It happens. You buy new chicks and every spring you buy MORE new chicks. With all the new animals coming to your homestead it takes a little time. Everyone has their routine and space they call their own and when a new comer shows up, things can get a little crazy.
If you want to introduce your new chicks to your current flock I’ve found using a crate to be the easiest way.
When we were new chicken owners we made the common mistakes, and one of them was the first year we moved to our farmhouse. When you come from a small lot in the city to actual acreage, the sky is the limit right?!
I had no problem free ranging our birds at our house. When we got a few more hens to add to the flock we just took those girls out and let them fend for themselves.
Big mistake. In fact the one hen that is left STILL gets picked on. I’ve separated her and all that and she still tends to be the outsider.
This time I was setting up our new chicks for success with our current flock.
This is how it worked for us and I hope it will work for you too.
Add New Chicks to the Flock Slowly
We have six new chickens. A mix of breeds. Barred Rock, Easter Egger mix, and what I think may be my next big mistake- Leghorns.
With our lovely new barn, I get to keep all my animals in spot. Oh this is convenient and if it is ever possible for peace of mind, I recommend all animals in one barn. They all have separate stalls/coop.
Anyways we picked up the old rabbit hutch we found on the side of the road and used it for the new chicks. So far this has been the best cage. In the past we’e brought home chicks and kept them in a five gallon tote, a dog crate etc. You can see all the frugal household items we use for our chickens here.
I put a few extra pieces of wood through the slats for the hens to roost on.
The old rabbit hutch has been the best. Setting up the heat lamp, the food, cleaning it out, all easier.
The other good part was this hutch was next to the chicken coop.
Once the chicks had full feathers I put them in the dog crate. I set the dog crate inside the chicken coop. I left them in the coop for six days.
The first time I opened up the crate to let the chickens out was at night. When the older hens and our rooster were already tucked in for bed.
I woke up at 5:30 am the next morning worried about my little chickies. Al was good. They were all huddled together and our Rooster- Amelio was hanging over them. I think he was laying down the lay and letting them know who’s boss.
That’s all find and dandy Ameilio until I walk in and you remember who is boss.
There have been the occasional pecks but nothing that is cause for concern. Chickens establish a pecking order for a reason. The best part of introducing this flock was having the six new ones together. In the past we only had two at one time being introduced to the flock and it didn’t go as well.
I took video for this post and one of my favorite things got caught on camera. If you don’t have a Rooster you’ll get a kick out of his duty to the ladies.
Wondering when your chickens can go outside?
As soon as your new chicks have their full feathers you can let them out into the chicken run. If you are free ranging or pasture raising your birds be mindful they are the perfect size for Hawks, Fox and other predators.
My frugal tip for this is to keep an eye out for old dog crates/rabbit cages. Whether its on the side of the road, garage sale or craigslist. It is so nice to have extra on hand. For chickens its nice to use to keep a sick bird, a broody hen, the list goes on.
To recap: Put your chicks in a crate inside your chicken coop. Let them get acquainted safely to the new flock. We did six days. I would say no less than three since it seems to be three days for chickens to adjust to a new coop. Let them out at night and keep an eye on them the next day!
Our new flock of chickens still only go out of the coop a few hours a day. It’s so cute but they are quite timid yet of the outdoors. In time they will be roaming around and trying to get into our gardens like the rest of the chickens.