introducing a new chicken to the flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ambersaur, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. ambersaur

    ambersaur Out Of The Brooder

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    Thinking of introducing a new pullet (6 week old) to a flock of 5 week olds, the flock has only been together for a week I bought them all together, you think this will be OK? Any tips?
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  2. PirocaKeeper

    PirocaKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My advice is to separate the new one in a place visible by the others, but not accessible. It will give the current flock time to get use to the new one and it will cause less stress for the new one. Remember even after this, they will have to re-establish the pecking order, so there will be a bit of uneasiness for a day or so, but should pass. Good luck!
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    What I'm going to suggest that you do is unlike anything else you will hear, but this is precisely what I would do in your situation and I will explain why.

    You don't say how many are in the flock of five-week olds, but assuming there are at least eight of them, take four of these and place them in a roomy dog kennel or crate with the new six-week old. It should have enough room for the five of them to move around, but not too much room. You want things to be "cozy" and intimate. (If you have just six, select three for this endeavor.)

    There may be a peck on the head of the new chick by one of the others, but they should settle in pretty quickly. Make sure they have food and water and keep them in this crate for at least three days apart and out of sight of the rest of the flock.

    The rationale of this exercise is to develop a new "unit" of which the new chick is a member. Units of several chicks do much better in a flock than solitary units. This is because chicks develop their self confidence far better if they are members of a unit consisting of four or more individuals. It's a lot like cliques that kids form in junior high, but these chick units last all through their lives, and they will all hang together from now on.

    So, you are helping the new chick to become a member of a unit, with best friends that will give her the self confidence to deal with the rest of the flock when you put them all together again.

    On the fourth day, take the crate with the five pullets and place it in the middle of the run. Leave it there all day, and when it comes time to go inside the coop to sleep, wait for the others to settle in, then release the five in the crate directly into the coop. They should settle in quickly if you do it as it's just getting dark.

    Next morning, everyone will wake up together as one big happy flock. The four(or three) that have been away won't have been gone so long as to have forgotten the rest, and the rest of the flock will not have forgotten them, either. The new chick should happily blend in as if she has been there all along.

    I don't anticipate any problems whatsoever from that point on.
     
  4. ambersaur

    ambersaur Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow awesome advice thank you! There are five in the flock at the moment x
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Only five five-week olds? That's not enough to go to all the bother of dividing them up. You can create a new unit with the new chick by putting all six together in the crate. If you still have the five chicks in a brooder, so much the better. Just insert the new chick, wait for the alpha chick to greet the newcomer with a swift, but harmless peck on the head, and they should all start getting on as a new unit very quickly. After a day of confinement in close quarters, you can release them into their regular quarters.

    The beauty of doing this now is they're still chicks and they are still forming their unit cohesion. You actually are lucky you don't have more chicks than just the five. This should go very smoothly.

    But beware of adding more chickens in the future unless they are in units of four or more. Single chickens fare very poorly when introduced to an existing flock. Even two or three in a unit have a hard time. The more there are in a chicken unit, the more self confidence they have and they can stand up to an existing pecking order far better. This holds over for the rest of their lives. The cruelest, most unthinking thing people try to do is to add one chicken at a time as they feel the need to grow their flock.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    At this age, I'd just put the new bird in. Do it at night if you want, but these are babies we're talking about. They don't have a set flock structure yet, so they're not really going to care about a newbie. Just be sure you've got lots of space for everyone to move around and get away from each other.

    I agree in older birds with an established order, adding a single bird is difficult. But again, these are babies.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Do it soon. Don't wait until they're too much older.

    I was just remembering, my latest five were just five-weeks old when I merged them with a chick who had hatched from an egg. Long story, I won't go into here, but they were raised by a friend and the egg-hatched chick was just two days older.

    I brought the five chicks home, popped them into the brooder with the lone chick, the alpha chick in the group of five promptly went up to him and pecked him on the head, and from then one, they were an instant unit, growing up together until he died this last summer of a serious illness.
     
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  8. njdevil

    njdevil New Egg

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    I agree 100% with azygous. 5 and 6 weeks is absolutely negligible. The real worry is introducing these to adult flocks. For your situation, I wouldn't even worry. I had 6 new pullets about 5 or 6 weeks old when a friend called to say they had an Easter egger that was about a week younger. We bought it and put it with the others straight away. There was absolutely NO problems. At that age they could care less and the pecking order isn't a problem yet.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
  9. dranchhens

    dranchhens Out Of The Brooder

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  10. dranchhens

    dranchhens Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all. Brand new to the forum, so not sure if I replying in the "right" section, but I have read the above thread and have a similar question that was well answered by all the replies, but want to add this new info and see if this would make a difference. I have four five week old chicks from a kindergarten hatching. Obviously we don't know for sure their sex but based on the comb and waddles size and very pink/red color as well as her/his size, I would guess we have at least one rooster, possibly two. Because of this we are wanting to add two more chickens to our flock knowing that we may have to re-home 1-2 roosters. Do you think this will make a difference or is there any other suggestions we should consider before adding two additional "known" hens that are about one week younger to our current foursome?

     

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