Moving 1 yr Old Hens into New Coop with 14-2 1/2 mo Olds


11 Years
Oct 17, 2008
Tennessee, USA
We built a new coop for our 14 new babies who are now about 2 1/2 months old. Over the past couple of weeks we have been letting them mingle off and on both inside and outside the pen, with our 5 1yr old hens, thinking they would get used to each other.

This weekend we moved the 5 1yr old hens into the new coop with the younger ones. We moved the old nesting boxes and everything, completely emptying the old set-up, so we can clean it up and move our OEGs and Bantam Cochins into it. As expected, the older girls chased and bullied the new ones, so the "littles" did their best to stay away from the "bigs". Every time the littles tried to go inside to eat, the bigs would chase them out, to the point that I was worried the littles wouldn't get anything to eat.

Then our BO hen, the biggest bully, started going nuts at the edge of the pen that looks on to the old set-up. She was screaming and pacing. She would go into the coop and run out anyone who was inside and pace and scream in there. One of the other 1yr olds pinned her down in the corner, stood on top of her and pecked and pecked until I could get to her. I picked her up and tried to calm her down, but when that didn't work, I put her outside the new pen to wander where she wanted to go. She went over to the old pen and walked around and around, inside and out, screaming and clucking. I knew she was confused and stressed, and so was I - not knowing exactly what to do. I just let her explore and left all the doors open so she could wander in an out of the old pen.

Finally she went back to the fence around the new pen, so I put her back in the new coop, thinking that she might settle down. She chased everyone else out of the coop and then she came outside. I noticed that she was huddled down nearly under the coop and the 4 other, older hens were crouched around her. Then they all walked off and I found she had layed an egg in the grass, so my suspicion was confirmed. She was looking for the nesting boxes in the old coop.

I sat and watched them all for a little while, then it dawned on me to cover the end of the new pen that looks onto the old, so they couldn't see it and to see if that would help. After just a few minutes, the older girls headed into the coop where most of the littles had already gone to roost for the night. I heard a little squawking and moving around, but eventually they settled down for the night, so I closed the pop door and went to bed. Much to my dismay, there was one RIR outside the coop, but in the pen when I went to let them out this morning! I guess I was so upset and it was dark and he/she was probably hiding from the bigs, under the coop, so I didn't see him/her. Thankfully we had put a couple of saw horses in the pen, so he/she had a place to roost, away from the edge of the pen. I felt awful.

Do you think the bigs will finally settle down and quit chasing the littles? Will my precious BO hen finally settle down in her new home? I am so worried what I will find when I get home this afternoon!
I don't know if I can make it a couple of weeks! AWWWWWK! DH asked me if I needed to retire so I could stay home and keep an eye on the chickens!
The hen has settled down now and is not acting crazy, but the 1 yr. olds were still bullying the little ones and not letting them eat or drink. Since the outside pen is divided so that we can put the big girls on one side and the little ones on the other, we ran a temporay chicken wire fence inside the coop so that the big girls can get to the nesting boxes and the littles can get to the larger roost. We put a saw-horse on the big girls side as a temporary roost. The plan is to let the little ones get a bit bigger, move the bantams into the old coop and then let the 1 yr olds and the larger chickens try to work it all out.
We just did something similar, but with the eleven young ones moving in with the seven 1-year-olds. Six weeks after the move, our old ones still won't let the young ones eat while they are eating. But they have a large (1/8 acre) area to roam, and when the old ones are off exploring the young ones can eat. We bought a second food dispenser, which helps but was probably unnecessary. The young ones slept on the floor at first but started roosting after a couple of weeks. This caused much consternation on the part of our head Rhode Island hen, who still paces along the high perch every night pecking off all who want to roost there until she settles into a spot and leaves the others in peace.

So...if you have enough space they will probably coexist in relative peace, keeping to their own respective flocks. With less space, they may not get along until they are the same size.
We've solved part of the problem by reworking the older/smaller coop and moving the 6 bantams into it. They are SO much happier, now that the standards aren't picking on them. My beautiful little bantam rooster (13/14 wks old) has started crowing this week and he struts around the pen like he is king of the place, which I guess he is at this point.


Two of the 6 we moved into the smaller coop are our blues and one of them is a rooster, so I'm keeping an eye out to see how they get along. I think the blues might be OEGBs.

We took down the temporary partition and left the 6 RIR (who I think have turned out to me all roos-darn it! and will be re-homed soon) and the 2 white leghorns in the larger coop/run with the older girls. We figured that they could fend for themselves since they are closer in size. The older girls are still picking on them, but we are letting them out of the pen to roam in the afternoon, so they are getting plenty of bugs and greens. The pen is large enough that they can get away from them during the day when we aren't home. The main problem has been at night when the older girls won't let the younger ones on the roost, so problem solved with moving the sawhorse back in so they have another place to roost.

This morning the big girls went out of the coop first, so I closed the pop door to allow the younger birds to get something to eat before I opened the door again to let them out. They have a large waterer outside that they can all get to and I don't think that has been too much of a problem. At least they don't appear to be overly thirsty when I get home from work.

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