Looked, but didn't see info regarding this type of integration.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rojororeo, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2013
    Hello all!
    First, thank you for tolerating another flock integration question!
    Here it is:
    I currently have 8 chickens- 1 Polish rooster and 7 just coming into laying hens. All are the same age, all raised together. Get along great. Have a ~30ft x 40ft pen and a coop they live in.

    I am buying them a new coop. Well, the one I found on Craigslist that I fell in love with... it comes with five ~2 year old laying hens.
    The new coop is 4ft x 8ft, with a run that is attached that appears to be about 3 times that size.

    We plan to give them an additional ~30ft x 20ft attached to the current area, when the new coop comes in. This allows for quite a bit of free ranging. This area is still even fenced separate from the current yard. Which might help with integration, I assume.

    I get the ideas of integrating- you put them next to each other and let them observe, correct? Will this make up of ages- the current chickens being younger- will that cause issues? Will having the rooster being younger be an issue?

    Also, for health/quarantine reasons, how long to keep them separated?

    In the end I want to get rid of the old coop, and have everyone live happily ever after in the new 4x8 with lots of yard space.
    I can keep the old coop up for a while, until everyone integrates. It has a tarp roof tho, so they need to integrate before fall/winter! (I have built the old one myself, haven't made the roof yet, and we decided it is just too rickety/ugly, lol)

    That was long, sorry! Thank you if you read to the end, I just wanted to be very thorough!!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Normal quarantine is 30 days. Diseases spread thought their poop, through them eating or especially drinking from the same water, or just dander blown through the air. The more you can isolate on group from the other the better. Some people go so far as to not wear the same shoes when going from one group to the other or even using different containers to carry food or water to each group. There are different levels of quarantine. Just do the best you reasonably can and don’t obsess over it. It’s likely there is nothing wrong with either group anyway but quarantine is a great safeguard.

    It’s also possible that each flock may have developed immunities that don’t affect them but could affect any other chicken they come into contact with. Coccidiosis is a good example. It’s possible your existing flock could affect the newcomers. Don’t get me wrong. Quarantine is a great tool but you still have to be vigilant after you finally put the two together. I don’t mean to frighten you. People do this all the time and it practically always works out well.

    You may have integration issues or you may not. Sometimes these things are pretty rough and sometimes they go so smoothly you wonder what all the worry was about. From what you describe it sounds like you have a real good chance for most of it to not be bad but they are living animals and don’t come with guarantees. All the room you have is a great benefit and the two separate coops can come in real handy.

    What I suggest is that once you finish with quarantine you house them side by side where they can see each other and be right across the fence form each other for a week or so. Maybe even occasionally throw some treat where they eat side by side but can’t get to each other. Then when you are ready open things up where they can roam together during the day but go back to their separate coops a night. After a week or two of roaming together, you can try moving them to the same coop. Give them time to get used to each other before you force them to share tighter quarters.

    More mature chickens outrank younger immature chickens so the older will possibly pick on the younger, but with you having so many more younger chickens that works to your advantage. As I said, with your space and the numbers working for you, you have a good chance of it not being too rough.

    One possible area of conflict may be that young rooster. He’s still young. It’s not unusual for older hens to school a younger rooster on the proper way to treat a lady. He needs to dance for them, find them food, watch for danger, and keep peace in his flock. And he needs to WOW! them with his magnificence and self-confidence. Younger more immature roosters aren’t always good at that. They get better as they mature.

    For a rooster to properly do his job as flock master he has to dominate the other chickens in his flock. One way he establishes that dominance is to mate with the hens. If he doesn’t meet their standards the older hens may whip his butt if he tries or maybe just run away. It’s also possible that cockerel will meet their standards. Living animals don’t come with guarantees. Given time they will work it out but don’t be surprised to see some conflict and drama here.

    One way chickens have learned to live together as a flock is that the weaker runs away from the stronger or just avoids the stronger to start with. It sounds like you have plenty of room for them to run away and avoid. That’s the main reason I think yours should go pretty smoothly. Good luck!
  3. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2013
    Thank you SO much for your thorough reply!!! It covered everything I was wondering!
    My thoughts on who would 'win' the get to know each other battles matched right on with what you said. I must be learning something when I read all these posts! lol
    I hope the rooster is liked by the new girls. He seems to do well with our current girls. Of course our current girls are like young teenagers- they always pick the bad boy in school to skip class with, right?! lol I watch him tell them when I bring food, then he lets them eat first for a while, while he searches out more. He can be a bit of a brat with chasing them sometimes, and it is a behavior I don't quite get- but like you said- they have space to get away and that seems to fix it, so someone gives up when they forget a branch is there and almost clothesline themself, lol.
    As much as I hate the look of 3 coops in there, I do plan to keep them all for a while, for adjustment. My poor current birds, they have gone from my friend's house to here, then into 2 different coops here... I am sure once everyone gets along and I teach them the new coop is theirs as well, all will be good.

    We are also keeping up most of the middle fencing between the 2 pens, with just a human sized gate opening. I thought that would really help as well for stopping pursuits. And also allow me to separate out birds if I need to, and bring in a large dog crate to separate badly behaving chickens.
    I am already seeing how the weaker bird avoids, my poor pretty Partridge Rock always stays to the fringes. :)

    Thank you again so much for your great reply. Makes me feel good to know that all my thoughts were quite on par with what will happen. I do hope I don't have issues, as it will break my heart to see them not get along!

    Have a great day!

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