to be worried about? Might the older ones bully the chicks even though they are outnumbered?

    Thank you all!
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,874
    2,847
    421
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Any integration goes better if you give the two groups to be merged time to get to know one another first before you let them mingle.

    It's sort of like a couple of street gangs gathering on opposite sides of the street to size up one another before they rumble. In the case of chickens, this period of safety gives the younger ones a chance to observe the older chickens and learn the temperaments of each - who's the laid back one, who are the aggressive ones, which one should we run away from. This strategy also works great when introducing a strange older chicken to the flock.

    Therefore, if that's all you are set up to do, it's important to give them the opportunity to size up the opposition before you throw them all together. A temporary barrier of deer netting or chicken wire is all that's necessary for a few days at least.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. AnnaK13

    AnnaK13 Just Hatched

    12
    1
    14
    Jun 13, 2016
    It looks like you are doing the right thing! I tend to take young chicken integration in baby steps. Starting with a small enclosure- one through which they can see their soon to be companions- for the babies is a very smart idea, and a great first step. I have a smaller pen, so I have just placed the smaller crate In there with the bigger birds, and let them get used to one another in the past. Of course you don't have to, but I also enjoy hanging around and watching in case the situation requires mediation. Once the younger birds acclimate to their new environment, you can remove them from their pen and see how they act amongst the bigger birds. I recommend keeping an eye on them if you have the time. It shouldn't take the youngsters long to understand the new rules. Good luck! Tell us how everything goes [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by