Can I add two pullets?

NHChickenOwner

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 3, 2014
8
1
60
Hi,

We have two eight week old silkies and three three week old chicks (an EE, a speckled Sussex and a lavender Orpington). We would like to add two more to this flock... how do we do this when everyone is still young? There is a farm nearby who sells chicks and pullets of varying ages... do we try to match ages and slowly integrate when they are in the coop in a couple of weeks? Is better just to wait until next year?
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,165
15,512
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I "add" new birds every three weeks - however many hatched of my latest incubation, meaning typically six to ten. Adding in larger groups appears beneficial, as the group tends to operate as a flock within a flock for mutual protection, but I'm integrating with birds 3, 6, 12, ... ...60 weeks older than they, so there's quite the range of sizes and relative maturity.

Two keys - one, a lengthy "see and be seen" process, where the existing flock can get used to the presence of the new additions, yet be separated by a see thru barrier like a cage, netting, chicken wire etc while they adapt to one another's presence.

Two, abundance is a social lubricant. Having the two flocks eating next to one another (separated still by wire, net, etc), drinking, playing, etc also helps reduce stress and improve acceptance - the birds don't feel like they are competing for resources.

Third, and not a key, just a matter of acceptance - "pecking order" is a thing. There WILL be pecking involved. As long as its not resulting in open injuries, some pin pricks on the comb from another's beak or the like are perfectly normal behaviors, as is chasing and jumping. Don't panic. IF, otoh, one group starts to gang up on an individual and attack the hind quarters mercilessly, step in and separate them again. That's a particularly vulnerable location, and can go south quickly.

Damage from chasing, jumping, defensive behaviors can be minimized, in part, by ensuring there are lots of obstacles in the run when the barriers are removed, so the smaller birds have places to hide, exit routes, and ways to break line of sight. While birds do have some sense of "object permanence" in their dinosaur brains, they remain quite visually focused. Breaking line of sight rapidly defuses most situations, I've found.

I have no advice re sleeping behaviors and small coops - I know some will pick birds up and place them together at night - I don't. But I have multiple coops and multiple large runs, so I don't experience the space pressures other backyard chicken owners do.

Hope it helps!
 
Last edited:

LizzzyJo

Crowing
Dec 14, 2018
1,739
4,503
307
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
I have done this with a very larger brooding area so that they can all choose their own heat level and lots of feeders and waterers. If you see bullying, then separate the tiny babies until they are a few weeks old and try again. The 8 week olds I would separate from the tiny babies for a few weeks and then try gradual integration. I would separate them with mesh so that they can see the babies.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
18,221
37,013
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
If you can match ages with one of the groups, at this point they should accept newcomers still, even the 8 week olds (3 week olds shouldn't have issues accepting new birds of same age).

OR... if egg production is something that matters to some degree, then wait until next year, to spread out ages of the birds and have a little more consistent egg production over a longer span of time.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,737
14,058
656
western South Dakota
That farm is not probably going away - I would suggest waiting till next year for three reasons:
  • IMO one should not have a single generational flock. A multi-generational flock has 3 year old birds, 2 year old birds, 1 year old birds and chicks. It is truly a flock with a more natural chicken society.
  • If you get more chicks now - you may think of them as different ages, but in 6 months they will all be adults - a single generation.
  • If you are just getting started, what seems like more than enough room, may very well not be quite enough room when they are all full sized birds. Each coop and run takes a little experience to get the size of the flock that fits best. Sometimes that follows the guidelines, but sometimes it doesn't.
Good luck,

Mrs K
 

Boomerwaffen

Chirping
Jun 28, 2021
78
110
86
I "add" new birds every three weeks - however many hatched of my latest incubation, meaning typically six to ten. Adding in larger groups appears beneficial, as the group tends to operate as a flock within a flock for mutual protection, but I'm integrating with birds 3, 6, 12, ... ...60 weeks older than they, so there's quite the range of sizes and relative maturity.

Two keys - one, a lengthy "see and be seen" process, where the existing flock can get used to the presence of the new additions, yet be separated by a see thru barrier like a cage, netting, chicken wire etc while they adapt to one another's presence.

Two, abundance is a social lubricant. Having the two flocks eating next to one another (separated still by wire, net, etc), drinking, playing, etc also helps reduce stress and improve acceptance - the birds don't feel like they are competing for resources.

Third, and not a key, just a matter of acceptance - "pecking order" is a thing. There WILL be pecking involved. As long as its not resulting in open injuries, some pin pricks on the comb from another's beak or the like are perfectly normal behaviors, as is chasing and jumping. Don't panic. IF, otoh, one group starts to gang up on an individual and attack the hind quarters mercilessly, step in and separate them again. That's a particularly vulnerable location, and can go south quickly.

Damage from chasing, jumping, defensive behaviors can be minimized, in part, by ensuring there are lots of obstacles in the run when the barriers are removed, so the smaller birds have places to hide, exit routes, and ways to break line of sight. While birds do have some sense of "object permanence" in their dinosaur brains, they remain quite visually focused. Breaking line of sight rapidly defuses most situations, I've found.

I have no advice re sleeping behaviors and small coops - I know some will pick birds up and place them together at night - I don't. But I have multiple coops and multiple large runs, so I don't experience the space pressures other backyard chicken owners do.

Hope it helps!
Great post. Here’s our situation. We’ve got a large mixed flock that are all nearly 6 months old. Due to having to re-home 3 birds (two vicious guineas and an extra drake) we needed replacements. However the minimum order was seven. So now we have seven month old pullets. We have two large coops connected via a 30 foot enclosed run. We use one of the coops as a brooder and covered the chicken door with steel hardware cloth. We placed their food and water there. So that everyone can see everyone else. I’m concerned about the size and age difference. How long would you recommend that we keep them separated?
 

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Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,737
14,058
656
western South Dakota
A beautiful set up, with nice protection.

One of the things I notice in your run, is that is really only two dimensional for the birds. You can walk in there, you make use of the vertical space, but your birds cannot. There is no place for birds to get away from each other, or out of sight of each other.

IMO you need to add clutter, hideouts, pallets, platforms, lean to's, ladders, saw horses, old chairs, small pieces of plywood to make mini walls, roosts to fly up to, places where birds can get out of sight of other birds, eat out of sigh of other birds.

It makes adding new birds much more easy.

Mrs K
 

Boomerwaffen

Chirping
Jun 28, 2021
78
110
86
A beautiful set up, with nice protection.

One of the things I notice in your run, is that is really only two dimensional for the birds. You can walk in there, you make use of the vertical space, but your birds cannot. There is no place for birds to get away from each other, or out of sight of each other.

IMO you need to add clutter, hideouts, pallets, platforms, lean to's, ladders, saw horses, old chairs, small pieces of plywood to make mini walls, roosts to fly up to, places where birds can get out of sight of other birds, eat out of sigh of other birds.

It makes adding new birds much more easy.

Mrs K
Thanks for the excellent advice! I’ll do it tomorrow.
 

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