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
    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. 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.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  2. texaspolloloco
    Great info! Thank you so much for this. Also this is a must read for people just starting out with chickens.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  3. Americano Blue
    i'm adding some new birds and this will help alot
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  4. littledog
    Excellent article and perfect timing of course!
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  5. nugget_night
    Chickens to be added can free range with others all summer with no problem but the minute you put them together in one coop pecking order will accelerate. It is not as aggressive as putting them together cold, the new birds have a good understanding of their standing already. The more new birds the better, confusion and more targets = less pain. Young ones hide [&poop] in nests is biggest issue. Roos added young that grow up here free range with others when young have never had issue with 'head' roo. I Keep 2 coops, a summer house and 'the coop' and put them together in the fall. I find it best to move the summer coop elsewhere and keep them in with older chickens 2 to 3 days before letting them all out again so they learn new home and the new rules. A week is a good idea but mine did not need it. They already know the coop and chickens before the permanent move.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  6. Chookalooks
    Hi, I just got 3 pullets in Sept and one got hurt, then got sick and died. It has been several weeks now and the other two are fine. I really want to get that third one back. What do you think if I go to the same farm I got these girls from and got an older pullet. Still 30 days of separation? I guess it seems silly to take the risk. If going to separate that long what about getting a chick? Do they do ok if you have just one?
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  7. Chookalooks
    once again good information. Good time of year for this. With everyone hatching and scratching, well you know chickens are egg makers.. and that's good for us.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  9. SNJchickens
    If you are fortunate enough to have a broody hen but no rooster, you can introduce really REALLY young chicks to increase your flock the semi-natural way!
    My method was to allow Ms Broody to sit on a stone egg for just under 6 weeks. Then I contacted the local farm where I have purchased all of my pullets. She called me when her next hatch happened in the incubator and I picked up two 10 hour old babies. I kept them warm until well after dark. Then I slipped out to the hen (in a small run she was established and setting in a separate broody coop just large enough for herself and two babies), removed the stone egg and slipped a baby under each wing. In the morning there were two happy babies and a very happy momma hen. She raised those chicks and when the hens were all free ranging I allowed Ms Broody to decide if/when she wanted to bring her chicks out and introduce them to the world and her 3 sister hens. The process was a pleasure to watch and I had a no-fuss way to add to my little backyard flock.
    If my hen ever goes broody again I will use the same method to increase my flock.
  10. John-1948
    My 7 month old Golden Phoenix laid 8 eggs and after 10 days, I was afraid she was not going to set
    so I put them in the incubator. Then, she laid 4 more and began setting. I kept the eggs in the incubator and let her set on the 4 to hatch naturally. 7 of the incubated eggs hatched perfectly, one didn't make it.... I put her into a secluded cage at night and introduced the 7 incubated chicks under her - - LOL she woke up the next morning with a new brood !!! and took them in readily. I took her 4 eggs and put them in the incubator - - 4 healthy ones hatched today !! I will introduce them to her clutch tonight.
    I am very comfortable she will accept them just as she did the others. After all, they are HER kids!!
    Now, I will have a new family of absolutely beautiful Golden Phoenix !!!!
    Ain't Chickens FUN ???
      BlueHenDel and HomEOpathic Nut like this.
  11. ChickInDelight
    Where did I read that 8 weeks is the magic age? Since I only have 4 hens... and will be adding 20, I think I can go younger. Any doubts?
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  12. Hooligans7
    Irayle, we have five big hens and a large rooster in a coop slightly smaller than 5' X 4' (the outside dimensions) plus three 14" X 14" outboard nesting boxes. I positioned the roosting poles so everyone has enough room, and they all get along fine now. When I added the two new pullets, there were the normal pecking-order squabbles, but they got it sorted out within a week or two.
    My coop is very likely at its limit of capacity, but you should be able to add two more as long as they don't have to spend the whole day inside.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  13. lrayle
    Great infro but was wondering what the ratio for space is in the coup per chicken Like we have a 5x5 coup and right now we have 5 hens in it and I want to add 2 more Is this enough space for them so they dont fight
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  14. PurplePoppiPpl
    My problem is that i have 5 20 week old teeny tiny bantams that need to start living with the "Big Girls" that are 4 times their size. not only that but i have 7 full size chickens. Another thing is that i live in WI and no matter what i do my none of my girls will go outside right now and so they will only have an 8x8 coop to adjust to their new roomies. I cant be around all the time to make sure my babies arent killed by the old chickens so how should i go about adding the babies?
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  15. ChocolateMouse
    This makes it sound like ALL YOUR CHICKENS WILL DIE if you bring in new birds.

    I have brought in new chickens from other flocks on several occasions. Never had a single illness in my flock. My birds are unvaccinated, unmedicated and on deep litter in a pen. In general, diseases that don't have a major life-threatening effect within a week will not have a significant effect on your own birds if they are healthy and well cared for without being over-crowded. I do not change shoes, coats, clothes, etc.

    Many of us ascribe to a different principle in our flock... If our birds can't handle it, they shouldn't be in our flock in the first place! Mind you, those of us who do this do not keep one or two "beloved pet chickens", but rather are keeping chickens for more practical reasons such as eggs or meat. It's a bit different if your chickens are your "babies", but you should still understand that your chickens ARE livestock.

    I used the "put the chickens on the roost at night" method every time and squabbles were almost non existant.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  16. XxMingirlxX
    I added a polish and some other 16 weeks to the group recently, they were hassled, no not by the big lovely exbatteries but by another polish who was already in the flock, that polish is such a crazy girl- because polishes are small the chicks were larger than her
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  17. TeaChick
    thanks for this info; wish I'd read this a long time ago (I've lost most of the adult or older juvenile birds I've tried to introduce; I have not tried to introduce chicks, and I'm very wary of doing so now)
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  18. ChicknsRock
    Wonderful information, amazing article! You did a fantastic job!
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  19. smarsh
    Putting newbies in an adjacent pen after quarantine until they seemed comfortable worked well for me.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  20. Hooligans7
    BOrion, it's possible. A subordinate rooster may "keep his peace" to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the dominant roo. Over time, that behavior may change if the new roo becomes more confident, or it may not change until the dominant roo departs from the flock.
      IrishLad61 and BlueHenDel like this.
  21. BOrion
    I just successfully integrated a roo and four hens into my established flock of 12 hens and a roo. It took about six days. After the second day, the new roo stopped crowing and I haven't heard him since. Has that happened to anyone? Is this some roo rule that I don't know? That only the dominant roo gets to crow?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  22. JeepersCreepers
    This is great information as I have been thinking about adding to my flock and have been worried about everything that was fully addressed in this article. Thank you for posting it!
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  23. KristyAnn
    Thank you very much. I'm glad I learned this now before having to experience losing my whole flock or losing any or even spreading diseases in the home. Good info and much appreciated:) Take care.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  24. 1muttig
    Very good info - thank you! Now my question is; how do you keep the big ones from eating the little ones feed? It also seems like if I do by the instructions above and let the little ones have the run during the day that they will have a chance at their food, but my big girls have to get into the coop for their nests to lay eggs? My husband & I both r veterans and we wish all that have served or is serving our country a Big THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY! God bless you all.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  25. Tacampbell1973
    I think this article was written for me. I bought straight run chicks last spring hoping for a roo and three pullets to add to my adult two hens that adopted me. wrong. wound up with three boys and one girl. sooo i went to auction yesterday and got three hens. Got two sillky/cochins as my roos and pullet are cochin and wanted more of a similar type. Love the feather bloomers. But I did nearly everythingelse wrong. Even got one polish. yep. She cant see whereshes going. and is scared. So even worse, i let all my boys out to free range for the day and put newcomers in my coop/run without benefit of quarentine. put them all in coop at night. so now i haveto figure out how to unscrew thismess i have made and keep my babies all safe and not scared. Should mentiontoothat my three cockerels are all coming of age and will mount anything that moves which is what led me to this series of bad judgement calls. hope i dont regret this....or lose one of my special kids.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  26. Hooligans7
    JAG, the short answer is: "that depends." Do the new chicks have a mama hen to look after them and a broody pen to hide in? If not, it wouldn't be advisable to mix them yet. 1) The two-week-old chicks are too little compared to the nine-week-olds, and unable to defend themselves or effectively hide from an aggressive older pullet; 2) Even if all your chicks were hatched on the premises, it's a good plan to keep the young ones separated until their disease resistance (immunity) gets stronger, perhaps at four weeks; 3) Then, both groups will benefit by a "see but don't touch" arrangement so they can get used each another but with no physical contact.
    That worked beautifully for our new chicks as well as our established layers and rooster.
    I'll defer now to the more experienced chicken herders among us.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  27. JAG0105
    I have 7 hens that are now 9 weeks old and now have 5 more that are 2 weeks old we built a caged area in the coop for the newbies to be put in I was wondering if I could let them out into the pen each day for a while and stay with them. I don't want to stress either of them but would like for them to get along before winter so I could let them be together. Is this okay?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  28. adni02
    Great article
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  29. Glen30458
    Very good article and I learned a lot reading it but in my particular situation I am still in need of advice/guidance. Please allow me to explain our current flock dynamics.
    We have 4 older hens (two are currently raising chicks) that we recently added a whole new flock to. It took a couple of weeks for things to get more peaceful but now we have the two older hens mixed in with 2 roosters and 17 hens. The new flock is all very close in age and around 16 weeks old now.
    The hatchery shipped us 6 replacement chicks (for ones who died in transit) and they are around 7 weeks old. We call this batch the 6 pack. They are housed in a coop with a wire front inside the pen about 4 feet off the ground and have good visual exposure to the other adults in the pen/run.
    Now to complicate things a tad more we have two broody hens who just hatched chicks. The first batch of 7 chicks (we call them the skittles flock) is 4 weeks old and kept with mother hen in a seperate but visible to main flock, broody pen. The other broody hen hatched 8 chicks (yet to name that group) and those chicks are 3 weeks old. They are also kept in a broody pen located just above the first broody hen and her chicks. Both mother hens and their chicks are let out to free range (they stay near their pen and under out constant supervision) at least a couple of times a day.
    Well, our issue is that we really don't want to have to go through new bird flock integration 3 different times as these 3 batches of chicks mature. Should we take the baby chicks from the mother hens and put all the young ones together? That would make 21 new birds to be introduced to a flock of about the same size at once. Or should we let the mother hens do the work of introducing their youngsters (note the mother hens have been apart from the flock for so long they are not part of the flock at present).
    We can the space to try flock integration in almost any fashion including allowing all the birds to free range, isolated pens next to each other, etc. We would welcome any advice on how to get this done in the most reasonable manner possible given the age spreads between all the younger chicks.
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  30. Chicken Goddess
    A good thing is that after you have quarantined your chicken, and the others dont like the newbie, build a seperate hen house like a small one just until the others chickens are friendly to the new chick
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  31. what's kickin' chicken
    thank you for this article ... lots of info.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  32. ESMayes
    I am adding 2 more to my girls and this has helped me ... they are free range and I have worried about the two new ones I will be getting but should I keep them in the pen for a couple of weeks without the others during the day so they know where to lay?
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  33. little farmer
    Thank you SO MUCH!!!!!! This article helped sooo much!!!
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  34. cluckcluckluke
    Great article, but has scared me so much. I only Quarantine my "new" hens for maximum 2 weeks. This sucks........ but still good to read i suppose MORE work shall be put in............
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  35. ChicksareforKid
    This is a very thorough and useful article. I have one tip to add. After quarantine, on the first few days of adding to my flock, I have hung a cabbage or leafy green from a rope in the middle of the pen. This novelty so distracts my dominant hens that the newbies have a chance to eat and drink and find hiding places. I read this obscure tip somewhere, and use it often.
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  36. Lynette
    Very good information. I have tried introducing newer chickens at night, but it didn't work out at all. One of them got beat up so I had to take them all back out again. The method that works for me is my flock living in separate areas next to each other and letting them free-range together. It works great and I have no more stressful situations.
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  37. sushifish
    Thank you so much, all of this information is very helpful!!!
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  38. blondiebee181
    Great article! I have introduced new birds before using similar methods, but some people don't stop and immediately think through the steps, they are too excited about their new aquisitions, so this is a great article.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  39. stevetone
    A lot of good info here. Thanks for compiling it!
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  40. chicki-vicki
    what an eye opener for this newbee - thanks - I am going to have to rethink a few things for coop/run design
    I do have a question - I hope to be ready for chicks in spring - since they will all be biddies and thats my beginnings(no other chicks) - can they all be kept together - and should I buy them all at the same time and from thr same place?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  41. MLWoods
    We are new and of course want to have our flock of six (hatched in august) expaded to about 10. We thought we would wait for a hen to go broody, and when we are sure she is going to set, get some fertile eggs to switch out from another local chicken keeper that is breeding swedish flower hens. So, could I expect my broody mom to keep her chicks safe when they hatch? Our girls generally don't mess around with eachother. Because they get along so well we are not even positive who is the top bird. Also, when we hatch chicks from a broody, how do we keep the chicks eating the started feed and the big girls eating their layer feed?
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  42. DianaMallory
    Helpful a little but found that you need to discuss the ages of birds more. I followed on method that I read here on byc and it didn't work out for me. I put my 8 week old chicks on the roost with my older flock and they were to young! I did the side by side run and the brooder in the coop for one month. Then I went back to step 2 putting them side by side in the run and coop with fence in between them. I removed the fencing at 12 weeks, still having problems but starting to come around at least I didn't have to separate them again. They are 14 weeks old now and the pecking order still hasn't been established so my chicks spend the most time in the coop up on the roost away from the flock. I have made sure they have food and water separate from the older girls. The problem is the younger girls will not squat when pecked at. They are still running away. I can pet my younger girls and they don't peck me or squat. The older girls all squat when I touch them. For 2 weeks the younger ones hardly ventured out into the run. They come out now for short periods until one of the older girls pecks at them then they run back into the coop. Long story shortened, This process has been a royal pain in the bum! If I had known ahead of time I would have got all my chickens at one time. I know better next time! It has been so bad I almost built a new coop and run for my chicks! That probably would have been less work!
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  43. chickenandchick
    Thankyou so much, this article has helped so much, and now all my chickens understand where they are in the pecking order, and everyone gets along.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  44. Sabrina 42
    I also didn't quaranteen (didnt even think of it as I'm new to urban farming) but did put out the de-wormer this morning in their water. I'll set out some de-stresser tomorrow in their water.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  45. Sabrina 42
    I just brought home a silkie and a cochin to my already 1 rooster and 4 hens all between 3 & 4 months old. This pecking order business is pretty insane. My rooster is instigating the rest of the flock to be relentless in attacking my newbies. I decided to harness my rooster so he can just reach the food and run in a circle, just to give the girls a break. Not sure if this will work but It's a shot. Wish I would have read the post about sneaking them in. We kept the rooster in a crate overnight last night when we brought the girls home. Hopefully this will ease the fighting a little.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  46. Kaybug137
    Good Article, I have a question my silkies are 3 to 4 weeks old, and got them on friday, would I still have the Quarantine them? Just slightly confused.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  47. hoffmanslabs5
    Thank you for the helpful information.
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  48. JayBaby
    This is such good information! I just love this websit. Thank you to everyone for all of the helpful hints, ideas and information!
      IrishLad61 and GratitudeGates like this.
  49. treehugger777
    interesting, I just introduced 3 hens to my flock, haven't quarrantined or anything so I guess I'll see how it goes
      IrishLad61 likes this.
  50. Spoiledthemhens
    Wonderful information! Just what I needed to introduce our younger Buffs to our original group -
      IrishLad61 likes this.

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