Recently we added 12 new baby chicks to the farm. This was my very first time raising and caring for chicks on my own so I had a lot of research to do to ensure they were kept comfortable and safe. I am writing to share my personal experiences and maybe a nugget (or two) of advice fior when it comes to introducing newbies to your flock.
KEEP THEM SEPARATED IN THE BEGINNING
It is important to keep your littles separated from your original flock. Now this is certainly not always the case, but older chickens can be quite brutal toward babies before they are accustomed to them. If have a coop that is accomidating simple create a safe space in a corner of the coop that will allow the babies to adjust to their new environment without putting them at risk.
When we brought our babies home for the first time we simply used a small storage tote with a homemade mesh topper (the front panel of an old box fan) Lined with shaving, food, water and a heat lamp. They were tucked nice an snug in the corner of the coop and out of harms way.
INTRODUCE THEM SLOWLY
As the babies grew it was time for larger accomodations. At about 4 weeks of age they were not completely ready to be free in the coop with the big girls yet. We did however box in a larger area with two pieces of wood in the corner to create a 4-sided enclosure, leaving the top open. This still allowed the hens to hear and see the babies without having easy access to them. Not having a topper on your space is really up to you and what you’re comfortable with. Up until this point the hens had not shown any agression so we felt comfortable leaving it open.
ALLOW SUPERVISED INTERACTION
After the chicks were old enough to be outside away from their light, at approximately 8 weeks of age, we allowed them in the run with the older hens. I advise being close by to monitor their interactions and be ready to intervene if necessary. I personally preferred this up close and personal introduction to be contained so I can keep them in my sights for a bit.
Successful integration of new chicks to your existing flock is not difficult, just take things slow and trust the process. Before long you will have a happy and growing flock!
So far our babies and the ladies have done well with the exception of a few pecks on the noggin but I am super pleased with how smoothly the introduction has gone. Within a few weeks time I believe we will be well on our way to a full and happy coop!
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