Adding new chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by banditgin, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. banditgin

    banditgin Songster

    Jul 16, 2007
    Boonsboro, MD
    I am thinking about getting more chickens - no younger than pullets. Do I need to do anything to introduce them to my current group? I only have 3, all buff orpingtons and all hens. I would like to actually get the same breed.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Integration is always a tricky issue. If you get new birds the first thing you need to do is quarantine the new birds away from your old birds for a month to ensure your new birds don't have any immediate problems- illness and infestation. If after a month the birds appear thrifty and clean, it is time to start introductions. Introducing new birds to an established flock is something that takes time. If you can split your coop and run in half by running some fencing between the flocks that is ideal. If you can't do it that way then parking the new birds adjacent to the established flock will give them all a chance to see and be seen by each other. They can interact on a limited basis, but can't physically hurt each other. It's important that they get used to the sight of each other. After a period of time, you can start letting them free-range together. Free-ranging is perfect because they will have lots of room to hang around each other, but not be penned in enough to start fights. If a fight should happen, the hens have enough room to retreat if needed. Nobody gets hurt that way. Once they have started to tolerate interacting with each other it's time to put them in together. If you split the coop with fencing, just pull the fence out. If you parked them adjacently then make the move to put all birds in the same coop. There will be squabbles and some fighting as the pecking order adjusts to the new members of the flock, but try to stay uninvolved as much as possible. The chickens will work it out amongst themselves. Keep an eye on them for a couple days to make sure no one is getting beaten up too badly or not able to gain access to food and water. In short order, you will have one integrated flock.

    A few quick words of advice- do not try to rush the process. It goes much smoother if you drag it out a while. Never try to integrate a single chicken into an established flock unless said chicken is larger/more aggressive than the flock. Single birds don't do well and are frequently beaten to a bloody pulp. Do not try to integrate birds that are much smaller than your current flock. All birds need to be about the same size so they can fend off any attacks. You might put out hiding places in the run, so if a bird needs to retreat they have a place to duck into or around. Multiple feeding and watering stations alleviates a lot of tension during integration. Resource hoarding is a common issue during this time. Any bleeding wounds should be immediately tended. Covering bleeding areas with Blukote will prevent chickens from continuing to pick at the areas. If a bird is really getting beaten on, then you need to re-evaluate your plans.

    Good luck.
  3. rcentner

    rcentner Songster

    Sep 6, 2009
    Le Roy, NY
    I thought I was the only one that had a split run, I have a split coop as well. Simply because I couldn't get my bantams and standards to get along when I 1st got them, but I now have it opened up and they all get along (different flock members thanks to mr fox, but includes 4 roosters thanks to straight runs).
    Anyhow, I wanted to add that given enough room and enough food and water dishes bantams and standards can be put together. you'd be amazed at the boldness of my bantam cochin hen, she stood up to my standard brahmas like they were nothing! She is less than 1/4 their size.
    Do quarantine for a month, it can take longer than 2 weeks to see signs of cough/sneeze, and can give you time to get to know them.
    If you cannot split your runs some people will introduce small numbers of birds using a large dog crate in the coop. Then they can see eachother without hurting eachother. I have had good luck introducing new chickens when done in large numbers, after quarantine, they are a flock and stick together when they meet the rest of the flock. Seems to keep the "old flock" busy when they can't decide who to pick on 1st.

    all this will depend on your current hens, they may be very accepting of newcomers and it may be very smooth. The younger ones seem to get picked on more than more mature pullets. It is amazing to me that there is such a difference between a 3-4 month old pullet and a 5-6 month old pullet. They are much more self confidant the older they get. There will always be 1 hen that has to prove her place at the top, but I have never had any get even a spot of blood. Roosters on the other hand.....

    good luck, I'm sure all will be fine!
  4. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Songster

    Apr 14, 2007
    If you have the room--add the same number of pullets as you have in your org. flock--to many to focus on just a few...or that's the idea. I also have a split run. I have a small cage that my new girls sleep in.. they were moved into the coop after 35 days of quarantine.. the new girls still act like the big girls are the 'devil' but they are getting better.-They get to free range but they stay far away from the big maybe in another week--they will be together full time..

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