Country Living Series

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Moving day for chicks

Our Jersey Giant chicks were getting way too crowded in their box.

Besides, they were getting to the smelly hysterical stage that makes for tiresome house guests. Time to move them into the coop.

We have an interior cage in the chicken coop designed for chicks (or for separating roosters or for any other reason we need to isolate some birds). I gave everything a good cleaning, then we installed some hardware cloth over the existing chicken wire so wily babies couldn't slip through.

Then Don and I carried the box of chicks from the house to the coop and installed the babies. As chicks will do, they immediately huddled in one corner, terrified of their new environment.

It didn't matter that they had a zillion times more room in their new digs. They weren't budging from that wall.

Hearing the peeping, one of the adult hens wandered into the coop and stared at the birds as if she'd never seen a baby before.

Which, come to think of it, she hadn't. (She's only a year old.)

I left the chicks alone to let them settle in. Within an hour they were scattered about, luxuriating under the heat lamp, eating and drinking, and otherwise acting normally.

But of course the moment I stepped into the coop, the chicks would give the alarm and flee back to their corner. Such is the nature of chicks.

We'll swap the heat lamp bulb for a regular bulb during the upcoming heat wave so as not to bake them. Also, as the summer progresses, we plan to build a new coop for the chickens inside our yard so the chickens will be protected from coyotes. After losing our dear Snap, we don't want to risk losing any more of the chickens.


  1. How do you integrate the new chicks with the flock? We got 4 Aracaunas this year, but each time we introduce them to the flock they take quite a licking.

    1. Since they're in the coop, everyone gets used to each other for a few weeks. Still, when we DO start releasing the babies, they take their licks (though usually it's not too bad) -- that's literally where the term "pecking order" comes from. Everyone has to figure out their place in the flock.

      - Patrice

    2. It has taken over a month for my new two RIR not being pecked half to death. Luckily the newbies can run pretty darn fast! They still sleep together in one of the nest boxes because the older ones chase them off the roosting bar at night. Can't wait until they all sort it out!

    3. Chickenmom, it looks worse than it is, but as long as there's no blood, I guess it is okay.
      I noticed last night that one of my JG pullets was roosted with the big hens, and not with the other JG's on their lower roost. She either held her ground when the hens came in or she slipped up there after they got settled in and were "sleepy".

  2. We have a similar set up to yours, with a coop within a coop. Our Jersey giants tend to be more skittish than our Wyandottes or NHReds, and when we moved them from the horse tank in the shop to the pen in the coop, they spent a fair amount of time gazing at the OSB back wall. When they were big enough and fast enough and it was necessary due to room issues, I let the hens out the door to free range and then opened the pen and the little door to the chicken yard. After three days of them not leaving the coop, I had a fun-filled morning of showing them the door to the yard. I would no more than get one or two out, grab another bird and the first two would be back in. They finally figured it out and that evening they returned to their pen and I closed their cage door and let the hens in the coop. There came a day I opened the chicken yard gate and let the hens in to mingle with (and chase) the young'uns. So far, the hens are still chasing them a bit but it's less and less. I noticed today one of my JG roosters is almost as big as the grown hens, so not sure how much longer they will chase him.
    I waste far too much time just watching them.
    My cornish cross meat chicks are a week old today and they are getting outdoor time in the shade (with a heavy chainlink gate over the horse tank. It's nice to not have to run the heat lamp and to get the smell out of the shop. They will soon go to the coop pen, as I see they are feathering out pretty quickly.

  3. Integrating of new members of a flock should be done after dark by placing the new members on the roost with the old ones.