Introducing new hens to older ones...need advice

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by casnlynn, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. casnlynn

    casnlynn Hatching

    Aug 29, 2010
    Hi All,

    New to forum, but have kept hens for five years. Started with four, two Buff Orps and two Barred Rocks but down to one of each this spring, so added 13 new chicks this spring. The little girls are almost full size, but I have kept them apart from the older hens in their own fenced area. For about a week now I have gate open so they could all wander back and forth. So far, any encounters by the old girls have resulted in them pecking the new ones.

    I really want to get them in the same area and coop. The coop where the old girls are staying in huge and can fit them all in. I was thinking I would get all the new girls in the same area and let them figure it all out.

    Do you think they will know to follow the old girl into the new coop or will they try and find a way back to old? Even if I get them all in big coop and there is a lot of noise going on, how long should I sit back and let them figure it out?

    We did have a pecking incident with the old girls last year, not sure what started it, but time I found out what was going on, one of the girls was pretty bloody. Don't want to go through that again.


    The Lynns
  2. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    There's really no way to do it without some pecking. It's just their pecking order and any time a new arrival comes in it starts all over again. sounds weird but, I like to take new ones in at night in the dark. I don't know why but they seem to get use to it easier. Who knows maybe they duke it out, before I get up and it's over by the time I get out there. good luck. Will
  3. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    We put ours in at night and they do fine! Just have to keep an eye on them and make plenty of food and water sources available until they get there peck order figured out!
  4. Muggsmagee

    Muggsmagee Menagerie Mama

    Dec 15, 2009
    Central NY
    I put my chicks in a cage in the middle of the run for several days before letting them out. The other chickens were curious at first, but when it was time to let them out, they weren't assaulted! They have been put in their place by some of the hens, but my dominant BCM rooster protects them and shows them food. Not something I expected.
  5. Carpe DiHen

    Carpe DiHen Songster

    Feb 4, 2010
    El Dorado County, CA
    What age do the chick have to be before you can do this?
  6. Muggsmagee

    Muggsmagee Menagerie Mama

    Dec 15, 2009
    Central NY
    Quote:The age minimum should be no less than 3-4 weeks, IMO. (Mine were 5 weeks when I put them out in the run.) The chicks will likely huddle together when you let them out, and avoid the larger hens. A "preintroduction" would be a good idea. For me the cage within the run works great. I leave them there for several days. When you feel they are ready, wait till nightfall and put them in the coop with the older girls. They will need to learn that is where they roost, but should pick it up quickly. Use your good judgement...and watch their behavior. They should balance out.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  7. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    I have had pretty good success with merging hens once I figured out the need for the two groups of birds to have contact with one another through a fence or cage. I now put new birds in a cage inside the henhouse and let the two groups of birds get to know each other at least a week before I allow the two groups to have physical contact. When I recently brought full sized hens into the fold, I put them in an area of the chicken yard that I temporarily fenced off so that the two groups of birds could meet -- but not have contact with -- one another.

    If they get to know each other BEFORE they are given free contact, it seems to reduce the friction between the two groups significantly. Oh, there will be pecking incidents even with doing this, but they will be minor incidents that are just part of the natural process of chickens developing a pecking order within their ranks. Nothing violent or vicious like the problem I had when I tried to merge my first group and second group of hens back two years ago. I didn't know to get them to live together before trying to merge them, and I almost lost a buff orpington from the first group to the violent gang attack of the entire second group of hens.

    Try letting them get to know each other through a fence or cage wall first, and you will have significantly fewer merging problems, IMHO.
  8. snowflake

    snowflake Crowing

    Aug 21, 2009
    Belding Michigan
    I just did that with mine. We have had several groups this year with broody hens, and spring ordered chicks. The hen took hers into the big coop when she was ready to go back and we put in an extra roost to try to ease the pecking order, my spring ordered hens just went in a couple days ago. they free ranged together most of the summer,and wandered in and out of each others coops. only the big coop had a nesting box and the new hens started to lay in the nest box' in the beg coop more frequently so I closed the tractor coop were the younger birds went at night so they had to go to the big coop. some of them tried to roost in the tree but when I chased them out they went into the big coop. there was some fuss still is at night but no one seems to be getting hurt. some have taken up sleeping in the storage area. DH is going to build another small roost in there cause I have 6 more with a broody that I think will be going in soon. Good luck with yours. I have a very mixed group .plan to put extra roosters in separate tractor tonight hoping that will ease some of the night time scuffle.

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