When to put chicks out with adults

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by longworks83, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. longworks83

    longworks83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Not sure if this is the right spot to put this -
    I have 2 chickens, both 8 month old - a barred rock hen and an Easter egger roo. I am being given 6 chicks next week and wondering when I can put them with the older chickens? I know the rule of thumb is when they are similar in size but was wondering since it's more chicks than adult if it could be sooner. And also any tips on how to merge them would be great. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Where do you live, what is your weather, how old are these chicks? Are they still on supplemental heat? Do you have electricity in your coop? What are the dimensions of your coop??? Many of us have found that it's actually better to integrate chicks into an adult flock when they are younger. Some have integrated as young as 2 weeks old. Young chicks are not considered to be a threat to the pecking order, the way birds that are "same size" or entering chicken puberty are. What they will need is plenty of room , and barriers/ ways to get away from the adults. Some where they can go where the adults can't reach them. Azygous is the queen of early integration. She has sectioned off part of her coop, building tiny doors that the chicks can get through, but the bigs can't follow. Check out her set up. If your chicks need heat source, that will also need to be addressed. No matter when you integrate, you should initially supervise to be sure they are safe, especially when they are babies. While integration does work with chicks, it's also possible for unsupervised hens to kill young chicks.
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    I integrate as soon as they no longer need extra heat. I've integrated as early as 5 weeks up to 10 weeks. Any older and it starts to become harder.

    You will need to pen them size by side for a while. Integration goes better when it's chicks to adult chickens over a year. The age of your older birds might means it takes longer before they accept them. Having a big enough set up will also make it easier.
     
  4. longworks83

    longworks83 Out Of The Brooder

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    We are in PA - the chicks are less than a week old right now. I am planning on keeping them inside for at least a month or two. Our coop itself is not super huge but they are only in there to sleep, otherwise they free range in the yard all day. We do have electricity in it but do not heat the coop. Thanks for help

     
  5. longworks83

    longworks83 Out Of The Brooder

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    They are free range during the day, should I still separate them at night time when the are a little older? Thankyou for the response. This is only my second time around with chickens and have a lot to learn

     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    I usually keep mine in a separate pen for about a week, than begin letting them out under supervision. I lock everyone back up when I can't watch them anymore or if things get rough. I do this daily until I'm comfortable leaving them out. I will lock mine separately for another month or so before I just leave them to figure it out.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    These were mine from last year, they were 6 weeks. It was the easiest integration ever. A few pecks but nothing much more. This was after they were locked in the pen for about a week and all the older ones got a good look at them. First day mingling went perfectly. My oldest rooster even let a chick pick at his wattles.
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    These types of statements make me nervous.
    How big is coop in feet by feet?

    Free ranging can be great for integration as they all have lots of space to 'escape' during the pecking order process,
    but they still have to all be in the coop at some time, both at roost time(when pecking order can be vicious),
    and when the weather is so lousy they won't leave the coop.

    Integration almost always goes much better if you can split coop and run in half with wire....
    ....or at least have adjacent pens with weather shelter.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Some people will tell you that you have to wait until they are the same size. I don’t believe size has much to do with it, maturity level does in certain situations, especially if space is really tight. Until they are mature enough to force their way into the pecking order, my pullets will not defend themselves against a mature hen. They try to run away or hide. My pullets normally mature to that point around the time they start to lay. As far as the size myth, it’s not that unusual for a bantam to dominate a full sized chicken.

    As you can see many of us integrate at a pretty young age. I’ve seen broody hens wean their chicks at three weeks age, totally leave them on their own to make their way with the flock. I’m with the group that usually waits until five weeks, it works for me. There are different tricks and techniques that help this process go a lot smoother.

    Once all the chickens mature and work out the pecking order, flock life is usually pretty stress-free. Mine can get a little rough at bedtime but at other times it’s really calm. But if an immature chicken invades the personal space of a mature chicken it just might get pecked. Some hen are more tolerant about that then others, but it’s real common for an immature chicken to get pecked if it gets too close to an adult hen. Mature dominant roosters are usually really tolerant about that but some hens can get pretty vicious. That’s why immature chickens usually form their own sub-flock and avoid the mature hens as much as possible.

    This is where room comes in. They need enough room to run away from an attack and enough room to avoid the older hens to start with. I think one thing in common those of us that successfully integrate young chicks all the time is we have room. That’s why Aart gets nervous when you talk about a small coop. I’m not so much into square feet per chicken as much as how it is laid out, though there is no question the more room the better. Can the chicks avoid the mature hens? Mine normally hide under my nests, which are pretty low or go up on the roosts when the adults are on the coop floor. I’m in a climate where my adults pretty much spend all day every day outside except when they are laying eggs, but with this snow not all are going out into the run. If you search for one of Azygous’s posts you can follow the links in her signature for her “safe haven” philosophy.

    A second thing in common is that we house the chicks with the flock in a safe place for a while so they get used to each other. Some of us have out brooders in the coop. We don’t just throw strange chicks in with the flock. With my brooder in the coop mine grow up with the flock. They still have pecking order issues but they don’t have integration issues. I don’t know that any of us just toss total strangers in the coop at night and expect to wake up to a peaceful coop. Let them get to know each other first.

    Another trick is to have separate feeding and watering stations so they don’t have to compete with the adults to eat and drink.

    I don’t provide a protected cage for mine to sleep though that may be a good idea in a small coop. My brooder-raised chicks normally don’t start roosting until they are 10 to 12 weeks old. Until then they sleep in a group on the floor. If there are no adults present they normally find their way to the main roosts then. If adults are present, they probably will not go to the main roosts until they start to lay. They don’t like getting beat up on the main roosts by the mature hens. So they look for safe places to roost. In some coops that winds up being your nests. I put in a juvenile roost lower than the main roosts, separated horizontally a few feet, and higher than my nests to give them a safe place to go that is not my nests. I don’t know if yours will choose to sleep in your nests or not, but there are a lot of posts about that on here.

    Some of us integrate younger chickens all the time with very few issues. Having enough quality room helps. We use certain techniques that take a lot of the risk out of it. You are dealing with living animals, anything can possibly happen, but it usually isn’t all that stressful for me.

    Good luck!
     

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