Introducing new pullets into a laying flock. Is this a good idea?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Angie1701, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. Angie1701

    Angie1701 Out Of The Brooder

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    We are relatively new to chicken keeping. Got our first pullets last spring and everything is going great. We have one Buff O. Rooster with a decent temperament, 4 Buff O. 1 Barred Rock and 1 RIR laying hens. We were considering letting them raise a few chicks this spring (IF one of them seemed inclined) but now my daughter wants to participate in the local 4H pullet project. Basically you get a handful of day old chicks and raise them until they are ready to go into the coop. Is this doable? I have heard that chickens can be mean to new arrivals. Anyone have any advice on what to do here? Thanks so much!!
     
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

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    You will need to keep the day old chicks in a brooder ( best in garage,basement or your house) separated from the flock until they are 5-6 weeks old and then slowly and safely introduce them to the others. If you just place them in with the hens, they will kill them.

    A close friend of mine learned this lesson the hard way.

    I would suggest you review the learning center articles on raising baby chicks and on integrating new chickens into an existing flock.
     
  3. Angie1701

    Angie1701 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much! There definitely was some great info in the learning center to help answer this question. I feel a little less overwhelmed now!
     
  4. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It goes smoother if I wait till my new birds are almost full grown before I mix them with full grown birds. On the same token I don't mix fuzzy chicks with feathered chicks, or any chicks with teenage birds. Any bird with a different size or appearence is usually a target for attack or bullying.
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agreed.

    I have always kept my young ones in the main coop behind a separate partition. The older birds can see and hear them, but not hurt them.

    At present I am busy supervising the integration of two 16 week old chicks and one 19 week old chick into the main flock. They have an escape route to take if they feel threatened but are now free to mingle with the flock if they choose to do so.

    The flock are a bit miffed by them being out. They tend to chase them back to their corner of the coop if they venture out into the run! But so far, so good. No blood has been shed. It probably helps that there are three of them, and that the flock itself is only small (1 BO Roo and 8 hens).

    Krista
     
  6. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yep, raising all them within sight of each other is a big help.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    There are two schools of thought on integrating young chicks into a flock of adults. One prefers to wait until the pullets are nearly the same size as the adults, around five or six months old, before mixing them into the flock. The other school, the one I'm in, believes in integrating chicks beginning very early, around two weeks of age. I've done this successfully with five batches of baby chicks and will be integrating a sixth batch come May.

    What I do, and it requires nice weather, is to bring the babies out of their brooder to spend the warm part of the day in the run with the adults, but they are in a special "play pen", completely protected from harm, including special netting around the fencing to prevent tiny heads from getting pecked when they try to stick them through the fence.

    For a couple of weeks the adults are getting used to the chicks being part of the flock, and by age four weeks, I open little 5"x7" pop holes into the main run from the chick play pen. The chicks learn very quickly to zip back into their pen when chased or pecked, and they get very good at evading the older chickens.

    By age six weeks, the chicks are so much a part of the flock they are ready to move into the coop with the adults. That operation is a bit more complicated and I won't go into it right now, but this method has been very successful for me, and it gets the chicks out of their brooder in the house and moved into the coop in record time with little or no fuss.
     
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  8. Chquinta

    Chquinta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have the same issue. I have 7 month laying hens and my DH bought me 5 chickens that are 4 months and when I put them in the coop run the adult ( last in pecking order) and the others attacked my poor chickens and the Roo I have took a good layer of feathers from one of them which I think is not traumatized.

    I have now put the 4 month old chickens in a house with run attached inside the big coop/run were the other birds and see them and hear them but not touch them I think I will just leave them in there until they are 5 or 6 months and look big like the others. I'm scared to see them hurt them again even if it's natural for pecking order.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    The secret to integrating chickens of differing sizes is to provide a safety exit for the smaller ones. Since four-month olds are very nearly the same size as the adults, having a "panic room" with pop holes too small for the adults to follow the youngsters through isn't feasible. So what you do instead is provide a foil, such as a branch hacked off a tree, or a box, or anything the pursued youngsters can hide behind or jump up onto to evade the pursuers.

    Complexity in your run helps. It also helps prevent boredom by making the run more interesting. A complex shape to the run as opposed to rectangular, partitions, tree stumps or old furniture, outdoor roosting perches at varying heights. All enhance the harmony of a flock.

    You chose the right thing to do by protecting the new comers for the time being while the flock gets accustomed to them. In a couple weeks, try letting them back together with some improvements to the run and see how it goes. Since there are five of them, they will have strength in numbers and I predict the next time should be an improvement.
     

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