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Merging Flocks - advice?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I have an established flock of 4 hens (3 sexlings & 1 white leghorn) & a leghorn roo named Peckerhead, all about 8 mos old. There are 2 rd isle reds a few months younger who have finally been accepted by the flock & roam w/ them now, so he has 6 hens altogether. Peckerhead is great rooster; keeps them all together, watches out for dangers & alerts to new food. 

 

So we also have 3 new pullets & a cockerel named James Dean about 2-3 months old we kept separate & now I think they are old enough & sturdy enough to withstand a little roo "roughness." What is the best way to go about merging the flocks? Just put them all together & see how it plays out? Should I introduce them to the hens first w/o Peckerhead? We let them roam on about 8 acres so they have plenty of room. Little Jimmy just seems to be more docile & I worry how he will fair w/ Mr. "Cock of the Walk" Peckerhead. It seems some on here like a more assertive rooster like Peckerhead & some prefer a more docile one like James Dean seems to be. Any advice for this novice chicken herder?? 

post #2 of 6
Hello! You should stop by the New member board so you can get a proper welcome. There is a learning center on this site with tons of great advice, and the members are helpful and friendly.
To answer your question try this article, hopefully it fully answers your questions.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-integrate-your-chicken-flock-the-easy-way
post #3 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChickGuardian View Post
 

I have an established flock of 4 hens (3 sexlings & 1 white leghorn) & a leghorn roo named Peckerhead, all about 8 mos old. There are 2 rd isle reds a few months younger who have finally been accepted by the flock & roam w/ them now, so he has 6 hens altogether. Peckerhead is great rooster; keeps them all together, watches out for dangers & alerts to new food. 

 

So we also have 3 new pullets & a cockerel named James Dean about 2-3 months old we kept separate & now I think they are old enough & sturdy enough to withstand a little roo "roughness." What is the best way to go about merging the flocks? Just put them all together & see how it plays out? Should I introduce them to the hens first w/o Peckerhead? We let them roam on about 8 acres so they have plenty of room. Little Jimmy just seems to be more docile & I worry how he will fair w/ Mr. "Cock of the Walk" Peckerhead. It seems some on here like a more assertive rooster like Peckerhead & some prefer a more docile one like James Dean seems to be. Any advice for this novice chicken herder?? 

Welcome to BYC!

 

First, I wonder....why do you need 2 cock/erels?

What are your chicken keeping goals that you would need 2 males?

2 males and 9 females could very well result in over-mating and the males fighting.

Sometimes it can work and sometimes it can be disastrous.

Lots of variables in goals, housing, individual bird temperaments, etc.

 

With the new birds at 2-3 months you won't see male fighting problems,

so no need to separate the young cockerel from the older one,

but adding any new birds will usually result in territorial disputes as the existing birds all defend their space and resources(food/water) from the intruders.

 

Lots of space, multiple feed/water station, places to hide 'out of line of sight' (but not dead end traps) and/or up and away from aggressors will all will help smooth the integration. Tho the newbies will remain a semi-separate 'subflock' even after the new pullets start laying.

 

 

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."

Reply

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 #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the tips! We really don't NEED two cock/erels, but it turned out one of the newbies was a male & he's such a sweetie pie, I just can't decide at this point whether to keep him/replace our big rooster or try to re-home him. We've had to cull multiple males over the past year & I just don't want to do it w/ him, but I know my bf won't stand for having two roosters much longer once the little starts crowing, too. It's such a tough life for a rooster...Will post an update in a few weeks & let you know how it all goes! 

post #5 of 6
Just a few secnerios i think of off the top of my head here
1:the older roo may keep his girls in check and not let them fight too much with the new girls but fight the young cockrel.
2: old roo jumps on all new chickens with his current girls( the ALL BAD senerio)
3: old roo plays by hinself while new chickens have play date and young roo keeps the peace as best he can.
4: then there's the young roo and new girls all getting beat up and put into place by old girls while old roo is still playing by himself.

I dont think old and young roo will play nice for long at all and i would intrrgeate/ each roo with the group of girls seperatly. I think it will help things go smoother.
Whew! What mouthfull, hope some of it helps.
post #6 of 6

ugh! I think initially the old hens will be mean to the new flock, how mean depends on hide outs available, feed options and space. By adding 4 head to a 5 head flock, you are basically doubling the numbers. This is going to make the older birds positive that there is not enough space or food and they will more than likely put up a pretty good defense of their territory. Sometimes it can be helpful to switch the birds places for a day or so. Pull the older birds out of the main coop, and place the babies in there by themselves for a couple of days and nights. This lets them get acclimated and experienced with the hideouts. 

 

This will also upset the older birds a bit, they won't like change, and by putting them somewhere else for a while, they will not be quite so entrenched in their own home territory. 

 

I too think, that within weeks, you are going to have trouble with the roosters, and that is a lot of roosters for your set up.

 

Mrs K

Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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