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merging two flocks

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have two flocks in separate coops.  The hens are the same age 1.5 years.  I would like to combine the two flocks into one and start a new flock in the empty coop.  There are 10 hens in one flock and 16 in the other.  I would appreciate advise.  Has anyone done something similar?  Or does anyone think they know what will happen- how they will feel about this.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 7

Hens have a pecking order.  Period.  Both of these flocks have theirs well established and just know that putting them all together at once is going to cause mayhem.  And it could turn out very badly for some.  Eeeek!  I would advise taking it slowly and integrating the flock of 10 in to the 16 flock by two's.  Add them at night after they have settled in.  And take your time.  Each time the whole group has to reestablish pecking order!  I would give it one week as you add each group of two.  Which means taking a total of 5 weeks to do this.

 

This is in MY humble opinion and how I would do it if it were my flock.  Someone else may have their own advice for you.

 

Good luck!

"When raising chickens you must think like a chicken...NOT like a human!"

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies-diseases-injuries-before-they-happen 

 

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"When raising chickens you must think like a chicken...NOT like a human!"

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies-diseases-injuries-before-they-happen 

 

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post #3 of 7


There are lots of threads on integrating flocks so i would suggest you have a quick squizz. Its possible i guess, that re-housing both flocks into a different, i.e. neutral coop may help reduce the level of territorial squabbles, but it could also have the effect of causing a bit of stress in the initial stages, as they all will be a bit confused by the change. Free ranging would ease the transition significantly.

 

Good luck

 

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #4 of 7

I have 2 flocks also. Their coops are connected side by side so they have always known each other existed. Their are about 4 months in age though between the 2 flocks. I have been letting them free range at the same time for a few weeks now and they go in different directions with their respective flocks. Well the past few days they been bumping into each other, and the older girls are a little rough with the younger flock. I was hoping that free ranging them together will help get the squabbling down somewhat as I too will have to be moving them together soon. We hatched out 7 new chicks, Thursday they will be 2 weeks old, so I do have a good amount of time to get them co existing. Best of luck to you merging your flocks, hope all goes well.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorabunda View Post
 

I have two flocks in separate coops.  The hens are the same age 1.5 years.  I would like to combine the two flocks into one and start a new flock in the empty coop.  There are 10 hens in one flock and 16 in the other.  I would appreciate advise.  Has anyone done something similar?  Or does anyone think they know what will happen- how they will feel about this.

 

Thanks

Welcome to BYC!

Tho it looks as if you've been a member for 5 years but this is your first post?

Maybe you've just been reading here a lot in all that time? If so, welcome out of the closet....haha!

 

How big are the coops(feet by feet)?

Do you free range or have separate runs too?

What is your climate? Putting your location in your profile can help folks give better advice/suggestions.

Do you plan to integrate them now or in the spring?

Knowing more about the situation might help folks give more specific advice.

 

Not sure adding them a few at a time will work, makes for smaller target for existing flock to focus on.

Putting them in at night with the hope that the existing birds will not notice the new ones in the morning, often backfires.

Like bobbie-j sez.... "chickens aren't the brightest animals on this planet, but they're not that stupid." 

 

Adding like sized flocks together all at once might create enough diversion to be an advantage and balance the numbers to the flocks' advantage.

 

Lots of space, multiple feed/water stations, and places to hide 'out of line of sight' (but no dead ends) and/or up and away from aggressors is key to lessen fighting during merging of flocks or the integration of new birds. It's all about territory(space) and resources(food,water).

 

 

Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......

......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.

See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

 

Integration of new chickens into flock.

 

Consider medical quarantine:

BYC Medical Quarantine Article

Poultry Biosecurity

BYC 'medical quarantine' search

 

It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.

Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

 

Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

 

The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

 

Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

 

Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

 

In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

 

Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

 

For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

 

 

Read up on integration.....  BYC advanced search>titles only>integration

This is good place to start reading:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

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Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #6 of 7
Aart makes some very good points. Knowing how much room you have in each coop plus what run space is available with each could make it a lot easier to make specific suggestions. Otherwise we are operating in a vacuum. It sounds like you do not have any roosters. One would not be bad but two would make it a lot more intense.

Each flock has their own pecking order plus their own dominant hen. That’s important because the dominant hen is not only on top of the pecking order, she has assumed a lot of flock responsibilities that a rooster normally manages. When you merge the flocks all the hens will have to determine their place in the pecking order but the two dominant ones will also have to determine which one will be boss of the combined flock. Sometimes they sort this out and you don’t even notice, it goes that smoothly. Sometimes it can get really violent.

I think the two biggest factors are the individual personalities of the hens involved and how much room they have. The more room the better. When chickens fight it normally doesn’t take that long before one decides they are better off running away. There may be some chasing and even follow-up sessions to make sure the message has reached home, but as long as they have room to run away and get away it normally ends with neither being hurt. After a while they become best friends. But if they don’t have enough room to run away the winner does not know she has won and keeps attacking. That can be fatal. Some chickens are more aggressive than others and may keep attacking anyway.

I don’t know what your facilities look like. Hopefully they have at least been able to see each other where they are now, even if they could not get together. What I suggest is to move them all into the largest facility you have at night after they have all gone to bed. They are easier to catch on the roost. Keep the coop where they are going as dark as you can overnight, then be out there before they wake up to open doors and let them out so they have as much outside space to use as possible. Give them room to get away. Do not leave them locked in the coop after they wake up, that is a recipe for disaster. They cannot get away. Commit to being out there early each day until you are confident they can co-exist.

We integrate all the time. Usually it’s not too bad but occasionally it is a disaster. I have no idea what your facilities look like so it’s hard to even get a feel for how hard it might be for you. Good luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank-you to everyone who took the time to give me advice. I appreciate it. I have been a member for quite some time. I usually learn by reading others posts. I am in San Diego County, California. The layout of my coops are: 1 coop building is 5' x10' with a yard attached of 10' x 12'. This coop has 10 hens and 1 rooster. Second coop building is 5' x 12' with an attached yard of 17' x 20'. This coop has 15 hens and one rooster. (But it originally had 20 hens-had some deaths.) I know I will have to get rid of one rooster. Or maybe keep him in with my peafowl until the new chicks are big enough to be introduced to him.
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