Pampered Chicks?

chicks 2Yesterday we decided to let the chicks out for the day.  They had grown so much when Jon was in the hospital, it seemed they were big enough to be on their own.   We originally planned to put them in the coop with the hens for a couple of days which would get them acclimated to their new home and they would then know where to go at night.   But it was such a beautiful day and I couldn’t stand the thought of them all being locked up together inside.

They spent the day hanging around the lilac bush in front of my studio.  Then, at dusk, when the hens hopped into the coop the chicks hopped into the crate in the barn where they’ve been living since we got them.  I closed the door then reached in and caught them one at a time and put them in the coop with the hens.  Both hens seemed to be roosting for the night so I closed the door on the four of them.  I closed up the barn then opened the roof to the nesting box in the coop and peaked in.

Both chicks were huddled together in a corner, the white hen pecking at them.  It looked like she was trying to go for their eyes but gave them a peck where ever she could.  I watched for less than a minute before opening the door, pulling out the chicks and putting them in their crate in the barn.

I understand the idea of the pecking order, but there was no way I could leave those chicks in the coop with that hen pecking at them.  I truly believe they would have been dead in the morning. And if not, if this is something they need to go through, then they’ll just have to wait until they’re bigger and I know they can defend themselves or at least have a fighting chance. I’m not into babying the chicks, but I don’t want to send them to slaughter either.


9 thoughts on “Pampered Chicks?

  1. Maria, thank heavens you were there to remove the chicks. The hen would indeed have pecked them to death. The reality of the saying, pecking order, is naught for nothing. I had chickens for fourteen years and here are some of the things this city-born person learned: hens have only one outlet. The eggs come out clean…yet, the same outlet leaves tons of chicken poop around to be cleaned out of the hen house…how is that. I went off eggs for six months after learning that. I had a few Silkies and they hatched their eggs…I had a rooster around so they were fertilized. One, on delivery with the chicks hatching out of its shell, the hen started pecking it immediately, blood all over the place…that was when I decided that maybe chickens were too much of a reality of farm life for me…who knows. It was pretty disgusting but introducing a new chicken to the established group should be done under cover of night and even then you hold your breath and hope that newcomer is in one piece by morning. Not to disparage chickens but the term ‘bird-brain’ didn’t just happen for no reason at all.
    SandyP in Canada

  2. After having integrated chicks in with mature hens several times, I can say that you made the right decision and your fear of the outcome of putting pullets into the main coop is accurate! They integrate very nicely once they are all the same size!

  3. I loved having chickens. They are not as brainless as people think. They are entertaining to watch, but then I’m easily amused.

    In my experience you did the right thing. Older birds can easily kill or maim young ones. It takes time and effort to introduce new birds to an existing flock. You could try again, putting the new birds in the coop when they are a bit older and doing it after it’s pitch dark out. Set the new ones on the roost and hopefully when they all wake up together in the morning the old birds will be fooled into thinking they have always been a flock of four. Also, chickens don’t have object permanence, so if there are plenty of places for the new birds to get out of the line of sight of the old hens, they will be able to escape some of the bullying during the day when they are all free ranging. Good luck with the new birds, hope you have two new hens there and no roosters.

  4. yes chickens are not nice to each other. Many folks introduce new chicks with a fence in-between so they get used to each other before they can reach each other. They do need to work it out but I’m glad your making it a fair fight.

  5. Maria, I think you were wise not to put the chicks with the hens until they are bigger. We have 6 adult chickens,one lame rooster and 6 baby chicks. We are raising the chicks apart from the adults and plan to build a larger hen house and then put the chicks in that. We will introduce them slowly. In our case we may introduce the rooster first so that if he accepts them, he can control his hens. In your case, I would wait as you suggested until they can at least fend the bigger girls off.

    Hope all goes well. Barbara

  6. I so dread the long process of introducing new chicks to the flock. I put my pullets in a large dog crate inside the big run so the older girls can get used to the babies, and lock them up inside a smaller crate inside the hen house at night. Takes at least a week, sometimes two. Even at that, the older ones will still chase them when they are big enough to be let out. So glad you kept an eye on yours.

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