Introducing new chicks to existing flock

terilyn80

Hatching
Aug 21, 2015
9
0
9
Hi There!
I have 2 older birds and just got 4 new chicks in March. I have tried integrating them together and it is not going well. I have tried separating them to let them see each other for a few weeks but when I let them all co mingle, the littles get so scared and the older birds will chase the littles around and peck at them. So far as I can tell, the only injuries seem to be on the tops of the little's beaks from scrambling and running into the fences. It is so distressful to watch though. Any suggestions on how I can get some peace for them? They have a 6' x 7' run and a 4' x 6' coop with small run underneath it. The littles are 12 weeks old and no longer peeping. Any advice would be grateful!! Thank you!
 

hahmmy

Chirping
Sep 26, 2016
42
8
59
I have a similar situation. And i have two 20 week pullets that were viciouksy attacked by my EE. Separated now. Once the littles are bigger..i think they r about 90 days..i will let tgem all free range in day then roist in own coops at night. I have 2 now. I want to go toone large coop and run but my twomature and laying birds are the problem. Im hoping when they are all mature i will have better chance but dont know.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
23,743
34,224
1,122
Colorado Rockies
Your issue is with not enough space, not so much age.

What you describe is normal pecking order dynamics. Young birds automatically fear and defer to larger, older ones. Older ones feel it's their right to hog the feeder and to keep the younger ones away from it, disciplining them when they try to obtain essentials.

This can set off a vicious cycle where the younger ones don't get enough to eat and are undernourished and they become weak and unable to compete. A lot of folks mistakenly think chickens will all be able to fend for themselves, but there are lots of mitigating factors that can interfere.

Providing adequate space gives the less advantaged individuals in a flock a break. Ideally, you should have at least ten square feet per chicken in the run and four square feet per in the coop. If you can't feasibly increase your square footage in the run, then the other option is to increase space by going vertical.

Add higher perches for the younger ones to escape bullying. You can add a table or shelf in the run to place a feeder for the younger ones so they have peace and safety when they eat.

Is there any reason you can't let them all out to free range in your yard? That alone can relieve a lot of stress and pressure on the young ones.
 

terilyn80

Hatching
Aug 21, 2015
9
0
9
Your issue is with not enough space, not so much age.

What you describe is normal pecking order dynamics. Young birds automatically fear and defer to larger, older ones. Older ones feel it's their right to hog the feeder and to keep the younger ones away from it, disciplining them when they try to obtain essentials.

This can set off a vicious cycle where the younger ones don't get enough to eat and are undernourished and they become weak and unable to compete. A lot of folks mistakenly think chickens will all be able to fend for themselves, but there are lots of mitigating factors that can interfere.

Providing adequate space gives the less advantaged individuals in a flock a break. Ideally, you should have at least ten square feet per chicken in the run and four square feet per in the coop. If you can't feasibly increase your square footage in the run, then the other option is to increase space by going vertical.

Add higher perches for the younger ones to escape bullying. You can add a table or shelf in the run to place a feeder for the younger ones so they have peace and safety when they eat.

Is there any reason you can't let them all out to free range in your yard? That alone can relieve a lot of stress and pressure on the young ones.

Thank you for your response! They can't free range since we have coyotes and foxes that run through the yard. I actually lost 2 chickens last last year to a coyote. They have plenty of food and water areas (3 set up right now), and lots of perches/roosts around. Although they don't seem to use the roosts, they either escape up to the coop or cower in the corner.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,023
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Azygous hit the nail on the head. Extra time is not going to solve your problem. More space will be required in order for the younger birds to successfully integrate into the existing flock. They need enough room to satisfy social etiquette. When an older hen pecks an underling, what she is saying is: "Hey, punk... get out of my space or I will rip your face off." And, as far as she's concerned, her space is all of the area within 10' of her. In a small coop/run, the chick can not comply.
 

terilyn80

Hatching
Aug 21, 2015
9
0
9
Azygous hit the nail on the head. Extra time is not going to solve your problem. More space will be required in order for the younger birds to successfully integrate into the existing flock. They need enough room to satisfy social etiquette. When an older hen pecks an underling, what she is saying is: "Hey, punk... get out of my space or I will rip your face off." And, as far as she's concerned, her space is all of the area within 10' of her. In a small coop/run, the chick can not comply.
so, are they never going to get along?
 

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