As a poultry owner, you will soon begin to discover that your baby chicks don’t stay small for too long and soon become big enough to venture off into the big outside world all by themselves. They are also well equipped with much thicker and fuller feathers and no longer require the heat from the brooder. Moving your young chickens from the brooder can often be a difficult task, especially when you are unsure as to where you can physically move your chickens to. Moving your younger chickens into the main coop can be a disaster waiting to happen, especially when you have a fully organised pecking order already established and adult birds that have the potential to act aggressive to any new visitors. As much as you would love to place your younger chickens into the coop, it’s highly recommend not to do so, as all your hard work in raising them may be wasted if something fatal may happen due to older and overzealous chickens. This is where a grow out pen is ideal.
What is a grow out pen?
A grow out pen is a separate area that is most commonly built up beside your existing chicken coop or inside the coop run. It’s secure enough to prevent your older chickens from attacking or harming your younger chicks, but allows them the opportunity to see and smell them. This all leads and helps towards the introductory process. A great and often inexpensive option for a grow out pen is a large dog crate, but a professionally and purpose built chicken grow out pen is always recommended. Grow out pens are certainly an ideal and safe way for both your older and younger chickens to get to know one another in a safe and controlled manner before the younger chickens grow a little more before being finally introduced to the rest of the flock.
Many poultry owners choose to use large dog crates, wooden dog houses and much more. Whatever you choose to use, you must ensure above any other factor is that it’s safe and secure from predators. It will also need to provide plenty of shelter, warmth and also a run in order for your younger chickens to be able to stretch their legs throughout the day.
Grow out pens can be much more!
Grow out pens don’t just end there. Once your younger chickens are big enough and can hold their own against the older chickens in your flock, a grow out pen can also be utilised for many other purposes such as a:
A great way to selectively breed certain chickens with roosters. It prevents other chickens or roosters becoming involved.
A holding pen is ideal for placing aggressive roosters into. With plenty of girls around, roosters can often fight one another over the choice of possibly mates. Simply place two roosters together without the chickens and they will calm down in no time at all.
Place an injured chicken inside the pen to allow her to recover safely. The pen will be close enough to the existing flock so that she will be able to be reintroduced much easier than if she was removed from the flock entirely. She will also be incredibly happier that she can socialize despite feeling under the weather.
Time out pen
A great place to put an overly aggressive chicken, especially if she is making the pecking order a little too seriously and is being overly rough with her other coop companions.
An ideal place to put a mother hen and her eggs before the chicks hatch. This way, you will not need to worry about the chicks being harmed.
IMPORTANT: Always remember that a grow out pen is not suitable for quarantining sick chickens. If you must quarantine a sick chicken, you will need to find a suitable location and setup far away from your current flock to avoid the possibility of infection or contamination.