Aug 152012
 

 

Introduce New Chicks To Your Chicken Flock

I have been asked how to introduce new chicks to your chicken flock a few times.  If you look on the internet, anyone that has ever hand raised chicks will have a different opinion on how to introduce new chicks to an existing flock of chickens.  I will tell you what has worked for me.

Introduce New Chicks Early

I personally start putting my hand raised chicks outside for a couple of hours each day in the afternoon when they are about four weeks old. They are very active and love having more room to run around.  I made a 12’ x 15’ fenced area for this purpose with chicken wire.  This is assuming the weather is warm.  I introduce new chicks to the flock early (weather permitting) by putting them in an enclosed area where the existing flock can see them but can’t get to them.  The older chickens will watch them from a distance at first and will gradually gather to check the new chicks out.

Introduce New Chicks Gradually

I don’t actually allow the chicks loose in the same area with the adult chickens during the day until they are at least half their size.  For the first few days, I keep a very close eye on everyone.  Usually they just do their own thing and except for an occasional peck from an older bird, everyone tends gets along.  I only step in if the chicks are really being harassed.

I personally do not ever attempt to put them together at night until the chicks are about the same size as the older hens.  I put up a partition using wire in my larger hen house and add the chicks on one side when it gets dark.  That way none of the hens can get to them if they decide to object to them being there.  I watch the situation over a week or two and when everyone seems to be getting along, I take the wire partition out.  Make sure each side has food and water.

Monitor New Chicks For Trouble

It is very unusual to have too many problems introducing new chicks as long as there is enough room for them to get away. I have found that they usually form their own flock and go off on their own and avoid the main flock.  I still round the chicks up at night and separate them from the main flock at night for the first few weeks after they are introduced.

Every so often when I introduce new chicks to the flock, one or two hens will not leave them alone so I move the objecting hens to a different hen house.  (I have 3 hen houses.  One large and two small).  Assuming you only have one hen house, you may need to get rid of any hens that won’t accept the new chicks.  But this doesn’t happen very often as they usually adjust pretty quickly and will either avoid each other or get along.

Now, if your hen has raised the chicks on her own, that is a different situation.  She should protect them from the other hens so you should be able to introduce new chicks to the flock with her and keep everyone together without any problems.  At least, that has been my experience.  I have also had good luck slipping newly hatched chicks under a broody hen and getting her to raise them as her own.

Be aware that if you have roosters, there will probably be ongoing problems when you introduce new chicks that are roosters also.  I recently had an older rooster killed by one of my young roosters that I hatched last fall.  He was originally introduced to the flock with no issues and one day out the blue, my older rooster was dead with no warning.  The 3 older roosters had a pecking order and they all got along fine.  I didn’t realize until it was too later that the young rooster had gotten so aggressive.  So keep a close eye on the boys and get rid of any roosters that cause problems when you add new chicks.

Multiple Chicken Coops

I get a lot of questions about why I have 3 chicken coops.  The answer is because I have about 40 chickens at any given time and it seems like there is always one that needs some special care.

Having extra chicken coop and runs allows me to separate any chickens for whatever reason. Sometimes, a hen needs a break from an aggressive rooster or another hen. Unfortunately, sometimes one of them is injured by a predator and needs time to recover. Or, when I have new chicks, I can separate them from the main flock at night so that no one gets bullied

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