Thursday, May 24, 2012

Integrating Chicks – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

With much trepidation, I took both sets of chicks out of their brooders and put them together in one big dog cage brooder.   The Silkies were 5 weeks old and the new girls (Easter Egger, Buff Oprington and Barred Rock) were 2 weeks old.   I put in the Silkie’s sand box that they love and a new sand box for the little girls.  I added the two feeders and two watering stations

From this --

 To this --

I pulled up a chair and sat and watched.  Each group went to a side of the cage and huddled together looking totally stressed out.  This lasted about a ½ hour, nobody moving very far from their team.  Then, little miss sweet Fluffy started pecking up a storm at the news girls feet.  I totally thought she’d be the last to bully.  I put some cut-up apples in the brooder knowing it would distract the Silkies for a bit and the new girls just huddled together in the corner looking totally freaked out.

After the apples were gone, the pecking started right back-up.   Now what the hell do I do?  The new girls were so much smaller than the Silkie’s.  After researching online, I find out the chicks should be the same size before you integrate.  What?  I guess I should of looked into this before integrating.  Keeping up two brooders was not something I wanted to do, plus the new girls were outgrowing their brooder fast, so they were going to have to get along.

Then it dawned on me we had another smaller dog cage.  I took a side to that dog cage and put it down the middle of the big cage.  The big girls were on one side and little girls on the other side.  Whew!  It worked out great because the little ones could fit through the gate and go over and check out what the big girls were up to, but could run back to their side if they needed to get away.  It was driving the Silkie’s mad they couldn’t get to the other side as they were too big.  The first one to go over and check out the Silkies was our Easter Egger, she intently watched one of the Silkies take a dust bath.  My daughter decided to name the Easter Egger “Brave” because she was the first to venture out from the other side.

Goldie sneaking over to steal some of the Silkies food.

I kept them separated for a few days, at that point the little ones were going back and forth pretty freely.  I thought the separating panel could come down.  I took it down and all hell broke loose again.    This time I put it back up but tied it to the top of the cage so the Silkie’s could get back and forth too, but not super easy.  I did this for two more days.  It seemed odd to me they could each go to the other side, but for some reason, they liked that divider there.  Then one night I saw ALL the chicks huddled together sleeping in the Silkie’s sandbox.  I swear I was like a proud momma, I just couldn’t believe it.    After that night I took the separation gate down and they’ve been getting along just great ever since.   They still pretty much sleep in their sand boxes, Silkies on their side and new girls on their side.

If anyone is combing chicks a couple weeks apart, I highly recommend the set up of the larger dog cage with the separation gate between the flocks, it really worked out great.


  1. It's nice to get this all over with in the brooder. The process outside is much slower. This year we're building a new hen house (I know, can you believe it?!?) and then we'll have our new girls in an Eglu. Then the Eglu is moving to be the new home for our new ducks. Excited to see your setup!

    1. You guys are busy bees over there. Can't wait to see your new hen house. Ducks....OMG, I laughed, but I shouldn't because next year, I'll probably be following suit! Our setup is coming along, looks great, gotta get some pictures posted.