Integrating 12 week old pullets - NOT going well!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mrsfoxypants, May 16, 2018.

  1. mrsfoxypants

    mrsfoxypants In the Brooder

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    May 19, 2017
    Hi guys! I need some help/re-assurance! This is the first time I have integrated new chickens to my existing flock. My existing flock is a year old - 5 Red Stars and 3 Black Stars. My newbies are 2 Buff Orpingtons, 1 Barred Rock, and 1 Americana. They are 12.5 weeks old.

    I built a little baby run for them in the coop with the big girls and they have been in there for 3 weeks. So, they've just had a little bit of chicken wire between them for quite awhile now.

    Today I took down the wire and figured they could all be together. I let the big girls out to free range in the yard, and I put in lots of great distractions (grass clippings! Treats!), and I took down the wall.
    The big girls, especially the Black Stars, have just chased them something fierce. The little girls are very flighty and scared and they are currently all hiding behind their feed storage box (I made sure it was big enough for them, but not for the big girls, so they had a spot to go).

    Is there something else I need to do? Will they come out eventually? Is this stress really hard on them? I feel like a bad chicken mama!
     
  2. TattoedChickenLady

    TattoedChickenLady Chirping

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    I’ve always done mine the same exact way you have and haven’t had any problems. I’ve heard releasing them in the middle of the night also helps.
     
  3. Hen Pen Jem

    Hen Pen Jem Crowing

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    Greetings mrsfoxypants,

    You did good by making the separate run for the newbies.

    But, releasing them into the area where the adult hens are, is very risky. Mixing different ages and sizes of chickens, will usually result in injuries or even deaths. Newbies should be of similar size, so that they can run or fly away, or defend themselves. Also, 12 week old pullets are just not savvy enough. They will get stressed, traumatized or even horribly pecked.

    Keepers with large flocks of over 30 chickens won't have too much of this, as newbies get lost in the crowd. But, small flocks are a different dynamic.

    The older chickens are just protecting their territory. So what you want to do, is set it up so the older chickens don't get too threatened. Exposure to the newbies, like you have done, is good. Then, the pecking order must be established. You have to decide, if the 12 week olds are big enough to take the pecking and even some aggression. You can't avoid this behavior, it's what they do. But, if the newbies are bigger, it will be better for them.

    Also, setting up hiding places is good, as you have done. Distractions for the big girls, is also helpful. For example, hang plastic bottles with small holes at the bottom, and add a little scratch and meal worms, provide greens with fruit, and other goodies. The oldies will also associate the goodies with the presence of the newbies.

    When I bring new chickens in, I make sure they are of similar size and weight. Then, I wait for dark, 3-4 hours after the chickens have fallen asleep. I then, sneak the newbies into the coop. I set them quietly, on a perch together. Then, quietly close up the coop and go to bed. It's important to be up before the chickens. You'll have to supervise them, but, what usually happens is, the oldies are not sure what's going on. After they all come out of the coop, there will be some challenging. Again, the new pecking order must be established. As long as there is no blood letting, it will be OK.

    You should always add extra feeders and water. Spread them out, so the newbies won't be prevented from eating or drinking.

    I talk to my old girls and tell them not to be so naughty, to be nice. They hear the tone of my voice, and are aware of my presence. Chickens do have a thought process. You can use that to help the newbies. Each day will get better, then, each week. It all depends on how fast the newbies learn chicken etiquette, and their place in the flock.

    These are my thoughts on your newbie's integration process. I hope they are helpful.

    God Bless :)
     
  4. Bookmole353

    Bookmole353 Chirping

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    May 2, 2018
    I am going to have the same problem. Right now I have 8 turkeys in with 12-14 pullets about 8 weeks old . They are in the “introductory” pen but will soon outgrow it. Most of the pullets are beginning to look like full grown chickens but they are still smaller than the others. They have been in the pen for almost 2 weeks. I am concerned for them too. I also have 2 roosters who are aggressive, do I need to butcher or keep them separate from the others
     
  5. mrsfoxypants

    mrsfoxypants In the Brooder

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    May 19, 2017
    Thank you for the input! I've got the different feeders and waterers out, and a safe spot for them. This morning I let the big girls out to free range, and then let the little girls out of their coop (I shut them in last night so they would just be safe and have some room). There have been no dust ups today! I did hang out in there for awhile - there's one Black Star who is the lowest in the pecking order who keeps going for them. I kicked her out a few times, she eventually just left. A couple Red Stars came in to look for straw but totally ignored the little girls. My main concern is out scared the little girls are - that can't be good for them. But, they seem ok today for now. We'll see what happens when the big girls are done free ranging today!

     
  6. Hen Pen Jem

    Hen Pen Jem Crowing

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    Greetings mrsfoxypants,

    Yes, the older hen on the bottom will tend to be more aggressive, as, she doesn't want to lose her new spot. She has now moved up in the pecking order. So, she is just letting the newbies know that she has no intention of falling below them.

    The little ones will be afraid. And you are right, it's not good for chickens to be under long periods of stress. Illness often follows long periods of stress. So, be vigilant for illness, and keep them well fed.

    God Bless :)
     
  7. llombardo

    llombardo Crowing

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    Ughhh. Nothing is ever easy it seems. I just started a thread on this. Mine are about 6-7 weeks age difference. I'm hoping it's not going to be as bad as 1 year olds and 8 week olds.
     
  8. mrsfoxypants

    mrsfoxypants In the Brooder

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    May 19, 2017
    Thank you very much - that does explain it. She's very vigorous about making sure that her new place in the pecking order is cemented! Lol. It's been helping to have them free range during the day. When they are spread out they bother eachother less and are more distracted. So maybe try that llombardo? I am going to go check out your thread.

     
  9. veebeebee

    veebeebee In the Brooder

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    I’m going through almost the same thing. Adding two brahma pullets (12 weeks today) with my other 2 girls...1 brahma and 1 black minorca. (13 months old).

    They seems fine at night when they roost but the pullets will NOT go down to the run during the day. I put them down there and the black minorca chases them constantly till they run back up. If the bully comes up into the coop she terrorize them into a corner where they cower in fear. (Poor babies!!)

    Now If I pull the black one out of coop and let her free range a while, they will frolick happily in the run with the huge mature brahma.

    What should I do? Should I just let them figure it out themselves? Will they eventually come down?

    I know the black one is asserting her spot in the pecking order but she won’t stop. Scared she will hurt one. They are about the same size as the pullets are brahmas but they are def babies still.

    Also, I do not feel good about pulling the bully out to free range as we have red and grey foxes that live RIGHT behind my house in a nature preserve area. They killed 3 last year and I rarely let them out now. A few weeks ago while I was out watching them in the yard a red fox came right out of the woods and grabbed my light brahma. I chased it off and she was ok thankfully but the fox comes back frequently to see if any are out!

    This is the first time I have ever added chickens to an established flock (well 2 chickens in my flock).
    And any advice to make this intergration smooth for all would be super!

    Thanks V
     

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