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introducing new young birds to existing flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lucyb, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. lucyb

    lucyb Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 29, 2008
    auckland new zealand
    Hi, I'd love some advice on how to introduce new birds to a flock without too much stress and strife. I have an existing group of 4 hens and two roosters, all siblings and about 4 months old. Within their run is a hen house divided into two; in one half is a hen (the mother of the 4 month olds) with a group of 2 week old babies, two Light Sussex and three Silver Campines. In the other half are four Barred Rocks, 3 weeks old. The mother hen is super protective and is having a good flap and screech whenever she catches sight f the BRs (have had to put a screen up now so she can't see them). I'm wondering how on earth, when the time comes, do I introduce all of them to become one flock?? Also, when should I do this? Really grateful for any advice, thanks!

    Lucy
     
  2. melalthia

    melalthia Out Of The Brooder

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    Boulder Creek, CA.
    Quote:I haven't actually done this yet, so this may be a case of the blind leading the blind...but i did take a class on backyard chicken raising. My instructor said that when the chicks are big enough not to get beat up (around 8-10 weeks) you find a cage to put them in during the day. Then you put the cage right next to the run, with the fencing inbwetween them.

    Let them stare at each other during the day, and after 3-5 days of this..if they seem sufficiently uninterested with each other...you add the new chicks to the coop.At night. She said that unfortunately, they arn't too bright and in the morning.. (because the older chickens have gotten used to seeing the younger ones around) they wont react.

    So my question for the more experienced folks is...will this work?

    Hey...and its good to see a kiwi on here! I used to live in Wellington for a few years...
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  3. lucyb

    lucyb Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 29, 2008
    auckland new zealand
    thanks very much Melalthia. I'm half way there then as the babies are already in a house within the existing flock's run so they can see each other all the time...adult chooks very interested in the babies' house, but only because bits of food can sometimes be found around there! But my very naughty adult birds have been roosting up in a tree, too high to reach to get them down and so the babies have been temporarily housed in the coop...not a top arrangement, I know. It's warm here at the moment though and the adults shelter under the coop if it rains as it's up on poles and always turned their noses up at the coop anyway.
    Hmm, what to do? On the coop front, I'm going to build a second , higher storey onto it as I think they might be wanting to roost higher than is possible in the existing coop (about 4ft). On the new introductions front, I still might be in a wee bit of trouble...?
     
  4. farmerlor

    farmerlor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here's what we did, don't know if it will work for you or not. We partitioned the coop into two segments and put the babies (they were about 14 weeks if I remember right) on one side and the older girlies on the other. The fencing allowed them to see one another but not touch each other. When we were ready to open the coop up for everyone to mingle I spread a little Tea Tree Oil on all the babies so the girlies wouldn't bite them. They wouldn't associate with the new chicks for a few days (coulda been the smell) but no one got hurt and now they're all one big happy family.
     
  5. hinkjc

    hinkjc Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    I just did a major swap last night in several pens. Everybody gets moved at night (in the dark) here. Lots of rest and they forget who was there yesterday. lol I'm not kidding. This seems to be the only way to minimize pecking issues here for newbies. There are minor squabbles, but nothing serious and everybody just jumps off the roost and goes about their business.
     
  6. lucyb

    lucyb Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 29, 2008
    auckland new zealand
    Aha, thank you both. I'll try a tea tree oil/midnight combo. how much tea tree oil did you put on? And whereabouts on the chicken?
     
  7. Greenehens

    Greenehens Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 21, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    I'm looking at a merge soon also and want to know about the tea tree oil. Why does this work?[​IMG]
    My older girls (17 weeks) have met the youngers (11 weeks)through a fence and are a bit TOO interested. There has been some pecking on heads through the wire. [​IMG]
     
  8. Chicky Monkey

    Chicky Monkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm curious about the tea tree oil, too! I have a young group that needs to get to about the same size as the older ones, which are about 12 weeks old. I have them in the same pen, but separated so they can see each other. My older ones, too, are TOO interested and try to peck the younger ones through the fence, but can't. I have also heard putting vinegar on the backs of the younger ones helps them to integrate with the older ones.....it maybe works on the same principal as the tea tree oil? Has anyone else tried this? I am SO nervous at the thought of the little ones getting hurt when I mix them! Any advice is MUCH appreciated!
     
  9. PiedPiper'sFairLady

    PiedPiper'sFairLady New Egg

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    May 22, 2011
    We have a chicken tractor that we used to use placed in the center of our chicken run. I put the chicks in it so the big ones can't get to them. They stay that way for a couple of weeks until they are used to eachother. It works pretty well. The little ones got a few pecks but nothing major. Maybe if we had done the total swap at night it would have been better. I will have to try that next time.
     
  10. catchthewind

    catchthewind Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    I would be very cautious about the tea tree oil. Cats are very sensitive to essential oils, and from what I've read chickens can be sensitive to things like that too. Tea tree oil in particular can cause problems. My dog was paralyzed for a day after we treated her with topical tea tree oil, and a few years later the exact same thing happened to a friend of mine's dog. Both dogs recovered, but it was pretty scary for both of us. It sounds like the point of the tea tree oil is to make the chickens not want to peck the babies because they won't taste good, but then the chickens would be ingesting some too. [​IMG] I am far from a chicken expert, and we use a lot of natural and homeopathic remedies in my home for everyone, but I would just be extremely cautious putting tea tree oil on chicks personally.
     

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