Integrating New Birds

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chickensforkids, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. chickensforkids

    chickensforkids Out Of The Brooder

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    Last week we put our 6 week old chickens out in the coop with our 17 week olds. They are in a large dog crate for their safety. Approximately how long until it would be considered safe to let them out?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Depends..on a lot of things..sometimes you've just got to play it by trial and tribulation/exultation.
    I'd wait at least a few weeks..or put a chunk of fencing over the crate opening with a small opening that the smallers can fit thru but the biggers cannot. This worked great for me.
    This is first iteration, I later moved the fence section lower and bent up a corner for access to crate.
    By the time the crate was too small for littles they had integrated fully.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]





    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.


    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    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. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.


    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 blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, 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 and/or up and away from any bully birds.

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

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
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  4. chickensforkids

    chickensforkids Out Of The Brooder

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    The chickens have been in a dog crate inside the coop now for a little over a month. The little ones will be 10 weeks old on Monday. Is it better to let the little ones out among the big ones while supervised, and put them back in the crate when not? Or supervise for a while, leave them out and periodically check on them?

    How long does it usually take for them to be ok when left alone?
     
  5. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy chickensforkids

    Following on from the great advice you have received from aart I just wanted to add:

    Do you free range the big ones? If you do and the little ones have only ever been inside the crate, I would let the big ones out for a free range and keep them out if you can. Then, let the little ones out of the crate to explore their surroundings without the risk of the big ones picking on them.

    I have found that this gives the little ones opportunity to feel confident in their surroundings and learn all the good hiding places etc so that when they do meet up with the big ones they do not have the combined issue of unknown surroundings and not knowing where to run to + big chickens.

    I reverse this when supervised free ranging also in that I let the little ones out to explore the garden and find hiding places etc while the big ones are still locked in the run watching them … granted the big ones do not like this but they get over it [​IMG]

    I usually do the integration when they are free ranging .. distractions and space are a great aid. At night, depending on how things go during the supervised free range, I still separate them until I am confident that everyone is comfortable and no-one is going to get picked on in the morning.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Put a 'littles' door in the crate like I showed you above, so they have refuge.
    I did supervise when they first had access to the littles door when the olders where out in the run,
    showed them the door by shoving them back thru it a couple times.

    Like Teila's suggestion.
     

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