Getting new chicks to integrate into my existing flock???

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by baemiller, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. baemiller

    baemiller Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 4, 2015
    I want to get more chickens but unsure the safest way to introduce them to my existing 6 chickens. I will be getting them from a tractor supply so they will be babies. i intended them to be in a brooder for about 2 or so months till they are old/ big enough. but unsure if that is what is necessary for them to be excepted into my flock. i have no rooster. so my thoughts would be maybe the existing birds would take care of them????

    any advise would be appreciated.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    There are many different ways to integrate chicks into the flock,
    but the other chickens will not 'take care' of them, they will more likely want to kill them.'
    They need to be introduced slowly and safely.

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    Best example ever of chick respite and doors by azygous

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’ll copy something I wrote a couple of year ago. It doesn’t perfectly fit your situation but it may help you.

    You’ll read a lot of different things on here about when you can integrate chicks. That’s because your facilities and management techniques play a huge part in what can work for you. We are all unique. The way I do it could be a disaster for others. Some people consider me way too safe. One basic rule to remember is that chickens usually solve disputes by the weaker running away from the stronger or avoiding the stronger to start with. That means they need enough room to run away if they are chased.

    Chickens can recognize which chickens don’t belong to their flock. It doesn’t happen all the time but occasionally one will attack an intruder. A way to really reduce the chances of this happening is to house the chickens next to each other for a week or so before you let them mix. None of this stuff comes with absolute guarantees since you are dealing with individual living animals, but I do recommend housing them side by side with a wire fence separating them if you can. Some people can’t and it still normally works out.

    Chickens, like other social animals, set up a pecking order so each chicken knows its place in the social order of the flock. When two chickens that don’t know what that status is share personal space, one normally tries to intimidate the other, often by pecking. If one runs away, they’ve settled it, though there may be some chasing involved or a repeat performance. Occasionally they are fairly evenly matched so it takes some skirmishing to settle it. On really rare occasions they may fight to the death but that really is rare. The biggest danger in this is when a chicken cannot run away. If it can’t get away, it may just hunker down, quit fighting, and take the punishment. The winner doesn’t realize it has won because the other did not run away so it keeps attacking. That is why space is so important.

    The last key to the puzzle is that mature chickens always outrank immature chickens and are often not shy about enforcing those pecking order rights. That’s why you usually see a group of younger chickens form a separate flock. They are simply avoiding the older chickens.

    The younger the chicks the more danger to these confrontations. This does not mean that every hen will automatically seek out to destroy any chick they see. Some of my broodies keep a pretty tight rein on their chicks and keep them close but some allow their chicks to mingle with the flock. Usually the older hens ignore the chicks but if they invade the elder’s personal space, they might or might not get pecked. If they get pecked the chick runs back to Mama as fast as those little legs can carry them. Mama ignores this. That chick needs to learn proper flock etiquette. But if that hen chases the chick, Mama immediately teaches her that’s not really necessary.

    I’ve had a broody totally wean her chicks at three weeks and leave them to find their own way with the flock but she had spent three weeks teaching the others to leave her babies alone. My brooder and grow-out coop are where the adults can see the chicks as they grow. I have lots of room and normally turn my chicks loose to mingle with the flock at 8 weeks, though sometimes I do it at 5 weeks. I’ve never lost one to the adults doing it this way. One time I lost a chick this way when a chick was killed by its 2 week old sibling. Mama stood by and watched one of her chicks kill another. The other adult hens were not involved. Another time a 1 week old chick got into that grow-out pen where Mama could not protect it. The 8 week old chicks pecked it to death. If I had just opened that gate a day earlier that would not have happened. Mama would have made sure of that.

    If space is really tight, you might need to wait until the young ones are practically grown before you integrate, and even then if space is tight you can have issues. Different things work for different people.

    I’ll end my rambling by saying that I’ve never had a problem with a dominant rooster. A good dominant rooster takes care of all his flock members. It doesn’t happen every time, but I’ve seen a rooster go take care of chicks if they get separated from Mama until she can figure out the concept of “gate”. They are living animals and I’m sure others have had issues with roosters but I never have.

    Now, back to your situation. I practically always have a mature rooster with the flock. I think that helps and is different to your situation. I also think how much room you have makes a tremendous difference in integrating. It’s hard to emphasize that too much. I don’t know how much room you have or what your facilities look like so I have problems getting too definite for your unique situation.

    My brooder is in the coop. I put them in there Day 1, as soon as they come out of the incubator or I get them from the post office. Mine are raised with the flock so they are used to each other. Not everybody can do that. I think Aart pretty much covered all the tricks we use to make integration go easier. Sometimes these integrations go so smoothly you wonder what all the concern and worry was about. It can end in disaster. But many of us do it all the time and just don’t have a lot of issues, even when we don’t do everything “right”. It’s something you can do provided you have enough space.

    Good luck!

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