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Integrating new pullets is not going so well...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Anna_MN, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. Anna_MN

    Anna_MN Chirping

    Dec 4, 2011
    Princeton, MN
    Right now I have two adult hens that are 3 years old. One is a RIR and the other is a Gold Star. I am working on integrating twelve 6 week old pullets. Right now I have the hens "downstairs" in the enclosed pen under the coop. I put up plastic on three sides so they have a wind block. The pullets are "upstairs" in the actual coop. Then I have the run divided in half with wire mesh so they can see each other. My adult hens are furious that they can't go upstairs- therefor they bully the pullets past the point of trying to find the pecking order if I let them have access to each other. My pullets are scared to death the leave the coop anymore because the hens fly at the run trying to attack them. This is becoming a huge problem and I don't know what to do! I can't divide the upstairs of the coop in half so they can spend more time together because there would not be enough room on one half for the 12 pullets. This is way more difficult than I thought it would be. Does anyone have any ideas?

  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hi Anna,

    I think your pullets are alot smaller than your adult hens, right? That could be very dangerous to the pullets, because the hens can cause serious injury,or even kill them. (So sorry to be so blunt.) You probably need to think of longer term separation for them until the pullets are more adult sized.

    Very good idea of you though, to let them see eachother, but they should also not be able to touch eachother for now.

    Good luck to you, integrations aren't easy,

  3. Anna_MN

    Anna_MN Chirping

    Dec 4, 2011
    Princeton, MN
    Thanks for your input! I do need a more long term solution. The pullet's brooder box is quite large but they were getting stir crazy in there. That's why I moved them outside. They actually started picking on each other because they got bored. My hens are twice the size of the pullets which is not good.
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I first encountered this problem a few years ago when I was trying to integrate half a dozen six-week old pullets with three older hens. I had solved the problem outside in the run by putting up a "panic room" where the small fry could run into for safety when chased. The entrances to this pen-inside-a-pen were just large enough for the pullets to dash through, not the big hens. Their food and water were also kept inside this safe enclosure.

    However, inside the coop the pullets were encountering one big bully who would station herself just inside the one pop hole and pick them off as they would enter.

    I got out my carpentry tools and cut another pop hole into the coop at the far opposite end. It was a big job to fashion the headers and supports for a new door, but well worth the effort.

    At first, I put up a partition inside the coop, giving the pullets their own side, and the older hens had the other. But after a few weeks, I took it down. The pullets were very agile and quick to figure out how to utilize both entrances, and they continued to use the panic room in the run until they were almost the same size as the hens.

    I've used this system for every new set of chicks ever since, and I am successful in integrating them at the age of six weeks into the coop with very little problem.

    I hope you can use some of these ideas, and you see some success, too.
  5. mcjessen

    mcjessen Songster

    Mar 22, 2011
    Coeur d Alene ID
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I may face a similar issue in next couple months and I've got the perfect idea now on how to create a "panic room" for the new girls.
  6. tyjaco

    tyjaco Songster

    May 4, 2010
    Cloverdale, CA
    Hi Anna-
    I'm dealing with this too! It's so frustrating. I'm starting to think they will have to stay separate forever!

    I have 4- 2 year old hens, and 8 - 9 week old pullets. The poor pullets were WAY too big for the brooder box in the house - so I HAD to move them out. They have a small area inside the coop (just large enough for one roost, food and water). They have their own pop-door, which leads to a separated run. It's inside the big girls run, but with chicken wire between them.

    I opened up the run one day (to see what would happen if the mingled) and Lucy (my New Hampshire Red) charged the little ones and took a mouth full of feathers out of one of the pullets. So, I closed everything back up and haven't attempted since. I'm scared - the big girls are so mean :(

    After reading azygous' post above, I'll try again. I'm going to see if I can set up some sort of "panic room" on the run, but maybe the area they already have will work. Gotta think about it more.

    Good luck to you - I'm sure it'll all work out somehow :)
  7. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    I am lucky my Japanese Bantams are not too aggressive when I add new birds or pullets. They will just peck them or give a short chase if the new birds get in their way when feeding or forget their place in the pecking order . However its a different story when its roosting time, so I let my pullets or new birds roost in a dog crate inside the coop until they all get along OK.

    It really helps if they are free ranging and they can gradually get closer and closer to each other over time, and then eventually roost together.

    BUT I am having a crazy time with my new silky pullets though. They are nearly full grown and are huge compared to my Japanese Bantams. But they are total brain-dead cowards! My chickens are not at all interested in them and ignore them totally, but the stupid silkies go crazy for no reason each time any of my Japs walk near to them. They start freaking out and panic - squarking loudly and pushing they heads through the wire of the run with their bottoms in the air. They are so silly.

  8. Anna_MN

    Anna_MN Chirping

    Dec 4, 2011
    Princeton, MN
    Integration has gotten A LOT better! The more time they spend outside in their separate runs, the easier it has gotten. Goldie doesn't fly at the fence anymore but still paces and expresses her anger vocally.
  9. blueberrychickens

    blueberrychickens Songster

    May 12, 2010
    Hudson, MA
    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who is having a hard time trying to integrate the new kids on the block to the big girls. I have 2, 6 week olds & 8, 2 yr olds & for the most part, it isn't going very well. I have one definate bully who will chase the babies & peck them hard.(an EE) They have been able to see each other for 3 weeks now, but still the bully prevails. I did try the "panic room" approach & yes the babies did figure out how to use the escape hatch quite quickly, but I also find that the babies would much rather stay in their panic room than out in the run w/ the big girls. We added on an extension to the run over the weekend & the babies are on that side now, w/ no escape hatch. They can see one another, but not interact. This is taking way longer than I expected it to. I guess I'll just have to wait a bit longer till the babies are a bit bigger. They are half the size of the big girls, if even that. I still bring the babies back into the house at night, it is too cold for them to be out anyways.
  10. RaeRae2

    RaeRae2 Songster

    Nov 28, 2011
    I have two adult, well established hens, and my new chicks are 6 weeks old. When they were 4 weeks old, I introduced all 26 pullets to the 2 old hens. First I cut down a bunch of big tree branches and put in the pen. The chicks could dash under and through the branches but the big hens could not get through the "forrest" of branches and leaves. It worked AWESOME! It took the big hens about 30 minutes to figure out that if they try to chase a chick, the chick runs into the cover, and the hen gets poked with a protruduing stick coming off a tree branch. It was sort of a self training system. Go after chick = get poked with a tree branch.

    Every morning I would let the two big hens out of the pen to free range, so they were away from the chicks, but in the evening they would go back in the pen. After a few days of this, I could safely leave the hens and chicks together 24/7 in the pen and have no trouble. It's been about 2 weeks and they now all eat together, roost together, drink together, they have no problems.

    My old hen is going on 7 years old so she had VERY little inclination to buck the system. The other hen is about 1 year old and quite a bit more energetic and feisty, but the tree branches poking her in the breast meat when she tried to dive in after a chick put the kaibosh on her in a hurry!

    And the chicks absolutely LOVE having all those sticks and shrubbery to climb around, through, and under. They are in chicken heaven!

    I used white pine and apple. I think cedar is poision so you'd have to be careful about that.

    I wanted to try this tree branch/shrubbery approach because I was afraid if the chicks had a place to retreat and hide to, they would just hide and retreat and avoid the big hens completely. With having all the shrubbery, they felt safe to venture over right next to the big hens, knowing the big ones couldn't grab them. They would come flying out of the leaves and cruise around a lap and then crash land back in the branches, and do it all over again 3 minutes later. It seemed to give them a lot of confidence and security. The big hens seemed a little confused by all these chicks rustling through the brush. It really worked out great and I would definitely use this system again if I needed to.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012

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