Introducing new hens


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 15, 2009
We are planning to introduce 3 Delaware 4 month old pullets to our 5 astralorps 10 months old. We were told by the guy we get our chickens from that if we wait until it is dark and the hens are up on the roost that we can put the new hens in the coop on the floor and there should be no problem. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
Also the coop is 6' by 8' will that be enough room for 8 hens, and are 2 brood nests enough?


[IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG] Cr
10 Years
Jun 12, 2009
My Coop
My Coop
I just integrated two 4month old pullets in with my 5-6 month old pullets. I should have done it at night. But didn't. The breeder that I got the young ones from suggested it. I think it helps but doesn't take care of the whole pecking order having to be re-established. There will be squabbling. I hate to see it but it happens. I would recommend placing them in a pen close to the one your older ones are in for a week or so, so they can see each other, then placing them in the coop at night. Watch them carefully over the next few days to intercede if things get really out of hand. Like drawing blood. I have extra feeders in the run so no one gets kept from food. Hope that helps.
Let us know how it goes.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 27, 2009
I think I have done it all wrong!!
I got 2 sussex 5 weeks olds on Monday and put them in a temporary pen while building the new lux pen. Then I added 2 more sussex from same batch on Friday night after dark. They all seemed to be getting along fine. However today I added 2 silkies of the same age. It was horrible to watch! The sussex chased, ran at, stood over and pecked the silkies. They even ganged up a couple of times. Unfortunately I think I have three roosters out of my four sussex but don't know for sure yet. I put the sussex away a little early and left the silkies out in the run to feed by themselves for a while but they seemed to cry a lot. When I put the silkies to bed I put them in the hen house but in a cat travelling box covered with a towel.
Help what do I do tomorrow? Do I create a little pen within the run for the silkies? They looked so scared today. Or should I just let them tough it out?
Any advice would be received gratefully!!


13 Years
Dec 30, 2008
Pepperell, MA
I don't think there's a single, easy way unless you just happen to get lucky and they all accept each other. "Pecking order" is hard wired into chickens and they need to sort it out. In my short experience, I've decided that the best we can do is provide good methods to integrate new chickens, watch out for excessive violence or food / water deprivation and have lots of patience. This summer, we integrated four new chickens....2 each from different sources. These two, separate pairs were integrated into an existing flock of 4 mature birds. The 4 mature birds were two Red Stars, one RIR and one BR. The BR was the "queen". The newcomers were 2 Buff Orps and 2 Auracana's. Here's what we did.

1) The Buff's went into a small pen in the barn. The Auracana's went into a large dog crate right outside the pen. They stayed like that for a week.

2) After a week, I hand carried each of them outside the barn well away from the coop where the mature birds were, and let them free range. After a while, the four birds forgot that they were wary of each other and hunted bugs together. If they got TOO close, one would peck the other. After a couple of weeks of this, they all went out and came in together without any help at all. Essentially, they were a new flock.

3) By this time, the 4 new birds were getting close to the physical size of the other 4, mature birds. I believe that it's important to integrate when their sizes are somewhat equal (sometimes, that will never be possible). So, I moved the four new birds into the coop with the others. I did this at night, per the often prescribed advice. All was well.....during the night.

4) The next day, the 4 new birds tried everything to get out. They were pecked mercilessly by the older birds unless they stayed on the roosts. The 2 Auracana's succeeded in getting out and, every day, they would exit the coop into the pen, get chased by the older birds, fly over the fence and free range all day. Soon, the Buff's learned to do that as well. So, I added fence.

5) Two full weeks went by with the new birds staying inside and the older birds moving around as they pleased. The new birds stayed on the roosts. When the coop wasn't being used by any older birds, the newer ones would hop down and eat or drink. I added a waterer outside to reduce the trips into the coop by the older birds.

6) After two weeks, I tried to force the situation by pushing the new ones outside and locking up the coop. I also gave them lots and lots of scratch, watermelon, cabbage, cherry tomato's, name it. It really didn't matter much. Patience is a virtue.

7) Two more weeks go by and I open the coop at 5:30 AM one morning. First chicken out is a Buff. Hmmmmmm. Odd. Later that day, I have 6 chickens in the pen. The 2 Auracana's still like the coop.

8) A week after that, the two Auracana's are out as well. We now have an 8 chicken flock.

9) This past week, one of the Buff's started laying and both Auracana's started as well, although one thinks that the best place to lay is right in the middle of the broad daylight. She's the most skittish chicken and I think she's doesn't feel secure enough yet to share a nesting box next to one of those "other" chickens.

For me it was: separation with viewing; common reason to share space (free ranging); integration with protection (places to hide, roost and eat/drink); and patience, patience, patience.

Finally, our coop is 6X8 and it's 8' high. Like a shed. It has 3 nesting boxes and 3 roosting areas. The nesting boxes stick out, like a traditional coop so the inside space isn't compromised. It's PLENTY for 8 chickens.

Hope this helps!


10 Years
Sep 12, 2009
TY for the information. I, too, am in the midst of integrating 3 22wk pullets to my small flock of 4 , 1yr old birds. I have separated the newbies into a pen where the big ones can see but not touch. They have a dog crate to be locked into at night along with a lil' perch ( tip: turn it upside down and insert a small pole thru the vent holes to make dog crate a temporary and safe coop. They have been in this type of seclusion for 3 weeks. I began letting them free range w. my big birds for a few hrs before dusk. The first few times, i needed to be there for strict supervision. Now, they can range together/ but stay on completely separate sides of the yard by their own choosing. I keep them separate at night, still... big birds to the coop, small birds to the pen/dog crate. I am nervous about putting them in all together in the big coop at night. Patience is key, i think. Take each adjustment in small steps.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 27, 2009
Thanks for the great advice! I can see it's going to take a while. Early this morning I sectioned off an area for the silkies within the pen. The pen is large enough to do this. I put the travelling box in there too. They took a while to come out but now they are out the bigger of the two silkies is running around wildly trying to find a way out of the pen. The leader of the sussex and his (think it's not a her) sidekick are spending some time pacing along the area. The littlest silkie is sooo cute and sticks by the big one like glue. I'll see how it goes today and will probably keep this 'look but don't touch' set up for a while like you suggested. I am loving this whole experience. I think I am becoming a bit of a chook fanatic. Thinking that the next Disney movie should be on the dramas of the coop!?!?

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