Failing in Introduction of new birds


In the Brooder
11 Years
May 22, 2008
I have a small backyard flock. In the past year 2 birds died and we were left with only 2 barred rocks. We recently bought 2 new hens and when brought them home put them near the run/coop of our original birds but they were separated by fencing. Everything was OK. It has been one week and whenever the 2 new hens come out of the rafters of the run the barred rocks (1 in particular) pecks them bloody.

So right now what we have is 2 scared almost 6 month old (approx) hens hiding most of the day. 2 one year old barred rocks sticking to themselves.

When I am able to let them out into the yard (ours is small and very suburban with lots of neighbors and busy streets) they do OK leaving each other alone. But in the run it's not pretty. They have plenty of space, the run is about 8 x 4 feet. I cannot leave them outside unattended all day so I am hoping to find a solution where I can have all my birds together in the run without killing each other.

Thanks for any suggestions,
It takes a lot of time for chickens to accept new chickens into their "flock". They are very aggressive in guarding "their" space and "their" food. Your run is actually too small for the number of chickens that you have now and this is probably making the situation more difficult. Is there ANY way you can add onto the run? It is also best to keep the newbies separated by wire when they are not free-ranging--3 weeks would give them time to get to know each other without danger of wounds or starve-outs. What would be ideal is if you could build a new run area, say 6 by 4, for the newbies, with a small coop or protected cage of their own, let them live there for 3 weeks, then make an opening so they can all mingle. Free-range them together as much as you can. Good luck!
Thanks for the advice, we'll see what kind of modifications we can make and hope for the best.

Recently I have combined 2 flocks of 11 and 13 I haven't seen any problems at all.

What I did, after reading all the advice here, was to put them in a yard seperated by a fence with a seperate outside shelter. I left it that way for 3 weeks. They were 8 wks when they moved there and still making baby noises. I also let them all free range a few times with only a couple squabbles. Free range ended with the visit of a local fox 3 times in one day!

Then I added another door to the "big girl coup" which is 10'x10' and put a small 3'x3' fenced section inside the coup connected to the new door and their old yard. This was used for another 3 weeks. This let everyone get use to seeing each other inside the coup and let the little girls get bigger in size.

Last week I took down the fence between the yards with no real issues at all, now they can go where ever they want. I watched the first evening and it was so cute, one of the "little girls" went in with the "big girls" and they let her get up on the roost between them but that ended when she tried to snuggle underneath them like she does with her little friends. lol She got down and looked at them quite confused and went back to her buddies.

Now what I am seeing is the flocks hang out at different ends of the yard which is 100' x 20' so they have plenty of room to avoid each other and can hide under the coup if it gets scary.

So far so good for me.

Sue Vit
I'm having the same problem, I have 12wk chicks in a hoop house inside our run. Do you let the babies freerange with big girls do they get along better that way?
I only have 4 chickens (2 year and half old BPR and 2 27 week old EE).

It took a very long time for me to integrate two new EE's with my BPR. In fact even now (after months if them being together) they still will peck and chase the EE hen and rooster. Sometimes they all roost together ok but often I go out to find the EE's roosting on the nesting boxes. I made sure the pen/enclosure has plenty of up high things so the EE's can get away from the BPR and when they're free ranging everything seems to be ok but the older hens will chase the younger ones (even the rooster) away from anything they find interesting (treat, etc.). I think BPR may just be meaner birds. I've tried taking them away from the coop to take the 'down the pecking order' but it's never worked. Maybe 4 is just too few to try that with.
I totally aggree with everyone else on this. I would add though that if after everything your BR is still being nasty you can try putting her in "chicken jail" for a few days.

I had one (a BR--go figure) who WOULD NOT accept the newbies. I finally took her out of the main coop and put her in the isolation pen for a few days. When she came back she was no longer top chicken and was too busy trying to integrate herself back into the main flock to pick on the youngsters. She's still a brat, but everybody is living in relative peace and harmony now. Good luck with your flock.
Its just taken me 3 weeks of complete patience to introduce two 16wk pullets to my existing 5 girls who are about 10months old now. I hatched two silkies and integrated those much more easily because the 5 girls could see them when they were much younger in their own separate pen. Once they were around 10weeks old I let them free range in the afternoons for around 5 to 6 weeks before I thought the silkies were big enough to fend off the girls. They still got pecked, it was awful to watch as my silkies are more like pet dogs than chickens, they follow me around everywhere!

With my two new pullets, there was lots of feather / wing pulling / pecking etc. It still goes on every now and again, but they are gradually learning to be tolerant!

From day one I made sure they slept in the same house with each other. Not that it made much difference during the day!! Its odd that hens will quite happy tolerate outsiders when they are asleep, even so far as snuggling up to each other on the perches!!, but as soon as daylight comes its back to the chasing again!! I had to get up at just gone 5am every day even on the weekend to make sure the squabbling didn't happen! After a while its got less aggressive, but still the pecks happen on and off. I think it will be a good few months before everything has really settled down. But no more 5ams... Now I can have a lay in and get up at 6!!

I recently hatched two chicks, well they would be about 8 / 9 weeks old now, about half the size of the hens, but again as the Silkies, they have been out in their little pen inside the big pen and from last week I was able to let them out and roam with the others. Possibly with all the upheaval of adding silkies, then two pullets and now these, the pecking order has been disrupted enough to allow "any old chick" into the flock. Time will tell!!

Fingers crossed, today was the first day I have put the youngest chicksl to sleep in the same house!! I checked on them all before and they are all snoozing and snoring away!!
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I have 16 8 week old babies and 2 full grown big girls. I put the babies in a seperate area of the henhouse at 2 weeks. Big girls could see, little gals could see but no one could touch. Weekend before last, we began letting everyone free range together. My "head" big girl, would chase and in general boss the little gals around, but no one was hurt. Last Saturday night, I left the door of the segregation area open. Kept my fingers crossed and prayed. (OH, yeah...put out the red light, not the normal light). Got up the next morning and immediately made a big deal about feeding. Everyone ate and went outside. So far, all is well. I am going to go out on a limb and say the integration is done. The little girls still stay clear of ole bossy Sam chicken, but Sue chicken loves the babies. Oh, and when I first started letting them free range together, I sat out with them almost all day for 3 days. If someone acted agressive, they got squirted with the hose. Patience is the key.

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