How to introduce new chicks to an established flock.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Family1st, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Family1st

    Family1st Hatching

    Sep 19, 2010
    I have a flock of 5 2 year old chickens. I baught 4 new chicks (this is not a math questionm I promise). Does anyone have suggestions on how to introduce the new chicks to the flock. I'd hate for them to get pecked and hurt. Thanks
  2. henney penny

    henney penny Songster

    Nov 21, 2009
    Northern Maine
    First of all make sure your new chicks are as big or allmost as big as the flock(they may have to be 3 or 4 months old).This is how I do it,put the newcomers where the flock can see them for about two weeks or more,then put them in with the others and allways stay and watch them to make sure they are not being picked on,some peaple do it at night and have good luck with that.I allso have extra feeders and waters set up at differant places so the newbies have access to food and water because sometimes the older ones will not let them eat or drink,there will be a little bit of pecking and chasing but if its constant you need to start over or if it is only one or two that are doing the chasing or pecking then put them somewhere for a few days and then put them back in and see if that works.This is what I do and have good success.Good lcuk
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010
  3. chickie<3

    chickie<3 Chirping

    Jul 6, 2010
    Long Island, NY
    GOOD LUCK!!! I had a stressful week trying to introduce my 6 week old chicks with my 16 week old pullets..YIKES...didnt go well at all..the big girls were nasty and the chickies were so scared...gave up after 4 days..trying many different things...i gave the chicks to my mom and took her 3 16 week old pullets...that wasnt so easy either.. a lot of pecking..but at least they could defend themselves and run away..3 days now and things r much better...they stopped pecking..just a little chasing..but they go in coop at night on opposite sides and stay on opposites sides of yard during the day...just today they started hanging out a lil closer together.
    I didnt have the luxury of having a seperate coop for the chicks..or a big coop/run to seperate them. I definatley lost some sleep from it all.
  4. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Songster

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA

    What henney penny said.
  5. SportChick

    SportChick Songster

    Mar 7, 2010
    Am having the exact same problem. I think we are doing it right but I am trying to introduce only 2 and one is a rooster who won't be able to stay much longer. He is her only friend though so I am really worried about my little pullet.
  6. sheilawagner

    sheilawagner Songster

    Jul 16, 2010
    Pacific NorthWest
    I have 7 grown up adults. 3 are huge Buff Orpingtons, and 3 are huge White Plymouth Rocks and Delawares. I had 16 five week old chicks to assimilate. The chicks are Cochin bantams and polish, so they are Teeny tiny. About 1/4 the size of the orpingtons or rocks. But I still wanted to assimilate them, cos even if the cochin bantams got to their mature size, they'd still be so much smaller than the adults, so why not assimilate them slowly, but safely earlier? That was my logic anyway.

    What I did was to move the chick brooder from inside my house into the adult chicken enclosure. This way, the adults could see, hear, smell and feel the chicks and vice versa, but neither group could actually peck or touch each other. I moved the chick brooder in there for 2 reasons.

    1) To allow the 2 groups to know of each others presence and start getting to know one another. The adults could still go and come as they wish, free ranging and what not, but the chicks stayed put in their brooder in the enclosure.

    2) To acclimatize the chicks to outdoor sights, sounds, smells, temperature.

    After another week went by, I made a gap in the chick brooder (while in the sheltered enclosure), thus allowing them to go in and out but stopping the adults from getting in since the gap was only big enough for chicks to get through. This "panic room" allowed the chicks to roam around the enclosure, yet escape from adults pecking if they need to. I was teaching the chicks that this enclosure was where food, water, and safety was, and they should always stay close.

    By the end of that week, I move the entire chick brooder into the adult chicken coop, where the adults sleep at night. During the day, the adults free range outside of the enclosure, and night time, they go back home to sleep. By moving the chick panic room into the chicken coop, the chicks learn to sleep with the adults being in the same room. The adults are slowly getting used to having the chicks there all the time, but having the panic room for the chicks means the adults can't attack the chicks. After one week of the panic room in the chicken coop, I remove the brooder entirely, but still keeping the heat lamp in there. Now, the chicks learn to perch and sleep like the adults. They begin by sleeping close together on the floor first, but after a while, they all perch on the roosts. No problems.

    This system has worked for me tremendously well. After 3 weeks of seeing but not attacking, the adults are more tolerant of the chicks. When they first get together, they still do a bit of intimidating, and pecking for social order, but once the hierarchy is established, all is well again. They now hang together, sleep together, eat together, free range together, sunbathe together, dustbathe together, and there is peace on earth in our corner of the world.

    I think the trick is to do things step by step, slowly and to persevere. A little pecking and intimidation is normal, but with careful planning and thought, it can be done.

    Good luck to you.

    Here is my flock and pack
    Background, you see my Airedale Rummy and Kimi, surrounded by the young juveniles. In the foreground, is one of my buff orps.

    Night time, they all roost together in the chicken house. The larger adults, being more senior get to sleep on the top roost, the younger ones settle for lower ones.

    There are a few peckings here and there, of the big pullets telling the young ones to stay off the big girl roost, and they seem to obey. Now, some of the younger ones have wiggled their way up to the top roost too.

    Good luck to you.
    1 person likes this.
  7. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    I agree to have lots of water and feed stations so the biddies can eat and drink. I also have lots of hiding places raised up areas the bigger chickens cannot get to. My lastest batch learned to roost in the cypress tree and the big chickens leave them alone. There is still a little pecking but nothing serious.
  8. Tia Maria

    Tia Maria In the Brooder

    Sep 10, 2010
    Wiltshire - UK
    I have been lucky - though to begin with I did panic [​IMG]

    My mum (buff Sussex) and 6 chicks 'broke into' the main chicken run when the babies were only a few days old.

    My cockerel gave them a close look and mum went ballistic at him, he then got cross if anyone dared to go near the chicks, and so my chicks intergrated into the flock within minutes

    mum has been a wonderful broody, teaching the chicks everything they need and at 10 weeks they are increasingly independant but mum still looks out for them. The other hens pay little or no attention to the youngsters

    I have had to make sure that their chick food and then their growers cannot be got at by the greedy grownups - which has tested my imagination but their feeders are now surrounded in chicken wire with a small tunnel entrance that only the little ones (and one smallish hen) can get in to
  9. 3rocksandme

    3rocksandme Chirping

    Jul 23, 2010
    Brookline, NH
    My chickens were all younger. I think I had (8) 10 week olds and (8) 6 week olds. I started by putting the brooder in the coop at night. They were in a large enclosed cage, so the older girls couldn't snap at them. Then during the day, I let the older girls range, and the babies in the enclosed run. There was some banter between the two groups through the fencing. I put the babies away in the coop at night before twilight, then let the older girls in to eat, etc. before getting tucked in for the night.

    We did this for a couple weeks, then one day the babies flat out refused to go back into the brooder. The older girls pecked at them, but no one was hurt. I still round up the younger ones into the coop first, b/c if I don't the older girls won't let them in. It's been a few weeks since the two groups mingled, they have cliches by age and they stick to them. I have seperate feeding/watering areas for the two groups. All and all they get along okay now as long as the younger girls don't try and take the prime seating in the coop.
  10. pontoosuc

    pontoosuc Songster

    Jun 9, 2010
    Richmond, MA
    all good suggestions. the only thing I'll add is have patience.

    It takes a bit of time, watching and managing the process.

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