We found a farm store with two-week-old chicks and I bought 6 of them, so now we have 16 chickens on the farm. A two week head start is better than nothing, although it would have been nice to start with hens who were already laying.
I’ve looked up the process for integrating baby chicks into an existing flock, and it is pretty involved. Without a mother hen to protect them, there is a good likelihood that the babies will not be safe for the first six weeks.
First, you have to give them a protected area to eat their own food meant for growing chicks. We set up a box in the corner and although the adults were curious, I did not see anyone trying to attack. They were actually thrilled when I cleaned out the chick feeder and dumped the food for them to peck at. That is what is going on in the background of this photo. All the hens are picking out the “grower” feed I poured out onto the ground.
This morning one chick had hopped out of the box. I don’t know if it was the first time for this, but there are still six and they are all alive. I’ve tightened down the netting so I hope they all make it to adulthood.