Adding two 4 month old pullets with two 7 month old pullets

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ostroh, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    Help! We thought, due to the closeness in age (but for some reason, NOT size. they are HALF the size of our layers), the integration would be easy, but it's been HORRIBLE! First, we have one RIR and one Barred Rock. Both super sweet, always stay together etc. We bought a Buff and Australorp and brought them home. Kept them in a pen in the run the first day. That night put them in the coop while everyone was asleep. All was ok until they woke up and we heard SQUAWKING... we run out, and the two olders are chasing them all over the run. so i let the olders out to free range, and left the newbies in the run for 2 hours, to get used to the lay of the land. they had access to the coop as well, so they knew where home was. I then let them all out into the yard to free range, and stayed close to spray the olders when they would chase and peck. 10 hours later, they were able to come within 4 feet of eachother without chasing.. progress. That night, into the coop, but our RIR all of a sudden super aggressive in the coop! She was pecking at them to get them off their roost (a seperate one)... and even pecking at our hands in the coop! so i wanted until they all fell asleep. Same scenario the next day. so we put up a wire barrier in the run. i feel bad as now the olders are stuck on the side with no roosts, but i needed them with the coop to be able to lay their eggs.... so we do this daily, with no progress. The olders chase the littles the SECOND they all wake up, and will corner them in the coop if i dont get out there first. BIG BULLIES!!! then in the evening we let them all free range, but have to stay the whole time, or they'll get chased. This should NOT be this hard right??? The newbies are TINY. How long will i have to keep up this barrier??? any other suggestions???? we tried grass clipping pile to keep them distracted, but, they would not allow the newbies to eat or drink. they just chase them into the corner. so mean.
    It has been 5 days.
    Any advice would be great!
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Unfortunately that is pretty common behavior for chickens when adding new birds to a flock, especially a small one. It is best to wait until the chickens are about the same size, and then a long period of seeing but no touching through wire seem to work best, ie dividing the coop into two sections or keeping the new/younger ones in a cage inside the coup for a couple of weeks to a month at least. The chickens will get to know each other and sort of work out a pecking order before actually coming in contact with each other. Letting them free range together is a good idea and should help... It will take a couple of weeks to get the pecking order sorted out. There is a nice article in the Learning Center on integrating flocks you might like to check out, the part about actually combining them is after the quarantine section https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock I have found hatchery RIR to be overly aggressive in mixed flocks, you might want to consider pinless peepers for her if she doesn't get with the program.
     
  3. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    May 8, 2014
    Here's an update, and hoping to get some advice. We have had the new pullets for 2 weeks now. We separated the run, and made the run longer. The older pullets have the half with the coop, the younger have the half with the roosts. We also added two roosts in the coop. Every morning, the little ones wait until they hear us come out, to get off the roost in the coop, then they DASH to their half of the coop, and we close up the separation (chicken wire). Each side has water and food. The second the little ones come off the roost, the big ones GO AFTER THEM pecking at them. They look at eachother all day long, and the older ones are obsessed at the separation, staring at them, pacing.
    When we let them out to free range (when we are home), they keep their distance. the older ones chase the little ones off different spots as they want to go there (bullies). The little ones generally run either to us, or to their side of the coop for safety.
    then, at 6:45, the little ones always go up and put themselves to sleep. we wait until the big ones go in, because they go up and peck them, push them off the roosts, no matter what roost they go on. So, we pick up the big ones and put them on their own roost, that they always sleep on. Everynight for two weeks, we have to put the big ones up on their roost, otherwise they peck and push off the poor sleeping little ones.
    HOW MUCH LONGER WIll this go on???? at what point to do we remove the separation and see what happens? they are still only about 3/4 the size of the bigger ones, but MUCH faster.
    It makes me sad for the little ones.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    SIZE is the issue, when the size matches, they will work it out, until the size is equal they will NOT work it out, they will terrorize the younger ones, maybe even kill them.

    The thing is, the whole flock is terribly upset. While you think the older ones are the bullies, they think that they are being invaded by strangers! Stranger Danger!

    But the real thing is, that with all that fighting, everyone is upset, and probably losing weight, and not producing eggs like they should.

    Really, if you have any other place, it would be better to completely separate the birds for several weeks, let the younger ones grow up, and then put them together. At that time the chicks will be bigger, the weather will be colder, and cold temperatures cool tempers, you are not near so picky who you will cuddle with when it is really cold.

    Mrs K
     
  5. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank your mrs. K, now I feel bad for the older ones! Although one has taken to pecking at us when we walk!!! Unfortunately, I do not have space, so we need an alternate plan. I tried switching the halves of the run today, giving the little ones access to the coop. All four werror flipping out! They wanted their own spots back. You're right, egg laying hasn't been great. But they are all eating and drinking. Ideas?
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I have heard good success with a picket fence or wire fence where the little ones can move in and out, but the big ones can't get through..... but you have to make sure the little ones understand the escape. More hideouts, multiple levels in the run, boxes, pallets up on blocks, roosts in the run. By making the run multi - levels high, birds can get out each other's sight, and off their mind.
     
  7. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    Here we are at 3 weeks, and it's not much better. Free ranging in afternoons is fine, but am and bed time older ones are bullies. Anyone had same experiencephalitis with integrating take so long???
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Space is the key...when the bullied can get away from the bullies....like outside free ranging, it's all good.

    When they go into the coop and/or run, the smaller space increases aggression and there's no escape for the bullied.

    Just keep the coop and run partitioned (both sides should have roosts, feed and water) until they are older.
    Eventually they will coexist semi peacefully, there will always be a pecking order but it should smooth out once they all are laying.
     

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