Combining flocks and new housing

DawnGilm

Hatching
Oct 2, 2021
6
6
9
So - I adopted a Roo & 3 hens at the beginning of the summer. They have been hanging out in a chicken tractor all summer while we built a new coop for them.

We have a friend who bought and hatched out some eggs at about the same time - only one survived. He brought her to us. She was far too young to integrate with the other four, so for the past couple of months she has been living in a wire dog kennel (with protection from the elements) right next to the tractor and moving with them each time we move the tractor - so together but separated. They are familiar. Well, we weren’t sure if the tractor was tall enough (2’) for the Roo to be doing his job, so we decided to hatch out some eggs to see if they were fertile. Our friend in town incubated them, and 8 of 9 hatched. Only here’s the thing - they’ve been living in his house now and are about six weeks old (stupid ordinances where he lives doesn’t allow him to actually have chickens)

We are about two days from finishing the new coop and I’m trying to figure out the best, least traumatic way to combine these birds into a single flock.

I could move the original 4 birds (18 months old - experiencing their first molt right now) into the new coop, put the one that’s been hanging out with them (she is about 14 weeks old) in the new coop with her cage, and gradually let her out into the coop with the others - and put the 8 younger chicks into the tractor and let them hang out there for a couple more months to get a little bigger before integrating them into the

I could put the single 14 week pullet in with the six week old chicks in the new coop and leave the older chickens in their tractor for another month or two - then introduce them to the already established flock of younger chicks in the coop… or I could put her in with the older hens and introduce her to the younger chicks when I added the older chickens in with the younger chickens.

I am leaning towards putting the youngest chicks into the coop first just because it will have better protection for them from the colder nights than the chicken tractor - and the older birds already consider it “home” so spending another month or so there won’t be a big deal. I think that might prevent the older birds from becoming too territorial in the new coop…

just trying to figure out what makes the most sense - and probably way overthinking it…. LOL
 

sloanbychoice

Songster
Dec 29, 2019
618
1,246
236
Wichita, Kansas
That’s an interesting dynamic.
The beneficial part is that the new coop would be new to all of them. So the territory issue should be lessened. If you played your cards right, lol, it’s actually possible for them to be living in harmony in short order.
The less beneficial element is the molt. That could make your older kids a little grumpy about being around the littles.
Is the coop going to be big enough to section it off at all?
I think I would lean toward putting the adults and the big kid together, since they should be familiar enough, when you put them in, rather than risking her with those littles.
This is an interesting one for sure.
I’d be interested in an update, whatever you decide.
 

DawnGilm

Hatching
Oct 2, 2021
6
6
9
That’s an interesting dynamic.
The beneficial part is that the new coop would be new to all of them. So the territory issue should be lessened. If you played your cards right, lol, it’s actually possible for them to be living in harmony in short order.
The less beneficial element is the molt. That could make your older kids a little grumpy about being around the littles.
Is the coop going to be big enough to section it off at all?
I think I would lean toward putting the adults and the big kid together, since they should be familiar enough, when you put them in, rather than risking her with those littles.
This is an interesting one for sure.
I’d be interested in an update, whatever you decide.
It is 8’x12’ - so 96 sq ft - I can easily put the two dog kennels I have in there… but while they were adequate for two 6 week old chicks when we got the first four, I think having four of them penned up in each might be a little tight…. I would feel better about putting the middle girl in with the older chickens if she had some buddies to go with her - but for whatever reason she was the only one that survived from that hatch. It is starting to get colder at night I’m worried about her being alone and getting chilled. I would guess that she is about 3/4 the size of the other hens.
The littles are supposed to come here to live tomorrow - but the coop isn’t quite ready for them yet, so we are going to ask our friend to hold onto them for a few more days…
 

DawnGilm

Hatching
Oct 2, 2021
6
6
9
The plan was to keep them in the coop for two weeks to let them learn “home” before letting them out into their run. They are at the edge of the woods, and will have a fenced area (portable electric fence that is 100’ long) and if they “jump the fence” I want them returning to the coop.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,657
27,302
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
The plan was to keep them in the coop for two weeks to let them learn “home” before letting them out into their run. They are at the edge of the woods, and will have a fenced area (portable electric fence that is 100’ long) and if they “jump the fence” I want them returning to the coop.

I love that electric netting.

I will warn you that very often if they do get over the fence they can't figure out how to get back in and will pace the fenceline complaining.

I only have one who can get back in after she flies out, a California White who flies like a helicopter.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,058
22,751
907
Southeast Louisiana
The way I understand this is that you have four mature chickens, one 14-week-old immature pullet, and eight 6-week-olds. I don't know where you are located so I don't know your weather. I'm not worried about the cold, even the 6-week-olds should be feathered out enough to handle your cold weather unless you are somewhere ridiculous. I'm thinking more about trying to manage a tractor in the snow or a winter storm. You are close to finishing a very nice coop and have 100 feet of electric netting. You have a tractor of unknown size and a dog kennel of unknown size. The five older ones are used to each other but have not been enclosed together.

Don't expect your single pullet to closely intermingle with the adults, she probably will not want to sleep on the same roosts unless she can get far away from them. During the day she will likely not get real close to them. But as long as they have room she should be able to share space with them.

Can you get that tractor or kennel inside that coop or are they too big? The way I'd approach it would be to finish the coop and put the adults in it. Build a place to house that pullet that is also big enough for those 8 chicks for a few weeks if the kennel or tractor doesn't work inside. Lock the pullet in there. Install that electric netting. After the adults have gotten in the habit of sleeping on the roosts let them and the pullet out to roam when you can observe them. With that much room you should not have a problem, but still observe them to make sure.

House the 8 chicks where you can until the others show they will sleep in that coop without harming the pullet. To me in the run would be a good place so they can get to know each other. Once the pullet is mingling with the adults, move the chicks into the coop in whatever pen you have. After a couple of weeks in there I'd open their pen when I could be around to observe and see what happens. I would not expect any problems. The chicks will form their own sub-flock and avoid the older chickens during the day. The chicks will probably not sleep near the adults but hopefully will find a place inside the coop to sleep. It may be on the floor, that is not a problem. When I'm integrating younger chickens I don't care where they sleep as long as it is predator safe and is not in my nests.

When they mature you will have one big happy flock. Until then, as long as no one gets hurt I'm very happy.
 

DawnGilm

Hatching
Oct 2, 2021
6
6
9
So... When we moved the tractor this evening, we decided to pop the 14 week old pullet in with the older chickens and observe. They had lots of fresh grass and clover, food & water.
As expected, they pestered her a bit. I sat there with the hose for about an hour. I used it when they all ganged up on her and cornered her once. After that, there was one hen that would chase her around and bully her. She got sprayed a few times when she was being overly aggressive. The rooster came over to her once, pawed the ground a bit, and then started pecking at her (more than just a couple of times), so he got sprayed. Before the big chickens headed for the roost, the rooster was getting between her and the hen that was bullying her. They've all bedded down for the night. The little one wasn't up on the roost with the older ones yet - we may need to install a secondary roost in a corner for her, if they don't let her up there with them soon.

As far as temperatures, we are located in Central Virginia - in the woods - not too close to the mountains. It was 75F here today, the low tonight will be in the upper 60's - the 10-day forecast is similar. We don't tend to get REALLY cold here until January. Snow - we usually see a few inches two or three times a year - usually in March - and it typically lasts about 3 days before it melts off. I think in the 11 years we've lived here, we've had more than six inches less than 5 times. Our wintertime temps are usually 30's-40's. Rarely dips into the teens, and I don't think I've ever seen single digits. (We moved here from Northern Michigan, where it was a very different story.)

The chicken tractor is 4'x8' - so 32 sq ft - with five birds in there, they have ~6.5 sq ft/ bird - only 4' of roost - so they may or may not let her up there with them. No way to get the tractor inside the coop. The dog kennels are not huge - they would be fine for 2-3 babies - at the age the babies are now - but as they grew they would quickly be overcrowded - they are for smallish dogs - I would guess they are probably 1.5'x2' -

We'll see how it goes in the morning. My daughter and her two little guys are camping in my yard this weekend - and the chickens got moved right next to their tent - so they know if they hear a crazy ruckus in the morning to check and make sure everything is okay. I work from home, and the window of my office opens out over the side yard that we moved the chickens to today, so if I leave that window open in the morning, I'll be able to hear if there is a meltdown and intervene within just a few minutes...
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom