Integrating Chicks into the Flock

Eight weeks ago our family adopted two Ameraucanas and two Rhode Island Red chicks.  Bringing home new little babies is so exciting.  The boys love picking them out, holding them in their hands and naming each new little face.  They are so delicate and helpless.  We are tasked with teaching them where to find their food and water, where they are safe and who they can trust.

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Two Weeks Old – Roxy, Gypsy and Jazzy

The little ones were housed in our sunroom for several weeks.  The summer weather makes it much easier to keep the little ones comfortable as they grow and adapt.  After a month (when the chicks were around six weeks old) we moved their brooders out to the coop at night and began letting them interact with the hens from time to time throughout the day.  To do this, we looped chicken wire into a little circle under a tree and let the hens meet them without being able to touch (or peck).

Now at ten weeks old they have their own chicken coop in the garden.  We let the hens in the garden to interact around them, and when we are able to supervise, we allow the chicks to roam the garden as well.  Introductions take time, and chickens have to establish a pecking order.  This is very apparent, as the hens will bully the pullets away from the food.

 

But we intervene as needed, keep the little ones from getting pecked at and are hoping after about another month of interacting, they will be able to cohabitate cordially. Our goal is to move the little ones into the main coop by mid-November, when temperatures in the North East will begin to drop.  Our main coop allows them more roosting space at night, better temperature control and a much safer environment from predators (as I’ve previously posted, it’s the Fort Knox of chicken coops!).

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Expanding our flock has been a lot of fun.  We are eager for blue eggs from the Ameraucanas, although I’m curious if they will lay as quickly as our older hens who matured at the start of summer.  I have windows installed in the coop as well as artificial light for the darker winter days.  Our hope is that there is enough light to encourage egg laying early on. Time will tell.

This will be our first winter with the chickens.  We built the coop with considerations for the colder months.  We have it sealed properly, installed windows for needed ventilation and have a heater for extra warmth (should the temperatures severely drop like last year).  I still need to look into a water solution – something to keep their water from freezing. I’d love to hear from any veterans who have a found a solution they love!

Here are a few more pictures of our new girls – Roxy (Rhode Island Red), Rayla (the smaller Red), Gypsy (Silver Ameraucana) and Jazzy (Orange Ameraucana). Gypsy and Roxy have the strongest personalities in the group, while Jazzy is my cuddle bug.  They have really adjusted to their home here and fit in so well! I cannot wait to have them fully integrated in the flock.  Fingers crossed these hens get along!!

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