introducing new chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gapey, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. gapey

    gapey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know a lot of people recommend adding the new chickens to the old chickens at night by putting them in their coop. I'm not sure I want to go that route because I won't be able to monitor their behavior when they get up in the morning so I'm trying to figure out what the next best option is.

    I have 5 adults (reds and orpingtons) and the new ones are 11 week old 2 marans and 2 eggers. The marans are nearly the same size as the reds. They've been in a cornered off area of the uncovered chicken run for the past two weeks and have visibility to the adults. One of my marans did get out accidentally after 2 days while I was doing some cleaning and one of the reds plucked out some of her breast feathers. I let the adults free range in the back yard which is fully fenced in the evenings about 3 days a week.

    Which of these options would be the best for introduction:
    • Let them all free range together
    • Let the littles out into the rest of the uncovered run while the adults are free ranging and then let the adults back in and give them all treats together.
    • let both out together enclosed in the uncovered chicken run
    • any other ideas?

    I also question whether to clip the wings of my littles before or after introducing them to the rest of the flock. The adults have their wings clipped. They have not gotten out of their little enclosure yet but I know they have the ability to because they have gotten out of enclosures that are taller than what they are in now. If I don't clip them they can maneuver an attack from the adults easier and get to safety but they may get out of the run and not want to go back in.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014
  2. SunkenRoadFarms

    SunkenRoadFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never used the night time method. Free ranging them together is a great way to start. I just integrated four Golden Comets into my flock of 11 today all within the run. Usually I free range first but the hawks are insane right now. After they free range together a couple days try mixing them together in the run with plenty of distractions like treats. I've never moved new chickens into an existing coop, so you might have to put them in the roosts at night then.
     
  3. gapey

    gapey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The new chicks have their own little house so not sure if I will make them use the old coop or let them stay in their little house at night. I had planned on using their house as a future brooding box but don't think I will need it for that for a while. There is enough room in the old coop for all of them though.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    This looks like a good plan....partitioning off part of the coop would be a good idea too, that's what I do.
    Regardless, however you finally allow them physical contact, there will be some fighting/pecking.harassment as they establish a pecking order....as long as no serious blood is drawn, let them work it out. Lots of space and hiding options as well as multiple water/feed station can help minimize issues.


    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:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    I use a step method:

    1: Let the old flock see the youngsters through a fence.
    2: Let them out for supervised free range together. Be sure to provide food distraction or intervene if things get rowdy.
    3: Put them together in the same enclosure (run or coop) depending on amount of available space, with an area of safety that the littles can retreat to, if needed.
    4: Put them in the same coop together with no barriers.

    Through out all of the steps, I monitor closely, provide plenty of feed stations, and back up a step if needed. Also, you can help things along by putting several of your more mellow gals in with the littles for a few days.
     
  6. gapey

    gapey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The integration went fairly well.

    Saturday morning I let the adults out into the yard to free range and kept the run door open. I let the littles out of their fenced in area of the run and they spent all day checking out the rest of the run and didn't explore out of it until very late and enjoyed their first taste of grass. Since it was so late I didn't want them going too far so I shooed them back into the run. The adults went in and out of the run a few times throughout the day and only one of my production reds (Lucy) had a good time bossing the littles around. The rest of my chickens didn't pay them much attention at all. I removed the fenced in area in the run.

    Sunday I did the same thing but the littles decided after a couple hours that they wanted to explore the rest of the yard. They had fun and Lucy had fun chasing em around a few times too. It didn't look like she was being overly aggressive so I think they will be ok. I gave them some treats at the end of the day and they ate in pretty close proximity but if they got near Lucy she would peck at them. They've learned to run when they see her coming.

    Today will be their first day stuck in the run all day together so hopefully they are behaving themselves while I'm at work. The littles checked out the big coop a few times but they probably won't be sleeping in there with the adults any time soon.

    Here's some video of their first exploration outside of the run.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Glad it's going well.
     
  8. K1Chickies

    K1Chickies Out Of The Brooder

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    In your experience, how long does it typically take for a new pecking order to be established? I have three chickens (1 hen, 2 roos) that are just over 8 weeks old, and we introduced two older birds into the coop this weekend (just around laying age). We stayed in the yard and kept a close eye on them for a few hours as we did some landscaping, and aside from some pecking here and there they seem to keep themselves distanced from each other, not too many ruffled feathers either. Oddly, our younger chickens are attempting to intimidate the older girls. Is this normal? It was their space first, and although our two roos are trying to stay out of it, our Alpha Female likes to badger the new additions from time to time. Everyone is getting food and water without a fuss, and they circulate between areas of the coop... will they eventually integrate? Also, should we force the two new girls into the actual coop at night, or let them approach it in their own time? They were content to hang out in the run all night and were up and moving about this morning before the others left the coop...
     
  9. gapey

    gapey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My younger ones are about 10 months old now and still the bottom of the pecking order. They still get picked on by one of my production reds. Seems like they are old enough and big enough to challenge her but they don't. Maybe they never will. I have two buildings in the chicken run, one is what the chicks called home for the first 9 weeks of their life. They didn't sleep in the big coop with the others until I put them in there at night when they were about 9 weeks after the older girls went to bed. I closed off their old house at night so they couldn't get in for about a week and after that first night there was a little confusion but they eventually went into the big coop and slept with the big girls all by themselves. They typically go to bed before the older girls and get up after them.

    They do coexist now though it did take a long time. For several months they would stay separated in the run and were only together during feeding time and would even sleep on opposite sides of the coop (on top of the nesting boxes). One just recently started roosting next to one of the older girls at night. The other 3 still sleep above the nesting boxes even though there is plenty of room on the roosts. They will even dust bath and share nesting boxes together now. It took several months for that to happen though. Probably around the time they started laying is when they started being more sociable with eachother. I haven't let them "free range" since winter and they always stayed separate. Once my garden dies in fall will let them all out to free range and see if they stay together while out or not. I think they might.
     

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