How long should it take to integrate young pullets to established flock?

Courtneydelphia

Songster
Apr 28, 2019
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Hey y’all!
So I have three hens that are over a year old; three pullets that are almost 12 weeks old; and two ducks that are 9 weeks old. The pullets and ducks have been together since the last week of April and they all seem to like each other quite a bit.

We have a 12ftx12ft coop, with a 4ftx3ft enclosed wire area inside for the babies to keep them safe from the older girls at night. We have no run, they just have free access to our yard - about 10,000 sq ft.

I began to introduce the young to the older gals about a month ago. I put a wire pen in the yard and the babies would go out every day and we put them up in their safe pen inside the coop at night. Once they got a little bigger, I started letting them have supervised “play dates” when they were free to roam the whole yard while I was close by to rescue if needed. Then about two weeks ago after watching their play dates closely, I gradually let them have more time unsupervised. Two of my older gals seem to have a fiery hate for the pullets, one worse than the other. They’ll all peacefully travel the yard in their separate flocks until one or both of these bi***es just gets a wild hair and torpedos across the yard to peck one of the babies. No blood has been drawn and only minor feathers have been lost. It’s worth mentioning that the older gals completely ignore the ducks.

Next week, in preparation for an upcoming vacation, we are building an enclosed run. We aren’t sure of the size yet, but for sure at least the size of the coop (12ftx12ft) but likely bigger. This won’t be their permanent accommodations, but I feel better leaving them in the care of neighbors if they’re penned up safely.

Now that I’ve established the background, my question is, how long does it typically take for them to join forces into one large flock? How long could it take for the two older bi***es to get over themselves and stop being jealous of the pretty younger ladies? Is there anything I can do to help the process along? Team building exercises? A ropes course? 😜 I’m nervous that over vacation while they’re in the enclosed run, the drama will escalate because of the smaller space.
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Apr 9, 2013
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Hi there. Sounds like you've done all the right things. In my experience they won't become a cohesive flock until the youngsters start to lay. The older gals see the youngsters as competition for food, etc right now but when they're older the big girls will calm down. You can help the situation in the run if you add stuff for the littles to hide under/behind and have multiple feed and water stations. Also, try to avoid dead ends, always leave more than one way in or out of a cover spot. If possible, an area with entrances too small for the bigs to get through so the littles have their own safe space is a good idea as well. Good luck and enjoy your vacation!
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
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Nov 12, 2009
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The above advice is good. You want to make the set up so that the chickens are solving the problem, not the humans. I call it bowing to the queen. If a chick can get out of sight of a big bird, disappear for just a few seconds, I have seen them come back and eat right beside them.

If a chick can't get out of sight, well the queen takes offense to that, and is determined to prove her point. And will attack again and again.

Everytime you break it up, or separate them, you are starting over. It is so hard to watch the attack. But if there is no blood, if you have hideouts, clutter, roosts where birds can get away from each other, it makes the area much more interesting to the chickens, than just a blank flat rectangle that I see in a lot of runs, this allows the chickens to solve the problem.

I would definitely get them all together, before the vacation.

Mrs K
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
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I would not limit my escape route to that small of an opening, a chick could get trapped. But that is how mine act, in and out. In a week, they are eating underneath the bigger birds.
 

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