Intergrating new hens - 12 weeks old

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by eggmandoo, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. eggmandoo

    eggmandoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, I have 5 chickens at 12 weeks old. 3 have turned out to be cockerels and are going to be moved on. I am looking to replace them with the same breeds and age. Does anyone have any advice on how to intergrate the new ones. The current 5 do everythign together.

    ta
     
  2. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome!

    People tend to keep new birds in quarantine for a while, to be sure they're not introducing any illnesses, parasites, etc. to your current flock. Setting them up so they can see each other but not touch will help both flocks get used to having others around.

    I've had the best results integrating new birds into an established flock when I free - range everyone together under my supervision. There will be some minor scuffles and that's to be expected. As long as no one is ganging up on someone and there's no bloodshed, there's no need to interfere. They must work out their pecking order. If it's not possible to free range, continue with the "see-but-no-touch" when their runs are set up side by side and give them time together (to go in either run). Adding plenty of hiding places with at least two exits (so they're not trapped) and different levels to climb on will help give those who are lower in the pecking order ways to escape.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  4. eggmandoo

    eggmandoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks very much. I'm gonna have to adapt my run but I'll certainly free range them. The run/pen is 5m x 2.5m but I have a large garden they can mix in
     
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  5. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're welcome! Chickens don't like change and you have a tough age and time of year to be integrating. Pullets are going through all their hormonal changes and trying to establish the pecking order is difficult enough but with every change/removal and addition it emphasizes that need to establish themselves. Luckily for you/your flock, UK winters are considerably more mild than the northern parts here across the pond and your flock wouldn't be so inclined to spent the vast majority of it in the coop, which would make a late autumn/early winter integration even more stressful and having access to your whole garden will help keep that stress to a minimum. Best of luck to you and please keep us posted on how it progresses.


    Edited to add: the article @aart posted is an excellent read and has a lot of helpful information.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    What they said. Free range, multiple feeding stations, visual separation to start, and tincture of time. IMO integration happens best before the birds reach sexual maturity. While I agree in theory that quarantine is a good practice, few folks are set up or even able to commit to keeping enough space between their new and old birds to make it even remotely successful. Air born pathogens can travel hundreds of feet. If you've allowed your birds to free range ever at all, any thing they could spread has been dispersed throughout your property. Your clothing and foot wear are an other issue. Add the possibility of internal and external parasites being shed, and you have a good picture of the reason why many folks keep a closed flock. That being said, I'm the ultimate hypocrite, because I keep a closed flock but have sold quite a few of my birds to local folks!!!
     
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  7. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I too have had the smoothest integrations into an established flock when introducing new birds before sexual maturity. Mature hens are much more willing to accept young chicks (beginning see-no-touch at 2-4 weeks depending on weather) than they are with pullets who have or are just about to begin laying. The younger chicks fall into the bottom of the pecking order rather smoothly with just they typical motherly "don't do that" peck here and there or that cold, hard glare chickens are so good at but hens are far more determined to maintain their position and may fight when older pullets are introduced which is exactly what I've just begun with four new pullets who have or are just about to begin laying.

    Another hypocrite here as I do quarantine but have also had multiple quarantined escapees who have ended up all over the yard because they've been too scared to stay where they're supposed to and I added a lone cockerel over the summer who I was afraid would severely injure himself when I put him in the isolation pen and made the decision to introduce him to my flock right away to prevent any injuries. Some of us know what we "should" do but that doesn't always work for everyone so we do what works best for us.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Well, and it's a calculated risk/choice for the informed.
    Most people won't, or can't, but they should be aware anyway.
    Why I always paste the Bio Q links.
     
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