Integrating 2 groups of chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by weathergrl, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. weathergrl

    weathergrl Chirping

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    Our original flock is 5 chickens, 2 cockerels & 3 pullets, they are 15 weeks old. We figured that wasn't a good ratio for the girls, so we ordered 6 more pullets. They are 7 weeks old.

    After about a week of being in adjoining runs, they could see & hear each other, but not get to each other, we tried an introduction over the weekend. The biggest cockerel went right after the babies, chasing & pecking them. He was put in the adjoining run for a time out and the other cockerel took over chasing & pecking, so he went in time out for a bit. When the boys were gone the girls pretty much left the babies alone. We tried again and at one point all 5 were chasing the 6 babies. We then separated both groups again since I had to leave and I didn't want to leave them unattended.

    We have one coop and it is only accessible from one run, so we have been letting the babies stay outside in their separate runs and bringing them in at night.

    My questions is, is it better to let the 2 groups have short, monitored interactions on a daily basis or should I just wait a week or so until the babies are a little bigger and try again?

    Just for reference the 2 runs are 32'x11' and 24'x8' and they are separated by a gate we can open/close. There are lots of things for the babies to hide behind and jump up on.
     
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  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Enabler

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    I would do this first. I would also separate the 2 cockerels, and let the girls mingle for longer periods. :thumbsup
    After about a week of interaction, things should be integrated. I integrated 2 new (young) hens to my existing flock in 4 days or so. Now they all hang together singing Kum Ba Yah.
    WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and :welcome
     
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  3. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    I have read (meaning I don't have any real experience) that chickens can't tell age, but they do notice size. So when the young chicks are about the same size as the older pullets, you would have a better chance integrating your birds. Pecking order would be smoother. Also, some people suggest putting the new birds into the coop at night when the older flock is sleeping on their roosts. Evidently, when the birds wake up in the morning, they are confused about the new birds but don't get as aggressive as trying to blend them into the flock during daylight hours.

    I am signing on to this thread to get some real advice because next spring I may be looking to add some chicks to my flock and I will have to address this issue.
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Probably not long enough.
    ....and it's best if chicks are near older birds 24/7.
    Is there any way at all to split the coop with a wire wall?
    Pics of your coop, inside and out, would help garner some suggestions on that.

    Tough ages to integrate.
    The older males are well into their hormones, but far from 'mature'.
    Why do you need 2 males?
    9 females to 2 males is not a good ratio, IMO.
    Unless you plan on hatching more chicks in the future you don't need a male at all.

    It's not really about size at all...but mostly territory and somewhat maturity.
    I like to integrate chicks young, the old adage to 'wait until they are of like size' doesn't really cut it, many have found this to really work well.

    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.
     
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  5. Chicken Heel

    Chicken Heel Songster

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    I always integrate the new birds into the coop at night when the older flock is sleeping on their roosts and have had little to no issues.
     
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    That can work, but it's pretty rare.
    Might depend on ages, numbers, genders of birds involved and size of coop and run.
     
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  7. weathergrl

    weathergrl Chirping

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    Thank you for the information!

    We have 2 males because we were given 5 babies and 2 happened to be males. :( Of course they are the friendliest boys and one is my husband's favorite and the other is my daughter's favorite, so it is going to be hard to get rid of either one.
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Sigh.
    Y'all may change your tune once you see the males savaging the females... and each other...and maybe their human keepers too, especially the shorter ones.
    Have a separate place ready for them in case things go sideways, it often happens fast.
     
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