3 month old pullets and new chicks - how to integrate?


In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2015
I have three 3 month old Leghorn pullets that are now well established with their coop and run area, as well as free ranging when we are home to supervise. Yesterday we just picked up two 3 week old pullets (one Ameraucana and one Silver Laced Wyandotte) and they are brooding currently in the house. We will be adding on to the existing coop / run for these new gals but I am wondering when and how should I integrate these two groups?

My current plan is to introduce the new gals with the Leghorns in a few weeks for some outdoor / free range supervised time. Then bring the new gals back to their brooder and do this everyday for a while, each time getting longer and longer until the flock seems to mesh. By this time I hope the new coop expansion will be completed and the birds all will be playing nicely. The new gals will have a separate coop but all five birds will share the large run area.

This is our first group of chickens, and as you might guess, we are a bit excited and hooked, having already grown our family. I have had numerous other animals and this has always been our integration plan, but wanted to see if there was something I had not thought of for chickens versus dogs and cats.

Thank you in advance for any advice and tips!!
First of all, do not introduce young chicks to older chicks. With that age difference, you should wait until the new chicks are at least 2 months old. At that age, they will be fast enough to get away from the older ones. While chickens are very social creatures, they take their pecking order very seriously, and they don't enjoy getting new members of the flock. It could get rough for your newer chicks for the first couple weeks. You need to make sure they are big enough to handle getting picked on.
Yeah, I had planned on keeping them apart for at least a month already due to bio security and everything I had read on keeping flocks healthy, so two months old won't be a problem since they are already three weeks old.
Just be aware that it might not be pretty when you do put them together. Expect a lot of chasing, pecking, jumping, and sparing at first. It might look awful, but as long as nobody actually gets injured, leave them to it.
Good to know - I want them all to get along, of course. I had hoped that with there only being a couple months age difference it would be easier than older hens with chicks, but sounds like it will take some patience. :D Thanks!
Your older chicks will be almost grown by the time the little ones are big enough to join them. If they were only a couple weeks difference, it would be a completely different situation. Things would go much smoother.
I kept telling my fiance we should go ahead and get the other two sooner, he just kept thinking we should wait - thanks for the ammo - hahahaha!!!
Think about incorporating a temporary wire wall, and an extra people door, in your coop expansion so you can split your coop when adding new chicks or need an isolation area.

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

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.

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.

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.

Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
This is good place to start reading:
This is great information - and right where I was at with a few details that help round out my plan. Thank you!!

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