How would you handle this? Integration.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by happymom99, May 6, 2011.

  1. happymom99

    happymom99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 6, 2011
    California
    Hello. I am a first time chicken owner; well, I will be soon. [​IMG]

    I am adopting an EE who is full grown and laying. She is about 9mo - 12 mo old. I am also going to buy 4 (possibly 5) other pullets that will range in age from 11/12 weeks to 16/17 weeks. How should I integrate them all? I will be getting the adopted EE first from one place and then I will be getting the pullets a week or so later.

    What would be the best way to get these girls together? The EE that I am adopting was picked on in her current flock (small flock of 4 girls) so I am not sure if that makes a difference.

    Thank you so much for any tips. I am so worried that there will be bloodshed.

    CJ
     
  2. P-Funk

    P-Funk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've heard several methods. First of all, they should be kept seperate for a month. Watch for any unusual behavior or signs, such as runny noses. Introducing one bird to an already established flock can be dangerous, too. I've been researching this myself, as there are 3 babys getting big enough to leave the house and join the flock soon. One of my favorites is 'sneak them in at night when everone's asleep'. I've decided to put the babys in the coop/run while the big girls are out free ranging. That way the new ones won't be completely freaked out by the move. New additions should also have a place to hide, like a cat carrier. Hope that helps, let me know what works, and good luck.
     
  3. happymom99

    happymom99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 6, 2011
    California
    What I am wondering is how I am going to introduce the new 5 birds to the one established bird. I am worried she is going to be bullied more than the newbies just because there are more of them than her. It seems like usually you introduce one or two new birds to a flock of however many birds - not introduce a flock of five to a single bird.
     
  4. P-Funk

    P-Funk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's a good one. In my opinion, the more established one will be at the top of the pecking order. I put 3 full grown Barred Rocks in with my lone Rhode Island. The BR's are much bigger than the RIR, but they got along immediately. They still know who's boss, the guy I got the Rocks from came by to visit them and even pointed that out. I wouldn't worry about it at all. The best advice may be to supervise but don't intervene unless absolutely necessary.
     
  5. chezpoulet

    chezpoulet Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 31, 2010
    Redmond WA
    Hi all

    One of my original flock of 5 was taken by a coyote, so we got a new Ameraucana pullet Muffin(the sweetest and meekest of them all) as a replacement. After a month long quarantine with negative fecal float and no mites, we decided on Plan A. This is after the birds have been in view of each other but about 25 feet apart in their daytime tractors.

    Day 1. Had Muffin check out the main coop and run while the gang of 4 free ranged in the yard. She quickly found the nesting box and sat in it for a bit.

    Day 2. Corraled Muffin behind a 6 foot high plastic fence in the run during the day, so the other chickens can check her out. Plan was to still have her sleep in the house in the dog crate for another week before sneaking her into the coop under the cover of darkness. Well, I came home from work to find her gone. Literally flew the coop -in the case her confined safe area, and found her under the coop with a scratched beak and looking very scared. Occasionally one of the other birds would sit on her and peck her. She saw me and made a beeline for the door, and would stay well away from the other birds who would try to rush her. Slept in the house again.

    Day 3. Double checked the fenced area to make sure it was secure- did not figure out if she squeezed through a gap or flew over the top. Went to work but persuaded DH to come home during lunch to check in on her. Husband texted she was fine. Two hours later, I came home and once again she was gone! I found her inside the coop this time. AND actually watched her lay her egg, with her rear end facing me so that was really quite exciting!

    I thought, scratch plan A- she forced the issue. So that night she went into the coop.

    Day 4. Got up at 5:30 a m to let them out as I did not want her to be trapped in there with 4 dinosaurs. As I opened the pop door, I saw her hunched over the entrance to the door, and the gang was using her as a doormat and pecked her as they excited. Poor Muffin!

    She stayed as far away from the other birds as she could, and then one of them would trot over, sit on her and peck her. I kept waiting for blood, but despite screeches from the poor girl, I did not see any visible physical injury on her- psychologically the poor thing is pretty traumatized. She would hide out perched on the barrel I had placed as a hiding place for her in the run.

    Evening came, and Muffin tried hiding in the nesting box. The birds would march in to roost and go for her...DD and I were pacing outside the coop hoping she would not get injured, but decided to let her tough it out. I had to rescue her from the nesting box and place her on the perch, as I did not want a poopy nesting box, which I started to block off at night.

    Day 5. Muffin still spent most of the time in the coop hiding from her tormentors during the day, but we are starting to see less aggression. As soon as one of the gang started towards her, she would just get out of the way as fast as she could! We have food and water in the coop, so she could at least eat. Let her out to free range with the flock, and she still stayed well away. We had errands to run, so I blocked off the nesting box before leaving and hoped for the best. Well, I just came home, and all was quiet in the coop. 3 birds were roosting already, and Tiny was pacing, with Muffin at the pop door, looking as if she was going to bolt if Tiny came for her. As soon as I greeted them through the window, Muffin flew up onto her spot on the roost. Tiny followed soon after.

    So I am hoping they will eventually be one flock- MUffin is still a lone bird, and I think she bonded more with us from the month spent inside the house. Hopefully she will eventually get over her fear of the flock and start hanging out with them more.....

    Does anyone know how long before Muffin is out of the woods and I can declare integration a success? Our fall back plan was to find Muffin a new home if she continues to be bullied- DD does not wish to give her up as she is her favorite, and DH won't hear of a second coop (with 2 other chickens - maybe more Ameraucanas or easter eggers, I said hopefully?)

    Also, how well do lone birds do? Muffin will be with the flock but I am afraid she may always be the odd chicken out and get ignored by the others. She will spend time with her humans for an hour or two a day. Will that be enoug? Don't want to anthropomorphize chickens, but just want her to be reasonably happy.
     
  6. ChicksterJo

    ChicksterJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 19, 2011
    Grounded on Earth
    Since your lone bird is going to be the oldest (and probably biggest) one, she will have very little problem maintaining her status in the pecking order. I introduced 5 4-week olds to my lone 9 week old and she was able to stay top pullet on her side of the coop. (When she goes to the 'other side,' where the 4 - 14 week olds are, she is at the lowest rung of the order.) Just as another person said, make sure that there are hiding places and plenty of waterers/food dishes around so that anyone who's getting picked on can still eat/drink/rest whenever it wants. It will take some time...my integration lasted about several days. The first couple of days were tense and my lone 9 week old still won't sleep on the same roost as the 4 week olds. Ironically she will sleep with the 14 week olds but they'll start pecking on her in the morning. On the other hand she still pecks a little on the 4 week olds (especially the EEs, who run away from her the minute they see her get up), but the aggression has decreased. She'll actually eat with them now! They will have to get used to each other. Only step in when the pecking gets very bad or that you see someone is injured. The best piece of advice is having the hiding places. I don't know if integration means that the flock 'has become one,' but it certainly should mean that the chickens should tolerate each other. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2011
  7. P-Funk

    P-Funk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Franktown
    Happy and Chez, try posting your questions in another area such as 'Raising Baby Chicks', or 'Chicken Behaviors'. I know there are people out there with alot more experience with we have. There are a few, like 'Ghillie', you can trust with your life. Sorry Muffin is getting picked on, but when Penny was the lone survivor of a fox and dog attack she looked so lonely and bored she just had to get some new buddies.
     

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