Introducing young hens to a flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Svalur, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. Svalur

    Svalur Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    I am trying to introduce 2 20 week old pullets to my 3 one-year-old hens. I got a new coop and put it in the enclosure with the old coop where the older hens sleep. I shut the pullets in the new coop for a few days. When I first let them out, the older hens were originally distracted with scraps, but soon went into the new coop and chased the pullets out. Now every time I try to let the pullets
    out, there is a lot of pecking. The pullets always end up in a corner of the enclosure, or on the roof of the coop, and they stay there terrified to move until I rescue them. I left them all afternoon today and they still did not venture out from their corner to scratch or explore. How long will this go on, and should I keep it to short bursts so they don't get too stressed or longer periods so they sort it out more quickly? I think it may be stressing out the older hens as well, because their egg production has decreased.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    From what I've read, ideally, they should be able to move freely outdoors and in, in separate areas, for a few weeks before putting them together. At this point I'd say what they need is to be in the same but a much larger space, with a second food and water station, and with more than one hiding place available.

    This thread and the article linked in post #2 are a good discussion of this subject:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/803815/integrating-two-groups/0_20
     
  3. beccaboo254

    beccaboo254 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I second what flockwatcher said. I introduced a single hen to my three (before I lost one to a dog) and they started making the most progress when I let them roam the full yard together. Then one day I put them back in the run, let them duke it out a little (just pecking and chasing) and the new girl bravely went up to roost with them that night. For the first week or so she wasn't allowed on the bar, but now she is. It's been several weeks and despite losing her "buddy" she seems fine. Even laying again. As long as she had a place to hide, I tried not to intervene unless it got violent. I think the sooner the bully/ies feel they've put the new ones in their place, the sooner it settles down.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  4. Svalur

    Svalur Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    Thanks everyone!
     
  5. ThePinesFarm

    ThePinesFarm New Egg

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    Mar 14, 2014
    i am dealing with the same thing. i have had my pullets, 10 wks old in a space of their own in the coop for 2 weeks. each evening i let them out and they go to the older hens side of the coop. they get pecked and chased until they run to the younger side. i have 5 adult hens to 10 pullets. that doesn't seem to matter, they all come racing back to their side. should i continue with the once a day visits or just let them over into the larger section with the older hens. i don't want any of them to be killed. i have worked hard getting them to this age.
     
  6. Svalur

    Svalur Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    OK, I did continue to let them all out together for periods of time when I was around to supervise, but kept them separate for feeding. It took a while before the young ones would venture down off the top of their coop. Once the older hens knew the younger ones would run away, and the younger ones got better at running straight to their hiding place, everything was OK and the pecking stopped. What I did notice was that one of the young hens started laying a few weeks ago, and as soon as she started laying the older hens accepted her and allowed her to feed with them. The others (I bought another 2 the same age!) who have still not started laying are not accepted in the same way. So I wonder if it is worth waiting until they are mature before introducing them in together? Just a thought.
    The other thing I would suggest is to make sure the youngsters have somewhere they can hide where the others can't get them. My older hens have their wings clipped so can't fly as high. so the youngsters sit on top of their coop where the older ones can't get them.
     

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