Chicken integration

Chickenslol

Songster
Sep 26, 2020
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idk man, no clue
We’ve been doing the see don’t touch method for our chickens for about a month and a half maybe two. Our chicks are now 13 weeks and our full grown chickens are 8 months. We’ve tried multiple times to let them come together and get used to each other but the size difference is so large that the older chickens end up terrorizing the babies. We’ve also got a 13 week rooster and a full grown austrolorp that enjoy having standoffs whenever they can. Winter is getting pretty bad here and we need to move the chickens into the big coop soon, but I’m terrified of them getting pecked to death by the bigger chickens, the size difference is so large it worries me. I came down today and one of the babies had gotten through the chicken wire and was in a corner being pecked by all of the full grown ones, so it makes me think that it’s really not safe for them yet. Any tips?
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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Too bad you didn't do the opposite, integrating while they're younger is a lot easier because chicks are less of a threat (and thus not harassed quite as hard) and you can take advantage of their tiny size to set up safe zones.

1.5 months of see but not touch should be plenty to start putting them together, maybe with some supervision at first. What does your run look like? Photos would help, measurements too, if you know them. Clutter (to provide hiding spots) and having extra feeders spread out can help diffuse the situation a lot. How many birds in each age group?
 

MissMonty

Songster
5 Years
Sep 12, 2015
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Dayton, OH
I'd try to set up a safe area for them to run into. Something small enough they can get in but the adult birds can't. This way if they're pecking and carrying on the babies can get away
 

Chickenslol

Songster
Sep 26, 2020
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idk man, no clue
Ok so after I posted this thread I tried integrating them for two hours, and while they didn’t peck one to death, the bigger ones (4 chickens) pretty much bossed around the smaller flock (six) they seemed to be deliberately going after them and the little ones were terrified of them which was sad. We’ve decided to just move them in slowly and hopefully they can get along after a while
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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Ok so after I posted this thread I tried integrating them for two hours, and while they didn’t peck one to death, the bigger ones (4 chickens) pretty much bossed around the smaller flock (six) they seemed to be deliberately going after them and the little ones were terrified of them which was sad.

That's normal. If no one is getting hurt, then I'd consider it acceptable. Above posters are suggesting said safe zones I earlier mentioned, however your chickens are likely too close in size to do that (I had my heaviest hen squeeze into an opening meant for 4 week olds, for example).

Getting some answers to this:
What does your run look like? Photos would help, measurements too, if you know them. Clutter (to provide hiding spots) and having extra feeders spread out can help diffuse the situation a lot. How many birds in each age group?
... would help with getting more specific advice.

And by clutter I mean: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
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Feb 2, 2009
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That behavior sounds pretty normal. More mature chickens outrank less mature in the pecking order until the younger mature enough to join the flock as equals. Especially if the less mature invade their persona space they aren't shy about enforcing their pecking order rights. My pullets tend to meet that maturity point about the time they start to lay.

I have a lot of room outside, even when it is really crowded they have over 60 square feet per chicken. My younger ones form a sub-flock and usually stay well away from the adults. Each flock is different and sometimes they do mingle some, usually when a brood is being raised by a broody hen, but in general they stay well separated even then. When I open the pop door to let them out in the morning it is pretty normal for the younger ones to be on the roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. They are avoiding the adults and probably for a good reason.

My definition of a successful integration is that no one gets hurt. All that stuff about them hanging together during the day and sleeping together at night will eventually come but they usually need to mature enough to do that.

The more you can tell us about what you have to work with the more likely we can give suggestions that suit your circumstances. That includes the size of your coop, size of the run, and how you manage them (when that run space s available). A general location so we know your weather can often help. Photos can be very valuable so we better understand what you have to work with. An example, my roosts are 5 feet high. The juveniles can go up there to find a safe place. If your roosts are low enough that the adults can peck the juveniles on them the roosts are not a safe place.

What you are seeing is not that unusual, many of us go through it regularly.
 

ATXEEChicks

Hatching
Dec 21, 2020
3
14
9
I'm not the OP but I've been searching for information about integrating chickens for weeks and your response was really helpful and reassuring. I have 2 chickens that are 3 months old and 4 that are 7 months old, all Easter Eggers. I did 'see but don't touch' for several weeks and then put them all together in the same run for about 2 weeks but put the 2 littles back in their own coop at night. One night I did't get out to the run before sunset and found all the chickens tucked together in the coop. So they'll sleep together at night but as soon as dawn hits the 2 littles start getting picked on and keep their distance from the other 4. This has been going on for about 2 weeks but it sounds like this is normal and as long as no one is getting hurt they'll eventually stop picking on the younger 2.

That behavior sounds pretty normal. More mature chickens outrank less mature in the pecking order until the younger mature enough to join the flock as equals. Especially if the less mature invade their persona space they aren't shy about enforcing their pecking order rights. My pullets tend to meet that maturity point about the time they start to lay.

I have a lot of room outside, even when it is really crowded they have over 60 square feet per chicken. My younger ones form a sub-flock and usually stay well away from the adults. Each flock is different and sometimes they do mingle some, usually when a brood is being raised by a broody hen, but in general they stay well separated even then. When I open the pop door to let them out in the morning it is pretty normal for the younger ones to be on the roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. They are avoiding the adults and probably for a good reason.

My definition of a successful integration is that no one gets hurt. All that stuff about them hanging together during the day and sleeping together at night will eventually come but they usually need to mature enough to do that.

The more you can tell us about what you have to work with the more likely we can give suggestions that suit your circumstances. That includes the size of your coop, size of the run, and how you manage them (when that run space s available). A general location so we know your weather can often help. Photos can be very valuable so we better understand what you have to work with. An example, my roosts are 5 feet high. The juveniles can go up there to find a safe place. If your roosts are low enough that the adults can peck the juveniles on them the roosts are not a safe place.

What you are seeing is not that unusual, many of us go through it regularly.
 

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