integrating new chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by elsiebb, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. elsiebb

    elsiebb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 10, 2013
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    I have six pullets that have been together since April. Four were day olds when we got them 4/2. The other two were 8 weeks old when we got them 4/10. They've been living together since late May and get along just fine. I got three more in September that were a month old. I quarantined the young ones for 30 days, then introduced them by putting them in an enclosure inside the run. After a week of this, I put them in the henhouse with the older six at bedtime. The older chickens are doing their pecking order thing and the younger ones (which unfortunately includes a cockerel) cower in a corner. There is no overt physical attack and no one is getting pecked. I've even seen a young one on the roost with the older girls a couple of times. Each morning when I open up the door to the run the big girls hurry out and the little ones rush to the food and water. My concern is that the young ones will not come out into the run, knowing they'll be chased by the others. They spend their days in the 4x8' hen house. My run is 7' x 35', and there is a 4x12 space under the hen house and between the house and run. I am worried that their current arrangements are unhealthy. Should I be forcing the young ones out into the run or is ok that they are always inside? On the weekends I've been opening up the main doors and letting everyone out in the yard. With the whole yard to run in the little ones happily come out, but keep their distance from the others. But my perennials are suffering and if like to curtail the free ranging to let them recover. Do I just need to be patient? Will they eventually get big enough and brave enough to join the others outside? Would things improve if I remove the cockerel from the mix? Anything I should be doing differently? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's an age thing, when the young ones start laying they will be better accepted. It's nothing to worry about unless they can't get access to feed or they are being bullied. It sounds to me like neither one is the case, so just wait it out.
     
  3. elsiebb

    elsiebb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 10, 2013
    Oregon
    thank you for the reassurance!
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Mature chickens outrank immature chickens. That’s just the way the pecking order works. If an immature chicken gets in the personal space of a mature chicken, the higher ranking chicken has the right to enforce its pecking order rights. That’s why you often see immature chickens form their own separate flock and avoid the older chickens. They don’t like to be pecked. I often find my immature chickens on the roost in the morning while the older ones are on the coop floor. And they often stay in the coop when the others are outside. What you are seeing is perfectly normal and it sounds like it is going great for you. When they mature enough, they will join the flock.

    You may soon see some excitement with that cockerel. I’m a little surprised it hasn’t started yet. I think he is about 4 months old and should be into adolescence. That means the hormones are going to be running wild and he will probably have little self-control. Some hens will squat for practically anything in spurs, but mature hens often require certain things from a male before they grant favors, things like dancing, finding them food, keeping peace in the flock, and looking out for danger. They may just run from him or they may smack him around to teach him better manners if he gets fresh with them. Eventually he will learn his manners and WOW! them with his magnificence, but some take a lot longer to mature than others. He will probably be bigger than them and may resort to brute force. If you can get through that time period while he matures these things normally settle down into a real peaceful flock, but sometimes that period can be hard to get through.

    From what I can tell you are doing everything right and getting god results. Best of luck in the future.
     

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