integration not going well


In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 5, 2010
Carter Lake, Iowa
We've had our 2 barred rocks and 1 rir since around July. Last month we lost my daughter's leghorn when a coop door got accidentally left open by DH and the dog got her pinned down, giving her a heart attack.

So, we got and aracauna and 2 aracauna mixes. 2 of them (the aracauna and one of the mixes) are small birds. Our other birds are...not small. I have to go out and put one up in the coop at night because she can't get into the pop door from the run under the coop she's so big!

I expected pecking order to have to be worked out. I put the new birds in at night. The old birds are just plain vicious! The 3 new girls have been cowering in the corner of the nestbox. This morning I noticed the 2 smaller ones legs were really bloody. Thanks to these forums, I put non-pain relieving neosporin on them, isolated the birds, and headed to the feed store for some Blu-Kote (and taught the employees about its use for poultry!). Right now the aracaunas are in the coop, and the three older birds are in the shed in a doghouse since they can free range during the day.

My question is how to integrate these essentially two flocks into one? I had thought of leaving the older birds in the doghouse, and each week (starting next week) adding one into the coop with the aracaunas, from best to worst temperment. Would that work? Or am I missing something?

Hubby will kill me if I need to build another coop so close to winter! Help me keep the marriage peaceful...before I'm putting an air mattress in the coop and snuggling with some hens at bedtime!
I think your plan might work. You are shaking up the flock dynamics, and knocking the bullies down a bit. You could also put the older ones in at night, when they are calmer. Watch them closely though. Don't want any more drama or wounds.

Good luck

Smaller birds are always picked upon by larger birds. That's the nature of the pecking order. I would try the plan that you have formulated, adding a new hen every 3 or 4 days or when the fighting has subsided. Definately start with the least aggressive and work up to the head hen. I'd also reccomend that you start checking material prices for the new coop.
Sounds like you are on the right track with your idea. I'd re-introduce the older ladies very slowly to prevent them from quickly re-establishing their former places in the pecking order. Definitely leave the toughest gal until last. If you introduce one that seems to be getting too aggressive to the newbies, then pull her back out and try again a couple days later. Generally these things will work themselves out in time, but not if someone's getting hurt. That's when it's time to butt into their business and mix things up.

Good luck. I hope it works out for all involved. Last year I had an integration nightmare that never worked out until I re-homed a hen, so I can sympathize.
We have the same problem. Introducing young araucana with older birds. We installed a chicken fence divider in the coop so they are all together but they cannot peck the smaller because of the fence between them. After the araucana gets bigger, she should be able to be integrated with the rest and we will remove the fence divider.
Is there a way that you can divide your coop with chicken wire or something - so that they can see each other but not actually touch one another? That is how we designed both our coop and their run. We have 3 separate "rooms" of the run that are separated by a wall of chicken wire and each has a light door so they can either all be opened, or closed off into 3 spaces. The coop is divided in two, similarly built. This works for us.

When we bring in new chickens they go in one part of the run. In warm weather they roost in there too - it gets trickier in cold weather when we have to physically move them into the back part of the coop at night, then back in the run during the day. We keep this up until we don't see any obvious signs of aggression, and then we open the door and they get supervised "together" time with me watching them - there to separate them if they fight. We do this for anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks, like I said, it depends on the chickens personalities, but we've never had a complete "integration failure" (thank goodness!)

Of course, I know it is a luxury to be able to have the set up we do, we worked with a friend to build this over a few weeks time this past spring. Prior to that we had a similar but more crude set up - just a couple of fence stakes with chicken wire as a separation. And at another point we brought a chicken tractor into the run to serve as the physical barrier, but retain the ability to see and hear the others.

This is just my experience, but I think it's key that they see each other for a time to get used to the others presence without any ability to actually touch one another.

Best of Luck,
Quick update :

Last week we added our RIR back into the coop. She is fine and integrated back into the coop with no issues. She kind of keeps to herself, but isn't aggressive. Last night I added in the most docile of the 2 barred rocks
Today I went out to care for them and again, no issues so far. So next week will be the big, mean barred rock. If it doesn't go well I found a shop that will process your birds for you.
I really don't like this hen so won't be upset if we wind up with a roast chicken dinner next week.
Hope your reintegration continues to go well. We had 2- RIR's that never bloodied any of the girls, but they were so dominant and would gang up on some of the other chickens, mounting them. And even though they were part of our original flock, neither DH or I cared for them that much. Finally, DH got tired of it and we rehomed both of them to a friend who has a large flock and a couple of roosters. Figured that would keep them in line. They are doing well in their new home and our remaining girls, both old and young are much happier. Good luck.
I'm dealing with the same exact problem. Mean barred rocks and small new Americaunas. My flock was all hatched this spring so I didn't think they would gang up on new ones yet so I just put the new ones in right away. Not a good idea. After consulting BYC I doctored their wounds then I put them in my garden which is about three feet from the run. Everyone can see eachother. It is winter time in Alaska though so I had to come up with a warmer plan. So I blocked off one of my two large nesting boxes with a wire dog kennel divider and it was perfect. For two days I waited for them to bed down for the night and tucked them into "bed" then put them back in the garden when I let the other guys back into the run. ( we have so many sneaky predators up here that we have to lock them up tight every night, and let my dog guard them during the day.) On the third day we took out the barrier and snuck them in after everyone was asleep. Oh and I forgot to mention, I did send one of my barred rocks ( out of five) packing she just wasn't worth it. I think it is the breed though, very confident. The Americaunas are still on the bottom of the pecking order but at least they have been accepted. Good luck! PS roasted barred rock is delicious!

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