I’m going to be hatching eggs again soon, and that reminds me that I need to think about housing for the new chicks and when to attempt to introduce them to my existing flock. I’ve done this before with no serious problems, but I expect a rougher time since there will be roosters this time. I thought I’d share with you how I did it last time with my Barred Rock hens and Black Copper Marans chicks.
I started the introductions while the BCMs were still really little. I’d leave the BR hens in their tractor, and bring the BCM chicks out of the brooder to play in the grass next to the tractor. The hens would check them out, and then give them the stink eye, before losing interest and going back to pecking for bugs. Once the chicks were starting to outgrow their brooder, I divided the coop part of the tractor with hardware cloth. The BCMs lived on the side without access to the run, the Barred Rocks had access to their nests and the run, as well as enough room to roost on their end. They could see one another through the hardware cloth without actually mixing. For a couple of hours every day I’d let everyone out to free range together. J-Bear and I would take turns chick-sitting during the free range time to watch for scuffles until we were sure that they were getting along in the wide open. There were only a couple of times that the big girls got pushy. We sat back and watched, just making sure nobody drew blood. When the BCMs started to outgrow their little end of the chicken tractor, we moved everyone to the big chicken coop (5′ x 21′) with the even bigger run (18′ x 21′). We had no problems at all. The became fast friends.
I’ll let you know how introductions go when we have roosters involved. If anyone has done this with success, let us know how you did it. We’d love to learn from your success!