Integrating pullets with hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TXChickMama, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. TXChickMama

    TXChickMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 29, 2015
    Hockley, TX
    I have 6 RIR hens who are one year old. I also have a Sexlink rooster of the same age. We have a 16x16' outdoor enclosure with a ramp/tunnel to the coop where the nest boxes and roosts are. We recently acquired 3 pullets (1 Ameraucana and 2 EE) that were about 14 weeks old, so we put them in a small mini-coop kit from Tractor Supply which we assembled inside the 16x16' outdoor area so all the chickens could see each other and get to know each other first. After a month, we opened the door on the mini-coop so they could come out as desired, but still had a place to retreat. The hens chased them back in all the time. Even after moving their food and water out, they still stayed in the mini-coop most of the time. After a week, I decided to close the mini-coop so they couldn't continue to hide in there. They ended up hiding in the small space between the mini-coop and the wall of the enclosure. We removed the mini-coop from the enclosure entirely, so then they would just run into the tunnel and stay in the big coop. They spend most of their day just roosting in the big coop. We run them out through the tunnel to the enclosure, but they'll only stay there for a few minutes and then go back to the big coop again. I am worried they are not getting enough to eat or drink. We both work, so we can't monitor them all day. If I close the tunnel during the day so they all have to be in the enclosure together, my hens won't have access to the nesting boxes. The pullets are now around 20 weeks and I am hoping to get eggs in the next month or so, but if they're not comfortable and getting full nutrition, I'm sure their egg laying will be affected. How can I get these birds to integrate? The hens are not "attacking" them or drawing blood. They just run toward them, sometimes flap their wings, and the pullets run away. They do roost together at night, but it's usually 6 vs. 3 lined up on the bar. Sigh... feeling discouraged...
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    That is all normal. I wouldn't force them together. You will need to set up multiple feeding stations. The young ones will need to stay away from the older ones for a while yet, and will always maintain a separate mini flock. Chickens are like high school students, 9th graders don't hang out with seniors.
     
  3. TXChickMama

    TXChickMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 29, 2015
    Hockley, TX
    OK. I do have food inside, but I feel like they're not eating it. Every time I go in there, they are just roosting. I guess I will just give it some time, but I feel concerned they just stay inside all day. :(

    Thank you. I love the comparison to high schoolers, by the way. LOL
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    16,609
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    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    They are pretty good about getting stuff to eat quickly. They always eventually come out, they just need to feel more comfortable in their new home.
     

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