Introducing old to new

Grannybug

Chirping
Apr 23, 2020
34
104
53
My 2 welsummer chicks are now 8+ weeks old. For a week they have spent days in a wire pet playpen adjacent to their 2 yr old RIR sister's chicken run. At night I carry them to the henhouse within the run next to sisters adapted doghouse & lock them in. They have been observing each other thru their adjacent wirey enclosures. How/when do I now integrate the 3 w/o bloodshed so all will be in chicken run? Thanks for any advice!
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
6,014
11,466
596
USA
Re-arrange so the new chicks are in the permanent coop, and the older chicken is in the temporary quarters. In a few days, when the new ones are used to the space, put the older one back in. Add something interesting (clump of sod, table scraps, etc), and watch in case there's trouble--probably will be fine.

The fact that the young ones outnumber the older one should help. But things will go better if they don't feel unsure in a strange place while also meeting an older, probably bossier, chicken: which is why I recommend switching who lives where for a few days before you actually put them together.
 

Grannybug

Chirping
Apr 23, 2020
34
104
53
Great advice, thanks! Eggatha the RIR has been in the temp quarters b4 we built the run so she won't care. That should make for a peaceful intro. Meantime my 2 cats crouch outside the chicken run watching, watching--and running away in terror if a chicken gets near them!
 

Finnie

Crowing
6 Years
Oct 27, 2014
2,641
2,995
366
Indianapolis
What I do is, after some time where the chicks and hens have gotten used to each other through the wire, I just open the door between them and let them mingle at will.
This usually results in the older hens rushing in to gobble up the babies’ food, which is all they really care about. There will be some pecking and chasing as the hens establish the pecking order, but it is short lived and worked out fairly quickly.
 

Grannybug

Chirping
Apr 23, 2020
34
104
53
Thanks Finnie, that makes sense. They are well acquainted now thru watching each other thru the fence & have stopped running back & forth squawking madly so I guess they're not scared. All will be well.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,255
126,355
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
For a week they have spent days in a wire pet playpen adjacent to their 2 yr old RIR sister's chicken run.
A week of days might be enough or not.
Better if they spend several weeks 24/7.
Might depend on your space and the birds.
Only one older bird?
Give it a try.

Here's some tips the might help:
Integration Basics:
It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

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.

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

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 copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, 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'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

Grannybug

Chirping
Apr 23, 2020
34
104
53
A week of days might be enough or not.
Better if they spend several weeks 24/7.
Might depend on your space and the birds.
Only one older bird?
Give it a try.

Here's some tips the might help:
Integration Basics:
It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

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.

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

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 copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, 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'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
Hmmm, things to think about. I switched my RIR to the pet playpen this a.m. & the chicks to the run, still adjacent, & everyone seems happy. Maybe I should just continue that arrangement for a week or 2 b4 getting them all togethers. I like the idea of sprinkling grains along the adjoining fences. They can & do stick their heads thru the wires to reach things just outside so that should work. I will also put in some hideouts for the young'uns. Toward one end there is also some tall grasses & weeds they can run into that Eggatha is likely to leave them be, we'll see. Thanks for the suggestions!
 

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