Adding new chicks to a flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by my5hens, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. my5hens

    my5hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 17, 2011
    Another hen owner told me once a flock is established then thats it, it is impossible or very hard to add a new chick to a flock because the old hens will kill it.

    I know next month the feed store will be selling the baby chicks and I would like to buy 1 buff orpington to my existing flock of 4 rhode island reds. Is it possible? How do I go about it?
  2. tdgill

    tdgill Overrun With Chickens

    I wouldn't add just one for starters. And I would probably get three or four (two will probably be roosters lol.) so you can keep two hopefully.

    I would start them inside with heat and care (because its fun to!) until fully feathered and then keep them separated from the other hens for a good while at least until they are similar in size and preferably not "peeping" anymore. Let them see each other though and get used to being around each other.

    When you do get ready to integrate them, make sure the new hens have some room to get away or some sort of cover that the bigger hens can't get to. I might be overly cautious but I'd rather be that way.

    I have four generations of hens and roos and no one has ever gotten hurt. But I also have alot of free ranging and a large coop shed. There is some pecking order established but everyone knows their place without bloodshed.

    Edited to add: forget the adding ONE chicken completely. That is recipe for disaster in my opinion. Very important. You'll need to plan on more than one.....
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2008
    Short answer? No, it's not possible to add one day-old chick to an existing flock. The hens will kill a chick.

    Long answer? Yes.. with caveats. You need to brood the new chick separately, which will be very hard on a flock animal, so you'll need to get at least three. Many states have laws that stop the sales of single chicks, anyway. In Ohio, you must purchase a minimum of six chicks. Once you've brooded your chicks, they will need an area away from the hens to grow up. Let them grow up separate from the hens until they're about 18 weeks old. At that age, they'll be big enough to stick up for themselves when they're integrated into your flock. As for how to do that, do a search here at BYC and you'll see lots of advice. I advocate having them share a pasture for a week or so before I force them to sleep together in the same coop. You'll need lots of space for picked-on pullets to get out of the older hens' way.

    We integrate our chicks that hatch in March into our layer flock once they are 18 weeks old. It does work, even though there are some pecking order fights for a week or two. So no, not impossible to integrate new birds into an existing flock, but you can't just put a chick in with older hens.
    1 person likes this.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    My response would have been exactly the same as Sunshine's. I've tried to add two month old chicks to older hens, I thought with lots of space it would be okay. I lost two chicks.

    Another thought is to just look for an older pullet.
  5. fenceman48

    fenceman48 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 13, 2011
    Senoia, Ga
    I have used this formula with success. I keep chicks in the brooder until feathered enough to put outside. I have a free ranging flock with a coop with an automatic door. I also have a 4x8 chicken tractor. I put the pullets in the tractor & the established chickens look them over & get used to them. After several weeks, & after the pullets get bigger, then I begin letting them out during the day. They usually roost back up in the tractor, but eventually, they roost in the coop. I think letting the older birds get used to seeing them is the secret of my success.
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2008
    We do something similar, where we keep the pullets in the "pullet house" in a fence within the chicken pasture. But we don't let them all range together until about 18 weeks because we don't want them eating layer feed before then, and the hens LOVE chick starter, so if the hens can get in with the pullets, they gobble up all the starter and don't leave any for the pullets. If I could figure out a way to fix the feed issue, I'd let them out of the mini-pasture as soon as they are fully feathered.
  7. coffeenutdesign

    coffeenutdesign Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2012
    Yeah, what they said...I actually raise my little ones in the tractor and move them to a separate run until they are old enough to free range as well. I have enough room that my older flock can free range and my younger ones can stay far away if they need to and they can gradually acclimate to each other. I have 2 coops, so I can keep them separate until they are ready to play nice with each other.
  8. tdgill

    tdgill Overrun With Chickens

    oh yeah! I forgot to mention the feed issue. good info

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