Best Integration Methods?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Table4Six, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Table4Six

    Table4Six Crossing the Road

    May 22, 2012
    I will be picking up two four month old black LF Cochin pullets the day after tomorrow. What are the best methods of integration? Is the "see, but don't touch" method reliable? Does it work well? Or are there better options out there. Any advice is much appreciated.
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    How much space are you working with? How many birds are they integrating into? Is your flock confined or free ranged? If the former, is your run one with break ups of the line of sight?
    I use look but dont touch kincluding turning existing flock into the fenced yard to range while new bird(s) have freedom in the run) then progress to I read the birds so the timing varies depending on what I'm seeing. The more space I can give, the less I worry about things....the more I can break up line of sight/offer escape the less I worry ...toss in an extra feed/water station out of sight from the first....I usually have new juvenile/mature birds integrated in 3-7 days depending on flock dynamics at the time.
    Chicks I integrate naturally starting at three weeks as they are brooded in "look but dont touch" from day 1
  3. Table4Six

    Table4Six Crossing the Road

    May 22, 2012
    Thank you so much for this great info. The coop is 10x10 with plenty of extra roosting space. I will be integrating them into a preexisting flock of 18 birds. The run is very large and definitely has natural break ups of the line of sight. My birds are free ranged only under supervision.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
    HeiHeisMom, KLIL and townchicks like this.
  4. Shamo Hybrid

    Shamo Hybrid Songster

    Jun 6, 2018
    It depends on your flock's temperament. Some takes on newcomers with open arms (not really, but you know, less harm to the new chicken) while other flocks will gang up and attack like a pack of wild dogs. With me, I trust my rooster as a gentleman so I just toss in the first hen that I found for him and he took it easy on her..... a few pecks here and there to show his dominance and put her in her place. Once she submits, he's been nice to her ever since. I also threw in a cockerel, although it was after a week of him being caged up with them, and when I released the cockerel, they all seem to get along pretty well...... I think the head rooster, if you have one, usually dictates the atmosphere of the flock. Sometimes he can't stand others getting out of line and will actually protect the newcomer by pecking away the others.... it really all depends on the dynamics of your flock.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    It depends on the age of the birds, the space, and the number of the birds.

    2 young birds into 18 older birds could be pretty rough. The 18 have home court advantage and will likely see the new comers as serious danger.

    I would suggest looking at your 18, culling 6-8, and then adding 6-8 younger birds. This will spread the pecking out over more birds. Pecking and chasing is exhausting work, if there are several to chase, it wears them out sooner. With only two to chase, it could get ugly pretty fast.

    Now if you frequently as in a couple times a year, add chicks, mine anyway, seem to take new chicks pretty much in stride, the very young chicks are not much of a threat, and with a safety zone set up, they can escape to safety.

    I would be very careful with what you are proposing, you are close to your maximum size of the flock in your set up, and what you will have is 18 birds willing to give a peck to just two birds. I would be very slow on the integration.

    If you can separate them, you might do a 2 new on 2 old, and then later introduce the 4 back to the flock.

    MRs K
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Can you split your coop and run for look no touch?
    Are you at all concerned with quarantine to reduce chance of pests and disease transmission?

    Here's my notes, use 'em if they help.
    Best of cLuck!!

    Consider biological/medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    BYC 'quarantine' search

    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    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.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    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 copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, 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'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.

    This used to be a better search, new format has reduced it's efficacy, but still:
    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, BUT some info is outdated IMO:
  7. townchicks

    townchicks Free Ranging

    Dec 1, 2016
    Contra Costa county, Ca.
    Look but don't touch worked very well for me, when I introduced a new hen to my existing two last spring. I let the birds show me they were ready, and didn't rush anything. I gave it a full two weeks before I let them out together, and it went well. It was another several weeks before they let her come into the coop however, so she spent nights locked in her rabbit hutch "intro coop" Then one day, she just bulled her way in, there was a small bit of squawking and that was that.
    I'm getting a couple new girls in a few weeks, I'll be using my old prefab coop/run as look but don't touch again. My chicken run and the 'chicken yard" can be separated, so the new girls can have time outside the teeny attached run, so I won't need to rush anything. If need be, they can stay separate for good. I doubt it will come to that though.
  8. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    Quarantine is the best method of integration.
    It will give you time to get to know the new arrivals and them to get to know you and time to think about how to integrate them when the time comes.
    townchicks and Table4Six like this.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Lest anyone get confused or mislead:
    True quarantine is not any part of integration...
    ...quarantine should happen out of sight and far away from main flock.
  10. crazy4ChickensNducks

    crazy4ChickensNducks Songster

    Dec 16, 2018
    west, michigan
    I let my hens out into a large area with tall grass sorrounded with a poultry net and litter the ground with cherrios and watermelon (All of the chickens favorites) then I put the chicks in there and let them mingle. For the first hour They just eat then later they start to establish a new pecking order. At night I have to put the chicks on the roosts because they don't know How to get in the coop

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