Introducing pullets to flock (flock includes one rooster)

bayareapilot

Songster
10 Years
Jun 8, 2010
215
144
211
San Francisco
The new little ones which are just a little over a week old and of course, aren't ready to go out, but when they are at the age when it is appropriate for them to be outside (5 to 6 weeks) I thought I'd ferret some advice as to what age is the best age to introduce the pullets to the existing flock?
So, I've never had to integrate new members to a flock. My older hens had a totally separate area from the newer hens .

So, some of the things I've read suggest waiting until the additions are of comparable size to the one's that you are adding to. The latter has left me scratching my head since the flock I'd be adding to is almost 7 months ahead of where they are in terms of growth. Certainly one doesn't wait until the 'additions' are 6 months old (at which point they'd likely be of comparable height - but likely not girth yet)?

My plan is, once the chicks are old enough to make the move outside I'll have a smaller area that is temporarily fenced off from. I"d have a larger coop (big enough to eventually house both, combined, populations if need be) on the other side of the fence. So basically, for awhile, the original group and the new on the block group will be able to see one another through the fencing but NOT get to one another. I guess (?) they continue tha way for at least a month and then they have a supervised 'meet and greet' to see how things go?

BTW: The reason I am placing a larger coop in the confined area is that I am presupposing that the cockerell and two pullets (both a little more than 7 months old now) will want to move into the larger coop (?) since the one they are in now will only accomodate four at the most.

SO, again, having never done a combination does what I am suggesting seem like a reasonable approach? At what age (obviously beyond that required for them to be living outside in the first place) 10 weeks/12 weeks or (???) as to when to try a meet and greet. I'd guess (?) that I'll get some cues based on how they react to each other through the poulty hex fencing (polymer with about 3/4 inch holes in the material). I presume when the interaction through the fencing looks more friendly (after several weeks to a month or so (???)), is when the intial trial balloon of the meet and greet should occur.

Just wondering. Thanks in advance ! :)
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,517
20,802
907
Southeast Louisiana
I find that size has nothing to do with it. Maturity is an important factor. Room is another very important factor. So, in feet, how much room do you have in your coops and runs and how are they tied together? Photos often help.

More mature birds outrank less mature birds in the pecking order regardless of size. When a lower-ranking bird invades he personal space of a higher ranking bird they are liable to get pecked. This usually doesn't happen when they are all mature but it occasionally can. When one is a juvenile it happens a lot. So juveniles quickly learn to avoid the older birds, form their own sub-flock. They can co-exist if they can stay far enough away.

I've had broody hens raise their chicks with the flock and wean them at three weeks old. 3 weeks, that is not a typo. They quit protecting those chicks and leave them alone to make their own way with the flock. They do. I'm not a broody hen, I don't try it that young. Most of my broody hens wait much longer to wean their chicks but 4 weeks isn't that unusual.

My brooder is in the coop so my chicks grow up with the flock. At five weeks mine are fully integrated. I just open the brooder door and let them out. I do not recommend this for most people. My coop is large with lots of hiding places. I have a lot of space outside (well over 50 square feet per bird even when it is crowded) and weather that they can all be outside all day every day. During the day they usually stay well apart. At night the adults sleep on the main roosts and the juveniles sleep other places.

These chicks are nowhere near the same size as the adults. That's why I don't think size has much if anything to do with it.

That still leaves the question with your facilities what is a good management method for you to try. Housing them across wire for a while can really help. Some people try a week, some may want a month. Each flock is different, I don't have a specific recommendation.

When you let them mingle, have several different feeding and watering stations. That allows them to eat and drink without conflict.

Give them as much room as you can. Don't try to force them together in a small area thinking they will be forced to work it out. It doesn't work that way. You can improve the quality of the room you have by adding clutter. That means giving them places to hide under, behind, or over. When I open the pop door in the morning it's pretty common to see the adults on the coop floor while the juveniles are on the roosts out of reach. If I have a second set of juveniles they may be hiding under the nests, a pretty tight fit. Under there they are avoiding the adults and the older juveniles on the roosts.

If the younger ones want to sleep somewhere away from the the adults, let them. I don't care where my juveniles sleep as long as it is somewhere predator-safe and not in my nests.

Depending on what your facilities look like and the size of the chicks you may be able to use the safe haven/panic room idea. Have an opening between where the chicks were brooded and where the adults are that the chicks can fit through but the adults can't. it usually doesn't take the chicks long to learn to run to safety if a hen starts bothering them. I don't use this method as I've never had the need but it can be a really valuable tool if you have limited space.

The more you can tell us about your facilities the more likely we can make specific suggestions on how to go about it. All I can do is give generic suggestions. Hope some of it helps.
 

bayareapilot

Songster
10 Years
Jun 8, 2010
215
144
211
San Francisco
I find that size has nothing to do with it. Maturity is an important factor. Room is another very important factor. So, in feet, how much room do you have in your coops and runs and how are they tied together? Photos often help.

More mature birds outrank less mature birds in the pecking order regardless of size. When a lower-ranking bird invades he personal space of a higher ranking bird they are liable to get pecked. This usually doesn't happen when they are all mature but it occasionally can. When one is a juvenile it happens a lot. So juveniles quickly learn to avoid the older birds, form their own sub-flock. They can co-exist if they can stay far enough away.

I've had broody hens raise their chicks with the flock and wean them at three weeks old. 3 weeks, that is not a typo. They quit protecting those chicks and leave them alone to make their own way with the flock. They do. I'm not a broody hen, I don't try it that young. Most of my broody hens wait much longer to wean their chicks but 4 weeks isn't that unusual.

My brooder is in the coop so my chicks grow up with the flock. At five weeks mine are fully integrated. I just open the brooder door and let them out. I do not recommend this for most people. My coop is large with lots of hiding places. I have a lot of space outside (well over 50 square feet per bird even when it is crowded) and weather that they can all be outside all day every day. During the day they usually stay well apart. At night the adults sleep on the main roosts and the juveniles sleep other places.

These chicks are nowhere near the same size as the adults. That's why I don't think size has much if anything to do with it.

That still leaves the question with your facilities what is a good management method for you to try. Housing them across wire for a while can really help. Some people try a week, some may want a month. Each flock is different, I don't have a specific recommendation.

When you let them mingle, have several different feeding and watering stations. That allows them to eat and drink without conflict.

Give them as much room as you can. Don't try to force them together in a small area thinking they will be forced to work it out. It doesn't work that way. You can improve the quality of the room you have by adding clutter. That means giving them places to hide under, behind, or over. When I open the pop door in the morning it's pretty common to see the adults on the coop floor while the juveniles are on the roosts out of reach. If I have a second set of juveniles they may be hiding under the nests, a pretty tight fit. Under there they are avoiding the adults and the older juveniles on the roosts.

If the younger ones want to sleep somewhere away from the the adults, let them. I don't care where my juveniles sleep as long as it is somewhere predator-safe and not in my nests.

Depending on what your facilities look like and the size of the chicks you may be able to use the safe haven/panic room idea. Have an opening between where the chicks were brooded and where the adults are that the chicks can fit through but the adults can't. it usually doesn't take the chicks long to learn to run to safety if a hen starts bothering them. I don't use this method as I've never had the need but it can be a really valuable tool if you have limited space.

The more you can tell us about your facilities the more likely we can make specific suggestions on how to go about it. All I can do is give generic suggestions. Hope some of it helps.
The longest open run is approximately 15 ft wide by a little more than 35 ft long. It has fruit trees dwarfs, along the way so there actually are plenty of hiding spots.

Can't thank you enough for your very complete answer! :)

The chicks that I will be adding when it's time for them to go in their own poop outside, which is a good number of weeks away right now I guess about 5 weeks AR golden sex links and the slightly older population will eventually be introduced to our 2 pullets and a Cockerel that are Easter eggers.
By the way correct me if I'm wrong here which I very well maybe but won't the pullets be the most challenging in terms of the addition of the newcomer younger pullets? I'm thinking, maybe erroneously?, That the rooster will be fairly welcoming. ???

You know that leads me to another question is an introduction of the very young pullets will only be probably about I don't know maybe 7 or 8 weeks old at that time depending on when it looks like a good time to do the meet-and-greet - anyway that started me wondering just now about the rooster is there going to be any problem with regards to mating, I assume he's going to probably try to mate with the very young pullets? Does that happen or does he ignore them till they're older or does it not really matter they just get mated with and that's that?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,517
20,802
907
Southeast Louisiana
By the way correct me if I'm wrong here which I very well maybe but won't the pullets be the most challenging in terms of the addition of the newcomer younger pullets? I'm thinking, maybe erroneously?, That the rooster will be fairly welcoming. ???

From what I read your cockerel and pullets are now 7 months old. By the time you add those chicks they should pretty much be acting as mature hens and rooster. You don't get guarantees with animal behaviors, but typically a mature rooster is very accepting of chicks unless you keep them separated so long that any boys are old enough to be seen as rivals. If you have a problem it typically comes from the hens. Usually my hens are not a problem either but it canhappen.

I assume he's going to probably try to mate with the very young pullets?

A mature rooster should not try mating with the pullets until they get real close to laying age. Again, you don't get guarantees when it comes to behaviors, but that has never been a problem for me. Now immature cockerels are different.
 

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