How to add newcomers to the flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sandytsuki, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. sandytsuki

    sandytsuki Hatching

    May 26, 2012
    I have a lsmall flock of 10 hens (Silver Laced Wyandottes, Black Australorps, Ameraucanas, White Rocks) that turned 1 year old last week. They spend half the day in the coop & a few hours free ranging in my fenced yard. They return to roost and I lock the door after dark.
    I received 6, 3-month-old pullets over the weekend that are being housed in a separate coop (Rhode Is. Reds, Ameraucana, Barred Rocks).

    I eventually want to house them all together. What's the best method to get the older gals to accept the younger ones once I allow the young ones to free range? I'd also like to house them all in one coop, where the older ones & the automatic, (deer) feeder are.
    A friend told me to put new ones in the coop at night & in the morning when they awaken, they'll all get along. That has not been my experience over the past 15 years. I have just been keeping 2 groups separated & when the older ones' egg production slows down, they go to friends who will process & stew them, then the younger ones move up into the bigger coop.

  2. goldies99

    goldies99 Songster

    Jul 22, 2011
    if you can put a wire divider where they free range in the yard so they can see each other for a few weeks but not attack each other, it seems to get them use to each other....then try to put them all in the same coop at night to roost....thats what seems to work for me....but mine free range outside so they have alot of room to more around if they dont like each other...but they all go in the same coop at night....
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    Yeah, the whole 'put them in the coop at night and the existing birds won't notice them as strangers' is most often unsuccessful and can be catastrophic. Like bobbie-j sez: "chickens aren't the brightest animals on this planet, but they're not that stupid."

    There's lots of different ways to integrate new birds.
    First, is your coop big enough to comfortably house 16 birds?
    Do either of your coops have runs?

    Side by side separated by wire for a few weeks is always good,
    feeding treats along the fence line can really hep them get used to eating together.

    Once allowed physical contact:
    Lots of space for newbies to get away.
    Places to hide/be 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from aggressors.
    Multiple feed/water stations.

    There will be scuffles in establishing a new pecking order, but as long as no copious blood is drawn and noone is getting pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out.

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

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

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

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    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.

    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.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    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.

    Best example ever of chick respite and doors by azygous

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
  4. grahamanda

    grahamanda Hatching

    Feb 25, 2016
    Hello! I am super new to keeping chicks (as in just started Monday;)) and wanted to ask for some help on managing my tiny flock.

    So far I have what I believe are all pullets. I got 1 buff orpington about a week or so old and a Rhode Island Red on Monday, and just added an ameraucana pullet yesterday that was closer to a few days old from the same store. It's not even been a day and they seem to all get along fine and dandy.

    Now I found a Wyandotte pullet I would love to add. However she has a hatch date of 1/17 so that would make her closer to 5-6 weeks. Four is the max I want and can have.

    But I want to get that beautiful bird off my mind now, if it's not a good idea. :(

    Thank you for your help!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There is a lot of good stuff in Aart’s post. I’ll mention how I do it, which is different to you, then make specific suggestions, a lot if which will be a repeat of stuff in Aart’s post.

    My brooder is in the coop so the chicks basically grow up with the flock. Sometimes at five weeks of age I just open the brooder door and let them go. Sometimes I move them to my grow-out coop which is right next to the older chickens and has its own run where they can see each other. I normally open the gate and let these mingle at 8 weeks. I have a 12’ x 32’ main run and an area 45’ x 90’ in electric netting so I have quite a bit of room. I think that is very important. I’ve never lost a chick to an adult doing it this way.

    I don’t know what runs are associated with your coops so that makes it a little hard to get specific. I’d house them so they can see each other for at least a week, longer would not hurt. Then I’d alternate free ranging for the groups, the older ones one day, the younger another until I was comfortable the younger will put themselves to bed where you want them to be. Then just let them free range together.

    The younger should form a separate flock and avoid the older. They should return to their smaller coop to sleep at night. They will keep separate flocks until the younger mature enough to force their way into the pecking order, usually about the time mine start laying.

    Now I have questions about how big your main coop is and how the roosts are set up. Until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order the pullets probably will not sleep on the main roosts with the older hens. They will look for a safe place to sleep which might be your nests. This pattern was so common for me that I put up an extra roost lower than the main roosts, separated a bit horizontally, but higher than my nests. I have five pullets using that right now. They are not laying yet but could start any day.

    I often move my chicks (at least the pullets) from the grow-out coop to the main coop at 12 weeks. They have been free ranging together for a month by then. So I’d give yours a month or so of free ranging together before I did this. I’d just lock the coop while they are out for the day so they can’t get in. They will probably put themselves to bed near that coop. After dark, just pick them up and put them in the main coop. You may only need to do this once, you may need to do it for a while before they get the message. The next morning, be down there early to let them out. Keep doing that until you are confident you won’t find a massacre if you wait longer. What you will probably find is that the pullets are on the roosts avoiding the older hens who are on the floor.

    Until they fully incorporate into the main flock, keep a few feeding and watering stations around so they can eat and drink without challenging the adults.

    I think if your main coop is big enough and you have adequate roosts you should be OK. This is probably going overboard but I don’t think I causes you that much extra work and I think it is extremely safe.

    Good luck!
  6. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies

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