Integrating three new chickens

Builderbee

In the Brooder
Jul 27, 2020
31
25
33
Midcoast Maine
I have 5 chickens and 1 rooster in my original flock and got three more chickens to fill my coop to help keep everyone one warm this winter. I live in Maine and have a feeling it’s going to be a cold one this year. My quarantine period is over and I have divided my run and have all the chickens in the run during the day. They can see each other and spend the day together. How long should I continue to do this before I put them together? I was thinking two weeks but it’s startIng to get below freezing at night and I am worried that the three girls sleeping in my large, wuninsulated, garden shed will get too cold. Plus my shed is not ventilated very well and can get damp (I really need to fix that). They are in a large dog kennel with a roost and I cover them with blankets at night. All of my birds were born in July so they are all roughly the same age and size. Any advice is appreciated.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
24,492
186,506
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NY Southern Tier
My Coop
I have 5 chickens and 1 rooster in my original flock and got three more chickens to fill my coop to help keep everyone one warm this winter. I live in Maine and have a feeling it’s going to be a cold one this year. My quarantine period is over and I have divided my run and have all the chickens in the run during the day. They can see each other and spend the day together. How long should I continue to do this before I put them together? I was thinking two weeks but it’s startIng to get below freezing at night and I am worried that the three girls sleeping in my large, wuninsulated, garden shed will get too cold. Plus my shed is not ventilated very well and can get damp (I really need to fix that). They are in a large dog kennel with a roost and I cover them with blankets at night. All of my birds were born in July so they are all roughly the same age and size. Any advice is appreciated.
Chickens don't keep each other warm during winter. DRY coops with very good ventilation do. Overcrowding the coop with too many chickens will work against keeping it dry if your ventilation isn't up to par to handle the number of birds it houses and your moisture removal inadequate.
How large is the coop in sq feet and how large is the run? What is in the run for the chickens to occupy their time? Are they ever allowed out of the run?
I allowed my new pullets to interact with the original pullets and cockerel for about a week through the fence. I then let the original flock out to free range so that the new girls could spend the day exploring the pen, run and coop.
The next day I let the new girls out into the pen for 2 hours before releasing the original flock into the pen. I did this for 6 days before the new girls integrated themselves in with the original flock and were accepted.
But what I have that most do not is A LOT of space. They all share 1/3 acre and a large predator proof run that is basically an extension of the coop where the pop door is never closed. I've never had a bird injure another bird in my setup. The lower ranking birds have plenty of room to run away and tons of places to get out of the line of sight. That is key.
 

sloanbychoice

Songster
Dec 29, 2019
490
1,014
176
Wichita, Kansas
Do they show any interest in each other while they’re next to each other?
Typically, I would try putting one of the original girls in with the newbies to see how it goes first. That way you can stand by for any issues.

@aart do you have your info handy that you use?
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
24,492
186,506
1,592
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
Do they show any interest in each other while they’re next to each other?
Typically, I would try putting one of the original girls in with the newbies to see how it goes first. That way you can stand by for any issues.

@aart do you have your info handy that you use?
Adding one of the originals in with a new single bird is always recommended.
In this case, the three new girls are a sub flock so it really isn't necessary.
The cockerel may very well be key in helping with a smooth transition.
Mine was. The WLH is one of the new girls and this was her first night up on the roost with the original flock. Right next to the cockerel.
1603969929622.png
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
87,695
105,704
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SW Michigan
My Coop
Chickens don't keep each other warm during winter. DRY coops with very good ventilation do. Overcrowding the coop with too many chickens will work against keeping it dry if your ventilation isn't up to par to handle the number of birds it houses and your moisture removal inadequate.
How large is the coop in sq feet and how large is the run? What is in the run for the chickens to occupy their time? Are they ever allowed out of the run?
Ditto Dat!!
Dimensions and pics are needed.
Very concerned about ventilation here, pics inside and out of coop will help us help you.

@aart do you have your info handy that you use?
sure.
Integration Basics:
It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your 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.

In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

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 copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, 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'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

sloanbychoice

Songster
Dec 29, 2019
490
1,014
176
Wichita, Kansas
@DobieLover
I haven’t integrated multiple adults together before. This year was the first time doing anything other than chicks. I got three young ones, about three months old or so. I was surprised how well they did, but it took some time. No rooster here any more, so ya, that probably would have helped.
 

Builderbee

In the Brooder
Jul 27, 2020
31
25
33
Midcoast Maine
My coop is large enough for 10 full size birds and my run is 135 sf. My coop has a full ridge vent on it so I don’t think that Ventilation will be a problem ( my shed is not ventilated well but is 16x20 where the new girls are sleeping).I do have multiple hiding spots that I have made from pallets and multiple roosts With a couple more that I am working on. I do rearrange these items regularly too. I also plan on multiple feeders and waterers was well. I have also been giving them scratch and meal worms in the run as well as hanging veggies and fruits on the dividing fence on each side. They seem to be doing okay with each other so far and I am planning to put the new girls in the coop at night so they can wake up together when I do the integration. I have not started free ranging as they are still learning to go into the coop at night(they got used to being taken to the garage at night until the coop was ready). I would also appreciate any information on how to start letting them free range. I hope to do some free ranging before winter kicks in with snow, but I am worried they will leave my fenced in yard or won’t come back to the coop and run at night.
 

Builderbee

In the Brooder
Jul 27, 2020
31
25
33
Midcoast Maine
Chickens don't keep each other warm during winter. DRY coops with very good ventilation do. Overcrowding the coop with too many chickens will work against keeping it dry if your ventilation isn't up to par to handle the number of birds it houses and your moisture removal inadequate.
How large is the coop in sq feet and how large is the run? What is in the run for the chickens to occupy their time? Are they ever allowed out of the run?
I allowed my new pullets to interact with the original pullets and cockerel for about a week through the fence. I then let the original flock out to free range so that the new girls could spend the day exploring the pen, run and coop.
The next day I let the new girls out into the pen for 2 hours before releasing the original flock into the pen. I did this for 6 days before the new girls integrated themselves in with the original flock and were accepted.
But what I have that most do not is A LOT of space. They all share 1/3 acre and a large predator proof run that is basically an extension of the coop where the pop door is never closed. I've never had a bird injure another bird in my setup. The lower ranking birds have plenty of room to run away and tons of places to get out of the line of sight. That is key.
I do have 1.25 acres with about 1/2 acre fenced for a yard. I plan to free range at least part time (I have dogs and cats so I have to balance that) once everyone is integrated and used to going into the coop at night. While they wont keep each other warm I thought that with a properly sized coop (mine is sized for 10) with a full ridge vent that the combined body heat would help with keeping the coop warmer than the outside which would help them stay warmer.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
87,695
105,704
1,737
SW Michigan
My Coop
Plus my shed is not ventilated very well and can get damp (I really need to fix that).
This is what perked the concern.

My coop is large enough for 10 full size birds and my run is 135 sf. My coop has a full ridge vent on it so I don’t think that Ventilation will be a problem ( my shed is not ventilated well but is 16x20 where the new girls are sleeping)
How big is that in feet by feet?
Just a ridge vent may not be enough, especially when it becomes covered with snow.
Am confused about the 16x20 part......is the coop in the shed or....?
Pics would help.
 

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