Integrating 2 flocks.

Barros

In the Brooder
Nov 29, 2018
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I have 2 flocks that I'd like to combine. 1st flock has 10 hens, 1 roo at about 1.5 years old. 2nd flock has 16 hens at about 6 months. Is it doable? Should I do it a few birds at a time or dump em all in one night? They socialize in the yard while free ranging, so they're familiar with each other, but act like 2 distinct flocks. The Roo only recognizes 'his' hens. Older ones are a bit tougher. I was also considering those blinders for the older flock. Any downsides to those?

I was hoping to combine them because the bigger coop is built better (space, ventilation, nesting box placement, has storage, etc) and cleaning 2 coops is just a PITA. I get that all birds are slightly different and things could either go really well or really bad. Just seeing if anyone has any good tips or things to look out for before I give it a go. Oh - the breeds are: RIR, Barred Rocks, Wyandottes, Marans, Leghorns, Buffs, couple silkies, couple bantams...

Some specs: Coop is about 100 sq ft, and outside space is about 500 sq ft. I read 4 ft per bird inside, 10 ft per bird outside, so I figured we were good cause it's almost 18sq ft per bird outside. We have 10 nesting boxes and 28 feet of roosting space. And yes, yes you see a chandelier.

Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance :)
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DobieLover

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If you are going to do it, put all the pullets in the new coop at once at night. Safety in numbers. Ideally, your run is secure and you never close your pop door. That way, the pullets can make a hasty exit in the morning if the hens go after them for being in their coop. Otherwise, you will want to be out there pre-dawn to open the pop door to let everyone out to prevent bullying.
Make sure you have more feeding and watering locations than you think you will need so that the lower ranking girls have a place to escape the higher ranking girls at meal time.
The rooster will likely not acknowledge the new girls until they are laying and even then, he may not.
If they are currently free-ranging peacefully, hopefully you will have a minimum amount of drama.
I recently integrated 2 flocks, albeit much smaller ones, and my cockerel has never mounted any of the new girls. And although the new girls always return to the main coop to roost and hang out in that coop/run during bad weather with the rest of the flock, the one pullet from the new group that is laying always returns to the isolation coop to lay her eggs. As I will be building a new coop in the spring, I'll just allow her to continue this until all of them are tossed into their new digs and locked up for several days to get used to their new space while their old coop is removed.
All this being said, you may have to lock your pullets into the new coop for several days to break them of their old one. Even if you close off your old coop, any of the pullets that are laying will likely want to return to it to lay their eggs in a familiar location.
Maybe hanging some curtains over the nest boxes in the large coop might make them feel safer for the new girls to use.
Good luck.
 

aart

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@Barros ..great first post and Welcome to BYC!
Nice coop and run!!

I was also considering those blinders for the older flock. Any downsides to those?
Last resort only, IMO.

Good advice from @DobieLover on the integration.
Will just add my standard integration basics blurb below,
and that you might want to add another roost inside.

I wouldn't add curtains to nests(am just anti-curtain),
but I would add perches about 6-8" in front of nests for easier access.
Are the younger birds laying yet? That's when they start to make their way into the main flock...if they are not laying, that is likely why the cockbird is ignoring them.

Where is the other coop and run?

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.
 

Barros

In the Brooder
Nov 29, 2018
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Thank you both - I appreciate all the suggestions & comments! I'm actually bringing the older birds, into the bigger coop with the younger birds. I'll attach a pic of the older birds coop. It's a lot smaller and not that great in the winter because not much roof to give them a place to avoid snow and rain.

There are 6 pullets laying so far. They're just starting to get into it. I added a small bar in front of the lower row of nesting boxes a couple days ago. It's on it's side so the narrow part is facing up, but may change that so the flat side can give the clumsy silkies more of a target. I might put one in front of the top row too, not sure yet.

They get in each other's way sometimes when they're all free-ranging, but nothing major. Been running around the yard for a few months now, and sometimes go into each other's coops to 'check it out'.

I think adding things for them to 'hide' in or behind is a good idea, I'll have to see what we have... I have two places for food inside, and water inside and outside. Nervous about having food outside overnight as it could attract mice and whatnot.

Crazy how the rooster (silkie) ignores the pullets. He tolerates the standards, but he actually chases off the silkies. So weird.
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aart

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I'm actually bringing the older birds, into the bigger coop with the younger birds.
Hmm..that might help. Younger birds less mature, but it's their territory. :fl

I might put one in front of the top row too, not sure yet.
I would. Do they use those nests? Easier for them to fly up and land on a perch than the edge of nests where their wings might hit the sides.

Best of cLuck to yas...let us know how it works out.
 

Barros

In the Brooder
Nov 29, 2018
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5
14
Hmm..that might help. Younger birds less mature, but it's their territory. :fl

I would. Do they use those nests? Easier for them to fly up and land on a perch than the edge of nests where their wings might hit the sides.

Best of cLuck to yas...let us know how it works out.
Good point, I'll probably add another one...
 

aart

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Now, now @aart! My girls LOVE their curtains.
:rolleyes: :lol: Glad you took my ribbing in the good fashion it was meant.
Neither I nor my girls need no stinking curtains.
We prefer a clear view..tho the portholes provide some 'coziness'.
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..and they are used to being 'exposed':
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Sorry for the thread drift @Barros .
 

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