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Merging Single Pullet with 3 Pullets and Existing Flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kgolub, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. kgolub

    kgolub Hatching

    Apr 12, 2012
    This is a tricky one...

    We have an existing flock of 4 hens who are about 4 years old (3 Araucanas and 1 Buff).

    My daughter brought home 2 little chicks that were hatched at school. We kept them in the house and then moved them into a little coop next to our large coop when they feathered at about 3 months old. Then one of the chicks (or pullets - not sure when they become pullets?) up and died. She had no signs of trauma, wasn't in direct sunlight, had plenty of water and food, etc. So, that left our other pullet alone. Such a bummer because they were such buddies.

    Our surviving little pullet ("Midnight", a Barred Rock) had been out in our garden (about a 1/4 acre orchard with shrubs, etc) with the big girls and had even gone in to roost with them one night (albeit on the opposite end of the roosting bar from the big girls). So, we decided to get pullets around the same age so she could have "her own flock" and not be a total loner and so the biggies wouldn't end up picking on her.

    The new pullets (1 Barred Rock and 2 Rhode Island Reds) arrived yesterday and I put them in the little coop with Midnight, but she was scared to death and one of the new pullets starting pecking at her. So, I let her sleep in the big coop again and left the new pullets in our little coop. This morning, when we let them out to range, Midnight had a sore on the top of her beak (assuming one of the biggies wasn't so psyched on having her in the coop for so long). They're fine with her in the field, but not if they can't range, I guess.

    Now, poor Midnight is in a wire dog crate next to the little coop with the 3 new pullets and where the biggies can see all of them when they're our ranging, but all of the pullets are in their coops. I have a dog exercise pen I've tried to use to let them out, but they fly out of it! Oy...so complicated!!

    1) About how long should I keep the pullets (the 3 new and Midnight) separated but where they can see each other but are separated?
    2) Should I try putting one of the new pullets in with Midnight at some point so they can "bond" - will they bond?
    3) When should I try putting the pullets all together in the little coop? (or should I do this in the big coop for limited "play dates.")
    4) When should I try lettting all of them range together?
    5) When can I put all 8 together in one coop?
    6) About how long does it take for new chickens to "get used to" each other?

    Thanks for any/all advice/guidance on any/all of the above!

    - Kelly

  2. I think a few days to be safe and when you do release them with the rest, do it at night time. You might consider adding an older hen to the juveniles pen. Get a hen that is not too aggressive. The younger birds will get used to being around the older birds and learn from her. When you let them all out they will take a cue from her where to go, when to roost, etc. As soon as the injured bird is better reintroduce her the same way. It may help to have a place the younger (and smaller) can duck into that the older ones can't if they need to. There is going to be a certain amount of pecking but usually the older established hens are not so bad. Young juveniles on the other hand can be pretty mean. The meanest chicken I have right now is a 5 week old cochin/brahma mix. It has settled down after getting to free range and be around the older chickens.
  3. kgolub

    kgolub Hatching

    Apr 12, 2012
    Thank you so much for the great ideas!! Will give them a try. It did seem that the older birds were ok with my youngest girl before this morning when they didn't get released to range at the "preferred" time. ;o)

    Really appreciate your reply. All of our animals find a way into my heart and their well-bring keeps me up at night!! Guess I'm the ultimate mother hen!! Ha ha!!

    Thanks again!!

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