Boy chickens grow up fast. Seeing these ladies outside full time brings me a ton of joy. Their relationship with our older egg layer also continues to entertain.
Here's how I slowly introduced them into them to their sister and their much larger environment:
It was pretty apparent Duckie was very interested in the new chicks immediately after I moved them from the house to the shop. The first time she heard those "cheeps" coming from the plastic tub she ran straight to it and hopped up on it to see what was going on.
For the actual introduction and the beginning of the establishment of the pecking orderI used chicken wire and 3ft. wooden stakes to build a small pen for the small chicks to be in without having to chase them when I wanted to get them back inside. This gave Duckie the opportunity to see and hear them without being able to peck away at them too much. I'll never forget the way she ran across the yard to get to them the first time I put them in their pen. It was a great moment!
Over the course of a couple of weeks I put the chickens in that pen every other day or so, sometimes just for a few minutes at a time, they ate some grass, felt some rain and started to communicate with Duckie.
Officially moving into the coop:
I waited for a reasonably warm weekend and officially put the ladies in the coop. At our place, the coop is only used for sleeping, the ladies free range all day. After moving them I gave them 3 or 4 full days in there to get used to the temperature and to help them understand the coop is where they're safe, that it's home.
When I finally, opened the door a few days later they spent half the day inside before finally venturing out and exploring the 10 ft. radius around the coop. Duckie would stop by and peck them every so often so they knew who was in charge, but for the most part she did her thing bug hunting, digging and laying while they stayed near the coop. Although I had to catch them to get them back into the coop in the evening for a few nights, all in all, things were going well!
After a week of staying close to the coop the chickens finally ventured out into the yard on their own. It was a Saturday morning that I looked out there and saw them in the garden digging and enjoying the day. This made the kids pretty happy, our baby chicks were finally free rangers! Although they escape the fenced garden area every so often, they go into the coop on their own in the evenings and appear to be enjoying their life. Duckie continues to show her dominance through occasional pecking when I put her in the coop at night but these 3 aren't showing any ill-affects to this point.
Adding these 3 ladies to our flock has been a joy. It took preparation, care and strategic thinking. To see them enjoying each other and their home is a daily reminder of how amazing the small things in life are.
I will look forward to updating you on the eggs once they start laying. It should be a great spring and summer watching them grow.