Mixing flocks

Figtree

Chirping
Feb 11, 2018
24
35
66
Eastern North Carolina
Hi,

So, I am wondering how to best tackle the mixing of my two flocks. I have had 7 hens that I got about a year and a half ago who were already about a year old. Then this April, I got chicks who are now 7 months old with 8 hens and one rooster. Each group has had their own coop and run where a small part of the fencing is common where they can see each other but are separated. The older ones also free range in my big backyard every day so they can wander all around the perimeter of the new flock's run. I have yet to let the "babies" out to free range for a variety of reasons but I feel like they are ready and now big enough. My first instinct is to let them "take turns" with the older gals so that they are not all out together at the same time? If I let them all out at once, would they go back to their respective coops on their own or should I expect some jostling. I am also not sure how the rooster will play a factor. Am I over thinking this? If anyone has any advice, it would be most appreciated! Thanks!
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
29,313
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NY Southern Tier
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Hi,

So, I am wondering how to best tackle the mixing of my two flocks. I have had 7 hens that I got about a year and a half ago who were already about a year old. Then this April, I got chicks who are now 7 months old with 8 hens and one rooster. Each group has had their own coop and run where a small part of the fencing is common where they can see each other but are separated. The older ones also free range in my big backyard every day so they can wander all around the perimeter of the new flock's run. I have yet to let the "babies" out to free range for a variety of reasons but I feel like they are ready and now big enough. My first instinct is to let them "take turns" with the older gals so that they are not all out together at the same time? If I let them all out at once, would they go back to their respective coops on their own or should I expect some jostling. I am also not sure how the rooster will play a factor. Am I over thinking this? If anyone has any advice, it would be most appreciated! Thanks!

I am in the process of integrating two flocks as well.
I would leave the original flock in their coop/run and let the pullets and cockerel out to free range to get to know the area for a day or two.
After they have had a chance to figure out foraging and hiding spots, on the third day, let the pullets/cockerel out first then let the hens out.
There will be bickering! If no one gets injured, leave them to sort things out for themselves. Allow each flock to return to their original coop to roost. After everyone seems to be getting along free ranging, close off the youngsters coop a see how everyone does together.
Take your time. Let them sort out the new pecking order.
One of my new girls took a shot to the face today and has some blood on her that will need to be cleaned off and the wound treated. She seems unphased by this. But today is just day one of free ranging together.
 

meetthebubus

Crowing
Mar 28, 2017
2,060
5,121
417
If they have seen each other there shouldn't be much problems except for some pecking order pecks, but free ranging seems like a large space to create less stress. My only issue was that I have 2 different roosters, so they fought and eventually I had to separate them again into 2 flocks but the girls get along for the most part here's a video I did of my integration hope it gives you an idea...


 

Figtree

Chirping
Feb 11, 2018
24
35
66
Eastern North Carolina
I am in the process of integrating two flocks as well.
I would leave the original flock in their coop/run and let the pullets and cockerel out to free range to get to know the area for a day or two.
After they have had a chance to figure out foraging and hiding spots, on the third day, let the pullets/cockerel out first then let the hens out.
There will be bickering! If no one gets injured, leave them to sort things out for themselves. Allow each flock to return to their original coop to roost. After everyone seems to be getting along free ranging, close off the youngsters coop a see how everyone does together.
Take your time. Let them sort out the new pecking order.
One of my new girls took a shot to the face today and has some blood on her that will need to be cleaned off and the wound treated. She seems unphased by this. But today is just day one of free ranging together.

Thank you so much for this advice. Neither coop is large enough in my opinion to accommodate all of them so I guess that is my biggest concern. I WANT to think they all will naturally return to their "own" coops and have a good night's sleep but I feel like I am unrealistic in this thought process. Ha ha.
 

Figtree

Chirping
Feb 11, 2018
24
35
66
Eastern North Carolina
If they have seen each other there shouldn't be much problems except for some pecking order pecks, but free ranging seems like a large space to create less stress. My only issue was that I have 2 different roosters, so they fought and eventually I had to separate them again into 2 flocks but the girls get along for the most part here's a video I did of my integration hope it gives you an idea...



Thanks for this! My new babies are 4 Easter eggers (one is the rooster), 3 Barred Rock, and two Cinnamon Queens. My older flock are 5 RIR and two Black Australorps. ;)
 

IamRainey

Crowing
Aug 22, 2017
2,849
11,732
486
Los Angeles (Woodland Hills); gardening zone 9B
I have 2 flocks that live in the same coop and run space. We had to work through some mean girl stuff. Several months after they've integrated my chief mean girl can still run a newbie off a treat with a look. But the fact is they are all OK and there's never been blood. That said, they are 2 distinct flocks and if one of either group goes up into the coop the others follow. If there are birds up on the roosts in the run they'll all be from the same flock.

I think if you let your chickens out to free range, they'll return to the right area. And if there's any mean girl action there will be lots of room for the picked upon to get away. My VERY limited experience is the mean girl doesn't want the newbie off the planet, just away from her goodies.
 

adstowe

Songster
Aug 8, 2016
387
517
181
Colorado
I have 2 coops that share a run. I start my littles in the smaller one with their door screened off. The two groups can see each other, but not touch. Then after a few weeks I open it up and they can intermingle. The younger ones will still go to their own coop to roost and often one of the lower ranked big girls will go there too. I never block off the little coop. That's the safe house for the picked on or insecure. Over time they all move over to the larger coop and become one flock. Don't rush it. It will happen when it's time.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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@DobieLover has laid out an excellent plan....I was also going to suggest letting the newbs out alone for a few days. I'll add that if you're nervous about the newbs going back to the coops, let them out just an hour before roost time, they won't go far and you won't have to worry too long until they go back in to roost.

If neither coop is big enough for all your birds, you might want to think about expanding one or building a new BIG coop.

This doesn't strictly apply to your situation but some of it might help,
so in case you haven't seen it, here's some tips on.....

Integration Basics:

It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
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.

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

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 copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, 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'(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.
 

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