Flock integration issues

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Pippy, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Pippy

    Pippy Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 28, 2013
    I bought two new chickens to add to my flock of 3 (what I thought were gentle) hens. I've read up on flock integration and kept them separate but visible to each other (via a divider). I tried unsuccessfully to integrate the newbies after about a week when I noticed the older hens no longer paying the new chickens any mind. They pecked and pecked and pecked unrelentingly to the point that the new chickens were terrified and I was worried they'd get hurt. I separated them again.

    Now, it's been two weeks. One of the old hens somehow got into the pen and pecked and pecked and pecked those poor chickens non stop. The old hens even try to peck the new chickens through the wire. At this point I despair of them ever getting along.

    Will this work or do I need to find new homes for them? I know there will be some squabbling but I thought they'd be ready to integrate by now. My old hens are a year old and the new ones are 4 and 5 months old. The new ones are a little smaller due to breed and age.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Even with "look but don't touch" introductions, there will usually be pecking and squabbling. If they're not drawing blood or cornering and pinning one down, I'd let them work it out. It helps of there are hiding places for the younger ones to get out of the line of vision of the older ones. I put pieces of plywood up against the fence and the walls of the coop. Make sure there are two ways in or out (don't put one end in a corner) so that a hen can't trap a younger one in the hiding place. Multiple feeders and waterers are helpful, too. Chicken society isn't warm and fuzzy. They need to work things out.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto Dat^^^

    Also, how much space(feet by feet) do they have?
    The subordinates need to be able to get away from their superiors.
  4. It really could take months.
    Chickens are mean too other new birds.
    be patient, its really up to the hens.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Another trick, I recently heard, was to put their feed dishes next to the wire that separates them. Eating is a prime time for a peck, but if they are eating together, that is a social acceptance.

    However, hideouts are important, and space. Have you measured your set up, and then counted your birds? Often times what seems like a lot of space with little chicks becomes much less space with older birds.

    You might tip the numbers the other way. Right now, you have more older birds in their established home front. They are going to defend it and to that you are adding younger and less number birds into a strange place. You might try, trading places with the birds, putting two of the old gals in the chick spot, and one old gal and two chicks together, try and pick the middle old gall chicken. The top and low pecking order chickens are generally the meanest. This will allow the chicks to establish some comfort in the big coop, and while you will eventually add the old girls back, at that time you are adding mature birds, which give them some advantage.

    If you have just one old mean biddy, you can pull just her, and get the chicks established with the other ones, and then after a couple of weeks add back the mean one. That often brings her down a peg.

    good luck,

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by