Introducing Chicks to the Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by celeste101, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. celeste101

    celeste101 Hatching

    Aug 21, 2014
    Northern Alabama
    I have two free range, Buff Orpington hens as of last month when a dog nabbed up the third one :( I am concerned that if something were to happen to one of the two, the other would get lonely. So, I plan on getting three chicks in February or March. I am wondering on how and when to introduce the new ones to the flock. They will probably not be Buff Orpingtons. Does it matter if they are a different breed? does it make it harder for them to establish a pecking order? And at what age should I permanently introduce them to the flock? should I let them see each other before they go to live in the coop? Gah, so many questions. My Buffs are the sweetest things in the world, but I don't want to offset the balance too much.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Crowing

    Mar 7, 2011
    Finger Lakes, NY
    Hello & welcome! [​IMG] There are some great articles in the learning center section on adding new chicks to older birds etc. If you have the time, browse through it, there's a mine of info.
    To answer your questions though - different breeds usually get along pretty well - although most chickens cannot resist plucking Polish, Top hats or other wildly plumed birds, also size does matter. Bantams may get picked on a bit more.
    I use the see/ no touch introduction method. I put the new & old together in the pen, separated by a wire barrier, so they can see each other but not peck/fight. The little ones will probably be about 6-7 weeks when I start this. At around 10-12 weeks I will put the new girls into the coop at night. I always make sure I'm around the next day so I can keep a close watch on them. There will be some obnoxious behavior, but try not to interfere unless there is blood shed or someone is really getting picked on. Putting out extra boxes or similar places to shelter in helps too. The pecking order should be established fairly soon, although sometimes the newbies get reminded on a regular basis!
    Good luck with your ladies, [​IMG]
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.
    See if any of them, or the links provided, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens to flock.

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

    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. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    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.

    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.

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

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