Adding New Chickens To My Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HCFarms96, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. HCFarms96

    HCFarms96 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2011
    I have 8 RIR laying hens. I would like to get about 6 more chickens, but I'm not sure about adding them to the flock. How would I go about introducing them? They will be sharing the same coop as the RIR's. I don't know whether to get them this year, or wait until next year and get 14 new chickens after butchering these 8, and start a new flock. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Crazyhenlady

    Crazyhenlady Out Of The Brooder

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    There will be a little pecking but it's fine to introduce them now! I have introduced as little as one hen to a SMALL flock and it's been ok. I just watch them closely and make sure one isn't getting too beat up. I like to throw scarps all around the pen to distract them all throughout the day then when it gets dark most will go in the coop but if they don't I catch them and lock them in ( they don't really fight at night), early morning I let them out and again LOTS of scraps all over the pen. That's my method and it seems to work pretty well. Pecking order is natural.
     
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Honestly, if I were you, I'd just wait and get the number you want if your planning on culling the current flock anyway. Save yourself the hassle of trying to integrate new ones. It can be a royal PITA and RIR's are often known for being aggressive to other chickens. I could tell you a few horror stories I've gone through trying to integrate new chickens. I don't even attempt it anymore, for me it's just too much hassle.

    The last time we tried it we fenced off part of the run for the new bird, put her in the coop at night in a wire dog crate, and let her free range with the flock in the pasture. This went on for over two months with the occasional attempt at putting her in the coop/run with them. They never did accept her and darn near killed her on the last attempt. She now lives separately with a buddy and that's my last attempt at new chicken integration!
     
  4. beefmaster

    beefmaster Out Of The Brooder

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    you can get 6 more hens now if you want.an put them in the coop at nite so the old hens will wake up with them in the morning.an yes there could be some fighting.but chickens have a pecking order.an once thats settled everything should be fine.
     
  5. HCFarms96

    HCFarms96 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2011
    Thanks for your input. I guess it's a matter of what the flock owner chooses to do, everyone seems to have a different opinion. I guess I'll just wait and see.
     
  6. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I have heard of people having success putting new chickens into the coop at night. However I've never actually known anyone who did it and was successful. It's never worked for me! Those hens knew exactly who was a stranger when they woke up in the morning!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    This will get a little long, so bear with me. Many of us integrate and don’t have problems, but some people have disasters. You are dealing with living animals so you cannot know exactly what will happen.
    Since you don’t have roosters, you would only have two different kinds of aggression to worry about. First is just territorial aggression. Chickens can recognize which chickens belong in their flock. Sometimes, they will protect their territory from strange chickens. This does not happen each and every time, but it does sometimes happen. This is where housing them side by side for a while can really help out. They learn to recognize each other without fighting. Quite often, this part goes so smoothly you wonder what all the concern was about. But yes, occasionally it can be bad.

    The other type of aggression is something you will almost certainly see, the pecking order. Chickens are flock animals. In order for them to get along smoothly as a group, they need to know where each and every one ranks in the social order. Often, this is determined by simple pecking. One chicken invades the personal space of another. The one that perceives itself to be higher in the social order pecks the other. The lower ranked chicken runs away. All is right and good in chicken society. If one does not run away, that is a challenge and they fight to determine which is higher ranked. Usually these fights are pretty brief, but occasionally they get serious. And if the lower ranked chicken cannot run away because they are housed so tightly together there is no place to go, it can get serious. This is why having lots of space is important. You have to give them enough room to get away from each other.

    A twist to this is that a mature chicken always ranks higher in the pecking order than an immature chicken. Notice I’m talking about maturity, not age or size. A mature hen will sometimes get quite aggravated if an immature chicken gets too close. That’s why you often see younger chickens stay well away from older chickens when they are raised with the flock.

    To increase your chances of a successful integration, try housing them within sight of each other for a week or so. Give them as much space as you can. You can increase your space by putting up extra perches they can stay on to stay out of the way or give them things to hide under or behind. Give them separate feeding and water stations so they don’t have to challenge the others when they want to eat or drink. Give them a separate place to sleep if they want it. The only place I have any real problems is on the roosts when they are settling in at night. Some of the hens may go out of their way to be brutal to the lower ranked chickens. I’ve had chicks that were used to sleeping on the roosts with the broody move to a safer place when the broody weans them.

    My broodies prove to me that you can integrate younger chicks. They do it all the time. In the heat of last summer, one broody weaned her chicks at three weeks and they did OK. They were on the bottom of the pecking order so they avoided the older hens, but they had plenty of room to do that.

    You may notice I frequently mention problems with hens. I’ve never had a problem with a dominant rooster in any of this, but it is almost always the hens that are the brutes. Occasionally an immature, non-dominant rooster will be a pest, but it is normally the hens that get vicious.

    A story that might help demonstrate the difference in integration and pecking order. Several times, I’ve seen a two week old chick leave its mother’s protection and stand beside mature hens eating from the feed bowl. Occasionally the hens totally ignore the chick, but usually it does not take that long for one of the hens to peck the baby chick. That chick runs back to its Mommy as fast as tis little legs can go, peeping outrageously all the time. Mama ignores all this. That baby chick needs to learn proper chicken etiquette. But if the hen that does the pecking takes off after the chick, Mama takes great offense and teaches that older hen that the chick belongs in the flock.

    In your specific situation, if you have plenty of room, you can probably manage the integration OK, though I’ll mention again that they are living animals and you can never be sure what will actually happen. If your space is anywhere tight, I’d wait and get them all at the same time.
     
  8. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with Ridgerunner about having them live side by side. We actually built and extension onto our run. It was a 2x3' coop, and a 3x 8ft' run. The one side was connected to the main coop, and we made a little door that could be shut and locked. Our new birds stayed in there from 6weeks to when they were about the same size as the others. When it was time to integrate, we just opened the little door. Since they had already been living side by side for so long, we had no problems. The plus is that you have more room, and if you keep the little door , if you need to separate a hen, you already have this whole other coop and run.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  9. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

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    My strategy - which is similar to Kaiti09 is to have the main coop share a fence with the grow-out pen. And there is a drop-down door between the two pens - which I keep closed initially. The younger chickens are next to the older chickens for quite a few weeks. They see each other all the time - even when they're roosting. When the younger ones are close to the same size as the older chickens (or when I need the grow-out pen for chicks ready to come out of the brooder), I open the drop-down door. It's funny to watch the two groups of chickens. As soon as the big chickens go out into the run in the mornings, the grow-out chicks go into the big pen and start exploring. For the first few days I keep the drop-down door opened only wide enough for the younger chickens to go back and forth. After that, I open it all the way. The big chickens go into the younger one's pen - and there will be some pecking. The young ones have room to run away, though. And they venture into the big pen whenever they can. After a week or two, I wait until all the younger ones are in the big pen, and then I close the door. There is still some pecking - but so far it has gone pretty smoothly every time. I have a large pen, though, and an even larger run. So there is plenty of room with plenty of hiding places for the younger ones a they work out the pecking order.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  10. HCFarms96

    HCFarms96 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2011
    We were planning on putting up two more roosts in the coop, so the new ones could have their own. They are free-range chickens, so they would have plenty of room to get away. I forgot to mention that the new ones would not be RIR's. We aren't sure exactly what other breeds we will be getting yet, though. Not sure if them being a different breed matters or not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012

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