Integrating two flocks

Hogwarts322

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2021
16
18
31
Hello. I have 4 six month old hens, and have been asked to take in a friend’s flock of 5. A mix of australorps, barred rock, and buff Orpingtons. Before I commit to this, I was looking for tips or words of caution for safely integrating the two flocks. Our hens are mostly in the run/coop, but do get to free range for 1-2 hours each day.
Our total area is 68 square feet
Run Area: 6 ft. x 8 ft. (48 square feet)
Coop Area: 5 ft. x 4 ft. (20 s.f.)
10 linear feet of roosting bars, and two nesting boxes. Thanks in advance.
 

Hogwarts322

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2021
16
18
31
Hello. I have 4 six month old hens, and have been asked to take in a friend’s flock of 5. A mix of australorps, barred rock, and buff Orpingtons. Before I commit to this, I was looking for tips or words of caution for safely integrating the two flocks. Our hens are mostly in the run/coop, but do get to free range for 1-2 hours each day.
Our total area is 68 square feet
Run Area: 6 ft. x 8 ft. (48 square feet)
Coop Area: 5 ft. x 4 ft. (20 s.f.)
10 linear feet of roosting bars, and two nesting boxes. Thanks in advance.
The new hens will all be 6 months- 2 years old.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
11,879
31,039
1,116
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
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Here are some useful articles on integration:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/introducing-new-chickens-using-the-“see-but-don’t-touch”-method.67839/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/adding-to-your-flock.47756/

However, I must say up front that you absolutely DO NOT have room for 9 birds in that setup. Additionally, integration takes extra space.

For each adult, standard-sized hen you need:
  • 4 square feet in the coop (.37 square meters)
  • 10 square feet in the run (.93 square meters),
  • 1 linear foot of roost (.3 meters),
  • 1/4 of a nest box,
  • And 1 square foot (.09) of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation, preferably located over the birds' heads when they're sitting on the roost.
For 9 birds you need:
  • 36 square feet in the coop (6x6)
  • 90 square feet in the run (9x10)
  • 9 linear feet of roost
  • 2-3 nest boxes
  • 9 square feet of ventilation.
So plan to approximately double your facilities -- or a little more since integration, as I said, requires extra space. :)
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,280
23,548
907
Southeast Louisiana
I would not do it. I don't know where you are located so I have no idea what your climate is. That could be important if snow or winter locks your chickens in the coop only for extended periods of time. With those numbers, even if you are in the tropics where weather is perfect every day, I would not do it.

Are you familiar with quarantine and why you might want to quarantine them? Not everyone quarantines, but if you have any worries about that you need to house them far enough apart so mosquitoes can't fly between them or the air can't blow dander from one flock to another for a good quarantine. If they have not had any contact with any other chickens for over a month they have essentially been in quarantine.

But the big problem is that you don't have room. Free ranging them a couple of hours a day is nice but it doesn't really help with room issues. When chickens have a conflict one way they handle it is that the weaker runs away and them stays away, avoids the others. If they can't run away and get away, and then avoid the others it can get really dangerous. When they need that room they need it then. Run space doesn't help if they are locked in the coop. Once they fully integrate the space requirements go down, but it takes extra room to integrate. If you have a difference in maturity levels you might need extra room. I don't know if those 6 month olds are mature enough for that to be a problem or not.

I don't believe in square feet per bird numbers, if you follow the link in my signature below you will see some of my thoughts on room and why I don't believe in square feet numbers. And, within limits, why I think more room is better. I find the more I crowd them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have to deal with things that pop up. I value flexibility more than the others, things do pop up and can be very stressful if I don't have room to work with.

I think your current set-up is good for the number of chickens you have. If they were already fully integrated you might be able to get by with one or two more depending on weather and the personality of the individual chickens but that would be stretching it. Adding five more, even if they were fully integrated, would almost certainly add tremendously to your stress level and probably lead to injured or dead chickens. I would not try it unless you increase your facility sizes dramatically.
 

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