Flock integration question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by newchickmomma4, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. newchickmomma4

    newchickmomma4 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    Hi all,

    I have a question. In March we adopted a few 2 year old laying hens from a friend that could no longer care for them. At the end of April we bought 4 day old chicks. Raised the chicks in a brooder in the house and garage until they were 8 weeks old and it was consistently wa enough at night to have them outside. We moved them to a grow out pen next to the big girls' run. 2 weeks ago we transitioned that grow out pen into the run so that they could all meet a little more closely. On Sunday night after dark we removed the pen and left the pullets on their roost in the same place in the run. Monday morning when the big girls came out of the coop they started the pecking and setting authority over the now 18 week old pullets. While it has gotten slightly better, the big girls continue to keep the pullets confined to the corner where their pen was. And if they go into the coop, they corner them and terrorize them.

    So, my question is....is this normal behavior? And how long does it last?

    One more thing, and I hope I haven't done any harm by doing this, but in the morning I've been letting the big girls out for a couple hours of free range time and this gives the little ones a chance to explore, dust bathe, etc in peace. Then we've been letting them all out in the evening for an hour or two for closely supervised free range time. Is this ok? Or should I only encourage whole flock activity?

    Any and all advice welcome :)
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Good plan! Start letting them all out at the same time, and supervise them in the evening coming in. Make sure there are enough feeders and waterers for everyone. EVENTUALLY they will work it out; meanwhile make sure no injuries occur and that there's plenty of space for everyone. Mary
  3. newchickmomma4

    newchickmomma4 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    Thanks Mary, plenty of space, and two each feeders and waterers. Is it ok if I continue letting the big girls out alone in the morning for a while?

    How long does it take for them all to integrate?

    Now the roost that the pullets use is one in the run, should we have not left them their own space?
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Yes, it's normal. They'll eventually work things out. I think it's good for the younger ones to get a little break while the older ones are out free ranging for a bit. It's not like you're separating them for days and then they have to reestablish their pecking order all over again. I think they have plenty of time together that that's not an issue. As Folly's Place mentioned, make sure there are plenty of feeders and waterers and space.
  5. newchickmomma4

    newchickmomma4 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    Ok, it has been about 6 weeks since we integrated the flock. I have one of my adult hens that still bullies the pullets around. So much so that when they are all in the coop and run together, she stands watch to keep them in a 4x 4 section of the coop. The other 2 adults would be totally fine with the littles if it weren't for this one hen (who isn't even at the top of the pecking order of the 3 older ladies). Will this ever change or will it always be like this? They do spend 4-5 hours apart per day when the older girls free range in the morning for 2-3 hours and then they all get to free range in the afternoon/evening for about 2 hours. Help! I need a peaceful flock! An I'm beginning to believe that the reason 3 of my 4 pullets haven't started laying yet is because of her bullying
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Winter makes for closer relationships.

    However, until it gets here, you might try pulling the bully just to see if the flock settles down. I, myself, like a peaceful flock and have removed a bird to get it. Sometimes though, what you think is causing the problem is not. So do a trial.

    Another point, you originally started with 3 birds (I think) and you added 4 which basically doubles your flock. When the chicks are small, it is not such a big deal, but they are growing everyday, and taking up more and more space. As fall turns into winter, chickens are naturally roosted up for longer and longer as the day length shortens. YOu might not quite have enough room in your set up for a peaceful flock. This happend to me, I thought I could manage 14, but a predator took out two, and I could not believe how much more peaceful the flock was. When you read about so much space....... that is a general rule of thumb. You might find one or two head less is much more peaceful.

    Mrs K
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Pecking order will change and evolve regularly. I'll bet your bully older girl is bottom of order of the older 3?
    My young group has been integrated for a month and they are just starting to go to the main roost....much ado at roosting time!! but they are figuring it out.

    How big is your coop(feet by feet)?
    How much roost length do you have? You might put up another roost just lower than the other and I'll bet the pullets will roost there, maybe remove the run roost to 'force' them in to use it.

    Agrees to try removing the bully bird for a week then see what happens during and after that segregation.

    Best of CLuck to you!
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2014

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