I need your input!!! (Integrating)

becks123

In the Brooder
Sep 8, 2020
8
28
31
Hi, I'm pretty new at this and have found I am 100% a crazy chicken lady! Any tips would be greatly appreciated! I currently have a 7 month old flock: 3 buff orps, 2 dark brahmas and one little frizzle roo (Napoleon 🤣)
I will be integrating 2 ostrolorps, 1 ameraucana, 1 Plymouth and 2 silkies... all 3 months old. I wanted to wait until the silkies were a bit bigger until we put them outside as its getting colder up here in north texas (and to avoid them getter beaten up too much!)

I have a 5x5 coop with an attached 10x10 run. The flock free ranges and we only really use the run for when we need to mow and to keep their water/food clean, or for outside time during a storm if they want it. I am hoping to integrate in the next few days. The flock has had a handful of no touch interactions with the babies, via dog crates and now a larger pen, but just for a few hours at a time. They have interest... then just go back to free ranging lol.

The plan: add a few more items to the run to keep the flock preoccupied and to give the little ones hiding places (slabs of wood, large rocks, hang shiny things), add additional waterers and food containers, move current things around for added curiosity 😋. Then, I plan to lock the flock in the run with the new babies. The newbies will be put into a large dog kennel on its side so they can get out but the large chickens can't get in (with food and water in there too). Unfortunately, there is no way to allow for the older flock to still free range with the little ones in the run, as the only entrance to the nest boxes are via the coop door which is inside of the run. I want the little ones to know where home base is before allowing them to free range.

When the sun sets, I plan on picking up the newbies and putting them in the coop (took the firat flock a few nights before they figured it out). I have added extra roost bars and created a safe zone in a brooder box on the other side of the coop by attaching a bar in the middle of the entrance (small chickens can get in but big chickens can not). I also plan on adding a small roost bar in that box in case they end up there. I plan on just putting them in the main roost area though in hopes they wont have to use the safe room....

SOOO, does this all sounds good to you? I've read a lot about integration and with my set up, this seems like the best way. Let me know what you think!

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DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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My Coop
You have a very small set up for that many birds. Your coop is just too small.
Your new birds do not need to be "homed" to the coop/run. They will return there when the original flock does.
However, you may have difficulty with integration just because of the size of the coop. Roost time can get ugly between birds that already know each other. It would be brutal tossing a bunch of strangers in a tiny coop and locking them in. Plan to be out to the coop just before dawn to let them out into the run.
Putting lots of clutter in the run will certainly help. Also put some perches up.
What is that building the setup is next to? Do you have space in the corner of it you could convert into a more appropriate sized coop?
 

CluckerFamily

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Feb 14, 2016
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You may want to add some roosts in the run for everyone to get higher up.
In the coop itself, they may have some drama and pecking but I'm not sure of the coop size. How big is your coop not counting the nesting box space?
 

AOrchard

Chirping
May 27, 2020
95
166
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Wisconsin
You've done your research, and I think it'll be fine. Mentally prepare yourself for the pecking and squabbles while they sort it out! Chickens are not always kind to each other, but that doesn't mean we need to intervene right away. They have to sort out the pecking order for themselves. Lots of hidey spaces and visual barriers in the run will definitely help.

I have needed to "home" a new group, though most don't need it. That particular group acted as their own flock and tried to roost together in a tree. I usually lock them in a cage in the coop for the first day now, and that's more than enough. You don't have to lock the flock in the run with them. A day confined to the cage won't hurt the chicks, and it will home them. Then you can let everybody out in the morning, and the chicks will know to return there at the end of the day, encouraged by the rest of the flock also returning there.
 

becks123

In the Brooder
Sep 8, 2020
8
28
31
You have a very small set up for that many birds. Your coop is just too small.
Your new birds do not need to be "homed" to the coop/run. They will return there when the original flock does.
However, you may have difficulty with integration just because of the size of the coop. Roost time can get ugly between birds that already know each other. It would be brutal tossing a bunch of strangers in a tiny coop and locking them in. Plan to be out to the coop just before dawn to let them out into the run.
Putting lots of clutter in the run will certainly help. Also put some perches up.
What is that building the setup is next to? Do you have space in the corner of it you could convert into a more appropriate sized coop?
The building adjacent is out garage and we would not be able to convert. Inside of the coop is quite spacious I'll post a picture of it in a bit. I figured the only time I'd have to worry is roost time, which is why I created a safe room for them... when the current flock roosts there is so much extra room on the bars at the moment.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
90,256
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My Coop
Does the 5' x 5' dimension include the nests?
Guessing the coop, minus nests, is more like 3x5.
Very tight for 12 birds.....and gonna be very hard to integrate in that set up.

But, here's some tips about....
Integration Basics:
It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
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.

In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

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 copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, 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'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

becks123

In the Brooder
Sep 8, 2020
8
28
31
Alrighty, we are almost all set up for mingling day tomorrow! I have added lots of fun things to the run, hidey places and the dog crate. Theres even more hidey places under the coop on the left. Boards agains the walls and roosts galore. The current flock was interested in what I was doing but since i wasnt carrying treats they buzzed off. Im just going to be adding more food and water areas and a board against the dog crate so they can even hide in there... maybe a few more pots to break up the space. Man, I feel like I had too much fun jazzing this place up lol!!
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Here is the pic of the inside of the coop.... its actually 4x6, boxes not included. Roosts galore in there with the "safe room" on the left. To give you some scale... two chickens usually roost on the bar in the left corner... there is lots of extra bar space for more birds.
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Sorry for the rope in the front, its part of the draw bridge door 🤣
 

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