Introducing pullets to existing flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mrsmac, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. mrsmac

    mrsmac New Egg

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    Last week we bought home 4 new Wyandotte pullets to introduce to our flock of 3 wyandottes and 6 guinea fowl. We haven't free ranged our flock yet as we are still fixing fences to keep our neighbours dogs out.

    We've had them separated all week, but visible to each other. Any time we've tried to integrate them the exisiting guys (predictably) want to establish themselves in the pecking order but the pullets run and hide on the roost and won't come down to eat or drink. If we put them down on the ground they're attacked by the exisiting guys and they run back for the roost.

    What can I do to get them settled in?
     
  2. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If possible temporarily divide the coop and run. I used plastic mesh fencing. They had 2 months of 'see but don't touch' . When it's time to put them together, have more than one feeding station, and an extra waterer. Some people say as long as blood isn't being drawn, let them work it out. I'd say mine had another 2 months after being put together before they were more or less a flock.
    There are many good forums on introducing new members to a flock, lots of words of wisdom. Good luck!
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    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.

    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'(but not a dead end trap) 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.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, tho some info is outdated IMO:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    How old/big are the new pullets? If they aren't the same size as the home crew, there will be special problems with their own special solutions.

    Introducing grown chickens to an existing flock requires patience. It can take up to three weeks for both new and old to adjust. There are multiple factors involved in the process, temperament of the home crew and self confidence and temperaments of the new ones being a few.

    Some just toss the newcomers into the fray and leave them to sort it out. I find the gradual approach works best to reduce stress. A partitioned pen for the new to observe the original flock and learn their personalities and temperaments keeps everyone safe. Short periods of mingling, gradually increasing in length of time, eases the newcomers into the flock pecking order while helping preserve their self confidence so fear doesn't overcome their reactions to the dominant members of the original flock, making a tense situation much worse.

    It's rewarding to observe this process of assimilation, and very gratifying to see that moment when the new crew has the confidence to finally stand up to the original crew and take their places in the flock. This usually happens between two and three weeks after they been introduced.
     
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  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Not only have multiple feed stations but set up little walls, ( a large piece of cardboard will work) with a feed station behind that, where a bird can eat and drink out of sight of others eating and drinking at another station.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  6. the chickentaco

    the chickentaco Just Hatched

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    I've always waited till mine were at least half the size of the adults. Then after the see but don't touch I'd eventually let them out to free range under watch so they've got space to run, and hide. And if they really go after them I call the little ones to me and flick/swat the hens who really go after them.kinda like how an alpha hen would attack any hens close to her own chicks flock or not, to say "These are mine! Don't touch unless you want to deal with me!" Then I'd call my alpha chicken over. Once the dominant hens accept them, they'll generally be good to go.
     
  7. mrsmac

    mrsmac New Egg

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    The pullets are as tall as the exisiting flock, they just need to fill out a bit now.

    I went in to check the eggs this morning and all of the existing crew, except for my alpha-guinea crept over to the pullets. I've closed the gate and kept them that way, no one is distressed. I have been shoo-ing the pullets off the roost from time to time for them to come down to eat and drink. The exisiting crew aren't vicious, just bossy. So the only problem I seem to have is the pullets hiding and not attempting to integrate.
     
  8. the chickentaco

    the chickentaco Just Hatched

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    I'd say you're pretty safe then, that's normal behavior. Like being sent to a new school as a kid and not knowing anyone. Just let them coexist like they are and eventually they'll get to know each other better and bond more [​IMG]
     
  9. mrsmac

    mrsmac New Egg

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    It is like school! And the existing flock are the mean girls!
     
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  10. the chickentaco

    the chickentaco Just Hatched

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    [​IMG] The year we unintentionally ended up whith 4 cockerals, while they bonded with the hens over eating bugs and weeds!
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017

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