Merging Young Flocks - Normal or Bullying?


Apr 30, 2019
Hi all, first time chicken owner here! I have three 16-week old Buff Orphingtons and three 13-week old Easter Eggers. Because of the 3-week age difference, they were raised in separate indoor brooders. When both groups were large enough that they needed to move outside, I only had one outdoor coop that could safely house them, so they were merged at 11 weeks (buffs) and 8 weeks (eggers). (Earlier than ideal, I know...)

I read a bunch of posts online here about merging flocks, and I kept the younger pullets in a separate fenced area within the outdoor run during the day, so they could see and get used to each other, and then all 6 chickens went up to roost at night without too much fussing.
After two weeks of that, I let all 6 chickens free in the coop and run. That was over three weeks ago.

Since then, the Buffs have been chasing and pecking the smaller Egger hens every time they try to leave the coop and come out into the run. So the younger Eggers have basically stayed inside the coop 100% of the time. They peek out often, but as soon as they start to come down the ramp, the Buffs charge them and they run back inside. At night everyone is still going in the coop to roost without too much trouble. And when the Buffs go into the coop, the Eggers stay inside as well and it’s not too rowdy. It’s only when the Eggers try to leave the coop, and come into the run, that the bullying starts. So they just never come out!

After two weeks of side by side housing and three weeks of sharing the coop/run... is this normal, or do I need to intervene somehow? I was trying to wait it out, but I’m worried the Buffs aren’t going to quit and the Eggers will be stuck in the coop forever.
Any suggestions on what to do next?

FYI - Their current living space is a 32 sq ft coop (4ft x 8ft) and the run is 96 sq ft (12ft x 8 ft). I can’t free range due to predators (hawks and coyotes and raccoons) - we live in the woods.

Thanks so much for any advice!


May 29, 2019
West Palm Beach Florida
I’d try taking the EE’s out of the coop and into the run with you there as well to watch over them.

Normally pecking order should be established by this point, is it all the buff Orpingtons bullying the EE’s or just one or two?

Maybe ensure for a day or two that the EE’s get some time outside the coop with the Buffs to get them used to the idea of sharing.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
(Earlier than ideal, I know...)
Actually, later than ideal...merging young chicks(3-6 weeks) is easier than 8-12wks,
or even putting them all together outside at once might have worked(new territory to all).
But, water under the bridge.

Odd that they roost together OK, but not the rest of the day.
Can you put the Orps where the EE were kept separate?
That way the EE can get the lay of the land without harassment.
Where is the feed and water?
What does your run look like(pics would help), any 'hiding' places?
Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.

Oh, and...Welcome to BYC! @jlteevan
Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
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Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I also integrate mine younger. But it is what it is. You can have issues when they are younger, you can have issues when they are older.

In my opinion, what you are seeing isn't that horrible or unusual. The more mature Orps outrank the less mature EE's and aren't shy about enforcing those pecking order rights. That's pretty common and why you often see different sub-flocks in the same flock. Younger chickens usually quickly learn to avoid more mature birds until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. With my pullets, that's usually when they start to lay.

I know your coop and run meet the standard magic numbers for chickens that's supposed to make life great, but that's for chickens that are pretty much the same age. Eventually you will be OK with that many chickens. Integration often takes more room. So maybe make more room or improve the quality of the room you have. Is your run pretty bare? If you can put things in the run for them to hide under, behind, or over the younger birds may be able to come out without being attacked. That might be something up on cinder blocks, a piece of plywood leaning against the fence (make sure the wind cannot blow it down), or maybe set a table in the run.

Can you identify one Orp as the ring-leader? Often one starts it and the others follow when they attack like that. if you can isolate the offending Orp, see how it goes with the others. If the other Orps leave the EE's alone, keep the offender isolated from the flock for a week, then put her back. I've had luck changing the dynamics by isolating a chicken. It doesn't always work but it's worth trying.

My definition of a successful integration is that they can coexist without any getting injured or killed. You've accomplished that. I'm impressed that they can share the coop at night, that's where I have more issues than during the day. If you do nothing they will merge into one flock when the younger ones reach maturity. As I said, with mine that's typically when they start to lay.

It won't hurt the EE's to spend their time in the coop as long as you have food and water both in the coop and in the run. They are pooping a lot in there during the day, it might be easier to manage that if they were pooping more in the run. Even if you do manage to get the EE's in the run, do not expect them to closely mingle with the Orps. They will still try to avoid them. If they get too close they will most likely get pecked. That's why places to hide in the run can be helpful. An 8x12 run doesn't give them much room to avoid.

Mrs. K

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
Send a picture of the run. Is it an open rectangle? Does it have hide outs? Does it have multiple feed bowls where a bird can eat out of sight of other birds? Does it have multiple roosts in the run?

Clutter up the run, will help the most. Add ladders, saw horses, old furniture, wheel barrows, anything that a bird can step behind or under or get on top of and be out of sight. This will slow down the aggressive birds. There may still be chasing, but not near so far.

Try reversing it, if you can't let the old birds out of the set up, lock the old birds in the coop and lock the young ones in the run. As of now, the young ones are not seeing the run as part of their territory. Let them out there, lock them out there so that they explore the area without being chased by the old birds. Might need to do it 3 days, but by then this should be solved.

Mrs K

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