Q. I have 10 chickens: five Silver Laced Wyandottes and five Buff Orpingtons, all born last February. I was going to get five Black Ameraucauna baby chicks this year and was wondering the best way to integrate them into the flock. If I have a broody chicken should I put the babies under her, or should I wait until they are older and then try to put them in the coop at night — to try to lessen some of the problems with putting new chickens in the coop? Please help, I’m very new at this. — Lynette A., Aberdeen, Washington
A. I’ve handled this situation both ways and they seemed to work equally well. However, using a broody chicken is waaaaay cuter and also easier for the farmer. One thing I’d like to caution you on is if you plan on using a broody chicken, make sure you have all of the brooder supplies ready just in case their needed.
The first time I introduced new chickens to my already-existing flock I waited until they were close to full size (maybe 13-14 weeks old) and then put them in at night. There was a bit of posturing, chest butting and pecking, but nobody was injured and it worked out fine.
Last spring I introduced new chicks by putting them under a broody hen. At the time I had two broody chickens: a Buff Orpington and a Rhode Island Red. I put the ladies in a cardboard box with chips. Late at night, I snuck into the coop and started stuffing babies under their adoptive mommies. The RIR rose up and looked around like something horrible and disgusting was happening and then began pecking the poor chicks on the head. I quickly grabbed her and kicked her (not literally, though I was tempted) out of the box.
Our BO, on the other hand, lifted herself up so that the babies could nestle under her. While she seemed a bit surprised (who wouldn’t be?), she was happy to take over the mothering. She was a wonderful mom and even when the chicks were getting older they would love to snuggle in her feathers. We kept her box in a separate area of the coop while the chicks were little so that they would be safe. Later we let all of the chickens mingle. The older chickens would occasionally chase the chicks away from delicious bugs and greens, but generally left them alone.
I put a chick waterer and feederin the boxand outside the box I had a feeder and waterer for the hen—as I wanted to make sure that she was getting the proper nutrition to help her recover from broodiness. The main advantage was that, other then filling the food and water, the hen did all the work of keeping track of them and keeping them warm.