Chicken jail and integrating two flocks

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8 Years
Jan 27, 2011
Vancouver Island
I've been trying to integrate my two flocks. One group is 8-10 weeks old now and the other is about 13-19 weeks. I did a lot of things suggested here (about a week of having the babies in the run in their own spot with older ones able to see them, then another week or more with babies in the coop but none of them able to get at each other still, then letting the babies free range with the adults in the evenings). Currently, we have the babies' section open so they can go in and out as they please and mingle, but the bigger chicks can't get into their area. I have two questions.

First, mostly it's going really well. There is some chasing and a little bit of pecking from the adults, but mostly nothing serious and it sounds like that's pretty much to be expected. One of my older ones though is turning out to be a real bully. It seems like she will go out of her way to harass the babies. She will ignore food and BOSS that I throw down in favour of chasing the little ones. She guards food, the pop door, anything. We have to open both the pop door and the coop door when they are free ranging so she can't block the babies in the coop. (We have lots of water out, and both a water and a food dish in the area where only the babies can go.) If she sees a baby or two on their own she will go over and chase and chase. She hasn't drawn blood, though she does peck quite hard at times. Mostly it's constant chasing. If she goes anywhere near the babies now they all cower and run away from her. I put her in "jail" for a few days with another of the older ones that was a bit pecky, reintroduced them and the other one seems to be okay now. Luna is still harassing the babies constantly. I don't think she is the top hen of the older crew either, in fact after being in jail she mostly just hangs out on her own now unless she's busy chasing the babies. I put her back in jail, this time by herself. We're leaving for a full day on Thursday so I figure I'll leave her in jail until Friday and then try her back out there and see if she's any better. I feel bad with her all by herself though. She's in their old brooder inside. It's 15 square feet so not tiny for one bird. If she's not better, anything else I can try? Or should I just give her up as a bully chicken and try and rehome her? (My husband thinks we should just eat her but I think a point-of-lay hen is probably worth more being sold.)

Second, the two flocks don't mingle at all. Is that pretty normal? Will they ever really fully integrate or will they always be sort of two separate flocks that happen to share a coop?
I am constantly integrating youngsters into my main flock. My first 5 sets last year all integrated into the main flock. This year, my first integration formed its own flock and the newer integrations are joining that flock........
Mine seem to stick with their original flocks (brooder mates) until they start laying it seems. Once they start to lay they seem to be more of a single flock, though they'll still be roosting near their lifetime buddies.

Your one mean hen may be low on the totem pole in the big flock, and is using this as an opportunity to "move up" in the world while the youngsters are still small enough for her to bully. If the chicks have their own feed/water/roosting area I think the problems will resolve themselves as the youngins get big enough to fight back. They may just be a bit small and a little "meek" yet to sick up for themselves against her. Also it won't hurt her to be alone if she can see the others around her. I would avoid having her loose with them when they are penned together so she can't corner one and peck it to death, but they'll probably be fine if allowed to free range together.
Interesting about the chicks integrating, and forming their own flocks. I guess I'll have to see if these guys become friends as they start laying or just always remain separate.

Tala, that's an interesting point about the one mean one being lower on the totem pole. She is actually inside, as we don't really have a safe place to put her that's separate where she could see the others. I could put another of the bigger ones in with her again though. I don't want to stress her out too much. She seemed pretty calm today. Your point about not having the chicks enclosed with her is why I don't really want her in there on Thursday when we're gone all day. They'll be stuck in the run and coop all day, rather than getting to free range. I could put her out while they're free ranging and bring her back in at night and the mornings when they're just in the run. (They haven't started laying yet, so we've been keeping them just in the run in the mornings in the hopes they won't start laying all over the place. Though currently they just sit at the run door all morning clamouring to be let out.)
She's probably fine in the brooder set-up since she's calm. For short periods of isolation/jail time, you can get a wire doggy crate - medium or large sized. They're cheaper if you can find one on Craig's list or at a yard sale etc. Or a rabbit hutch, or make a cage out of fence wire, etc. You could put it inside the run so she could be near/see the others. My large dogs outgrew their medium-sized crates, but they're still SUPER useful when keeping chickens!!!
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