How to integrate your chicks with your adult hens
All of us crazy chicken ladies (and men) have a little bit different ways of integrating our flocks. It can be a anxiety provoking process, but with a great plan, you will be successful!
We usually take 2-3 weeks to fully integrate, sometimes a bit longer, breed dependent. Chicks need a heat source until 6 weeks (longer if you live in a cold climate) which is when most chicks are fully feathered. If you look under their wings, and they have their feathers and no bare spots, that’s a good sign!
I don’t typically recommend integrating until they are at least 18-20 weeks for 2 reasons.. they need to be big enough to defend themselves and chicks are on grower feed until then for the extra protein to help them grow to their full potential. Adult hens can develop certain health issues if fed a consistent amount of extra protein.
When they are ready to integrate, we start by having them in an outside enclosed area during the day where your adult hens can see them but can’t get to them. I usually do this for about a week.
I’ll then put 2-3 of the adult hens in with the 18-20 week old pullets (formally baby chicks) so that they can get acquainted and start the process of the pecking order without being overwhelmed. I’ll keep those hens and pullets together for another week or so.
When you’re ready to move your pullets, it’s usually easier on everyone if you do it at night. Place them in with your adult flock on the roost poles or whatever your set up is. That way they will wake up with them in the morning. Expect some drama. Chickens can be mean to each other, but ultimately they have to establish a pecking order. The longer you stretch the integration process, the easier it will be on your birds and the less drama you will have. I hope this helps!!!