Merging flocks into new coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by egks, Jun 25, 2016.

  1. egks

    egks New Egg

    Jun 25, 2016

    I want to get some opinions on what I should be doing. We purchased 6 chicks in the early spring who are now about 4 months old. Until last week, we had 4 existing chickens that were about 2 years old till the fox took three of those leaving us with 1 from the old flock so to speak.

    Both these flocks have been separated by some distance so nether one know each other. I'm in the final stages of completing a new coop I've been building over the last few months.

    What's the best approach to get all seven together in the new coop? Should I move the 6 young chickens into the new coop first then move the older one to their coop (I'll be able to create a run around the old coop) till they get along or move the one older bird to the new coop and keep the young ones in the old coop (she would run around the old coop with the 6).

    I assume it would be a bad idea to move all 7 into the new coop on the same day and lock them in for a few days.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    My suggestion is to put the six 4-month-olds in the new coop and keep the one older hen where she can see them but can’t get to them. That sounds like put a run around the old coop to me but I’m kind of guessing what your overall set-up looks like.

    I don’t know if a run is associated with the new coop or not. You may want to keep the younger ones locked in the new coop until they accept it as their new home, probably about a week, especially if you don’t have a run around it. Or you may just turn them loose in the new coop plus run and deal with teaching them where to sleep if that becomes a problem. It may not.

    I would eventually let them see each other across that temporary run fencing for a week before I let them together. Give them a chance to get to know each other yet not let her harm them. With their ages she will be the dominant hen for another month or two until the younger ones mature enough to challenge her so she is the one most likely to cause harm. When you let them together they will mostly be on the younger one’s territory. That should help.

    If you can, leave that old coop there for a while, a week or so. The old hen will probably still go to bed in there and will probably keep laying in there too. That’s fine, many problems in integration come at night when they are settling down to sleep. Give them time to interact a week or so before you close that old coop and try to move her to the new coop. She may make that move on her own, or the younger may try to move in with her at night. Just play that part by ear and see what you may need to do. My goal in this would be to let them interact before you rush them.

    One issue you may have. Pullets often learn where to lay by watching the older hens. When you lock that old hen out of the old coop she will need to find a new place to lay, assuming she is laying. That may or may not be the nests in the new coop. Your pullets aren’t that far from laying. This puts a bit of urgency in getting the integration done but that’s just an inconvenience if it becomes a problem. There is a really good chance it won’t become a problem but watch where she lays when you lock up that old coop. It’s more important that you take your time with the integration to make that go as smooth as you can. I think there is a really good chance this goes so smoothly you wonder what all the concern was about, but slow and easy is usually best.

    Good luck!
  3. CluckerCottage

    CluckerCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

    First of all, very sorry for your losses. It's never easy to lose birds to predators but we as owners need to do our part in keeping them safe.
    I can't stress enough how important it is for chicken owners to have a super-secure coop and run with good ventilation.
    I promote the use of hardware cloth rather than chicken wire. Anything you can do to keep the bad guys out-- do it.

    As for integration-- your older hen has been through trauma losing her 3 flockmates so you'll want to ease into this.
    I'd probably bring the 4 month olds to her current area and use fence separation in the run and in the coop. This way they can get to know each other without harm. After about a week, take fence down and stay present so you can see how they are getting along.
    Assuming the integration works out, let them stay there for another week or so.
    After that, I feel that you'll have the green light to move them all to their brand new coop.

    Best wishes to you!
  4. egks

    egks New Egg

    Jun 25, 2016
    Thanks for the information. I was working on the coop all day in preparation for the move.
  5. chickens really

    chickens really True BYC Addict

    I would do just as you suggested...Sounds to me you have things totally under control. Move the young ones First.
    Enjoy the Birds

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