Integrating two flocks? Advice please. :)


May 16, 2015
Brighton, United Kingdom
We have two flocks that we would like to integrate.

The first flock consists of five hens as follows:

A two year old ex egg farm Lohman Brown, Daphne (We did have two but lost Velma this morning :( )

A ten month old Amber Hybrid, Bess.

A twenty week old RIR, Lucky.

A nineteen week old RIR, Nugget.

A nineteen week old RIR, Pip.

We integrated Lucky, Nugget and Pip at around fifteen weeks, all three at once making sure that they had plenty of perch space and they were fully accepted within just over a week.

The second flock consists of a Rooster and four hens as follows:

Two seventeen week old RIR/Light Sussex hens, Belle and Etta.

Two sixteen week old Rhode Rock hens, Sooty and Coco.

A sixteen week old Barred Rock Rooster, Pingu.

We'd like to put the two flocks together but are not sure whether to just put the second flock in with the first and see what happens or whether we need to approach it in a different way. All birds are of a similar size. Does anyone have any advice?
If these two flocks have never laid eyes on each other, then if you throw them together they will probably fight. Chickens are very wary of strange chickens.

The best strategy would be to house them together but with partitions so they can see each other but not physically interact. Then, after a week or so, a very clever way to integrate would be to take the most easy-going members of each flock and put them in with the opposite group. Then a day or so later, merge the remainder of the two flocks.

Any time you need to mess with the chicken social order it's best to be aware of certain rules. The most important rule is to institute change gradually over a period of time. The second most important rule is to institute change gradually over a period of time.

If you happen to have a particularly aggressive individual who insists on creating conflict during this merger, you might consider removing that individual from the flock until the merger is complete, then reintroduce the trouble maker who will then be forced to find a new place in the new pecking order.
You may wish to search the threads on integrating flocks for additional info.

Describe, or post pics of, your coops/runs.
Biggest question would be do you have adequate space to house them all in the same coop?
More space makes for easier integration.
Do you use runs or free range?
How long have you had the second flock and where are they housed in relation to the first flock?

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

Integration of new chickens into flock.

Consider medical quarantine:
BYC Medical Quarantine Article
Poultry Biosecurity
BYC 'medical quarantine' search

It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
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. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

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.

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

Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

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.

Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
This is good place to start reading:
The first five birds have an 8 feet x 6 feet coop with a similar sized outside enclosure. (I can't fully free range them as we have several foxes prowling the area)

The second five are in a temporary coop/enclosure the coop being 5 feet by 3 feet the enclosure being 5 feet by seven feet.

The two coops are within two feet of each other so they hear each other and catch glimpses of each other.

My plan was to integrate them, remove the temporary coop and extend the outside space by adding a 12 feet x 6 feet extension.
We had three 18 month old chickens, a Brown Speckledy (Dixie), a Blackrock (Zoe), and a Brown Warren (Rita) who sadly died a week ago so we went to the same breeder / farm to get another 2 thus bringing us back to 4 which we prefer but also we thought introducing 2 to a flock of 2 would be less such luck !
The 2 we chose are beautiful girls, a Light Sussex (Honey) and a stunning Grey Speckledy (Connie), and yes, we watch 'Casualty' lol.
Strangely Honey immediately settled in, struts around, pecks back if ever bothered but she's calm and so confident.....Connie however is bullied / pecked mercilessly by Zoe who is the smallest of them all and was so placid previously !
We've been separating them into pairs - 2 in the coop which is within the run, and has a bedroom plus 5ft x 3ft 'run' and the other 2 with the rest of the run, they can obviously see each other, have food and drink and then after 2-3hrs we swap them over. The only pairing we haven't tried is Connie and her bully Zoe. As soon as we put all 4 back together in the run just before bed Zoe goes for Connie immediately !
After reading all the 'posts' here, I'm going to be putting the 3 together in the run and Zoe locked in the coop alone tomorrow to see if she learns a bit of humility that way ??
Anyone any similar experiences or other ideas please ??

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