The Chicken Chronicles, Week 5


Go here to see last week's report.

The chicks continue to grow and get more adventurous.  We try to get them out as much as possible so they can run around–I just hate the thought of any creature spending so much time in a cage.  But, for their own safety and to make sure they stay warm and fed, they've got a few weeks left in the brooder.

The big news this week is that we are starting to bring them outside for just a few minutes at a time so they can meet the other hens.  Here are the adults, regarding the newcomers with suspicion: 

Dolley bess abigail

And here are the newcomers, regarding the adults with suspicion:


Chickens are nothing if not wary.  Hens do not look at strange baby chicks and immediately say, "Oh, she's so cute, is she mine?" Really, if their hormones aren't telling them to love it, they don't love it.

It's not quite warm enough for the chicks to be outside for any length of time, so we're only doing this for a few minutes here and there when the sun's out. I am worried about one of the larger birds pecking them–even a small injury would be difficult to deal with.  So we, too, are approaching the whole situation with caution.


  1. Its good to see the chicks out. I went through this last summer with mine. I really began to understand the term “pecking order” when I released the new chicks. Some of the hens were more aggressive than others. Its good you are keeping an eye on injuries too. Once they get injured the other chickens will continue to pick at it. 🙁 Otherwise, get ready to enjoy the fun part of raising chickens!

  2. I’m sure it’s much colder where you are and I don’t know the size of your coop (ours was 8’x8′ and has now graduated to 16’x8′), but what we did to get everyone used to each other was we kept the chicks in an extra large wire dog crate with a heat lamp over them in the coop with the adult birds. It made it a lot easier to get everyone used to each other, esp. since our adult Silver Laced Wyandottes are rather aggressive with our other birds.

  3. @Dog Island Farm – Our Golden Laced Wyandotte was the one I had to watch the most for aggressiveness. It must be the breed. That’s a great idea using the large dog cage, btw.

  4. I’ve seen that it is good to introduce newcomers at night into the main coop, when the adults are drowsy and their internal clock is exhorting them to rest. And that they’ll work out their differences in the morning. But the little squirts need to be feathered out before you do that of course.

    Friend of mine has a double-decker sort of arrangement. The younger pullets live downstairs, literally, for some weeks after they’ve feathered out, and then she removes the divider between the levels in her combo coop/run, and the younger ones get to know the older ones gradually. She usually has a flock of 30 or more birds, and it works well enough.

  5. Love the chicken updates! Past experience with chickes is that it is best to keep them apart until the young ones are completely feathered out. If a chicken didn’t hatch ’em she doesn’t want them eating her food.

  6. Ditto what Kathy said, I’ve never seen a “teenaged” chicken before. I’m such a city slicker. I’m loving this series on your chickens. Do you have any problems with varmints; raccoons, cats, etc., going after your chickens?

  7. This merge of the two flocks does take time, doesn’t it? The outdoor meet-and-greet time is perfect to get everyone used to the idea, but it’s still a very slow process. I wonder what evolutionary reason there is for such hostility to newcomers?

    Robin Ripley

  8. The chickens are interesting, but I can’t help noticing the perennials coming up in the photos. Looks like spring has come early to your neck of the woods, while it is so late coming to the Carolinas. My plants are weeks behind yours.

  9. Melissa, what I found very funny is that we were warned repeatedly that Rhode Island Reds were aggressive and that we shouldn’t get them. Turns out they are the friendliest of all our chickens.

  10. Here’s a question for the experienced chicken owners among you: what do you do about aging hens that no longer earn their keep? wait until they die of natural causes? donate them to a snake ranch? wring their little scrawny necks and dig them into the garden as fertilizer, a la the Pilgrims with fish?

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