Adding To Your Flock

Many of a start with just a few chickens and then quickly learn that we want to add more to the flock. Here's how to do that properly and safely
By Buff Hooligans · Jan 11, 2012 · ·
  1. Buff Hooligans
    Adding New Chickens to Your Flock
    Compiled and edited by Buff Hooligans

    Part One: Quarantine!

    Part Two: Understanding Flock Dynamics (the Pecking Order)
    Part Three: So You Still Want to Introduce New Chickens to Your Flock?

    Methods of Introduction

    Part 1
    Most Important Advice Ever: Quarantine!
    From a post by "lilchick" on September 16, 2008

    Most of us have felt sorry for and rescued chickens. But not taking the proper time and work to keep them separate from your original flock spells disaster! Picture losing your pet chicken to a disease brought in by some chicken that you have no feelings for. The guilt can make you want to get out of raising chickens. Not to mention the work to clean up your environment to make it safe for anymore chickens to live there. Been there, done that. My SweetTart is buried beside the pond and I walk by his grave each morning to go do chores....

    Quarantine advice from BYC Member "MissPrissy" (paraphrased)

    Getting more chickens? Read here first, please! I know many of you are planning to pick up new chickens at some of the upcoming swaps and meets. Please read this and take to heart some very simple advice given by an experienced chicken owner.

    When you get new chickens, please do not go straight home and put them in with your current flock. Do not put them in a pen inside your existing coop. Do not house them in the same area as your current flock.

    Be prepared. Make a place for them to live alone and away from your current flock for an extended time. If you don't have an area now, then please don't get new chickens until you do.
    New chickens need to be quarantined away from your other chickens for at least 30 days. Each flock of chickens has their own germs that make them immune to certain things in their environment. Speckledhen’s flock in Georgia has a far different natural flora and fauna in their system than my flock up here in Virginia. That is to be expected. But Johnny Farmer down the road and Susie Sunshine a few miles farther also have flocks that are immune to different microbiology in their immediate environment.

    During the quarantine:

    1. Observe for any signs of illness or disease.
    2. Practice good hygiene and wash your hands a lot!
    3. Enjoy your new birds while planning how to best integrate them into the flock at the end of the quarantine.
    4. Give new birds a supplement in their water to boost their immune system. Give them good probiotics - as simple as giving them a dish of yogurt.
    5. You might consider giving them a little extra protein as they will be stressed being in a new place and might drop some feathers or a little weight.
    Please give serious consideration to these simple ways of protecting your chickens, your kids and yourself.

    Quarantine advice from BYC Member "Speckledhen" (the Quarantine Queen):

    I've seen so many people who have bought new birds, and because they seem healthy, immediately throw them in with their flock. You MUST quarantine newly purchased birds unless you have bought chicks from a hatchery.

    Disease can take up to a month to show up in a seemingly healthy chicken. Many, many of these common diseases make a chicken a carrier for life, and if your flock gets it, they become carriers for life. Some are even reportable to the state and the birds must be destroyed in some cases.

    Some sellers are not aware their birds are ill, and some are just plain unscrupulous and don't care. I have only purchased ONE grown bird (my roo Hawkeye), and I kept him in quarantine for over a month. During the quarantine, I found that he did have a fungal infection on his comb and face and lice. I treated both and he was healed of both by the time he joined my flock, but it was very stressful and I'll probably never buy adult birds again.

    During quarantine, the main things to look for are lice, mites, breathing problems, discharges from eyes or nostrils, fungus type patches on the combs and wattles, raised scales on the legs, indicating scaly leg mites, etc. I certainly understand not having money for them to be vet-checked, and truthfully, most vets know nothing about chickens anyway.

    They should not share the same airspace because some diseases are airborne, as in coughing and sneezing, etc. I put my Hawkeye in a dog kennel in the basement bathroom while I went over things about him and fed him proper feed and observed his health. He did not breathe the same air as my flock for over a month.

    And you may ask what to do if you see any symptoms in the quarantined birds after the month is over? I can only tell you what I would have done with Hawkeye if he had had anything contagious other than a fungus that could be fixed - I would have put him down. He came very close, too. What I thought at first glance to be canker in his throat turned out to be just a wad of feed on the wall of the throat. He got a clean bill of health and has been a wonderful addition to my flock, but it could just as easily gone the other way. It's harsh, but it's reality. Keeping that one bird would never have been worth risking my entire healthy flock.

    As long as you follow the quarantine "protocol", then most of the time, you can stop a disease from running through your flock if you accidentally bring in an infected bird. I would much rather put down one bird than endanger my entire flock.

    I even tell people who buy my birds to quarantine. To my knowledge, they have never had anything communicable at all, but what happens if they have just contracted something and haven't shown symptoms yet for me to know? Quarantining is just a good practice.

    Practical Biosecurity (by MissPrissy)

    An Important Part of Quarantining and Ongoing Maintenance

    To be safe you really need to practice good biosecurity.

    Do not handle the new birds and then go take care of and play with your current flock. Take care of your old flock first, wash your hands, then see to the needs of the new birds. Then go wash your hands again, making sure your clothes go into the hamper or laundry and the bottoms of your shoes are clean. I have an old coat and a pair boots that I only wear to the barn. No place else will you catch me wearing them. I take my shoes off outside and they have a place where they sit alone away from other things my kids might come in contact with. Periodically I do give them a spray with a disinfectant. I also try to knock off mud and stuff from the fields before coming back to the house.
    By doing all this, have I prevented germs from spreading? Probably not, but I have attempted to limit what I drag in from the barn on my boots and clothes.

    Keep the new chickens as far away from your older chickens as possible. When you feed and water and clean up do everything you need to do for your older chickens first. Then take care of the needs of the new chickens. You need to do this for about six weeks. During this time watch the new chickens. Moving and rehoming chickens is stressful on them. It is during this time of stress that any illness or disease they might be carrying will manifest itself. Look around and you will see many very sad stories in the archives of people bringing home new chickens and ending up losing their entire flock.

    For more information about biosecurity, click on the following threads:

    Part 2

    Understanding Flock Dynamics (the Pecking Order)
    (by BYC Member Buff Hooligans)


    A beginning chicken owner would like to think that when she gets chickens, they are all going to be friends and get along as one big happy family. And we naively hope that when we add a few new "friends" to the group, they will welcome them with open wings and invitations to share treats.
    But the reality is that in any established group of chickens, each chicken’s personality comes into play in the form of the order of dominance. There’s a dominant bird (usually a rooster if the flock has one) all the way down to the lowest bird (usually the meekest or gentlest). Generally, older chickens will be dominant over younger ones.

    The order is established by, yes you guessed it, pecking. And the stinkeye...blocking other birds from access to food and water...fighting...trash talking...bumping chests...rushing at, and generally making life difficult and stressful for any "lower" bird getting in the way of a more dominant bird. This sometimes takes only a few days, but can last as long as two weeks.

    If there are several assertive birds competing for the top spots, the squabbling can get violent, even drawing blood. Curious chickens can’t resist pecking at an open wound, making the wound even worse, sometimes even causing death. A flock establishing pecking order is not pretty.

    But once established, a pecking order actually reduces conflict within a flock. Since everyone knows exactly where they belong in the hierarchy, disputes are settled much more quickly by the lesser yielding to the more dominant in the group. Even mammals have that, for instance, wolf packs.
    So, we just have to grit our teeth, add any new chickens wisely (see Part 3), keep an eye out for possible injuries during scuffles, and realize that that stressful period of flock re-adjustment is totally necessary to future flock peace.


    Part 3

    So You Still Want to Introduce New Chickens to Your Flock?

    It is best to introduce chickens that are the same size as the established flock. Make sure there is adequate room in your coop and run for the increased number of birds. Overcrowding will stress the birds and make them less tolerant of newcomers.

    Make sure there are places for the new chickens to run and hide to get away from the aggressive birds.

    Always make sure the established chickens are not keeping the new chickens from the food and water dishes. Put out more feeders and waterers for during this adjustment time if necessary.

    Interfere with the pecking order process only if blood appears or it is clear that an individual is going to be beaten down no matter what. Unless there’s blood, the less interference from us well-meaning owners, the better.

    If there is one established bird that is super aggressive, take that bird out and keep her in a separate pen or dog crate by herself for a few days. When she is re-introduced to the flock, she will be taken down a few pegs because she’s considered "new".

    But sometimes, no matter how carefully you try to manage an introduction, it might be necessary to rehome either a newcomer or a super aggressive original flock member.

    Various Methods of Introducing New Chickens to Your Flock:

    A long period of "seeing but no touching" is highly advised. After the quarantine period, put new birds in a nearby pen (or in a large dog crate inside the run or coop) for several weeks or a month so they can get visually acquainted without being able to physically scuffle. They may try to fight through the wire, but they can’t do real damage to each other. During this time, you can let each group out to free-range at separate times from each other - in shifts.

    After several weeks of seeing but not touching, allow the birds to inhabit the same coop/run, but leave the dog crate or temporary pen in the run so that a picked-on bird can decide for herself to stay in or out, and have a place to run and hide if necessary.

    If your chickens free-range, BYC Member "Bantymum" suggests introducing chicken groups to each other by letting the new chickens out first in the morning so they can roam the yard to get to know the place, water and food locations, etc., while the others are still locked up. Then she lets the older ones out, and although there is some squabbling, it usually settles down in a couple of days.

    Another method is releasing them to all free-range together. This is a less stressful way of introducing flocks to each other than if you put the new ones in an enclosed pen with the established flock. While free-ranging, a new bird that gets hassled has plenty of room to run and more places to hide.
    Another method is to put both groups of birds in a place unfamiliar to both groups - a neutral territory so to speak. Neither group will have established ownership and will be on equal unfamiliar footing, giving them something to think about other than who belongs there and who might be an unwelcome intruder.

    Many BYC members swear by putting new chickens on the coop roost after dusk, when the established chickens are all settled down for the night. In the morning, they all wake up together - and the established chickens are thinking to themselves "hey, have I missed noticing those other girls all this time??", and they will go about their business. A pecking order will still need to be established, but it will be more gentle, and should be done with in about three days.

    Particular Scenarios:

    Be very watchful when introducing Polish chickens. Other chickens can’t seem to resist pulling the feathers out of Polish’s tophats. Sometimes a Polish’s skull and brain is injured when the picking / pulling becomes aggressive. Vigilant supervision for several weeks is recommended.
    It is generally not wise to introduce a single bird to an established flock. Being alone and new is a double disadvantage, and it isn’t fair to them. That being said, only introduce a single hen to an established flock if she’s the same size as them, and monitor the dynamics carefully.
    Introducing chicks to adults: Do not introduce chicks to adult chickens until the chicks are fully feathered and as close to the same size as the established flock as possible. BYC Member "Pumpkinpup" discovered "that as long as the chicks are still making baby noises, don’t put them with grown birds!" She had three bad episodes in her early chicken experience, and that was "enough carnage to make a believer out of" her. It is absolutely safest to wait until the chicks are sixteen weeks old.

    If you MUST introduce younger chicks to adults, here is a method which succeeded for BYC Member "Ruth". She put some chicks in a pen (a Chick-n-Hutch) inside the run with the "big girls". The big girls all came to say hello and check them out. For the first two weeks, she let the babies out into the closed run while the big girls were out free-ranging. Then, under Ruth’s supervision, the chicks stayed loose in the run when the big girls returned to the run for feedings. She says "the big girls never bothered the babies and the babies were really quick to learn to run and stay out of their way". After several weeks, in the evenings, Ruth left the chick’s hutch open so the chicks could escape into it when necessary, and to chose when to put themselves to bed, and Ruth would come out later to close up the hutch. One night Ruth came out to close the chick hutch and they weren’t in there. She looked in the big coop and the chicks were snuggled up on the floor with her dominant hen. From then on, the chicks were treated just like the rest of the gang and allowed to free-range the property and come and go as they pleased.

    Introducing very young chicks to other young chicks (during the brooder stage)

    Here’s a method used by BYC Member "Davaroo" with some degree of success (paraphrased):

    "Keep them apart until nightfall. When the group of chicks in the brooder are all settled down, slip the new chicks in as quietly as possible. In the morning, turn on all the lights and make a big commotion. Fill the feeders and waterers with a big, messy fuss. Your little peepers will be so worried about the commotion you’re making and getting to the freshly placed food, that they will forget to fight very much (at least not more than usual). Being flock birds, chickens flee danger together, and they feed together for the same reasons. These activities are "bonding" for them."

    Special Considerations for Roosters: Generally, two or more roosters will only get along with each other if they have been raised together (same age), and are not near hens. If there are hens in the picture, the roos will fight each other to be the dominant roo.

    New roo to established hens Keep in mind that a minimum of ten hens per roo is recommended.
    Don’t introduce an adult roo to a flock that already has a roo. The fighting for dominance over the flock could mean serious injury or death to one.

    If you add a new roo to a flock of hens, it is wise to chose a young (year-old) roo or one the same age as the hens, and one that’s the same size or smaller than your hens. Hens will definitely peck at him to establish the pecking order. If he turns out to be a docile roo, he could get hurt.

    Further recommended reading:

    Introducing New Chickens: Using the “See but don’t touch” Method

    The Essential Quarantine: An Important, but Often Underestimated Part of Raising Chickens

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    Raeja, IrishLad61, alexa009 and 25 others like this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. Briseggs
    "Great article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 10, 2019 at 5:24 AM
    I never knew how important it was to quarantine, this article is very informative and helpful.
  2. mschickiemama
    "very informative"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 7, 2019
    important info
    IrishLad61 likes this.
  3. timewaster
    "Well Written"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 26, 2018
    Wonderful ideas to use, we bought all our chickens at the same time. However, we had to pull an ill one and are now ready to reintroduce to the flock. Nice to read what other have already tired.
    IrishLad61 likes this.


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  1. NoodlesMama
    Great article. I’m getting some new chicks soon and willl be referring to this when the time comes to integrate them into my current flock.
  2. Cindycon
    Great article
  3. 5templetonchicks
    It’s been about 6 weeks since I added 3 new pullest to my two 2 year old hens. Although they have been together in quite a spacious run, the older ones continue to harass the youngsters. Fortunately, they are able to get away, thereby avoiding those dreaded pecks. The problem is in the evening, when the older hens barr the entrance to the coop by standing in the opening. Currently, I help by opening the front door, so they can get inside that way, or I hold one of the older ones, and keep the other from standing in the doorway. Once they are all inside the coop, there is a little scuffling, and then they settle down. Is it ever going to get better, or should I just let them work it out.
  4. Raeja
    Very informative. Bubbles and TopHat (polish white) were raised together at the same exact age. Bubbles did some "carnage" when they were about 6 months old and we did get passed that. TopHat died just before her 2 yr birthday. Not sure if she died naturally or if Bubbles did something because Bubbles was pecking at her cold body. There obviously was alot of stress because TopHat would only lay 4-6 eggs a week for a couple of weeks and then stop. So there may have been other things that may not have been noticed by me.

    We added "Pixie" (another Rhode Island Red). Our friend raises chickens for a living and said just toss her in. That is not the right answer, as we found out. Bubbles let her in the igloo for a couple of days and there was no issues, then "Holy O F" went out one morning and Pixie had no feathers all the way down her neck and face beat up as well. We put Pixie in a crate (in the house) for a couple of weeks until she looked kinda healed up then put her in a chicken hut and kept it closed. The Hut is in the area of Bubbles. I did this for a few weeks, and when I changed the hay in the hut, I would scatter it in the pen area. I would also feed and water Pixie before Bubbles. I now leave the hut open and Pixie can come and go as she pleases and thankfully no injuries. Now Bubbles actually goes into the hut with Pixie and laying eggs. Pixie has not adjusted enough yet to start laying eggs again but she is only 9 months old and I am sure moving her from a farm to my 2 chicken domain does have some impact.
  5. SSFowler
    I will be referring back to this article in the near future, when I plan to get a couple more for my flock. Very informative.
  6. idaholbrook
    Thank you for this article. I learn a great deal. I have some new chicks that I want to integrate in about 8 weeks to my established 1 year old flock.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  7. crazychick26201
    Thanks, Buff Hooligan! I hope you are still keeping chickens! Here is my question: I have a small (4) flock of Buffs which are six years old. I am thinking of getting 4 new Buff chicks. I have read about integrating them and understand all that. Will my old girls lose their place in the pecking order? They are starting to show their age. I would hate for them to suffer. Should I get less than 4?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  8. Raeja
    Very informative ~ My Rhode Island Red and my Polish White were bought at the same time, same age (a couple of weeks old) and from the same place. I saw the pecking order between them and got worried about the carnage on my Polish. Now it has been settled who is boss (thank God). I was thinkng of adding an Easter Egger from a friend who raises and sells them and many other breeds. This has helped me get insight on what needs to be done
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  9. markntracy3
    very nice, thank you
  10. gagirl02
    Great article. I have an established flock. After quarantine, I'll be adding 3 more hens to the flock and then in about 5 months adding the current chicks which will have grown into lavender pullets to the flock. I'm very excited to see this take place.
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  11. bil&sal
    thank my three girls are about 120 day old now the new ones are about 5 weeks old I'm going to divided the run one third for new ones thy need to be out of in yard now going nuts in big tub since one day old
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  12. GratitudeGates
    I wanted to complete this posting - My two babies were added into the existing one last chicken I had of 4. Rita was the meanest chicken of the four I started with in 2012 she has done great with the two babies. I was actually shocked but I introduced them really slow and had put a divider into the coop so the babies had their own area and Rita had her own. I left it like that for about a month and a half and then took the divider down. They had the run of the yard and I stayed out while they encountered one another for a few days. They are all doing great I had planned on introducing some grown bantams but decided to leave things as they are. We also have four ducks that run the yard and everyone is doing great together for me I think introducing slow and easy making sure that the birds could find safe places away from one another seemed to work.
    The article I have followed was great and very helpful thanks for posting such a detailed article.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  13. Venumfire
    Great article. I would add another step in the quarantine method. I would recommend once you determine the new chick(s) are healthy and you want to introduce to your flock, introduce 1 member of your flock to the new chicks in quarantine and give it a week to make sure the new chick(s) do not have anything contagious before introducing to everyone. This also gives them another buddy in the group of "new" birds when you are ready to introduce. I find keeping the new members in a dog kennel and placing mealworms as a treat inwhich the old members can eat on the outside of the kennel and the new members can reach their heads out and eat inside seems to work well. Once they have their treat, I open the kennel and the new members decide when they want to come out on their own. It seems to make the new members a positive thing and everyone enjoys a meal together.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  14. BlueHenDel
    You mention "unless you have bought chicks from a hatchery," you must quarantine. How about chicks from feed stores (Tractor Supply)?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
    1. Venumfire
      I would recommend quarantining chicks from hatchery and feed stores. While they may get a vaccination for Marek's they have a higher chance of being exposed to illnesses due to tight confinement. The Marek's vaccination they do get does not prevent the disease, it only reduces the symptoms which means they can be a carrier and appear healthy. The vaccination is like the flu shot, it is designed for specific strands. Meaning, you can vaccinate for 1 stand and your chicken can still get another. Considering they are shipped as day olds in a box with nothing but their siblings feces, it is natural for them to consume it which is why most feed stores will highly recommend medicated feed to help fight coccidious cause from eating moist infected feces during shipment. Personally, I prefer getting locally from farms you can see have adequate space and encourage natural immunity.
      GratitudeGates likes this.
  15. Cindycon
    Good article! Thanks!
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  16. katmom6996
    I just bought 3 almost laying RIR's. We keep them separate from our other chickens. They sound like they are drowning. They shake their head and spit fluid out of their throat. What do I do for them?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  17. Smury739
    Love this article very helpful. How may I go about introducing my new 3 week old with my 6 weeks olds. I am going to quarantine for 3 weeks and hope the 3 week olds are bigger then.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  18. HelHen
    Great article.thanks and all the following stories as well.i am off the purchase 2 new pullets( South African Boschvelders) to add to my one existing one, as I have had to get rid of my 2 Roos who I thought were hens when they were sold to me..I have been worried about this process .this article has been very helpful and I'm.super to being the new girls home after I have relocated my Roos.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  19. Jeannie48
    Thank you for the info it was very usefull,I have a 3month old rooster and have tried to introduce him to my ten chickens but all they do is bully him and have to put him back in his pen.He was a lone chick i hand reared he has been in a pen oppersit the chickens so they can see him all the time.Do i have to leave them when they bully him hopeing they will settle down.what should I do.jeannie
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  20. GratitudeGates
    Today was warm enough I took the babies put in a dog crate and in my garden added the meanest grown chicken she passed by them in the pen looked at them but did will continue doing that then put the divider in the coop and put them out for a night separate areas but where they can see each other.... so far so good..... the babies are small so am watching everything they seemed to really dig going out in the garden only for a few hours and they are back in my office but I have cut all heaters and warm light.... sooo progress is happening... they are so damn cute.
      IrishLad61, annette333 and BlueHenDel like this.
  21. Kateslittleladies
    Thanks for this information, I will take it all on board when I get my new girls in a few weeks.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  22. BlueHenDel
    Very informative! Thank you.:caf
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  23. GratitudeGates
    I am so glad to read this article.... We have one older standard hen - Ameraucana (The Meanest Girl) from our first batch of 4 girls 2012 - Last summer we lost 3 of the four girls - egg bound, wasting and one we do not know what happened. All three picked on just one Freida also Ameraucana Anyways feeling like a chicken failure we scheduled to pick up babies at the local hatchery I wanted to get bantams we got there and I saw these Blue Ameraucana babies that are sexted so picked up two babies who are just turning a month old. We would like to get bantams that come from the hatchery that are girls and have laid eggs for them. I could get them at the end of May or first week of June. Our babies will be just big enough to go outside by then. So, my thought is to wait see how the Mean Old Gal does with seeing the two blue ameraucanas in a hutch that she can not get them. If she seems ok to add them to start with since they are standards my concern is should I add the grown female bantams at that time. I am still not sure if I should ....I know there is talk not to mix standards with bantams. Just wondering what other experienced people think as I am new and would love to have one happy bunch. I protected Frieda from the other 3 for several years she would run and jump into my arms from the others. I ended up having her have a day out then they stayed in and vise versa for at least 3 years. Any thoughts.... I also am totally in love with the two new Blue Ameraucana (Lady V and Lee Lee).
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  24. Lanrewaju Adewale Adetola
    I bought new faol, i quarantine them for 4days, 1 felt sick, while the remaining 3 was still looking healthy, i decided to add them to my old flock, less than 5days, i discovered that 15 of my old flock were suffering from {CRD} Chronic respiratory disease. it was a bitter experience. i had the same experience last year September 2017. so painful.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
    1. BlueHenDel
      Awwww. This is so sad. {{hug}}
  25. Sparrowsong98
    I have always purchased chicks, thrown them in a large rabbit cage with the wire bottom covered in the center of the coop when they were 4-6 weeks old, supervised a few times, then thrown them to the wolves after a few days of safety and let them figure things out on their own and only pulled them out if there was a huge about of blood (like I just shrug over cut combs, but anything more serious is pulling out worthy). Never did lose one but a poorly devolping one that needed culled anyway. But now I have a perplexing new obsticale and do not know what to do. 5 or so months ago I purchased 4 wyandottes and 2 cuckoo marans. By the second day it became clear that the wyandottes were really polish. So, I raised my little chickens, threw the marans in to the wolves and they have been fine ever since. But the polish were picked at through the bunny cage bars, and one was killed. Multiple different methods did nothing and I have retreated for the winter and am putting them in a small run right off of the main run in a dog house that I can make into a coop. They will spend the summer there while I try to introduce them. If they are not introduced by September I am calling it quits and selling. I am introducing 2 to a flock of 25. Is this at all wise, or possible or should I just spare myself the trouble and sell them now?
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  26. Nashonii
    This was very helpful. My only too was killed by a hawk protecting his girls. I am getting another roo, (his brother) and try to introduction him to the girls. Its do cold that he needs to stay in the coop with them during the introduction period. Fingers crossed it won't take long.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  27. New2chickens55
    Hi, I have a problem that I don't really know how to handle. I am new to owning chickens and just recently purchased and set up a 6' x 10' x 6' coop/run combo. I picked up 2 5 or 7 week old pullets on 9/6/17, an Australorp and Barred Rock with plans to buy 3 more pullets the following week from the same Poultry shop. I noticed the the Australorp was sneezing, watery eyes and had clear nasal discharge a day or 2 later. I called the shop I purchased it from and told him about it. He offered to swap it out when I came for the other birds. But I thought it should have a chance so I instead brought it to a my animal hosp that does specialize in all animals. She says it is an upper respiratory infection. She felt that what the bird has is viral. I consulted with the vet again to let her know that my bird was still the same and she then suggested an oral antibiotic Doxicyclene. I have been giving it to my Australorp for 3 days now and I do see an improvement. Less sneezing, her eyes look better and I don't see a discharge anymore. I forgot to mention that her appetite had diminished earlier and now she is eating very well again. I am continuing to finish off the Doxicyclene for 5 more days to make sure her upper respiratory infection is gone. All this time, it has been 24 days, my Barred Rock seems ok and I hope she stays that way. If my Australorp gets completely better and my Rock stays well I would still like to get 3 more pullets, however I would not have anywhere to quarantine them. And I have read over and over how important it is to do. This has been a bad way to start off having chickens I know and I don't know what the solution is. Sorry this is so long, but I didn't know how to shorten it without leaving anything out. I really would like to have more than two chickens. It will be October in NY tomorrow. Not sure if it is a good time to get more birds this time of year.
    Please, any suggestions.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  28. Louie D
    I didn't read this article before introducing new chickens it been about 21/2 weeks everybody is healthy there was a little fighting the 1st wk the only problem is I am not getting any eggs out of the 4 I had and the other 4 are about 24 weeks no eggs yet
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  29. Lucy's Coop
    I have 9 hens 7 mths old 5 Dominiques that are laying & four blk & blue Huge orphingtons that are not laying yet. And one huge white orphington Roo. I have four new hens that are four mths old two buff orps & two blue laced red wyndottes. I've read all the BYC solutions/ideals/a lot "tried & true" in preparation to introduce the younger girls to my older ones after quarantine is over. I definitely wanna try putting the new girls on the roost at night as suggested by BYC members, My first important question is do the new hens know "how" to roost (as I have had them in a huge dog crate inside a unused old coop) at night when I set them up there they will stay? And should I keep a little dog crate inside my coop/run in case they need to run for cover in the morning :eek: ?!?! :wee
    Thanks Soooo Much
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  30. Lisa Wood
    I always wonder about the comment "chickens of the same size." Of course we don't intro a bunch of bantams to large poultry breeds. But are those the only designations? Bantam and large poultry? Because I got a "mystery" collection of ten chicks when we started. We we're new and after HOURS and DAYS and nights of my husband and I looking at pictures of the most elegant striking birds, we found that we were ordering too late in the season, and every Hatchery was sold out, so you let the breeder pick the chicks.
    We got three Orpington. Very large compared to the rest. We got two Golden Cuckoo Marans and two Rhodebars. Medium large. And three Cream Legbar. Smallish. So as a result the Orpingtond can push their weight around, and the Legbars are more picked on, overall. However, I understand their are only two size distinctions: Bantam and Large Poultry. Next time (if ever) I will not be late ordering, and they will have adult weights matched as much as possible.
  31. Leesy_7
    Question: We've raised 3 chickens from birth, but think we got two roosters out of the 3. They are only 9 weeks old though. If I buy 2x 9 week old chicken, are you advising I do the same type of transition mentioned? Or can they be merged straight away.... I'd like the 3 hens ideally to grow up together as soon as possible.
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    1. Sparrowsong98
      No, the brooding in your house is like a quarantine. Just plop them in.
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  32. cathy d
    What are the best sources of protein when avoiding stress and feather loss
  33. EurekaPaprika
    If I have 3 week old chicks and 8 week old chicks, would you introduce them as you would chicks in a brooder, or chicks to adults? I put the bigger ones in our coop a week ago, the young ones are in my basement with a light. There's not electricity in the coop so I'll at least be waiting until the littles are fully feathered.
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  34. MamaChick74
    Great information!
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  35. Bullfam
    Very interesting ideas. I have always heard you should add them at night. We currently have 6 Production Reds (hybrid egg layer from Tractor Supply) and they are 10 weeks old. We just got 16 more from our 4-H council and they are not even a week old but I think around 3 to 4 weeks we are going to do the dog crate and then the week after let them interact and then put them in one night.
  36. hooktontravel
    Thanks! this is super helpful. I have a flock of 5, plus a little odd-couple duck and chick pair that are a full month younger. they've done fine together...but i have 3 roos for sure (oldest birds are about 3.5 months now). I'm hoping to pick up a hen tomorrow who is about 2.5 years old...she's the same breed as one roo and one pullet I have. If there were 2 from the other flock i'd take both to help ease the stress, since i will have to keep her separate for a while. Hopefully she'll be okay! but definitely I will quarantine her and use these tips to be sure she's healthy before adding her in to the flock. We don't have much property so i don't know about the breathing the same air thing... there isn't much space to put them far away on only 1 acre! I will do my best.
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  37. ChickenLover04
    Great article, was just getting ready to buy chicks and introduce them to my flock of adults. Thank you for helping me to reconsider!
  38. Chookepie
    Very Helpful, Thanks :)
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  39. AustralorpsAU
    Great article. I will definitely take points from here!
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  40. Horse Chick
    Great article. 3 years ago I introduced 4 new Easter Eggers to my flock of 8 Buff Orps and Rocks (5+3). I was lucky enough to have my first coop and pen still so the new ones went in there and the older girls in the old coop pen, much to their dismay! Then when I was ready to introduce, I put the old girls back in with plenty of distractions and separated the pen for safety of the Eggers. All went well.

    Now this year I no longer have the older coop and pen. I got 3 Egger chicks (all hens, I've been lucky) and they've been in a dog crate in my coop for 2 weeks. Waiting one more week and when I'm on vacation for a week (a staycation) I'll be introducing them. The thing I'm doing in preparation is switching my adult bird food to the grower. I didn't realize the high calcium content in their layer food can damage the chicks kidneys. The chicks will be 12 weeks old when I introduce so I'll switch the grain back gradually once they reach 15 weeks.
  41. KDOGG331
    Awesome article!

    Question though: does the quarantine only apply to adults or day old chicks too?

    Also I have heard waiting until the chicks are the same size but have recently heard about brooding in a seperate pen/brooder inside the coop or run so they can all see each other and get used to the chicks. Then when they get a little bit bigger people have added "chick portals", a door (or several) the chicks can fit through but the big girls can't, and opening them. They can run and hide in their brooder as needed. Another way is letting them out to free range with the big girls. Many have total integration by 4 weeks. And some have even found that the rooster (if you have one) or dominant hen will sometimes protect them. I used the Mama Heating Pad method on mine, now 6 months old, so don't know if it would work for heat lamp babies or not. Guess it probably would though. I think the idea is it's natural and, like with a broody, they're less likely to harm littles. I have actually heard it is easier to introduce small chicks because they generally see them as innocent babies rather than as full sized intruders. I suppose it's the same as adding a new puppy to a home with a dog versus an adult dog. They all seem to know what a baby is and give them leeway. Though of course it is nice if they can fend for themselves and not get hurt and if you have a particularly mean hen it might not work out. But I hear with the portals and other hiding places they do just fine. I guess it's similar to the method described above.
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    1. as110
      I always keep day chickens we hatch inside the house or buy from breeder away from my flock, because they don't have developed immune system yet. I use the temperature as a guide. When they don't need heat lamps anymore, I start to take them outside to get them used to local germs. When they are almost the same size as the hens, and they are close to getting weaned from the grower food, they get to the yard where the hens are, but separated by a fence. They see each other. When they are done with the grower food, I let them out to free range with the hens. They need help getting back to where they sleep, so I move them one by one in the evening where they should sleep, but once they are ready to sleep in the coop with the hens, I put them there in the dark. The next day they free range in their yard, I don't let them out to the whole property for a few weeks, until they know they coop is home. During that time they establish pecking order. After a few weeks they can free range all over the property.
      I do not separate the day chicks that were hatched out of our own eggs by my hen. They have the same germs from the start. They are fed medicated starter. Coccidiosis is an issue around 2-3 months of age so I take much longer to integrate young chickens than it is recommended. Quaranteening healthy chickens is easier than a sick one that needs constant care. I just do it longer to save me the work of playing chicken hospital.
  42. Whittni
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  43. Chookepie
    Great Article, I will take your ideas into account when I pick up our new ex-battery chickens and give them a lovely place of sanctuary.
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  44. lizardboy55
    This is a great page! Thank you so much! I will let you know how it goes.
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  45. LeslieR
    I had 6 Rhode Island Red hens and decided to add a rooster, after quarantine the first one was way too docile and my hen house looked like a blood bath had occurred. I contacted the gentleman who brought me the first rooster and he agreed to bring a different rooster over. Once his quarantine was over I introduced him to the girls and they liked him much better. He automatically started mounting them and they were very receptive, just never broody.
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  46. australorplover
    WOW lots of info!!!
    Great job!!!
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  47. darina
    Very detailed and good information. I always seem to lose my head when it comes to adding new chickens, and I forgot about how difficult it can be sometimes.
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  48. MsRiderUp
    Have had success with your advice:

    1) I had a single new hen and put her on the roost at night. In the morning the others DID notice her of course, but it only took a few days for everyone to settle down. No bloodshed.

    2) Have had baby chicks feathered out enough to leave the brooder. I have a section of the coop that's sub-divided by adding a hardware cloth 'screen' so the newbies and the established adults could get to know each other without danger to the babies. There is a small door off the sub-divided area that I can close at night (opens to the outside of the coop). In the day I opened it, and let the chicks out into a mini-pen (a little dog yard pen well-secured). This way the babies could be outside each day, but still not be exposed to the 'evil grown-up birds'. I recall that I did put some bird netting over the top of the pen for a while to keep the adults out of the babies' feed dishes. In any case, all worked out well. By the time I let the 'babies' (had grown to nice little pullets/roos) fully integrate with the adults, they were well-acquainted and no trauma resulted. Similarly, roos that grew up together got along fine.
  49. birdman55
    totally agree great write up....just added a new pen and new chickens...thanks for the info
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  50. SNJchickens
    I am in the process of introducing a single pullet (now 3 months old) to my flock of 5 hens (2-3 years old.) I'm using the see-but-can't-peck method with mutual free-range time. Living on less than 1/4 acre and having a redtailed hawk nesting across the road, my hens only free-range when I am there to shepherd them.
    Over the past few days I've seen the pullet, still smaller than the big girls, really anxious to join the flock. On the part of the hens the initial vicious pecking has subsided and the big hens allow the pullet closer and closer using only normal peck order activity to teach her her place. In the evening the big girls go to their coop and the pullet is torn between trying to join them or go to her little coop.
    I can see that soon she will attempt to join the big girls. Each evening I sit out until the big girls return to the run and the pullet is sitting on my lap. I put her down in the run and let her decide where to sleep.
    Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for that evening. Of course, I will be up before dawn the next day to monitor morning behavior.
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