Adding two more laying hens...questions about integrating them...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SillyBird, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. SillyBird

    SillyBird In the Brooder

    Sep 4, 2015
    Nova Scotia
    We have a good sized chicken coop, divided in half, with one side containing my meat king hen, and the other side with two leghorn hens, but they are fully visible to each other. The meat king and leghorns do not like each other so I have kept them separated and all are very happy with this arrangement. Each side of the coop has a ramp down into a fenced grassy area which are also separate from each other. My question: I would like to add two more laying hens, that are a bit younger but laying, to the two existing ones on that side of the coop, so we'd have some eggs. From what I gather, chickens don't recognize age but size, so I would try to get hens that are about the same size as the ones I have. So...can I just put the two new laying hens in with my existing two leghorns and see how it goes, or, do I need to have them separated, but in view of each other, for awhile before I integrate them (which I'm sure would be ideal but I can't do this anyway as the meat king hen is on the other side of the coop). I know they can be very hard on each other while the pecking order is established. Would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you. Below a photo of the coop:



  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    It's best to integrate young chicks into a flock because it's normal for offspring to show up in a flock. Adding older birds is much harder as they are seen as intruders into their territory and the original birds will want to drive the new birds out or kill them.

    It's best to always house birds side by side initially. With chicks often a week or two is sufficient. With older birds it can be months depending on how big the territory.

    You will have to divide your coop up again temporarily to add more birds. After a bit time of being housed next to each other than you start to let them mingle and hopefully they work out the pecking order without drawing blood.

    I will let them out, than round them up again when things get rough or I can't watch them. Repeat daily until everyone tolerates each other for the most part and you feel comfortable leaving them together.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Integrations are largely individual personality dependent. You can have an ill tempered bird that hates intruders, relentlessly goes out of their way to peck at the intruder and continues this harassment for months. Or they can have moderate hazing that only lasts a few weeks.

    The letting them see one another without contact does aid in integration but wont stop the pecking order once they are together. I don't introduce birds anymore (excepting my own hatched and grown out chicks to layer flock) but when I did I finally just started putting them together and making sure there was plenty of run and hiding places or shrubbery branches for them to perch on to get away from hazing. If a bird gets pecked to point of wound use blue kote to heal and hide the wound to prevent serious injury. Open wounds will draw a lot of unwanted attention hence the blue kote to cover. Unless absolutely needed you don't want to separate after integration starts as you then need to start all over again at a later date. Usually it's one dom bird that's out of control if there is a problem so take that bird away from flock to allow newcomers to integrate then reintroduce the dominant hen. Far less problems that way.

    Rereading that I see I made it sound like a gladiator event. Sometimes it is but usually not. With so few birds you'll not likely have a problem.
  4. jaybud

    jaybud Chirping

    May 25, 2016
    Tehachapi, Ca
    Your question also depends on if you have a rooster or not. A lot of times there will b a queen bee hen who will run the flock if no rooster is around. If have found that size doesn't matter with chickens, I have two quail d'anver hens that push my RIR and Americauna around. Integrating other birds can be a crap shoot, it all about pecking order. I always try to let my current birds see the new ones by putting a smaller cage with them in the coop. If there is no fence fighting then I let them integrate into flock faster. If fighting starts it's not always bad at first, a lot of times it's pecking order being established. But if the fighting continues then the new birds will have a hard time being accepted. May want to consider giving them plenty of space to sort out the pecking orders.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Mostly they recognize territory and resources (space and food/water)
    ...and seniority (who ever was there first).

    I'd put that big hen in the freezer, before she dies from her genetics, then you can use both spaces to begin integration of some more layers.

  6. SillyBird

    SillyBird In the Brooder

    Sep 4, 2015
    Nova Scotia
    Wanted to thank you all for your thoughts and expertise on this. As nice as the eggs are I think I'll just leave things as they are for now / this winter, and make a decision in the spring. That may sound crazy but my experiences in the past with integrating new animals has always been a huge hassle and very stressful. The eggs are just a bonus really...I love the hens...they are fun to watch. The meat king is my pet and I love her dearly so she'll be around until she starts to fail, and when she does, I'll deal with that situation quickly and humanely. She has a lovely, affectionate personality and right now she's lovin' life. She was laying eggs there for awhile too! Looking forward to anyone else who'd like to share their stories with me. Thanks! : )



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