Adding younger to your flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kenshan1, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Kenshan1

    Kenshan1 Songster

    Aug 13, 2010
    Bonney Lake, WA
    My husband is wondering about when you take one or 2 out & eat them, how do you go about adding more back to your flock? We just got chicks last week so it will be a while. Ours are about 5wks at the youngest & 7wks at the oldest, not totally sure on age. Growth & size jump over 1wk is amazing. Do you start over with real young? Or look for a little older Pullets? I do like the age we did get, not super needy.


  2. sunket77

    sunket77 Songster

    May 21, 2009
    Texas Hill Country!
    I have found that the best way to introduce them is by several at a time. When they are a good size to be integrated it helps to put at least four in together. Do it at night, just put them in the coop with the others. Keep watch the next day to make sure it went well. I would never recommend putting just one in, that never goes well.
  3. Kenshan1

    Kenshan1 Songster

    Aug 13, 2010
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Quote:Thanks, this makes since.

  4. hensonly

    hensonly Songster

    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Also, from what I read here on BYC, it's best if the two flocks can be housed next door to each other, or one pen inside the other so they see and get used to each other while staying safe. Then after a couple of weeks, do as suggested and introduce them a group at a time, after dark. Hope it goes well for you!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Here's an article from Buff that might help you.

    Buff HooliganÂ’s Adding to your flock

    There area a lot of different ways to add to a flock, hatching eggs or getting chicks or chickens of any age. People successfully use all of them. There is no one way that is the only right way and the rest are rubbish. There are some risks with all of the different methods, but they all can and do work. Your specific set-up and or personal preferences may make one easier for you than others. I'd suggest using the search feature in the blue band above or just look through this site, especially in the raising chicks or managing your flock sections, and see how other people have handled it successfully and the problems they have encountered to pick a method that suites your specific situation. You have a tremendous opportunity on this site to learn from other people's experiences.

    If you hatch eggs yourself from an NPIP source (that's where the flock has been tested for certain diseases) or from your own eggs or get chicks from a major hatchery, I would not worry about quarantine. One of the major hatcheries did have a disease problem a few years ago, but they cleared that up. If you bring in chickens of any age from any other source, I'd give real serious consideration to quarantine.

    Integration is a dangerous time. Things can go horribly wrong. But people successfully do it all the time. Some of my thoughts on it.

    Space is critical. The more space they have the easier it is. The younger weaker ones need room to be able to get away from the others. If you can't let them free range or don't have a huge coop/run complex, perches, places to hide , and safe areas help a lot. Whatever you can do to help the young or weak ones to not draw the attention of the stronger ones. The young ones will be scared of the big ones. They need a way to get away and not draw attention to themselves.

    The older ones will almost certainly keep the younger ones form eating and drinking. They are bullies. What can I say. Setting up a few different feeding and watering places will minimize conflict and help the younger ones be able to eat and drink. The young ones will probably be so scared of the big ones that they will die of thirst before they try to get a drink if the big ones hang around the one waterer.

    One of the big things is to let them get used to one another before they can hurt one another. House them next to each other, separated by wire, for as long as you can. Maybe throw some scratch or something they like to eat on the ground at the fence so they get used to each other. They will normally look like they are ignoring each other but they are really checking each other out.

    I guess this is a good place to talk about pecking order. Chickens are social animals. Just like a wolf pack, a herd of cattle, or about any other living unit of social animals, there are dominant and subservient members of the flock, pack, or herd. This pecking order allows them to live together in relative peace and harmony. They need to know who gets the priviledges of rank. Otherwise they would be squabbling all the time over food, roosting spaces, mating priviledges, or do we go left or right. To establish who is dominant, they fight. How much they fight and how serious the fights get depends on a lot of different factors. Personalities of the individual chickens and age difference are two big factors, but there are many more. A lot of the time, pure personality differences will allow one chicken to intimidate another without a lot of pecking or fighting. You'll find that size is not that critical a factor, but age is. An older chicken will easily dominate a younger chick, up until that chick gets to a certain maturity. My feelings are that they have to establish that pecking orderso they can live in harmony, so I let them determine the pecking order in the way that is instinctive to them. I observe but as long as no blood is drawn, I leave them alone. If blood is drawn, I do step in.

    I'm not a huge fan of introducing them after dark so they wake up together, at least with my set-up. I've got a lot of space and I let them free range at the same time but sleep in different coops for a while. I give them time to get to know each other. When they wake up in a coop for the first time, they don't know where they stand in the pecking order. They don't know who can hop down from the roosts and eat and drink or who better stay on the roosts for a while. A lot of people do it and claim success. It may be a good strategy. I have not tried it since I do have a lot of space and can go about it another way. This is one of those things that I think you need to carefully read about other people's experiences and see how they go about it. Each integration is different. Many actually go very smoothly with minimal fighting and disruption. Again, I have not tried throwing them together at night so I am not an authority on that. I kinda think the big advantage of this method is that the major integration issues are settled before the human gets to the coop to intervene, but there could easily be some advantages to them waking up more interested in eating and drinking than fighting.

    Age is another factor. The younger the chickens are the greater the risk for a disaster, but many people integrate pretty young chicks with an adult flock. In certain circumstances, I think them being fairly young (8 to 12 weeks) actually makes it easier, but the potential consequences are also higher.

    Whether there are roosters in the existing flock or young birds can make a difference. Roosters do present special risks, but there are a lot of myths on this site about roosters. Many of us have multiple roosters and many of us successfully bring in replacement roosters, but they do increase the risks of problems.

    This is probably a lot more than you were looking for. It is my opinion based on my experiences growing up with chickens on a farm, experiences keeping chickens now, reading at a lot of extension sites, and reading a lot of posts on this site. Other people have different experiences so they will have different opinions. I recommend you go ahead and get addicted to this forum, look for people in your general situation with your general goals, and try to pick out the things that apply to your situation. And never be afraid to post a question on here, even if you think it has been asked a thousand times before. This site thrives on questions.

    Good luck!

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