Hi guys need help got two 5 weeks shy of being fully grown hens trying to Intro to older flock.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Eli1977, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. Eli1977

    Eli1977 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have two young hens not sure of breed. But they are quite big. And I have a flock of 6 orpington hens all fully grown over a year old. I intro them to the flock and they saw each other before. They all free range. I into them in a brood box in the coop. And because they knew each other I only had them in the box for 3 days. We let them out but the new chickens seem to be scared of the hens. It's been over a week and those poor chickens won't come down for water or food. All day just sitting up on the roost. They all share roost all night. But in the morning everyone comes down except the two new ones. I've seen some hens snapping at them when I got them down so I stay there and wait till they eat and drink every day but the rest of the time they stay up on a roost. Hubby came up with an idea of locking down the coop for a week all of them in. But now those poor chickens don't eat or drink at all. I am afraid we are going to loose them. No clue what to do its been over a week but their behavior is the same as first day even worse. They terrified and want nothing to do with any of the hens. I opened the coop today and everyone got out except those two. They just look eagerly on the food and drink. But simply won't move. What to do. I'd hate to loose hens that will soon lay. Help.....
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I wouldn't lock them all in together that could go bad. Sounds like things are actually going quite well. The new ones aren't being constantly attacked and no one is drawing blood.

    What will happen is eventually the new ones will feel more comfortable with their new home, and will venture out more. The groups will mostly remain separate, but eventually they will be a flock, but it will take a few months, and the younger ones will always be below the older ones.

    Don't try to rush the process. Make sure you have multiple roosts and feeding stations, and give them plenty of room.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  4. robinm609

    robinm609 Just Hatched

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    When we integrated 2 new young hens into an older flock, we created a situation where they could see each other but not harm each other. They lived together, but separate. We put the young girls in a 'playpen' (http://tinyurl.com/jul5wtj) inside the main chicken run for 3 weeks. They had their own food and water source, and their own small roost.

    When we finally let them in with the older chickens, they went through a brief period of establishing their (low) place in the pecking order: the smallest one got picked on a bit (lost a few tail feathers), but she held her own and no real harm was done. Now they're all one big happy family!

    When they go to sleep on the roost, the 2 younger hens always sleep next to each other. It's cute.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    What you are describing is very normal. Size has practically nothing to do with which chicken dominates another, bantams often dominate full-sized chickens. The personality of the individual chickens is what is important.

    But you have something else working. Mature chickens always outrank immature chickens in the pecking order until they mature enough to be willing to stand up to the mature chickens. Until your pullets mature they will be afraid of the adults and will avoid them. Rightly so, the mature ones are likely to peck any immature chicken that invades its private space. Occasionally a mature hen will seek out an immature chicken to attack but once basic integration is out of the way that behavior normally stops. Still, until they mature the younger ones will avoid the older ones. Normally my pullets mature enough to join the flock around the time they start to lay. On rare occasions that might be a few days before they start to lay but usually it’s a few weeks after they start. I’ll say it again, it has nothing to do with size, with yours it’s maturity.

    I agree, do not force them. Allow them to work it out. Provide separate feeding and water stations so the young do not have to challenge the older ones to eat and drink. Since yours free range I assume your older ones spend most of the time out of the coop during the day when they are not laying eggs. The young ones should be coming down to eat and drink during the day when the older ones are outside. The way I read your post you have food and water in the coop.

    When I integrate younger chickens I usually find them on the roost in the morning when I go to let them out. They are avoiding the older chickens that are on the coop floor.

    Chickens don’t like change. Those two have not yet adjusted to their new home. It’s not that unusual when I open a pop door for the first time with new chicks for them to take a while to venture outside the coop. Sometimes they do it in 15 minutes, but I’ve had some that take three days. That’s without any older chickens around for them to be afraid of. It shouldn’t be that long before yours discover the great outdoors and start going outside. When they do that they still will not join the older hens. They will stay away from them to avoid them.

    There is the possibility that you do have a chicken, probably a hen, that goes out of her way to attack the pullets when she sees them on the ground. If that is the case the pullets may take longer to come down and go outside. They are safe up on the roost. I sometimes see that behavior when I have pullets and rambunctious cockerels in the flock. The pullets spend a lot of time during the day on the roosts to avoid the cockerels. But eventually they work it out. But if you can identify one specific hen that is attacking the pullets when they go to the ground, isolate that hen. Lock her up so she cannot attack the pullets. That should help them get outside. It’s quite possible that after a week of isolation that hen will go through an attitude adjustment and quit attacking them.

    As I said, this is all pretty normal, I often see things like this with my flock. But sometimes, and this year is one of those years, the immature chicks raised with the flock by broody hens do not avoid the adults once they are weaned. The adults do not attack them when they invade their personal space so they intermingle a lot, even as juveniles. Each chicken is an individual, each flock has its own dynamics. It can be fascinating to see how much my flocks differ year to year with the addition or subtraction of a few birds. Just be patient and let them work it out. They should be outside foraging before too long.

    Good luck!
     
  6. mamatink7

    mamatink7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am having a bit of the same major issue as well. I've heard put new ones in at night once the older ones are settled enough. I've heard separate at day while together at night.
    We've been having a rough go at our integration. Tonight I put the 2nd of the 4 youngest ones into coop. She's got many pecking marks, I put med on the marks and put her back. She found her own place hiding from others.
     
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Integrations can be brutal depending on temperment. Once you know your birds the choices you make are easy as they are based on your own assessment of your birds. For first timers or new to you birds be prepared for the worst.

    So grateful for the variety of birds we settled on keeping. No worries on the integration or human dominance front. There's a lot to be gained in keeping only one breed/variety. No surprises on how they behave is one.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
  8. mamatink7

    mamatink7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    on learned my lesson this yr on this matter, I will only ever get chicks at one time. No more than a wk difference between them. This integrating has been awful and we're not where done with it yet.
     

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