When are my chicks
ready to leave the nest?
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At some point your baby chicks will need to get outside and join the flock. The methods vary depending on if your chicks are raised by a hen or in a brooder.
There are two common approaches of integrating chicks that are raised by a hen.
- The easiest is to let mother hen decide when it’s time to meet the family. She will be fiercely protective of her chicks and will keep the other birds from getting too close. This helps the chicks assimilate quickly, and by the time they’re ready to leave their mother’s side, they already have a place in the group.
- Another option is to have the hen and chicks live in a separate but adjoining area. The barrier protects them from the rest of the flock, but they can still be seen by other birds. When they’re large enough, they can join the group for proper introductions.
It’s better to slowly introduce chicks that are raised in a brooder. This process usually begins when the chicks are fully feathered, around 6 or 8 weeks of age. The chicks can be moved into a coop in a separate play pen to have a barrier between the chicks and adults, while allowing them to get to know each other.
The barrier also helps you separate their diets and feed the chicks a grow mash and the adults a layer feed. Kelley’s and Ace Hi have quality feeds at the right price and can be purchased at your neighborhood feed store.
This separation will continue until your chicks are the same size as your adult birds. They can start eating a layer feed at 18 weeks of age, so that is usually a good time to take them out of the playpen and let them join the flock.