How to add chickens to a flock?
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
Do not add a single bird! You can do it, but more than likely it will not be pretty. The more young birds you add, the better. A single new bird, all of the established birds will get their licks in. If there are several, the home team will have several to pick on, and it spreads it out.
Measure your space. Making sure you have enough space. This time of year, free ranging will not help, as the birds are roosted for most of the 24 hours. Provide hideouts, extra feed bowls, and water. Watch but don't interfere unless there is blood. If there is a single very aggressive bird, you can pull her out for a couple of days.
Chicken society of a flock is closed, and it can be a while before they will become one flock. Probably when the pullets start laying. Until then they will be a sub flock.
What you need to do is fence off part of your run, or a space alongside it, where you can house the new girls for a couple of weeks. This would be AFTER you quarantine them well away from your flock. If you keep them separated by a fence for a while it gives everybody time to settle in, time for the older birds to get used to the newbies and they will even work out some of their pecking order issues through the fence. Then you can start letting them out together, you'll still need to observe to make sure things don't get out of hand. Usually if they've had time to get used to each other through a fence then pecking order scuffles are usually not to bad once they do go out together.
Some people may suggest just popping these new birds into the coop at night and let them work it out the next day. And that may work in large flocks, but in smaller flocks the existing birds know full well that there are strangers in the coop when it gets light and it can go very badly for the new birds if you are not right there to supervise. I've always kept small flocks and this approach has never, ever worked for me. The other downside to that is occasionally once a flock gets it in their tiny brains that they want to chase and attack the new birds sometimes they just don't ever get over it. Chickens just really hate new comers and they can be really brutal. I've found that taking a slow integration approach works best and is least stressful for all involved.
There's no need to separate the newcomers in the coop at night. Just let them go into the coop following the original flock going in and settling in.
At roosting time, once chickens are settled on their perches, they generally lose interest in creating conflict.
After a couple of weeks in a separate pen in the run, let the newcomers mingle. It's not wise to keep them separate for too long since it will be reinforced in the minds of the original flock that they're outsiders, and it will take that much longer for them to integrate fully. but you want to make sure there are multiple feeding and watering stations since the newcomers will be chased away from food and water at first.
You probably aren't going to see everyone eventually become best friends. The newcomers will always pretty much keep to themselves because that's how chickens are. This is one reason why you need to add new chickens in numbers rather than singly.
Articles by azygous:
Articles by azygous: