How to: Introduce new birds to your flock

Discussion in 'Sponsored Content, Contests, and Giveaways' started by JenniO11, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. JenniO11

    JenniO11 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2012
    Thank you to our sponsor Purina for bringing us this post!


    With springtime at hand, new birds are on the minds of most flock enthusiasts. Whether you’re starting with a group of new chicks or you’re looking to add a few new hens to an existing flock, proper planning, care and management can help the transition be most successful.

    Mikelle Roeder, Ph.D., a flock nutrition expert for Purina Animal Nutrition, says it’s especially important to understand the commitment of raising new birds.

    “Springtime and new birds are often thought of together: both represent new beginnings and excitement, but we can’t forget that raising chicks is a long-term commitment,” Roeder says.

    “Be sure to have a long-term plan and a place for them to live before your new birds arrive,” she adds. “Preparing for new arrivals can help prevent the spread of disease and keep the peace in your existing flock’s pecking order.”

    Manage new birds separately.


    As soon as new birds arrive, keep them separate from the rest of the flock. This allows you to monitor the birds closely and prevent any possible illness from spreading to either group.

    “New birds have often traveled a fair amount and been near other birds – and your existing flock may have built immunity to germs in your area,” Roeder says. “Keep new birds in a separate room or coop for 30 days and monitor them to make sure they are free of disease and to acclimate them to your backyard.”

    During this period, work with the existing flock first and wash your hands between groups to prevent any cross-contamination.

    A similar quarantine plan is recommended for new chicks, as older hens can transmit disease to chicks and pullets. For chicks, though, the separation should last for 18 weeks to help the birds reach mature size and transition onto a layer feed before meeting other members of the flock.

    “Start new chicks away from the flock, in a brooder,” Roeder says. “This allows you to provide the chicks supplemental heat and teach them to drink and eat a high-energy complete feed. Once they are ready to enter a coop, continue to raise them separately until they reach the same size as the mature birds to minimize potential physical injuries once the two groups of birds are introduced.”

    Introduce birds in groups.

    After the quarantine period, gradually familiarize new birds to the existing flock. Introducing groups of birds similar in size and traits into a familiar setting can help provide a smooth transition. Be sure there is plenty of space to prevent overcrowding.

    “One way to help both groups acclimate to each other is to place the two groups in side-by-side runs,” Roeder says. “Placing thetwo groups next to one another for one week can help the birds form bonds before being housed together. It can also alert you to potential personality clashes that may be difficult to resolve. Another strategy is to let the new group free-range first and then introduce the existing flock to place the focus on new surroundings rather than new flock members.”

    In either case, add additional feeders and waterers to the run to prevent the new birds from being deterred from eating and drinking. During the introduction period, the new pecking order will begin to be established. In most flocks, one bird is dominant in the group and the remaining birds will fall into an accepted order below the dominant bird. Occasionally two strong-willed birds may consistently fight in an attempt to gain the position of dominant bird. In this case, the owner may need to find a new home for one of them in order to maintain peace in the flock.

    “The pecking order is a very stable structure in the group until a bird is removed or new birds are added,” Roeder says. “At that point, the order must be re-established. Add new birds in a group with similar-sized hens and plenty of available feed, space and water to help ease the transition.”

    Monitor for success.

    After new birds are added to the group, monitor the flock for success or fallouts.

    “Watch the group closely after the introduction,” Roeder says. “Birds that are happy, healthy and content will continue their routines without changes in personality or feed consumption. Consistency is especially important during transitions, so be sure to continue providing high-quality complete feed, shelter and fresh water at all times.”

    To learn more about backyard flock nutrition, visit or like Purina Poultry on Facebook.
    7 people like this.
  2. Great work on this! :thumbsup

    I'm bringing home a new hen this week. After the quarantine period I'm worried one of my RIR hens might bully the new hen. The RIR has bullied one of my White Rock hens three times in the past, and they've been together since they were two weeks old. There's still snow outside so how should I introduce this new hen to the RIR?
  3. backyardflock1

    backyardflock1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 22, 2014
    Thank you! Will definitely keep this article in mind when integrating new birds into my current flock. [​IMG][​IMG]
  4. Betsy57

    Betsy57 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Murphysboro IL USA
    I just moved 7 one-year old hens into an existing 2 year old flock of 12. I let the 'old' gals out of the coop and let the new gals in the coop with the rooster for about an hour. After introducing himself to the new gals, I let them all out during the day. They had plenty of room to run if they wanted (mostly they didn't, they sparred with the old gals) and the rooster did his job and broke up the fights. That first night together, I turned the lights out the minute I got them all in the coop together so they couldn't really see each other. That next day they were fine. Been 4 days and no issues.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Theofire88

    Theofire88 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2015
    Very helpful! We are considering getting some new chicks/juvinilles to add to our flock this year! So exciting!
  6. Peep_Show

    Peep_Show Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 14, 2010
    Corrales, NM
    I used a wire dog kennel to introduce two new birds to the flock. Set it up in the coop, provided food and water therein. The birds could see and be near each other, but no physical interaction. And after a long week (about 8-9 days) the kennel door was opened, birds wandered out (curious others wandered in) and the cage was eventually removed. There was a little running around, but no trauma or drama, blood or feathers.
    2 people like this.
  7. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    At our lodge
    My Coop
    Excellent info![​IMG]
  8. 8machines

    8machines Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2013
    Pioneer, California
    I learn about chicken keeping from Back Yard Chickens. Thank you!
  9. Mehroz Adnan

    Mehroz Adnan Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 12, 2014
    It has been 3 weeks till I have introduced a new hen in a flock of a hen & a rooster.Both are mixed breeds & the hen does not go broody.While the new hen is a breed locally known as Desi which is a very Good Mother.As old the hen does not go broody that is why I have bought a new hen.But the peace has yet not been able to reach a 100%..The rooster has to roost in between them for stopping the fight(not as severe as the first day).She (the older one) Also hits her head during mating.She does not allow her to lay in her nest but still the new hen somehow has been able to lay.It has been 3 weeks.Please help.
  10. kissnpeeps

    kissnpeeps Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 22, 2015
    Introduced some new black and blue copper ladies to their new home and roosters(both Marans,[​IMG]one blue and one black)hope they will do as well tonight as they did today[​IMG]and maybe one day....I will be like the ol woman in the shoe and have so many ,I won't know what to do!!!! Lol, I wanna keep allllllll of em just don't tell my husband [​IMG]and wish me luck.
    3 people like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by