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How to integrate an older flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Busia77, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. Busia77

    Busia77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 17, 2016
    Wisconsin
    I have 13 chicks about 6 weeks old. It's starting to look like the majority are cockerels and will be culled eventually :( A friend is moving and asked if I would be interested in taking all or some of her hens, as they won't be able to get a new coop built until next spring and will just start over with new chicks then. Her hens are around 1.5 yrs old.

    Is this a good idea? How would I go about doing it? I've read about bringing babies into an older flock and keeping them separate in a dog cage or similar, but not the other way around.

    Thanks for your help!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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

    How big is your coop and run(feet by feet)?
    How many older hens are we talking about?
    Can you set up (or split your existing coop/run) a separate but adjacent pen and shelter for the new birds to get acquainted before allowing physical contact?



    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.

    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 https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1069595/introducing-chicks-to-adults#post_16276224


    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     

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