Introducing new smaller breed to hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by skyva, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. skyva

    skyva New Egg

    Apr 19, 2014
    Hi, I have an unruly rooster and 2 x-breed layers.

    Due to numerous unprovoked attacks I am going to get rid of the rooster, soon as possible really.

    I wish to introduce a new couple, perhaps something smaller like a French bantam or silkies. Perhaps a breeding pair or rooster with two hens. They will probably be young, say 16 weeks?

    Anyway, my question is, do I get rid of the rooster now and let the hens settle, or remove the rooster immediately before bringing in the others.

    My theory (half baked) is that if I remove the rooster now (easier) and wait a couple of weeks until I get the smaller breeds, t hen the existing two hens will go from submissive to dominant and beat up the new chickens when they are introduced.

    Of course the other side of the coin is that once the rooster is gone there may be a period of instability and throwing two more chickens in adds to the chaos.

    I know if I was dealing with horses I would be inclined to only introduce new ones into an established pecking order. But this might be different.

    Any other tips welcome on introducing them. They have lots of room and I have a cage they can sit in to acclimatise. I have had my chickens only 18 months and they seem happy and healthy, after losing a few early to the usual issues.
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Sometimes adding immediately after removing can distract the resident birds from the new 'invaders'....
    ...but probably not so much. It's about territory more than pecking order and any new comer will be 'challenged'.

    Integration is interesting, to say the least. Most folks house the newbies in an adjacent enclosure(if not or after quarantining) for several weeks before allowing physical contact with existing flock.
    Many different ways to accomplish integration depending on your facilities and management style.

    Lots of room, multiple feed/water stations, places to hide 'out of line of sight' and/or up and away from aggressors are all good tools to ease integration. There will be pecking(there always is - even in established flocks), chasing and apparent distress, which can be very uncomfortable to the uninitiated keeper, but as long as no serious blood is drawn and non is pinned down/trapped and beaten they will work it out.

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
  3. skyva

    skyva New Egg

    Apr 19, 2014
    Ok to follow up, I bought two small Belgian D'uccle hens, sisters, who look like fat little hawks, all brown and spotty. Very cute.

    I kept them separate from the two layers for a few days, either having a smaller cage inside the run, or letting the bigger hens out and having the little ones inside the run. I made the little ones sleep in the house the first night, then in the coop inside their cage, so the big ones didn't attack them.

    After a few days I left the base of the cage the coop with no top, so the littlies wouldn't feel lost at night. Now they perch on the second highest rung whilst the bigger birds are on the highest rung, so everyone seems to have sorted themselves out.

    So far all good, no issues. They pretty much keep to themselves.

    Thanks for the help.

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