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Help(!) Introducing New Chickens to Flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chicklover56, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. chicklover56

    chicklover56 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I recently got 2 one-year old hens, and I've had 2 four-five months old in a different pen for a couple of weeks. I have 5 original hens that are 5-6 months old, and I have had them since chicks. I tried introducing the 4 new chickens to my flock. The new hens got pecked and fought at a lot from my old flock.

    Now they just stay in the coop all the time and won't go in the run for food or water. I give them food and water in the coop, but I would rather them go down into the run and get it. But, whenever they try and go down into the run, the old hens will go after them and then they fly right back into the coop.

    It makes me so sad, and I really want them to get along. Any help appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  2. chicken danz

    chicken danz Overrun With Chickens

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    I introduce birds by keeping them in a cage, usually a big dog kennel that sits where the other chickens are. It is a little work because you have to provide food and water separately but they get used to each other. It usually takes about a week, sometimes less, sometimes more. Then when I see the older chickens aren't paying them much attention any more I simply open the door and let them venture out on their own. Works beautifully every time for me. Chickens are like kids with a pecking order. Some new ones can literally be killed if they get picked too much. But with a little introduction most go along to live peacefully together. They all seem to learn their "place'. In your case I'd move the four new birds out into the run at least every day unless it is storming. It's going to take a little effort on your part but they will all get used to each other.
     
  3. chicklover56

    chicklover56 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, should I put them in separate kennels, or should I let them stay in the coop?
     
  4. chicken danz

    chicken danz Overrun With Chickens

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    If you have a kennel large enough to put the four new comers in together I would put them all in there. If you have smaller kennels or cages I'd put 2 in each one and set them side by side. I am talking wire kennels...not the plastic kind. You want the other chickens to get used to seeing them. I would put the kennels out in the run at least during the day. You could carry them to the coop at dark or move the entire kennel to the coop at night. Whatever works for you.
     
  5. chicklover56

    chicklover56 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, thanks!
     
  6. chicken danz

    chicken danz Overrun With Chickens

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    I know that is a lot of extra work for you but it should work. Good luck with them.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    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.


    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

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    There are other ways to integrate new chickens to a flock but it involves work. If you would rather not get hands on with your flock, don't read further.

    Chicken society and behavior are more complex than most people think. Chickens can have bold temperaments or shy temperaments according to their levels of self confidence and even breeding. Typically, younger chickens are very reserved around older chickens and some are plainly afraid of them, especially when the home flock isn't very accommodating as yours seems to be.

    Giving the new comers their own space for a few weeks can do wonders for their self confidence, and if you can rig up your run so they can co-exist side by side with the home flock, everyone can slowly and safely get to know one another.

    Another way to integrate is to select one or two of the most docile of the home flock and place them with the new comers. This is especially helpful when you have only one or two new comers. When you integrate in this manner, it's possible for the new comers to form alliances with these members of the original flock, making integration much easier when you put them all together.

    As it stands now, it appears your new comers are over-whelmed by their new surroundings and lack the self confidence to also cope with aggressiveness from their new flock. At the very least, segregating them side by side with the home flock should give them time to adjust and grow their self confidence, and in time, they should be able to find their places in the flock.
     
  9. chicklover56

    chicklover56 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok! I'll definitely give it a try.
     

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