Integrating 3 month olds with year olds

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Cycomiko, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Cycomiko

    Cycomiko Songster

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    I currently have 2 flocks living adjacent to each other for the past 3 weeks. They hear each other at night, and see each other through a fence each day. I'd like to integrate 4 pullets and 1 easy going cockerel with my 7 egg layers. The pullets are as big as my smallest white leghorn. The cockerel hasn't tried crowing yet. I plan to put everyone on 19% Grower, and supply calcium on the side. I had success with the Grower and calcium during the harshest of the winter with my egg layers. My questions is will the pullets stay away from the eggs or should I make a roll-a-way nesting box? The year old's would be moving into the 3 month old's coop, it's the upgraded and bigger one.
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    Rooster on end has been re-homed.
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Personally I don't think you will have any problems.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Those pullets and the cockerel bothering the eggs would not even be on my radar. There are other issues though. Regardless of what you may read on here, in my opinion size is totally irrelevant in your situation now. Maturity is what matters. That's where your issues are likely to come from, if you have issues. You may not.

    Until my pullets start laying they remain immature and typically do all they can to avoid the mature hens. For a good reason, mature hens often peck an immature pullet when their personal space is invaded. Cockerels are a different story. Until they hit a certain maturity level but after the hormones kick in, older hens just might regularly beat the crap out of them. Not always but sometimes. Once the cockerel hits a certain maturity level he starts to take over the flock. He may be able to do this fairly seamlessly but often it involves chasing and forced mating. The flock can get pretty rough as it goes through this phase.

    Like many other people I raise pullets and cockerels with the flock all the time and hardly ever have any issues. My brooder is in the coop and I often use broody hens. Those chicks are raised with the flock. Your three weeks is helping tremendously in that respect. The other thing is that I have a lot of room, in the coop and outside. I'm not talking about some square feet per chicken number, I'm talking about can the weak avoid the strong? I have an area that is about 50' x 60' inside electric netting. When they are outside it's really easy for the immature to be where the mature are not. When they are locked in the coop it's pretty normal for the immature to not sleep on the roosts with the adults. They typically get beat up when they try to go to the main roosts. The immature might sleep in a group on the floor, they may try to sleep somewhere higher up. Sometimes that is your nests. I saw that so often I put in a separate roost, above the nests but lower than the main roosts, and horizontally separated from the main roosts. You might think about that if yours start sleeping in the nests. They may not sleep in the nests.

    I don't know how much room you have, that makes a difference. I'm not going to tell you that it is all gloom and doom, many of us go through this all the time with no real issues. But you are dealing with living animals, none of us can truly guarantee you how any living animal will behave.

    If you can I'd let each continue sleeping where they want to for a couple of weeks when you let then roam together. They will probably want to keep sleeping where they are now. At least they will get to know each other better during the day. When you do put then in the same coop at night be down there at daylight to open the pop door so they can escape if they need to. I normally do that for one or two mornings before I'm convinced it will be OK to wait a little longer.

    Keep separate feeding and watering stations so the immature do not have to challenge the older to eat and drink. Provide as much room as you can and give them things to hide behind (break line of sight) or things to get up on. Help them to avoid the older. Try not to force them into close proximity, give them as much room as you can so they can work that out.

    I wish you luck, it's often not nearly as bad as you read about on here. But it can be so observe and see how it goes.
     
    SW31, rita2paul, aart and 1 other person like this.
  4. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Crowing

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    I just thought I should mention looks as if you have two or theee boys in tbhe bunch.

    But I don’t think you will have an issue.
     
  5. Cycomiko

    Cycomiko Songster

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    Thanks. I am only letting 1 cockerel join the hens and pullets when I combine.
     
  6. Cycomiko

    Cycomiko Songster

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    Thank you for taking the time to explain all that. You’ve given me some ideas to make the space even better. I may delay it a bit to get a couple cockerels rehomed (not bad, just not needed). Should I be worried about the pullets eating calcium (which I feed separate)? I appreciate all you do in this community.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I don't worry about it. That's a very common way to handle the issue when you have a mixed age flock, offer calcium separately. The ones that need the calcium for egg shells generally instinctively know to eat it and those that don't need it generally won't eat enough to harm themselves. A few bites will not hurt them.

    I don't give guarantees when it comes to animals and their behavior, practically anything can happen. It is possible a hen will not have the right instincts to eat the extra calcium or her body may not process the extra calcium she does eat. It is possible a chick or pullet can eat too much. Those occurrences are pretty rare. The vast majority of the time if you offer oyster shell or some other calcium supplement on the side they will get it right. It's the method I've used for a lot of years and I have never seen a problem with it as far as the chick s go. I've had a couple of hens that laid thin-shelled eggs. I figured there was something wrong with those specific hens.
     
    Cycomiko likes this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    That might make it interesting...usually the youngers move into the olders territory. Will be interesting to see if maturity trumps territory.
    Will you move the olders totally into the larger space or will they all have access to both coops and runs? I'm thinking maybe the runs can be 'opened' into one space with a fairly wide opening/gate/door?

    Here's my integration blurb:
    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.
     
    SW31 and Cycomiko like this.
  9. Cycomiko

    Cycomiko Songster

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    The young ones got the bigger coop because of lack of nesting boxes and I had to give them an area asap. Both coops enter the same run area, I used plastic fencing to segregate an area. When I first did it, I had a rooster with the hens. The first day the olds were on guard. The second it was as if they forgot what they saw day 1. By noon it was just accepted their presence. The bottom hens came up to the fence to show their dominance, a guess pecking order with a barrier. I re-homed the rooster, he was very protective, but didn't like me too much, and with 3 cockerels, I figured I could start over in that department. That caused pecking order re-establishment. 5 days later, my favorite chicken, got killed after being pinned in a tremendous windstorm. An old french door that survived 60-80 mph winds the week before, fell onto her. Odd concentrated winds from the 3rd nor'easter. I live on a mountain that sees the worst winds. That was yesterday. Today the pecking order started over, and the pullets are taking it well. They are learning from the hens, and mimicking what they see. The young ones, although perched while brooding, got out at the wrong time of year, and started huddling together instead of perching to sleep. I plan on moving the older ones into their coop at night and placing them on the perches. In the morning they'll have access to the same areas.
     

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