Introducing an older bird to a younger flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sundevil, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. sundevil

    sundevil Out Of The Brooder

    16
    0
    22
    Apr 18, 2012
    Hello,

    I had four chickens that are about three months old. I found out one is a rooster and have a friend who wants to trade me for a hen that is about a year old. I have read a lot about introducing young birds to an older flock but had a hard time find info about introducing older birds to a young flock? Is this possible and does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thanks!!!!
     
  2. flower

    flower Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,196
    92
    211
    May 16, 2009
    SW US Desert
    I play musical birds with my mixed flock. Mixed as in various breeds and ages. I have found that whenever I want to introduce new birds the age is not so much of a factor as the amount. If I add at least three birds there is less of an adjustment. There will always be a bit of pecking and stand-offs such as staring each other down but that is normal. When ever I have added just one bird, the adjustment is always very hard on the single bird. Good luck whatever you do.
     
  3. flower

    flower Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,196
    92
    211
    May 16, 2009
    SW US Desert
    Well I do realize that my first comment is not too helpful to you who has only a few chickens. But I bet if your give that one bird a chance she may just be fine. Please tell us the breed of the older hen.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,753
    4,330
    526
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There is not a whole lot of difference in addition adults to young or young to adults. The same basic things come into play. A broody hen will often wean her chicks at 4 to 5 weeks of age, so it is possible for younger chickens to live with the flock. My broody raised chicks always live with the flock.

    You’ve got a couple of different types of possible aggression to look at. One is pure integration. Chickens recognize who belongs to their flock and who doesn’t. Sometimes, not always but sometimes, some chickens will defend their territory and flock from outsiders. A lot of times this does not happen and in your case it is almost certain to not happen, but I’ll mention it anyway. This is where housing them side by side works to help. They get used to each other so they recognize their right to exist.

    The pecking order is the other type of aggression you’ll almost certainly see and the reason in your case you probably won’t see the integration issue. A year old chicken is going to outrank a 3 month old chicken in the pecking order. She will dominate them. According to chicken society any lower ranked chicken that invades the personal space of a higher ranked chicken can be pecked to remind it of its correct place in chicken society. Once they settle in and everyone knows their correct place, this often does not happen. Once the pecking order is established, the flock usually lives in relative peace.

    The possible problem with this age difference is that some chickens, especially hens, can be bullies. Some (not all) hens, if they clearly outrank the younger chickens, will go out of their way to be brutes. If a lower ranked member is pecked, it runs away and order is restored in the flock. But if the lower ranked member does not run away, this is considered a challenge to the pecking order and the higher ranked chicken can get furious and vicious. This is where space is important. The lower ranked chicken needs to have enough room to get away and to stay out of the higher ranked chicken’s immediate area. That’s why you often see two different flocks when you have this age difference. It also helps if they have different eating and watering locations to avoid possible areas of conflict.

    With your adding one hen to three young pullets, it may work out fine. They are flock animals and the older one will almost certainly want to hang with the young ones. Whether or not she is a brute just depends on her personality. She will peck them some to establish her dominance, that is a given. But the key is whether she actively goes after them or not. The more space you have the better, but I’d give it a shot. You can always add additional perches and places for them to hide under or behind to create more separation. I think your odds of it working out are pretty good. But you are dealing with living animals. I can’t give you any guarantees.
     
  5. Nickichicki

    Nickichicki Out Of The Brooder

    39
    2
    24
    Apr 16, 2012
    Isanti Minnesota
    My suggestion to you is to bring the new bird into the run for an hour alone while the other birds are locked up in the coop. Let them see each other through the door. After an hour or so bring 1 bird out at a time in 5 to 10 minutes apart or whenever you feel another bird would adjust well. Bring the 'leader' of the pack, lol so to speak out last after the other birds have adjusted well.There will be pecking and so on but it is normal. I did this yesterday with my flock and it worked great. I was worried Id have all kinds of issues but not a single one! If this doesn't work then I guess I don't know what to tell you except to maybe try again and just keep trying. Eventually they will accept her and all will be golden! :) Good luck and let us know how it turns out!
     
  6. sundevil

    sundevil Out Of The Brooder

    16
    0
    22
    Apr 18, 2012
    She is a white Plymouth rock
     
  7. flower

    flower Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,196
    92
    211
    May 16, 2009
    SW US Desert
    Well like the other folks said, there will be a certain adjustment period but Rocks that I have know have been easy going and non-bully type and since she is the only hen she will need to adjust. At first the younger birds may be frightened but I believe that all will well after they adjust.
    If you have the ability to place her in a cage or crate where the birds can see each other for a while before they are together it might be helpful. In fact the best advice is to quarantine a new bird before introducing it to a new flock but that procedure is not always practical.

    I was unable to isolate a new hen due to a storm wrecking the fencing and the new hen infected all the birds with mites. Not nice ! This is slightly off topic but now really. Because although you know the source of your new hen, I would inspect her before putting her in with your chicks.
     
  8. HomesteadAL

    HomesteadAL New Egg

    5
    0
    8
    Mar 16, 2014
    Gulf Coast Alabama
    I know this is an old thread, but I wonder about the same issue. My factors are a little different. I just lost my RIR to a fox, leaving our White Leghorn all alone in the coop. We have another coop(16'x8') with twenty-six, 11-12week-old chicks(Gold-links, Buff O, Black Aust, Plymouth Rocks) that are still in confinement. I would like to take my Leghorn, who is pretty docile, and put her into the new coop for convenience. My first though is to cage her her own spot in the coop to avoid fighting for the next week. Do you think it necessary? Comparatively She is only a little bigger than that others. My concern is more for her than the others. 1 vs. 26 sounds kind of unfair.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    11,208
    5,072
    521
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    At the moment, I'm integrating a two -year old abandoned hen that I adopted into an existing flock of twenty chickens of a wide variety of ages. This is day four and it's been extremely hard on this little new-comer.

    It will prove not much different for your single older hen. She will be vastly outnumbered and a stranger to the flock of three-month olds, who are an established social unit. They won't likely be welcoming, and more likely will see the necessity of putting the alien hen in her place by chasing her and pecking her savagely on the rump to drive home the point.

    It's a lot of bother inserting a strange adult chicken into any flock, and especially hard on the lone chicken. By all means keep your hen confined safely so she isn't unnecessarily bullied and hurt. I found that a cage or crate to house the lone chicken in the midst of the flock isn't adequate to keep the chicken safe from harm. My little adoptee managed to get her comb ravaged right through the wires of the cage so I moved her into a safe pen where she has room to retreat from the little savages when they crowd the fence separating her from them.

    Day by day, though, the flock is gradually losing interest in the stranger among them, and in a few weeks, they should all get along pretty well. Meanwhile, I supervise periods where the new hen is put in among the flock so she can learn whom to trust and whom she needs to maintain a distance from. Then I put her back into her safe pen to rest up for the next session a few hours later. If it's a nice day, they all free range together and that's a remarkably good way for everyone in the flock to learn to relax and get along.
     
  10. HomesteadAL

    HomesteadAL New Egg

    5
    0
    8
    Mar 16, 2014
    Gulf Coast Alabama
    Thanks, I think I'll wait until they have their acre to play on.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by