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How do I introduce several chickens (not chicks) to my flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by btbuster, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. btbuster

    btbuster Chirping

    Oct 9, 2013
    Grandview, Missouri
    Hello, I have a problem. A friend of mine husband had a stroke, and they have to get rid of their 7 or 8 chickens. They are mainly Cherry Eggers,about 2 1/2 years old. I have 5 hens and 1 rooster, 1 1/2 years old, mainly Sussex, blue orpington,and buffsomething. I'd like to take their chickens, but am not sure how to introduce them to each other. My chicken yard and coop can handle the addition plus our chickens run in our fenced garden every day. (we open their door each day) What do I need to do?

  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You'll want to keep them separated by wire for a couple weeks so they can all kind of get used to each other before allowing them physical contact....the lots of space, multiple feed/water stations and places to hide/get up and away. there will be some pecking and fighting. Good Luck to yas!

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

    Integration of new chickens to flock.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    If you have enough space, (you are sure, cause you are more than doubling your flock) as they are all full grown, I would add them all at night and see how it goes. Because you are adding an established flock to and established flock each set of birds will have a pecking order and friends. Really multiple bird additions in my experience are the easiest, especially if you have an established rooter.

    Lean some pallets up against the wall, make sure there are roosts in the run, multiple feed and water stations.

    I am not familiar with the cherry eggers? I am assuming that these are an egg producing cross, but are of a similar size as your current birds?

    Mrs K
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree with Mrs K. Quarantine or not will depend on your personal comfort level. But adding a flock to a flock is much easier than adding a single bird to a flock. I'm more of a get-it-over-with type in this case. There will be some squabbling, of course, and make sure there are hiding places in case a bird is singled out. Plan on utilizing food to distract them some. If the other hens have never been with a rooster, that may take some adjustment on both sides, but he'll bring them into line fairly soon. They may always live as two seperate flocks, but live should be fairly harmonious after the first few days.

    Cherry eggers are another term for production reds [​IMG]
  5. krista74

    krista74 Songster

    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    I added 3 new RIR hens to my existing flock of 3 RIR's, 2 BO's and a BO Rooster recently. I put them into a cage outside for a few hours so the old flock could stare at them for a bit (!) - (bless my rooster's heart, he was dancing around the cage for them!) - and then once it was dark, and the old flock had gone to bed, I put the new girls on the roost with the old girls and hoped for the best.

    I did not do any quarantining but I got the new girls from a hatchery, so I considered the stock to be clean. Under any other circumstances I would definitely keep them separated to ensure there was no transfer of disease. One thing I did do (despite the new girls looking great) was dust them all for lice and mites, and worm them before joining them with the flock.

    There was some minor pecking and chasing, and the older birds blocked access to the feed and water which was easily fixed by installing more stations. You are in a fortunate position in that you are adding a greater number of birds to your flock than what you already have, so the likelihood that one bird will be singled out for bullying is slight.

    They will probably run as two separate flocks for a while - mine did not socialise much for about 3 weeks and they stuck with their friends for that time, but eventually they merged into one flock. I did not free range them for a few days, in the hope that forcing them to be in close proximity would make them establish as a single flock - and it seemed to work.

    Good luck! It will all work out in time. Just allow them to have their little squabbles as they need to. If you interfere with that process it can extend it.

    - Krista
  6. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    Quarantine the chickens for about a a week, if there appears no signs of illness, put them in the coop. When you put them in the coop, place them in at night, so in the morning, they wake up and just think they're suppose to be their. Expect to see the pecking order in action.
  7. btbuster

    btbuster Chirping

    Oct 9, 2013
    Grandview, Missouri
    Thank you!! I really appreciate the suggestions here! My head is sort of spinning right now. Mainly because I am getting the chickens on Tuesday. (things are really moving fast)

    On one hand I want to just merge all the chickens together hoping it would all work out. But then I have been reading about how important it is to quarantine new birds, especially since I really love my hens and rooster, and wouldn’t want to do anything to harm them. I had already thought about treating them for lice or other parasites.

    One nice thing is that I have a pretty handy husband. A few months ago we had already discussed adding an additional run to our coop, for summertime, when the garden is growing. (Once the garden is established, I let them have free run, figuring there’s enough for all of us.) The run would be about 30’ long and tall enough to walk into it without having to bend, (I don't do ‘crawling’ anymore!) and protected on one side by out detached garage. So step #1: I asked him if we could go ahead and do that now. He said he would build it tomorrow. (It’s winter, we don't have much work in the winter)

    Step #2: I have two entrances to my chicken coop (It’s ‘walk-in’ too) I would then split the inside into two areas with chicken wire, so the two flocks could see, hear, etc each other. (food and water on both sides, of course) Hubby would then build a temporary roost area and nest boxes for the new girls. He will also have to reconfigure the nest boxes that we already have for when they are all together.

    Step #3: After a week or two, hopefully they will start getting used to each other and I can take down the barrier and pray that they become one flock. Also that they all roost together. I was thinking that when we do that, it should be about dark, and we will remove the temporary roost and just put all the girls on the roost we already have. It’s plenty long enough. When the sun comes up, I’ll be sure the door to the garden is open, so they can all run out.

    I will also have to add some extra hiding places in the garden. Does all this make sense? I’ll try to add some photos of what we have and what we end up doing.

  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yep, that makes great sense!!

    But.... it will not be a true biological quarantine, just an integration separation, you need them quite a distance apart for a true bio QT.
    Read about medical quarantine in the links in my other post above.

    When you remove the coop partition, I'd leave the temporary roost (and the extra feed/water) for a while, until you see them all using the main roosts.
    It will remove 2 sources of stress(sustenance and sleep) from the flock integration.

    Having a coop partition was priceless when I had to separate a nasty cockerel last winter and when I added new chicks this spring.
    I left the partition roost up and the littlers all used for a few weeks, then lo and behold they started roosting with the older birds in the main coop.

    I don't 'do' crawling anymore either, laughed hard at that one!
  9. btbuster

    btbuster Chirping

    Oct 9, 2013
    Grandview, Missouri
    Well it's a done deal. We were able to put up a new extended run and put the divider in the coop.
    What we did was buy a dog kennel and instead of having a square we went 30 feet long and 10 feet across.
    It's actually as long as a 3-car garage. It's 6' tall and doesn't have a cover yet, but I think we'll get a shade screen covers.
    (And I don't have to crawl to get it! haha!!)
    Here's some pictures:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    My chickens were wondering what was going on. In the background (and below) you will see the "hay towers" I made, for them to 'hide' in.
    We had them originally, but had to move them. One thing I did was put 2 hay towers in the new run, right next to the ones on the outside...hoping to help is socializing.
    The chickens actually love them. They are our tomato baskets from our garden, and I just filled them with hay, to block the wind and hide in.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here is the inside, the temporary side as well as the original side:

    On the first picture, on the lower right side, you can see the small door that leads into the new run.
    The new chickens will have it all to themselves for a while.
    On the other side, you see the original coop with the chickens there. I'm just thankful that I had two doors, one for each side now.
    The wire in the middle will come down after I feel comfortable that they will accept each other.
    The last picture is my coop with the doors open. We use Sweet PDZ in the coop... SO EASY to clean up!!
    My husband will have to change from two nest boxes to several....not sure how many I need for 12 hens .. 4 or 5 ???
    That's the next project.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. btbuster

    btbuster Chirping

    Oct 9, 2013
    Grandview, Missouri
    Continued from last post:
    So, under the cover of darkness, we went and picked up the new flock.
    We had our large dog crate in the back of the pick up. It has a camper shell on it, which is good, because it's cold out there. Our temperature is 31 degrees right now.
    Anyway, when we got home my husband held each chicken, one at a time, and I powdered them (both sides, front and back) with Poultry Dust, and we put them in the temporary coop.
    4 out of the 7 stayed on the roost. The other 3 just settled down by the nest boxes. Tomorrow will be interesting.

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