Introducing new hens


8 Years
Nov 5, 2011
I have 2 (one orpington and one Plymouth Barred Rock) hens that are about 3 years old. I bought 2 (Americauna) chicks that are now about 8-9 weeks old. When is it a good time to put them together? I tried letting them graze outside of their runs the other day and the older ones chased and pecked at the babies so I separated them again. Now, one of the babies, I am suspecting is not a pullet, but a cockrell and that is the one that the older ones were mostly chasing. Could it be because it may be a cockrell?

Other questions: I understand that I should feed chick feed until they start laying. If I put them together before they start laying, how do I feed them when the older ones are on layers feed?

The two babies have grown up together. They are inseparable. However, if one is really a cockrell, I will need to get rid of it since the city will not allow me to have a rooster. So, should I find homes for them as a pair or will a separation between them will be okay?

I have the babies outside in their own run. Before getting their adult feathers, I had them in the garage with the lights on them. When I put them outside, I turned on the lights when it got dark. Do they still need lights when they are outdoors even though they have grown their feathers? They don't have a coop as I am using a dog crate that is the cage type to put them in. I made a roost for them, but they seem to like it on top of the cage rather than inside. At night we have been putting them in the cage for safety (A skunk got in the run and killed one of my hens a couple of months ago. So, I am nervous about leaving my hen's coop and/or cage open at night even though we have placed 12X12 concrete blocks 11 inches into the ground all around the run and secured any kinds of holes).
8-9 weeks is quite young. I usually keep babies I hatch out separate from the older birds until they start laying or until they are right on the verge of laying. This ensures they are big enough, plus the two different food issue is not a problem.
The hen picking on one does not mean it's a cockerel. Boys will usually have noticeably thicker legs, but you will only know for sure when he starts crowing.
Whether or not you separate them if he is a boy is up to you. It would be okay to do so I am sure, but if it were me I probably couldn't because I am a bit sentimental when it comes to stuff like that lol
When you put them together don't do it during the day.

Wait until the night and the chickens are asleep, then insert the new birds in the coop with the existing ones.
With winter coming, I just finished integrating everyone into the one big coop and runs, as opposed to being in several smaller ones.
My first step was combining six that were three weeks older than the two they were put with. (no problem, perhaps because there were more smaller ones?) These then shared a large run that was divided by wire from the laying hens. After about two months we opened the center fencing and they merged without a hitch. This group is now laying.
Next came the tricky part. I had a singleton I put in with four that were five weeks older. I had put one at a time in the individual tractor with her, but when I put her in with them they picked on her, at least three did so back to her tractor she went.
After the bigger group were settled, about two weeks together, I moved the four five week younger ones in at night and decided to try the singleton too. She was only 11 weeks old, but I hoped with the newbees she would be lost in the crowd and not singled out. I figured it would be harder to add a singleton later.
Thankfully that seems to have worked. The younger ones are at the bottom of the pecking order but they are mostly left along, including the youngest. There are enough feeders and at most they get a peck if they invade a hen's space but they are foraging together and they roost together in the coop at night They've been together two weeks now.
I'm hoping any newbies next year are hatched with a broody as I've had several hens go broody (This year I used an incubator.) so I won't have to worry about introductions.
As far as the feed, I have both growth and layer out plus a side bowl of oyster shells.
Unfortunately I wrote in the other section of this site asking if Boot's was a rooster or not. People have confirmed he is one indeed. So, I found him a nice home, but I am so sad that Sneakers will be upset that her buddy has left her. Here is a picture of Boots.


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