Another flock integration question


6 Years
Apr 10, 2013
I have 3 two year old hens that have been together since hatching. I recently got 2 chicks and they are ready to start going outside and spending time in the coop. They are about 5 weeks old now and it's really warm here and they are ready! I've read up about flock integration. I'm going to put the babies in a separate section of the run during they daytime when they go out. That way the older hens can get used to them being around and we can gradually put them together.

Here's what I don't understand how to do: how do I get the babies to where they eventually roost with the big girls at night in the coop? I lock them up in their coop at night to keep them safe from predators. It's not a large coop, but large enough for 5 hens to sleep/roost/lay eggs. I don't know how to acclimate the babies to the coop AND the other hens without the babies getting hurt. How do I teach the babies to go into the coop to roost when they are not going to have access to it when outside? I can't separate space within the coop itself...only the run. The babies are going to have to go inside the house at night until I can figure something else out.

I get the idea of slow introduction and letting them get used to one another. What I don't get is how the babies will learn to use the coop at night, and when I can even reasonably expect to let them out with the larger hens. When that happens, will they just instinctively go in the coop with the bigger hens?
Most wait till the young birds are nearing the same size as the adults to let them mingle. I find that with room, you can let younger birds mingle sooner. If you let them free range generally they can be in the same area somewhere around ten weeks. So it comes down to how much room you are letting them have when you remove the barriers. When you want to move them into the coop you will just have to do it yourself some night. I always have to move the from the grow out tractor to the coop. Even though they can move themselves into the coop, they just won't do it. You may have to keep them all in the coop and run a few days after the move and manually put the young ones in the coop. Some times it takes them a while to figure it out.
You could lock the olders out of the coop after they are done laying for the day and let the littles explore the coop on their own for awhile before mixing them in the coop.

How big is your coop(feet by feet)? Pics might help.

I used a crate in the coop with small door to integrate smaller chicks, worked pretty good.

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.

Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
This is good place to start reading:

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