introducing to the flock


10 Years
Oct 29, 2011
I never realized how stressfull introducing new chickens can be to owners! We have three 8 month old hens and one roo. We wanted to add two new EEs. We bought them when they were only two weeks old and the others were about 4 months. So now they are about 4 months, and have been introduced in every way I can think of. They roost together at night, but if I leave them together during the day, the hens are merciless. The babies are either banished to the roost, where they can't eat or drink or they are cornered and pecked, screaming.

I can't stand it! When they see me, they fly onto my head thinking I am Mommy. Should I just let them beat them up? Will they starve or stress too much? Now it's cold and I worry about that. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
What is happening is normal pecking order stuff. If the ones lower in the pecking order enter the personal space of the more mature hens, they get pecked. That is normal standard behavior in a flock. The result is that the younger chickens quickly learn to stay away from the older birds. If space is tight, that can be a problem. They can't get away.

My suggestions are to provide some extra feeding and watering stations scattered out a bit. Give the young a chance to eat and drink without having to face those older chickens. Give them as much room as you can. If you cannot give them more coop or run space (I know that can be really hard for a lot of people) give them perches and roosts so they can get away, put things in there for them to hide under or behind. Give them a better chance to avoid the older birds. When they mature enough to be able to establish their own place in the pecking order this will take card of itself, but until then, it can be a problem.

I know this does not do you any good right now, but this shows why extra space is really best. I provide a lot more than the recommended minimum. My 4 week old chicks that have been weaned by a broody do OK with the flock. They go through the same pecking order stuff you are describing, but they have lots of room to get away.
Hi, thank you for the suggestions. I feel better hearing that things will get better when they are older. They actually have separate living areas that connect right now. I close the door between them during the day. I free range as often as possible ( a hawk killed one of mine so 24/7 free range is not an option), and also let the bigger ones in "The playpen", an area covered with aviary netting that is about 20x40 feet.

The closed areas consist of a 4x6 closed in bedroom for safe night roosting (with ventilation). The front porch where the little girls are is a covered 4x6 foot area. The back yard, where the big kids are is about twice that size. All areas have roosts and dog houses for extra shelter. We plan on closing in an adjacent area that is about 6x8 feet for the little ones until full integration can occur. So far, our eggs are costing around $20.00 each it seems!

So, how much room is recommended? Does this sound like enough?
Thank you! Since mine are just 16 weeks now, it sounds like my caution to just let them together without supervision is warranted. We let them free range all day yesterday and by the end of the day, the babies were staying close to the big kids.
The way these chickens are pecking is natural with the pecking order. My suggestion would be to segregate the younger hens from the older hens with chicken wire so they can see eachother and put food/water in the segregated enclosure. After a few weeks take down the enclosure and watch how they react to eachother. Always give the little ones a safe place to have food and water that only they can access if possible. Another strategy is to put them outside in an area new to both young and old chickens so the pecking order becomes more of a running game on neutral territory.

Good luck and God bless,
Butler for 20 chickens:p

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