looking to add new birds to our flock, would like advice on indroduction methods.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CaitR89, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. CaitR89

    CaitR89 New Egg

    Mar 25, 2016
    SE Pennsylvania
    I already have 10 barred rock hens and my husband I are going to order some black australorp pullets (not sure yet how many) to add to our flock. When the time comes to introducing the two groups what are some good methods of doing so, to have the least amount of violence, blood shed, and or deaths. I do understand that there will be some squabbling and that there is a pecking order. Any thoughts and tips would be helpful thanks!
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    It's best to introduce the new ones when they are still chicks, I like to do it when they are done needing extra heat, about 8-10 weeks. Pen the chicks next to or within the coop so the older birds become familiar with seeing them, usually 1-2 weeks, than begin supervised mingling, returning the chicks back to their safe pen when they had enough or things get too rough. You can leave them out when you feel comfortable that they will be okay. I continue to put them separately at night until they get a bit older.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!!

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    Best example ever of chick respite and doors by azygous

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Experience has shown me that brooding chicks from day one in proximity to the adult flock results in the most seamless integration.

    The babies get to observe the adults and learn from these observations, while the adults come to accept the chicks as flock members before they mingle together. Also, I utilize the "panic room" method so the chicks have a safe refuge to flee into when the pecking order becomes overwhelming, thus integration proceeds at a pace comfortable for the chicks who begin to mingle with the adults at age three weeks using 5 x 7" portals from their safe pen into the main pen.

    If this method sounds interesting and you think it might be something you'd like to try, I wrote all about it in an article linked below under "Articles by Azygous".

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