Is there a way to get old birds to share the coop with new ones?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pengoons, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. pengoons

    pengoons New Egg

    Oct 19, 2008
    We have about 30 hens free-range along with goats and alpacas and one Toulouse goose. About 15 of the chickens are older birds that have been together for a couple of years at least. Another 10 or so were introduced about 8 months ago, and then another 5 were introduced about 4 months ago.

    I've got a nice chicken house with nest boxes that they all slept in and where the feeders were kept, but a year or so ago we had a real problem with raccoons killing hens in the henhouse, so the chickens all migrated one house down and moved in with the goats (and the goose who thinks she's a goat). After unsuccessfully trying to get them to move back into the chicken house, I gave up and turned the 'chicken house' into a feed room, and built new nest boxes in the goat house. All was well.

    Then we added the first batch of new birds, and the older hens wouldn't let them stay in the chicken/goat house, so this batch up and moved two sheds down and set up shop with the alpacas in their loafing shed. They've just started to lay eggs and are doing so in the alpaca hay, which isn't optimum.

    When the third batch joined, of course, they weren't welcomed either place so they moved back into the original chicken, now feed, house.

    Here's my question: is there a good way to get them all to share the same roosts and nest boxes, or should I simply give up and put nest boxes in the alpaca shed (to accommodate group 2) and back in the chicken/feed house (to accommodate group 3)?

    I'd prefer to get them all in one or at most two places - any ideas?
  2. biddyboo

    biddyboo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Ashland, Missouri
    I'm surely too much a newbie to be chiming in on your question, but I am willing to share what we have done successfully this summer: the process of assembling our backyard flock of 15 made up of various breeds. We had been told about the pecking initiation that older birds give new additions and it was recommended to us, after quarantine time, to merge the new birds with the old flock at roosting time, evening when they go into the coop for the night. We did, for four different sets of new additions, and each time, I'd go out the next morning expecting to find a battered bloody newcomer, but everything was always okay. Oh yes, the new hens do get pecked occasionally or chased from favored tidbits, and it is usually a couple weeks before the new ones really begin to merge with the older hens for all their activities, but it does happen and no one has been abused or injured or starved because of being introduced. We were told that because the hens cannot see well in the dark, they don't recognize newcomers and by morning, they have feed, scratch, and water on their minds and just don't get around to really bad behavior. That's our 2cents worth, but we're convinced that nighttime additions work when putting new hens with an old flock. I guess that my point for your post above is to try cooping them all together at roosting time, locking them down in the dark. See how it goes, and hopefully you'll have them all merged and living in one central egg-collection place! ~G
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009

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