How to integrate new chicks into existing flock... help please!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Renee572, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Renee572

    Renee572 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    I have 4 hens that are about 40 weeks. So far they have all been very calm and seem to get along rather well. I hatched 1 chick in december and since I didn't have any others hatch I got that chick a store bought friend. Those 2 are now 6 and 7 weeks old. And most recently I hatched 18 chicks who are less than a week old.

    My question is how do I go about integrating all the chicks. Do I start by integrating the 2 older chicks with the big girls and then add the littler ones when they are a bit older?

    Right now I have the 6 and 7 week olds in a dog crate in my garage. I was planning on putting the dog crate inside the coop so the big girls can see those 2 without actually being able to get to them. I thought I'd give them a few weeks and then take the crate out and leave the 2 girls To roost one night.

    I figured I'd do the same method with the younger ones but they won't all fit in the dog crate so I'll have to come up with something different for that.

    Any suggestions would be great.
    Oh and my big girls free range in my yard almost every day.
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    In the end, it will be a matter of what works for you. Free ranging chickens tend to integrate better than penned ones as they have the space to get away from one another. On the other hand mixing chickens of different sizes can be disastrous for the small ones.

    This is a link to an excellent article on integration. For you, you can skip the parts about quarantine in the first part, and read about methods toward the end.

    Good luck!
  3. Renee572

    Renee572 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    Thanks Judy, that was helpful!
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That's a great article...I have it linked in my notes too(pasted below), along with some personal experience with integrating a range of chick ages. I would suggest to integrate your chicks first to form a unit, then integrate them to the flock.
    Best of CLuck to yas!

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

    Integration of new chickens to flock.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
  5. Renee572

    Renee572 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    Thanks aart! After I had done some more thinking I thought it might be easiest to get all the chicks together first. I am sure these smaller chicks will be able to hold their own in a couple weeks and the 2 bigger chicks won't be much bigger than them plus there is safety in numbers and 18 baby chicks might outweigh 2 bigger chicks.

    I'm having hubby help me build a smaller coop and we will then move our 4 big girls there and put the 20 chicks in the big coop we have now. And then I think I will wait until we decide who we are keeping to even think about putting them all together. By then the babies should be much bigger and be able to hold their own.

    Thanks for the help!
  6. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Have you given any thought to how your four big girls are going to handle moving to a new and alien coop? Hah! Easier said than done!

    Chickens abhor change. Really, really hate anything new and different. And since it's where they roost and lay eggs, you're in for quite a battle, be forewarned.

    It may help ease the situation if you get the new coop built ASAP and move them in. Unless they have time to get used to the change, you risk them reverting back to their old coop once the new one goes into use. It could cause a three-ring circus you do not want to have to deal with, trust me.

    Once the new coop for the big girls is finished move them in and shut them up in it for a week. They will need time to imprint on it as "home". When you do let them out of the new coop, make sure they can't get into the old one. If they try frantically to access the old one, it means you need to coop them up in the new one longer.

    If you try this at the same time you move the chicks into the old coop, you'll be inviting confusion and unnecessary conflict. Careful planning can save you a whole lot of grief.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2015
  7. Renee572

    Renee572 Songster

    Apr 11, 2014
    bahahaha, um no hadn't thought about all that. I just figured my 18 chicks would need more space to grow than my 4 full grown hens! Luckily I have a few weeks before the chicks need to be moved from the brooder so hopefully I can get it all figured out. Thanks for giving me that information to work with!

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