The weekend after we let our chicks out of the coop for the first time we were forecasted to have about 3 days of lows at night ranging between 19 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our mature chickens had been sleeping in an outside chicken coop day and night. The coop was closed in on 2 sides, with a door on another but there was a free “wall” that was just chicken wire fore the most part. I say this because our chickens didn’t have the warm environment to take refuge in like our smaller birds, this meant that our two flocks of chickens needed to meet and be friendly so they could be put up together in the same coop for the nights it was going to be below freezing.
After I had let the little chickens explore for a couple of hours the day they were let out of the coop for the first time, I let the mature chickens out and coerced them over to the chicks with some scratch. They met each other and I have to say it wasn’t terrible. The older chickens definitely let the younger chicks know they were the boss, especially the bantams who are smaller than some of the 2 month birds already but they have the fire to let each bird know where their territory is at all times.
The chickens were always relatively near each other in their two separate coops, and could hear each other. So they weren’t completely alien to each other’s existence. I think this helped a lot .
But for safety reasons, of the older birds not killing the smaller birds, I let them hang out together for two days before putting them up together in the same coop at night. They spent two days free ranging outside together, getting acquainted with the idea of coexisting in the same area.
The first night I had to have the mature chickens go into their original coop in order to even get them in the new coop. I let them roost as they normally would for the night, went in, closed the door behind me, and then one by one grabbed and carried each bird into the new and warm coop. This was a task, but was totally doable, and pretty fun to get to carry and snuggle each bird whether they liked it or not. The second night was much easier because my husband was home to help me. He caught the mature birds and then I put them into the coop.
Now that a few days have passed since their first sleepover in the new coop, the mature chickens are much more used to the idea of this new coop being their coop. The laying hens have been laying in the new coop successfully. Except for the bantams…the bantams are either laying phantom eggs or are in protest. I have to go out there later this morning to look for eggs and hopefully I will find 2 white eggs, 2 brown eggs, and 2 small bantam eggs.
Also, the chicks seem to be getting braver and are using more of the space. They aren’t all clung to each other in a corner any more. They are spread out, and I think are learning how to express their own dominance, or just know where not to go and where to go to avoid conflict in peace. All in all, they seem to be cohabiting pretty well, and I am pretty pleased with how the transition went.
Below is a video go the two flocks meeting for the first time. It is a series of “livecam” clips put together. It is a follow up to the video I posted yesterday and it is so interesting to me watch how the two flocks interact with each other for the first time.
As they say, it could have been worse. Glad it wasn’t! <3