integration just not happening

ginger c.

8 Years
Apr 20, 2011
so, here's the poop, we have 4 standard girls that are 20 wks and 2 silkies that are 16 wks. the big girls really seem to hate the little peepers. we're so afraid they're going to kill them. we haven't tried to put them in the coop together because of their behavior when they're all outside together. we know people add new chickens to their flocks all the time, and that they will get pecked but how do we keep it from getting out of hand? thanks y'all!
You should try to put the chicks in a cage and set it in the coop for a few days, then let them out. If you dont have a cage big enough put just a few in at a time.
Just a coop for sleeping or a run with some space to hang out?

We had a similar issue and we made a partition in our run so that the younger ones could get away from the bigger ones. The older ones can get through the partition too, but it's like a diversion tactic. When the little girls get picked on they move to the other side of the partition and the older girls seem to forget that they really wanted to pick on them and they just do something else.
We have a coop and run. Coop is 4x8 and the run is 8x12. Since it's nice at night, we've been letting the 2 small silkies sleep in their brooder box in the run at night. We'll have to figure out how to partition it. You think 8x12 is big enough to make the big girls forget before they get past the partition? lol.
Our run is 5 X 12', the partitioned off section is under our coop (upper left in the pic below), it's 5 X 3'. The partition is basically a piece of hardware cloth nearly 5' wide, but not quite, with pieces of wood across the bottom and top to hold it straight. It hangs down from below the coop with hooks. Here's a picture (I know I'm not explaining it well).


I don't know why the partition keeps them happy, but it does. I have taken it out twice thinking that they were getting along well enough only to find that the big girls would intimidate the little ones so much that they wouldn't come out of the coop to eat or drink.

I was worried about them sleeping together in the coop with free access to each other, but found that the older pullets seemed to ignore the younger ones as soon as it was time for bed. The younger ones started out sleeping on the floor of the coop, then after a while got the nerve to move up to a separate roost. Tonight when I checked in on them they were actually mixing on the two roosts. Is there some kind of magic that turns off their pecking order instincts at night???

I don't know if I've helped, but good luck!
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We'll have to try that. We live in Alabma, where the temps often reach 217 during the day. Okay... that's the heat index. It's really only 189.

The coop is raised and the big girls go up under it for the shade. It looks like yours allows them to pass back and forth. Is that correct?

side note: We put all of them in the run together this morning. At first all was fine. The big girls ignored the little peepers. Then five minutes later, the four fat bullies had the two silkies cornered and were pecking the heck out of the backs of the necks. Poor little things were ducking and pressing against the screening.

I felt so bad for the little babies.
We live in Alabma, where the temps often reach 217 during the day. Okay... that's the heat index. It's really only 189.

That's funny.
I won't tell you about San Diego weather...

Yes, the girls can go back and forth through the sides of the partition. The big girls have to navigate the space more than the little ones (our age difference is 7 weeks), which may help them in getting away.

Poor little silkies. I hope that you'll find a peaceful solution soon.​
We use the partition method also and it has always worked but sometimes it really takes a while (weeks). I wouldn't leave them alone together until you're sure. Sorry about the weather from hell you all are getting.
I don't know if this will help you or not ...

the way I've integrated in the past was to partition off a part of the coop and let them see each other but not touch. I could tell the big girls were ornery - they would pace in front of the partition. After a week, I started to let them have some supervised time together. That was gradually increased and then they had small blocks of unsupervised time. It took a long time (about 6 weeks) - but it did work. It was a pain in the butt, though.

This most recent time I integrated - I actually built a temporary run in my garage. It was 10Lx8Wx8H. It served as the brooding area and grow out area. (made from 1x2 boards with deer net for the fencing - it was in my garage so didn't need to be predator proof - just escape proof) Once they were about 12 weeks (they had feathered out and were no longer making baby peep sounds) - I took the big girls - one at at time - and put them in the 10x10 run with the little ones - one every other day - until they were all in the 10x10 in my garage (the baby house). The new surroundings seemed to throw them off and it worked very well. That took about 1.5 weeks - then I moved them all out to the big coop - and during the day - put the temporary 10x8 off the door of the regular run so they had more room and an escape area if need be. At night, they all got closed up in the same coop. After 3-4 days - I stopped pushing the temporary run up against the permanent run. When I was home - I'd let the big girls out to free range, and the youngsters had to stay in. Now, they all free range when I'm home. I still have two feeders though - as the big girls still don't want to give up control of that. But all is good - and there were no major issues. I integrated 5 silkies and 5 LF into my group of 6LF. The numbers probably worked in my favor as well, though.

The only problem I had was one silkie did take a bad peck(or two) to the head during the normal pecking order sorting - and she ended up with some neurological damage - I separated her for a while and tried various things, but she didn't improve. I'm not a silkie expert, but from what I've read - it's not uncommon for that to happen.

I think the best advise I'm going to offer, though, is patience and lots of supervision in the beginning since there is a problem with more serious aggression. Maybe remove the big girls from their surrounding for a week if possible - and put the silkies there - that may unsettle the big girls just enough to help reduce the aggression ... ??

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