Integrating new Pullets issues

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ostroh, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    5 weeks ago, we got 2 new pullets that were MAYBE 3 months old. We currently have 2, 7 month old pullets. Right off the bat, our older two were bullies. So, we kept them seperate in the run. Each night we would put them all in the coop and hope in the morning all would be fine. 5 weeks later, we still have to go out, and put in the seperation, otherwise the younger ones are SUPER stressed out, running all over the place, knocking over all the food and waters. While the big ones will follow them, and peck from time to time. I have tried leaving them for an hour, but the youngers were SO exhausted they fell asleep on my lap when I opened the door to the run. They all free range together, and while they are MUCH Better than a month ago, the bigger ones still will chase them off a good free ranging spot. The little ones are slowly catching up in size, but at 5 weeks... HOW MUCH LONGER COULD THIS TAKE??? Has this taken this long for anyone else???
     
  2. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't integrate chicks until the younger ones are the same size as the older ones for this very reason. Might want to wait until they catch up in size.
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    What you're seeing is the older ones establishing a pecking order. They are showing the younger ones who's in charge. As long as the older ones are not drawing blood, you might want to leave them together to work it out. "Pecking from time to time" is normal. Make sure the younger ones have plenty of hiding places, even if that means just a pallet leaning up against the fence to break the line of vision from the older ones. Every time you separate them, they have to start the process all over again. Make sure you have more than one feeding and watering station - that should help, too. There will be stress for a few days (possibly weeks) until they get it worked out.
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Yes, it takes a long time.
    I integrated 3 different age groups of chicks this spring/summer. Then integrated all the youngers with the olders later in the summer.

    It's best for them to stay separate until they are of the same size, even then there will be some chaos until they figure out the hierarchy.

    Lots of space, places to hide and multiple feed/water stations are key...and you'll still have to watch the pecking order be established. They can appear to be vicious, but it's just how chickens roll. If you watch closely, the pecked/chased off chicken will go back to it's normal behavior pretty quickly. Like said above as long as they are not being terribly bloodied or pinned down and abused, just let them work it out.



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

    Integration of new chickens to 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. 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.

    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
     
  5. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    The are getting close in size, but still, they are so frantic, it entices the older ones to chase and peck them. All is fine when free ranging.. but in the run, it's chaos. If I sit and watch the pecking, it's too sad! Would they really just STOP pecking all of a sudden, and hang out like each pair does together? It's exhausting.
     
  6. XxMingirlxX

    XxMingirlxX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unless they are drawing blood don't separate, I know it's hard - I have introduced birds before but every time you separate they have to start establishing the pecking order all over again, monitor them and give them a few days to settle. There will still be occasional pecking but in most flocks that is natural. It is very rare to find a flock with no pecking order but it does happen because some breeds/personalities just don't fight.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    How many chickens do you have, and how much space do you have in your coop? It's possible that they're crowded in there. Is it just a coop, or a coop with attached run? It is hard to watch, but that's how they work things out. Might be best to just walk away and not watch it if it's that distressing to you...
     
  8. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    We had two 6 month old pullets, added 2 more about 3 months old. This has been going on 5 weeks now. Coop is 3 ft by 4 ft by 4.5 ft tall with external nest boxes. Attached run is 4 ft by 12 ft long and 8 ft tall.....they see eachother all day through wire seperator. They free range whenever we are home. The worst is morning and evening. Two feeders, two waters and 4 roosts throughout....so are you saying they will get the pecking out of their system? The two originals are never peck, and the new pullets never peck at eachother either. The big ones only peck and chase the new ones.
     
  9. ostroh

    ostroh Out Of The Brooder

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    Update on my integration that has been going on now for 2 months! Baby steps, they can free range together without being pecked, but, the littles are SO skittish that even when the older ones come over, they RUN away like crazy. In the coop at night, they are fine with no issues on who goes on which roosts. The issue now is in the run. We kept them seperated to see eachother for 6 weeks. But most people stated they were having to re establish the pecking order each time we let them together. so we took out the seperation. Now, they can all be in the run together for about 3 minutes, before the older ones (7.5 months, 2 of them) notice, and go to where the little ones (4 months, 2 of them) are. They dont peck at them, but go to wherever they are. so the littles are SO STRESSED they run around like crazy, getting the big ones to chase them, then just go in the coop. they now stay in the coop all day until we are home to let them out to free range. then the big ones go free range, and the littles eat and drink.... WILL THEY EVER BE BESTIES???? this is crazy? the little two are inseperable and super skittish. the two big ones are inseperable and SO friendly to humans (and dogs).
     
  10. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    You could try 'caging the bullies' - put them in a small cage (cat carrier cage perhaps) within the run so that the little ones have the run of the run and the older ones can't chase them and stress them out. I'd leave the older ones in the small cage until the younger ones start to calm down and are less stressed around the older hens. Or lock the older hens out of the run during the day so that the younger ones can start to relax inside the run (and get good access to food). Those are only suggestions I've read. I can't speak from experience. Hand feeding everyone together may work too - one hand for the older two and one for the younger two. There's nothing like food (especially treats) to distract them from picking on each other (and make them love you). Mine will do anything for de-shelled sunflower seeds and one of our bantam Wyandottes is such a piglet when it comes to sunflower seeds it always makes me laugh. Good luck!
     

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