Flock integration.. asking for trouble or am I ok? Longish post. :)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by featherz, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    I've been very tired of managing three separate groups (four, if you include some banty hatchlings) so I have been trying to integrate two groups - one group of four pullets, about 19 weeks old (still not mature, not laying) and four 10 week old pullets/one 10 week old roo. The older pullets were housed with 17 loud and crazy same-age guineas until two weeks ago so I am quite sure they were used to being the bottom of the pecking order. [​IMG]

    Anyways, I put the younger ones and the roo (who is large enough to match the older ladies) out in the run behind chicken wire so the older ladies could not get to them and just sat there for an hour or so to watch what happened. I also had done the same thing last weekend but only for two days.

    There was some curiosity, but my bigger girls generally ignored them. With my husband standing by with a net, I threw caution to the wind and just let them all mingle (keep in mind these were ALL hatched here and I take care of all the chickens at once so biosecurity not an issue). My biggest boss chicken, SLW pullet, immediately walked over and just pecked the neck of all the smaller ones, chased em around for a few minutes (no blood), then meandered into the coop. Every now and then she'd come back out and peck a smaller chicken and trot away. no blood drawn, etc. Only chest bumping so far is between an EE larger pullet and the roo (and roo is losing and backing off). No giant fights yet, but the younger ones still stayed together. After no blood drawn, I let them all stay in the coop overnight.

    The bigger girls roosted above, smaller ones slept on the floor - they hadn't started roosting yet in the barn either. They are still scared and huddle in the corner a lot, and the head chicken still decides to chase one around now and then but no prolonged fighting yet. I have multiple food and water bowls so they can't keep them from eating or drinking. I am concerned about leaving them in there (they are still only about 3/4 the size of the older pullets and seem scared- they huddle in a corner when everyone is in the coop but come out when the big ones go out)

    I was hoping this might work as I am trying to merge two equal size groups and the smaller chicks have a biggish roo in with them to help. So far it's working, but.. I keep thinking I'll walk out there to a bloodbath. Would I have seen signs already or is this normal when merging flocks?
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Sounds normal to me [​IMG] Actually sounds like it's going fairly well. My girls were meaner than that when I tried introducing smaller newbies. It's good that you did this over a weekend, as you can keep an eye out to insure continued "Non-bloodshed." May it continue to go smoothly... [​IMG]
     
  3. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Hahaha thanks! I am hoping this is as bad as it gets and my next post won't be 'OMG it looks like the Shining in my coop!!'. [​IMG] And yes, I figured a three day weekend would work. I can put them back in my barn if I have to but I felt bad that they never got to see daylight. [​IMG]
     
  4. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    sounds like they are doing well the dominant bird is telling them who is boss but she is not being too hard on them. I think if you were gonna see anything major you would have seen it by now. integrateing flocks alot depends on the personality of the flocks. Some birds are very dominant and get aggressive others just make it known this is my house. sounds like you got a good one.
     
  5. rcentner

    rcentner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Le Roy, NY
    as long as no one is drawing blood and they can all eat, then no worries. I too have seen worse and as the pullets get older they will become more assertive. I noticed that they lack self confidence until they are closer to laying age. I have pullets, that used to get picked on that are now closer to the top of the pecking order. They also don't always keep the same "friends", just cause they grew up together doesn't mean they will hang out when they are older. funny to watch the group dynamic change as they intermingle
     
  6. kickinchicken

    kickinchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Rhode Island
    Yep! I have to agree. Sounds normal. The SLWs are usually little stinkers anyway! [​IMG] There's a reason why the term "pecking order" was established.... [​IMG]
    I think once the little ones learn that they can roost they will all be fine. Especially once it starts to get cold. The bigger girls will appreciate the added body heat from the newbies! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Thanks!! I just went out again to check.. status quo. Big chickens in one corner clucking at me, smaller chickens + big baby roo in the other. No blood running down the walls yet. It's a bit chilly outside, but not outrageously so. My chickens are spoiled and stay in the coop rather than going out to the pretty run! Coop is 7x8 with two 8 foot roosts (2x4's), so more than enough room for 9 chickens. I pushed the integration a bit because four chickens in that coop aren't going to be as warm as nine!
     
  8. endo12

    endo12 Out Of The Brooder

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    This year we put 6 Rhode Island Reds in with three year old Black Australorps (4) and Aracanus(3). There is no roo. First they were near each other but separated by chicken wire fence. Then at about 5 months we let them co-mingle and share a coop. All went well for two months. Now one of the Rhode Island Reds has nearly killed one of the Aracanus. She's in the house now and we hope she lives. So it's always a question, especially with mixed breeds, whether someone will get aggressive. Really one can't know until one tries. If this one lives, we'll try her with the other flock we have in a separate coop and run. All you can do is be watchful. Best wishes with your new young ones.
     
  9. PepsNick

    PepsNick Back to Business

    May 9, 2010
    Egglanta, GA
    Sounds pretty good. Just make sure there is NO blood, and if you see certain ones getting picked on be sure to check for blood on them.
     
  10. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Just to update - all remains status quo - no fighting or blood and the newbies all still huddle in a corner at night instead of roosting but that's most likely age. Maybe I will add another ramp this weekend. [​IMG] Now I'll need to figure out when to add the four bantie pullets. that will be a while!!
     

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