Introducing chicks to a flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CACChicken, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. CACChicken

    CACChicken In the Brooder

    Aug 7, 2014

    I have a new batch of chicks that are nearly 5 weeks old and are all different breeds. At what age can I introduce them to my existing flock? I currenlty have 3 hens and 1 rooster in the existing flock. Also, once introduction begins, what is the best way to introduce them?

  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!!

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    Best example ever of chick respite and doors by azygous

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:

    I integrated this years chicks at about 4 weeks old.
    They went into the coop at 1 week with their heater, separated by a mostly mesh temporary wall from the main flock.
    They had their own feed, water, roost, and run in the 'coop partition' as I call it.
    At 4 weeks I opened the three tiny doors in the mesh wall and 'taught' them how to go in and out.
    At 6 weeks I took down the wall completely.
    There were a few pecks of course, some of the bigs pestered the littles more than others, but overall it was much less dramatic than usual.
    I think the chicks were less of a 'threat' than when I used to wait until the chicks were larger...and a smaller, faster target to hit, haha!
    Now at 10 weeks old, they all get along pretty darn well.
    It was nice to get the integration over sooner rather than later and because I had way more chicks this year it was a very good move to integrate younger,
    it's pretty crowded out there, but they are already used to each other.
  3. CACChicken

    CACChicken In the Brooder

    Aug 7, 2014
    Thank you for all of the useful information. I plan to start them in the coop this weekend where I can be out there more to watch them. It should be fairly easy to put up a partition in the coop to separate but yet still give them the ability to see one another.

    Thanks again.

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