Adding New Chicks To The Flock

Sunday at my parents’ house while sitting around the table eating lunch after church I began telling the family about my experience the day before with adding the new young chicks to our existing flock. As they sat around snickering at me my sister tells me, “That’s one for the blog!”. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, I don’t know if I want to share that or not”. But here goes.

First, let me clarify that our existing flock is not full grown chickens. They are about 10 weeks old now. They are getting close to full grown size, but not quite there yet. They also have partial comb and wattle growth, but they have not completely grown in. Here are a few pictures of them about a week ago, but they have already grown more since then.

The baby chicks are about 5 weeks old now and we have spent several different field trips outside supervising them getting to know each other. The big gals have done a little chasing and a little pecking, but there has been nothing malicious and unrelenting. They mostly just keep some space between themselves. You can see from these photos from the same day that there is a difference in size, but it is not drastic.

So, Saturday morning we decided to go ahead and start the permanent process of adding the new baby chicks to the flock. We made sure all of the big gals were inside the chicken run and we closed the run up so they could not free range. We then put the 3 new chicks in the coop. Although, the coop door was open, the big gals were in the run and the babes were in the coop. We had opted not to close the coop up for several days as some suggest for new chicks because we did not want to keep the big gals cooped up.

We watched the babes for the longest time inside the coop while they explored and checked out their new home. It was a lot bigger than the brooder box they were used to. They each found the water and feed one by one. They were quite content for sometime just exploring inside while the big gals scratched obliviously out in the run.

Eventually, the rooster of the chicks became a little curious at the coop door and ventured out into the run. The other two chicks followed behind. The big gals and babes saw each other and they mostly just kept to separate corners of the chicken run. Although they moved about in the run through the day they were still clearly keeping a respectful distance from each other all day.

So, you’re probably reading thinking what is so funny. Well, Jon had to close Saturday evening at work and I was going to close the chickens up for the night. It was not completely dark, but I took a small flashlight with me in case I needed it as it was darker in the back corner of the yard under the trees and such. I didn’t see any chickens in the run so I though sa-weet! I closed the coop door. I then raised the lid to the coop to peak in at everyone. There was the big gals perched up on their roost, but no babes. So, I turned the flashlight on and started looking closer in the run. All 3 of the chicks were laying on each other tucked in the corner between the coop and the ramp. You could barely see them huddled up like that.

I opened the coop door and tried shining the light inside the coop to lure the chicks inside. This had worked with the big gals when they were learning to go in at night so I thought I’d give it a try. One of them stuck its head out and looked toward the light and then just nestled itself right back in to sleep. Great, now I’ve got to go into the run and put them in the coop.

So, what’s the big deal? Well if you haven’t read Jon’s post on building the chicken run or if you do not remember the specifics, the chicken run is not tall enough to walk into. It is roughly 2.5 feet tall. So I began my not so graceful duck walk crawl thingy into the chicken run with the flashlight in my mouth so that I could see/avoid poop etc. I was trying to not put my knees on the ground so I would not get my capris dirty. Man, it would have been easier if I had been wearing some real shoes instead of flip-flops! Somewhere during this process I thought maybe we should have made the run taller or made the top hinged to flip open. Sigh.

At any rate, so I get to the coop and the chicks and pick one up and put it inside the coop. I go to pick up the next one and the first one jumped out of the coop. We went through this little chicken juggling act a few times. Some of them would look into that deep dark nothingness of the coop I just put them in and jump right back out others never looked and just jumped. So, then I tried to hold them in the coop with my right hand while picking up another with my left. When I had 2 in the coop and only one more to pickup then one inside the coop jumped onto my arm and then out of the coop. Gees, this was getting ridiculous! Finally, I got all 3 of them inside the coop.

Then I realized that the rope we use to hold the coop door open is still hooked on the nail…you know the nail on the outside of the run. So now I’m holding the 3 chicks with my left hand, crouching with my duck like form and trying to reach far to my right through the chicken wire and unhook the loop of the rope off of the nail so that the door would close. Somewhere in here I realized it may have been easier to have the door closed before going into the run. Most days I think I am an intelligent person, but in times like this I truly began to wonder. I eventually got that rope unsecured so the coop door could drop without letting the magical jumping beans escape again.

Then I began my not so graceful duck walk crawl thing out of the chicken run. Man, I could barely stand up when I got out. I think my knees had locked in that permanent position! I closed the chicken run back and then went to peak in on the chicks in the coop. Still the big gals were properly perched on their roost seemingly annoyed by all of the ruckus. The babes were now huddled in a ball right in front of the coop door.

Of course when I tell Jon about this later he is sorry but half amused. I tell him that he of course gets to crawl in the next night to put them in the coop. Sunday night when its his turn I am almost anxious waiting to see him crawl his way in there and they were all in the dang coop! Come on?!? Really? In his defense he did have to crawl in with the older gals one time and put them in, but they stayed in the coop when he put them in there!

Monday, he was off and decided to open the run up to allow some free range. The big gals were more than anxious to leave the run. The babes did not immediately, but did eventually creep their way out always keeping close to the run. That night he just had to pick them up and set them inside the coop from the outside because they were not in the run.

Tuesday, he stood and watched as what appeared to be one of the big gals trying to coax/lead the babes into the coop at dusk. There was a bit of back and forth and the big gal stood at the door until they would all go in. One was timid and wouldn’t seem to go in as if afraid of passing her. She stepped back further away from the coop and the last babe went into the coop. Then the big gal went on in after.

Needless to say, I do not have any pictures of my comical ordeal. But I will leave you with a picture of the gals and girls behaving as they should.

Awh, ain’t they cute?