Integrating pullets with existing flock - how long do the little ones get picked on?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JoshFig, May 13, 2016.

  1. JoshFig

    JoshFig Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Background:
    I put our spring chicks with our existing flock this past Tuesday. 10 8/9 week old chickens (8 pullets and 2 cockerels). The existing flock consist of 8 hens (one of which is currently broody w/ eggs). The existing flock lost their rooster about 2 weeks ago to a predator.

    Issue:
    They have been together 3 days and the new pullets/cockerels are still getting picked on by the older girls. There are 3 or 4 of the older hens that are especially rough - the others don't seem to mind the chicks. The older girls won't let them get to the food or water - the little ones end up hanging out under the house all day and only come out to eat when we free range the older ones. The new chicks are roosting with the older girls inside the house and have been since day one - so thats a good sign.

    Question:
    How long does it take for them to hammer out pecking order and accept the new chicks into the flock --> that is, to the point where the new chicks can come out in the run without getting pecked and can get to one of the feeders/waterers?
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    It can take from weeks to months for the pecking order to be resolved upon integration of new birds. It is generally a good idea to provide multiple feeding stations so that the new birds manage to eat and drink.
     
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Also ensure that there is ample room for all your birds. Bare minimum for most established flocks is 10 sq ft per bird. When integrating a younger flock with an older one, you need much more room for a smooth transition. It could be many months before everyone is mingling harmoniously.
     
  4. JoshFig

    JoshFig Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our house / run combined is about 360 sqft - so that should be plenty for 18 birds. We have 2 feeders/waterers as well. We free range the big girls for a few hours each day - so the little ones are getting plenty to eat/drink.

    I'm not too worried about the little ones - just wondered how long this usually takes. Sounds like a lot longer than I expected.

    Funny thing is watching the big girls pick on the cockerels. Boy - they are going to get that back in a few months. Hopefully the cockerels don't have a long memory :).

    Thanks for the great replies!
     
  5. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Those big girls beating up the cockerels is actually a good thing. They are thumping manners into those boys at an early age. This will help them grow up to be respectful, gentlemanly-like roosters. Those big girls will help keep those teenage boys under control. My 9 month old cockerel is still pretty wary of my Barred Rock hens.
     
  6. JoshFig

    JoshFig Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thats pretty funny - good to know those boys are learning manners. We will only keep one of the roosters, but hopefully he will be a gentleman once the girls are done with him. The cockerel getting picked on the most was definitely the most aggressive young chicken we had. He ruled the roost with the pullets before they got integrated.
     
  7. Weehopper

    Weehopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When I replaced my rooster with a 5 month old "started" cockerel, my hens, I guess, were missing their old rooster so much, that they dug their way into his quarantine pen. Went out one morning and there was a hen in with him. Well, I thought, at least I know the pen is vulnerable to predators. Had to fix that. He is a Black Copper Marans from Purely Poultry, and the hens love him.
     

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