Adding To My Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DAT, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. DAT

    DAT New Egg

    Mar 26, 2009
    Southeastern Vermont
    Hi Everyone,

    I have 7 Rhode Island Reds, and they'll be 2 years old on June 12th. I don't want to wait until they all quit laying and get old and die, and then get new ones - I want to have continuous egg production. So I ordered 8 more, which will arrive in a couple of weeks.

    Once they're old enough to go outside, how do I integrate them into the flock with a minimum of bloodshed? I only have one coop and can't really afford to build another. I could keep them separated in the run with some chickenwire, but they'll have to share the coop.

    None of my chicken-friends here seem to know much about it. Will the chickens have a few scuffles and work it out? Will they rip each other to shreds? Should I maybe have thought this through before I ordered new chicks? [​IMG]
  2. SunAngel

    SunAngel Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2008
    Chambersburg, Pa.
    Mine usually do fine if I wait til my new ones are around 4 months old before putting them in with the flock. If I add older chickens, they fight one another, if the juvies are any younger, they get picked on too much. Around 4 months, the juvies are usually old enough to know when to get out of the way of the older girls, but not too young to spend all their time hiding. After a week or so, the juvies seem to fit right in. I haven't had any injuries or bloodshed yet [​IMG]
  3. ThreeBoysChicks

    ThreeBoysChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2007
    Thurmont, MD
    Good advice from SunAngel.

    The only thing I would add is that when I integrate aroiund 4 months, I add them to the coop at night, once the older girls have gone to roost. This way everyone is much calmer and when they wake up in the morning, the new residents have arrived. Then I keep an eye on them throughout that day.
  4. SunAngel

    SunAngel Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2008
    Chambersburg, Pa.
    Ohhh, oops, yep I do that also. Almost always add them at night.

    I should also add that my juvies have a run that is right beside the big girls, so they see each other for a few months before they are integrated. Maybe that has something to do with it, I am not sure. I have bought juvies from outside sources though and merged them without much trouble either.
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Quote:[​IMG] Here is my story on my experiences putting my pullets with my hens. I have RIR's. This is going to take time because of the age difference especially since you don‘t have place to keep the younger ones for awhile while they grow. It‘s works best if they are put together when they are close to the same size. Put them side by side so they can see each other for awhile. Later you can make a common area for all, but have some safety place where the younger birds can go and be safe. They will all have to sort out their pecking order eventually. I'm afraid that the older birds might hurt the younger ones. They can even kill them. You can try putting them together and see what happens but be prepared to separate them if you have to. Whenever I get new chicks I keep them separate from the rest of the flock for at least a month. I then put them in adjacent runs where they can see each other. When I do finally put them together I let them out into the yard to free range and spread plenty of treats around so that the birds are more interested in the treat than killing each other. Some integrations go more smoothly than others. I tried putting them together when the pullets were about 12 weeks old and the hens were about 1 1/2 yrs old. I put lots of scratch out for them. It didn't go to well. The hens chased and picked on the pullets terrible so I separated them. They had been in different coops and adjacent runs for over a month prior to the first time I tried to put them together. When I put them together the last time when the pullets were about 20 weeks, I had two hens that were terrible and jumping on the pullets and pulling their feathers out. I took the two most aggressive hens out and separated them from the rest. They were put into a separate pen for a week where all the rest of the chickens could walk around them see them but couldn't touch. When I did let them out, I put plenty of treats and scratch out hopefully to distract them. It worked for the most part, but for one of the hens. She was still very aggressive. When I saw her jump on one of the pullets I sprayed her with water from a hose that is next to the coop. She went running into the coop and didn't come out for awhile. I have repeated the hose caper a few times. She has calmed down since then. I had my birds in different coops. I switched the chicken around and put them in each others coop. I put the pullets in the hen's house and the hens in the pullets coop. Since you don’t have a second coop maybe you could put them in a chicken tractor or a shed if you have one. Each of my coops have nest boxes. I kept them in separate runs also so they had to use the coop I assigned to them. I left them this way for a week. After a week I opened the runs up and let them intermingle between coops and for the next week let the girls choose the coop they wanted to roost in. The following week I closed the pop door on the pullets coop so that no one could use it and so they all had to roost in the hen's house. Well it worked with relatively little squabbling. Mission accomplished. They all get along fine now... Hope my experiences help. There are pictures on my BYC Page.
    I work the graveyard shift so trying to put them together at night wasn't an option for me so I never tried it. I did put a couple of the pullets on the roosts on my nights off at night because they wanted to sleep on the floor of the coop.

    Sorry for the long post.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009

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