How long?


In the Brooder
May 19, 2016
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
I hope no one minds me starting my own thread on this topic, I didn't want to high-jack someone else's thread to ask my questions.

I have 4 birds (3 pullets & 1 cockerel) that are 12 weeks old. They have been in their outdoor coop/run area for about a month and a half now. I also have a 5 week old pullet RIR. I was not aware--nor did I consider--the need to quarantine from each other but I do know I needed to create a safe introduction, so last Tuesday the younger bird left the brooder and went outside with the other birds, but I've kept her in a dog kennel (see photo below) so they can see each other but not injure the younger chick.

So my questions are: how long does the Rhode Island Red pullet need to stay separated from the rest of the flock? How should I go about releasing her into the older flock? Also, the barred rock cockerel likely won't be around for too much longer as I cannot keep roosters where I live, so how will removing him affect the flock dynamic? From what I can tell, he's the top bird and then the buff orpington is next in line in the pecking order, then the Easter Eggers at the bottom of the order.

Generally it's best to introduce birds that are of similar size, but I've found it all depends on the individuals. Some flocks mix different sizes and different ages with no problems. I am trying to introduce three 8 wk old chicks into a larger flock with their broody mama. Most of the flock is fine and does not harass the chicks, but one hen chases and pecks the chicks for no reason. She is not keeping the pecking order, she's just being mean. I will be removing her from the flock for a week to let the little ones adjust before allowing her back in. You could try testing out how the others will react to the younger chick, but be prepared to put her back in her crate if they are too mean. the pecking order must be sorted out, so you can expect the females to give one another the occasional peck. If there is excessive chasing, pecking, or feather pulling, you may have to wait until the chick is larger.

Making the introduction with some distractions works well. Them them out into a neutral territory, introduce something new into the coop- a log, swing, new perch, hang a cabbage for them to peck. The new thing will take much of the attention away from the younger chick. You may want to put in a second food and water dish to make sure the little one has access to them. Give it a try and see what happens.

As for the cockerel, males generally do not harm chicks, so he should be fine with the chick. Males are also not really part of the pecking order (unless you have more than one male!). After he is gone, there might be some adjustments, but there will also be adjustments in the pecking order when they begin laying eggs, when molting, and when broody. Generally though, the top hen retains her position.

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