Integrating younger poulets

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MCArt20, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. MCArt20

    MCArt20 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 22, 2016
    I am in process of integrating two poulets into my older flock of two hens, one bared rock (she rules) and a Rhode Island Red. The poulets are an Easter eager @17 weeks, the other RIR @15 weeks. I have them living in their own space in the coop (about half) but wire seperating them from the older hens. So far I have been putting the older hens out in the yard Andy letting the younger ones run around in their yard, then put them back. So they have been able to see each other, but not reach them. I did that for about a month. Now it's integration time. So day one all together in their yard for @5 minutes, ok, but older hens charged at them so I stepped in front. Let the outlets hide behind the coop. Next day 10 minutes, today 15. Today there was a few minutes of everyone doing their own thing, then the big girls slowly inch their way towards the poulets, then charge and pull out tail feathers. Poulets just ran back into their pen and I didn't want the big hens to follow in as they would be cornered. So, my question is how do I know if they are trying to eliminate their competition for resources, or establish pecking order? How much do I let the big girls get at the poulets? I'd rather not wait until blood is drawn, or witness carnage. Any insight? Thanks,
    Mary
     
  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    Don't intervene unless blood is shed. That's just the pecking order being worked out and you're delaying it and making integration take longer by stepping in. IME "integration" takes about 1-2 days. I am in the process of doing it now with my 5 week old chicks. Yes, I start young. The birds learn young who is who and what their boundaries are and I find it works out best for everyone. There will be a few "bugger off, kid" pecks on the head to start and then everyone will go on their merry way.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Since the birds you are integrating are older expect it to take quite a bit longer than when integrating chicks.

    You older birds are seen as intruders into the territory. You will basically have to wait for the older birds to forget they once weren't there or until they accept them as part of the flock.

    Continue to let them out under supervision, than locking them back up if it gets rough. I did do the just put them all together once and a hen lost an eye, and my birds are never confined. So I personally wouldn't rush it. Go will your gut, eventually the older ones will tolerate the younger ones.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    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'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    .
     
  5. MCArt20

    MCArt20 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 22, 2016
    The integration process......Ok, so I have let them "at it" all afternoon, the younger ones hiding a lot, big girls chasing and yanking out feathers when ever possible.... I left out 5 feeding stAtions and two water stations, about to add a third.. when ever the poulets get near any food the big girls attack... so should I just let it go and walk away, checking periodically? I think I have good space- @50' x 14-15' at widest- kind of a wedge shape- 3 benches and a few shrubs to hide in or under, their favorite being behind the coop....when I first integrated the two I started with- they battled back and fourth - on and off for weeks. Not sure what to expect- just let it be?
     
  6. MCArt20

    MCArt20 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for all the info- technically I have integrating them for about a month- they have been living in the basement of the coop, without the ability to touch, and then I would put big girls away and let youngsters out. They have had some interactions, and now trying to extend that to a full day, and night, so they can be together all the time by Monday. I wonder if the fact that I only started with two chickens and only adding two poulets- is an issue itself- has anyone had success adding poulets to their flock? Thanks!!!
     
  7. KyloRenChicken7

    KyloRenChicken7 Just Hatched

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    We began this process a couple years ago with pullets but since we did not have the time to handle it we had to give away the older hen we had [​IMG] BUT from the few days we had to introduce them, the relations between old and young chickens did seem to be improving... Saw this post and figured I'd try to help but there may be better solutions out there! It takes time and some work..
    We had a similar situation where our older hen was harassing the younger pullets without giving them a break.

    We ended up separating our coop into two sections, one side for the new pullets and one side for the older hen, with chicken wire in between. We did the same for the roost since the hen would harass the youngsters as they tried to sleep. In bigger coops, though (and yours definitely sounds bigger than ours!), I have heard of people putting smaller store-bought coops into the runs where the chicks stay for a while. That way the chicks and hens can see each other and get used to each others' presence, and the chicks have their own roost to go to at night. We couldn't do that but we improvised and did something similar, and it did seem to be working.

    The hen was vocal about it at first, probably because she was alone on her side, but was happier next to the chicken wire dividing her from the pullets. The pullets also felt better getting used to the older hen without being pecked constantly. Wish we'd had more time to get them acquainted :( but it seemed to have progress with our girls. Again it's a lot of work and if you find an easier solution I'd go with it, but this seemed to work for us!

    Good luck!!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That first month you describe is just the beginning of integration.

    Now they have to learn to get along while in the same physical space at the same time.
    Could take a few days, more likely longer than that.

    The younger girls won't truly take a place in the pecking order until they start to lay.
    They'll remain a separate sub-flock until then and maybe even after.
     
  9. MCArt20

    MCArt20 Out Of The Brooder

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    Will they not integrate at all then, until they lay? Should I not try until then? I was going to try to put them to roost together and then let them out quite early, perhaps I shouldn't? Thanks
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    You need feed stations in hide out. If you place a piece of plywood standing up like a wall, or a pallet, have it kitty corner to the corner, but not tight against the either wall, put a food station and water behind it. It needs to be set up, so that if a bird is eating at one station, they cannot see the birds eating at the hide out. Out of sight, out of mind really applies to chickens.

    You can also try breaking up the pair a bit. Get one of the older girls and put her in a time out, so that only one older bird is dealing with the younger birds. Wait several days, until the 3 have settled it somewhat, then add back in the 4th. It might really help, or it might not make much difference.

    Make sure your run, has different levels, different roosts, and hide outs in the run. Those can really help.

    MRs K
     

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