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Raising chicks of different ages together?

Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator

Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 1016
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  37
Does anyone have any input on putting chicks of differing ages together in one area? I have a group of 10 Easter Eggers that are about a week old today. I'll be getting about 15 more RIRs in about ten days and would rather house them all together if possible.

Any Advice?


"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

-Gandhi
Thea Olsen


Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 89
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's not a good idea. In a few weeks, perhaps, but housing newly hatched chicks with older ones would result in dead chicks.
Julie Helms


Joined: Dec 06, 2011
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
Agreed. It's a bad idea.


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Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator

Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 1016
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  37
That's what I figured, but it's always better to check here before buying more stuff. Thanks folks. Much appreciated.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
will your chicks have a mom? if so I wouldn't worry about it. mom will stop any bullying asap and watch them 24/7.

if not what you can do is split the area/coop/pen/paddock for a few weeks, each type of one side yet they can see and interact with each other. in no time they will all be friends and you can keep them all together. it helps a lot to have the older chickens hear and possibly see the newborn chicks, but limited to physical contact. that may speed things up greatly.

we always introduce new chicks/chickens to our group. by now they are used to it.

keep in mind everyone's chickens are different, and will react differently.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
Chickens inborn urge to establish pecking order early would put the newbies at a huge disadvantage right off the bat.
Once they all get around 6-8 weeks old, they can be put in a run together with a chicken wire fence between the two flocks. After a few days they will get used to each other. After they are used to each other, wait until they go to bed at night, and then move the younger hens in with the older ones. They probably won't even notice until they all wake up in the morning.

The two groups will then reestablish the pecking order, but it won't be nearly as one sided and brutal as it would be when they were 4 weeks vs 1 week olds. The pecking order ritual is a healthy and important part of a flocks existence, but you don't want to subject them to it when one group is too young to defend itself.

As a side note, there may be one or several of the younger ones who rise up above some of the older ones in this struggle. Mark them, and keep an eye on them...they might be excellent choices to include in a future breeding program. They have some good survival genes in them.
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator

Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 1016
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  37
As it turned out I was able to get a second flock of 24 RIR and Barred Rocks yesterday. I am pretty amazed at how quickly the first group has grown in just a week. The difference is incredible! They are in a separate space now and will be for a while I imagine. The two groups can see each other but cannot touch. I hope being only a week apart in age will mean I can get them together in the same space sooner rather than later.
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
Im in a similar situation. I have 4 hens that are all 1.5 years old. I brought home 2 18 week old hens over 3 weeks ago. I kept them separate for 3 weeks next to each other. 2 nights ago I put them on the roost, only one would stay up. The next day the older just beat these poor things all over the place; I thought the one was dead so I pulled her out and Im keeping her separate to see if she improves. I put the other one on the roost last night and she stayed. This morning, I found her in thenesting box, and when she came out she just kept getting pecked by all 4 of them constantly. They are pulling her feathers out and pecking her on the head.

Should I pull them out again or do something else. PLease help! thanks!


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Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
If they're fighting you have to separate them or they may kill each other. You need to provide enough housing so they can decide if they want to roost with each other or not, in my experience. They need to all be let out into an open space, if possible, and be allowed to choose who they want to roost with. Otherwise they may kill each other.


Idle dreamer

Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
All of them have free access to grass/tree areas along with feed and water. There is only trouble when they are all in the same area, but since its 4 to 1 she doesnt stand a chance. If I split them up, will they always have to be split up?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
They may always have to be split up. In any case the one being picked on needs to be able to escape and not be trapped with the others, if not the others may kill and partially eat her (or partially eat her without killing her). Chickens can be horrible creatures.
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator

Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 1016
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  37
Would it work if you could separate them again for a while till tempers cool, then bring one of the older birds over to the new bird's area an see how it goes? Maybe moving the old birds onto the new bird's turf one at a time would switch up the power dynamic. If all goes well then perhaps you could get them all together over a period of weeks. Maybe breaking up the older group for a while will affect their bullying behavior?

Just an idea Does anyone think it's worth trying?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I think that's definitely worth trying as long as you realize the birds who are separated may not get along with their old roost-mates once re-introduced. So much depends on the personalities of the individual chickens. I've had very placid chickens who don't fight at all, and others who were horrible cannibals. The main problem with fighting and cannibalistic behavior is it doesn't seem to be able to be trained out of a group once they discover it and will only disappear when those individuals are removed (or die). So carefully observing to see if there is an instigator and removing that chicken may work to allow the others to remain peaceful. Sometimes an entire batch will have to be scrapped and start over.

Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
So apparently one of them had Merecks disease, at any rate I took both of them back to the person I bought them from and got 2 new ones of a different breed. Im going to keep them separate for much longer and closer mingling, and give it another whirl I dont have room for 2 separate coops and pen areas.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I can relate to the space problem. Seems like no matter how many poultry houses I build, I need more. I have four different small flocks of poultry, some of whom get along, others who don't. Recently my pet turkey hen decided she hates one of the bantam roosters and was trying to kill him, so they have to be separated. I can't even let them out in the yard together or she hunts him down and starts attacking him. So I can only let some of them out each day, not an ideal situation. This is where my permaculture system is really failing to properly integrate poultry!
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
If they are pecking to the point of drawing blood, then they must be kept apart. Once blood is drawn, the rest of them will go after it. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

Some flocks will readily accept newcomers, while others never will.

Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
No blood was drawn that I could tell, but lots of feathers. They seemed to leave the sickly one alone as long as she hunkered down and curled up. Very odd. The other thing Ive noticed is that my 4 hens have not laid many eggs. Prior to bringing in the new chickens they were laying 2-4 eggs/day. Then it dropped to one a day, now they haven't laid for 4 days. What is up with that? Last night they seemed really preoccupied with the new chickens, and were making loud sounds for hours. They kept walking back and forth along the fence line that borders the new chickens and tried getting through.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
STRESS. Chickens have small, simple brains. When they are stressed, they often quit laying. They were doing fine in their happy, simple world. Then, more birds were added, and they are obviously 'concerned'. They will probably get over it once they realize that the new chicks are not a threat to them.

Try to minimize stress as best as possible, as stressed chix emit juices which acidifies their stomachs, and increase their chances of getting diseases. Sometimes something as simple as changing their diet or routine can cause damaging stress.

Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
That would make sense, I changed their paddock location, got a new feeder and new chicks.....stress seems likely. Thank you.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Especially avoid heat stress. One year I had a batch of chicks that I got before I had their permanent housing ready. I kept them in the poorly ventilated chick house ONE DAY too long when the temperatures exceeded 100 F and they began to cannibalize and they never stopped until most of them were dead, even after they had been moved to the new spacious housing with plenty of cool fresh air. It was unbelievably horrible and depressing. I share this because it was a major low point in my attempts to raise poultry and an extremely painful lesson about making sure to be really prepared with proper housing, etc and avoiding stress.

 
 
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