How long til they're friends!?

Dhkoenig

Songster
Sep 21, 2020
279
219
108
Bergen County New Jersey
HI All! I introduced my 8 week olds (2 hens and a roo) to my flock last week (did it slow and steady and finally last week pulled out the separations and put them all together). Everything was fairly predictable. Fancy Pants my bully bullies them (just chases them away from food) and my bullied misfit Nellie is terrified of them and hides and runs away from them even tho they are only 9.5 weeks old. I have a small coop/run inside my regular run. Up til yesterday the little ones were sleeping in the small coop with a head pad on low (gets to 20s here now) and the older ladies are in the big coop (4 of them- 3 sleep together on the top roost and Nelly sleeps down a run because nobody likes her (except me! I love her the best!!) So last night (because I want to get rid of the heat and integrate them for body heat) (Nelly is still molting and alone on her perch so I also have a radiant heat flat panel on low since she has nobody to snuggle with while she molts) I decided to force the little guys in with the big ones. It went zero well! Once all my existing hens were perched I tried picking the little ones up one by one (mostly dark out) and putting them on the perch. They did NOT WANT to be in there because they are terrified of the big ladies. I got two of them to perch but the rooster was paralyzed with fear and no matter how many times I tried to perch him he freaked out so finally he went running off to a nesting box. I had to physically move Nellie my misfit up to the top with the other ladies (who were in a stupor so didn't care) and was able to perch the two little girls on that perch but not my roo. So I took the two little ones back OFF the perch and put them in the nesting box with him. It was traumatic for everyone. I observed them today and they were really in camps. 1) the newbie camp (terrified of the OG ladies) 2) Nellie (gets chased away from food/water even by the newbies and 3) the OG ladies who are really dumbstruck by these new invaders. One chases them but the rest seem to be as afraid of them as they are of the ladies!

Okay so now you have the scene set.....I basically decided I think I have to wait until the littles are close to the size of the big girls before I try to get them to sleep in there. They really just are terrified in there. Tonight I left the littles out and they went to their old coop with the heating pad and everything went back to how it was. my instincts tell me I should wait til the babies are big enough so that the rooster starts to be the boss and then I can put them in the big coop and he will decide the order, but is that right? Do you think the two groups will ever be friends? My new barred rock is the sweetest thing and still Nelly is scared of her, but she is sweet as honey. Everyone else besides Fancy Pants the bully are pretty much chill...but will they ever fully integrate or will it always be two camps?
Below are pix of the coop, runs, a chicken-cam photo of the three bosses and Nellie on her lower perch plus a photo of the little run inside the run
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Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,740
14,065
656
western South Dakota
Just let them decide. They know more about being chickens. Let them sleep and roost where they want.

I would just shut the brooder off, but if they sleep on the floor, they will be fine. Long before they are full size, they will move up to the roosts. At there ages, they no longer need heat. They will do fine, even if they are not huddled together. Dry birds are warm birds.

They won't be one happy flock, until the young ones begin to lay, they are just two groups, and then one day you will realize that they are not.

Mrs K
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,304
23,625
907
Southeast Louisiana
So last night (because I want to get rid of the heat and integrate them for body heat)
They have been old enough to handle 20 degrees Fahrenheit since they were 6 weeks old. They do not need each others body heat or and heat you provide. They need to be dry and out of any breezes.

Once all my existing hens were perched I tried picking the little ones up one by one (mostly dark out) and putting them on the perch. They did NOT WANT to be in there because they are terrified of the big ladies.
This is an absolutely typical normal reaction. If an immature chicken invades the personal space of a mature hen they are likely to get pecked. Many chicks instinctively know to avoid adults. If they don't they quickly learn after a peck or two. Until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order (which is typically within a few weeks of them starting to lay for mine) they stay in two separate flocks. The immature avoid the mature day and night. Once they grow up they will become one big happy flock but that takes time.

My one goal in integration is that no one gets hurt. That's it. No one gets hurt. All that sitting around the campfire eating smores and singing "Puff the Magic Dragon" can come later. Some flocks will integrate better than others but as a rule mine stay separate until they mature.

As long as mine are not sleeping in the nests and are some place predator safe I don't care where they sleep. I see no reason to scare them so badly by trying to get them to roost with the adults. My chicks in the brooder sleep on the brooder floor. My broody hens keep their chicks on the coop floor for the first several weeks. It will not hurt your chicks to sleep on the coop floor if they want to any more than it hurts in a brooder or with a broody hen.

I see a couple of options for you. You can let them sleep in their small coop until they are ready to move. Just get rid of that heat. The way I read this they are OK roaming in the run together during the day. Or you can try putting them in that red coop with the big girls at night and see how they get along. I'd put them in after it's too dark for the older ones to attack them and be down there just as they are waking up until you are comfortable they will be OK. In the morning I'd expect to find the young ones on the top roost as far away from the adults on the floor as they can get. That's how they will avoid them.

Having widely separated food and water stations will help them to al be able to eat without bullying.
 

fishygirl25

Chirping
Mar 10, 2021
18
63
59
Florida
I have 4 chicks of 3 different ages The 2 older chicks sleep in the omelet coop. The younger chicks (9 weeks old) sleep in a net cage in my kitchen. I am trying to integrate the 2 groups. I have a problem with predators. I lost chicks even when they locked up in the run. ☹️ So I don’t lock them up any more. They have been doing a see but no touch for several weeks. So now they are allowed to run around in the fenced in area. I spend every afternoons with them because it is the only time my chicks feel safe to do their peck and walk routine. Today the older chicks didn’t chase the younger ones as much. My coop is just a roosting area so I want them to get along before I put them together.
 

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