Adding new members to a flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jensonroberts, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. jensonroberts

    jensonroberts Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 19, 2015
    Next spring, im planning on getting chickens :) . They are going to be rirs or production hens. Im starting off with 4 hens but would it be possible to add other breeds in two years time? I would like a mixed flock but I have a neighbour that has connections to a chicken farm. So I am going to get them to start off with but I would like to add two of a different breed eg: buff orpingtons or cochins ect
  2. 11ChickenGirl11

    11ChickenGirl11 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2015
    Northeast USA
    You could if you wanted but by that time the chickens that you already have will have an established pecking order, which may lead to some fighting, more or less depening on how you introduce them. Some breeds are also more aggressive towards other chickens than others, for example, Rhode Island Reds. Mine were really friendly towards me but when we put 10 little pullets with them, they kinda let their inner warrior out. lol.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
  3. jensonroberts

    jensonroberts Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 19, 2015
    Ok, so how would I introduce them andwhat breeds get on with rirs and production hens?
  4. teria

    teria Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2015
    Salem Utah
    We have added twice to our existing flock, and were careful about introducing the new littles gradually. Once the littles were fully feathered out, we built a grow out pen for them to spend their days in while the bigs free ranged. The bigs could see the littles but not harm them. We just constructed a chicken wire enclosure big enough for them to play and exercise in, with a little shelter inside for shade and to just get out of the rain. The bigs would walk around the outside, the littles would approach the fence, one or the other would get close enough to peck and then the littles would run to safety. At first the bigs were obsessed with pacing back and forth and walking round and round the enclosure trying to find a way in. It took a few weeks until the bigs lost interest in the littles.

    That was when I knew it was time to take the next step. When the bigs were foraging I would bring the littles out, and walk with them as they learned about their new territory. Every so often one of the bigs would get close enough to the littles to peck, but, that was it. I was always there to step in if things got out of hand, but, I knew the pecking order had to be established. They pecked more at them than on them, and the littles would all run away together. the bigs rarely pursued them. They seemed satisfied that the proper respect for the bigger chicken's place was respected. After a few times the littles learned to give the bigs a wide berth. At nights the littles were kept in an enclosure inside the big coop, so they would adjust to sleeping with the bigs and the bigs would adjust to having them there. Gradually the second group of littles became part of the big flock, and then we started all over with a new group of littles. We are at the point now where the bigs and the littles free range in the same yard, but, the littles still avoid the bigs, and every now and then the bigs remind them of their place. They also all share the same coop, which has been fine. The bigs go in first, get their favorite spots, and then, knowing their place, the littles go in gingerly and find a spot to roost for the night.

    Our pecking order switched up a bit with the first two groups. While the two leghorns have remained top chickens in the flock, the Easter Egger and Buff Orpington lost their places to the two Rhode Island Reds and the two Silver Laced Wyandottes. The order is currently

    Mochi- leghorn
    Nia- leghorn
    Diana- wyandotte
    Anne-rhode island
    Lacey- wyandotte
    Cordelia- rhode island
    Tikka- buff
    Chief- easter egger

    The new littles have their own little pecking order.

    Rosie- easter egger
    Bunny- easter egger
    Winnie- salmon faverolle
    Pipi- salmon faverolle
    Loralei- cuckoo maran
    Morticia- austrolorp

    It'll be interesting to see how the order shifts when the littles get big enough to assert their place in the big flock.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
  5. jensonroberts

    jensonroberts Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 19, 2015
    Thanks, when I get new hens I will use that method
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    @jensonroberts It's Great that you're thinking that far ahead!!

    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.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015

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