Moving two groups of chickens into one coop.

46Trav

Hatching
Oct 23, 2021
3
6
9
Northern Catskills, NY
Hi All,

Got my first chickens this May and have been so grateful for this forum! Hope I'm not duplicating a thread here, but wasn't able to find one on this exact situation.

I have 3 hens and a rooster that are about 7-8 months old, and 8 pullets ranging in age from 12-16 weeks. They're in two small starter coops, with a shared "run" of 200' of electric poultry netting. I introduced the younger ones by placing their coop and attached run in the netting enclosure for a few weeks. It seemed to work well. They aren't really integrated, but they've had a few weeks together and they get along. Nothing violent.

We're almost done building them a new, 10'x12' coop, and now I'm wondering how to introduce the two groups to it.

One note - I've read that you're supposed to lock them in a new coop for several days to get them used to it. But due to the safety from the electric netting, I haven't been locking the coops at night. Both groups are used to coming and going as they please, and I'm kind of afraid to lock the two groups in together. Worried that under stress, the big ones might get violent with the smaller ones.

Anyone have advice on this?
 

21hens-incharge

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Pics please.

If they all have been roaming/mingling within the run and no fighting/bullying is going on they should be fine in the new structure together.

If they all have access to the new structure at the same time no one group can claim dominance over it. That should reduce the territory issues some.

If your electric fence is not covered over top you have gotten very lucky not closing them into the coops at night.
 

JedJackson

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The reason they say to lock the birds in a new coop for several days is to familiarize the birds to their surroundings, so they know where to go at night and don't wander off and get lost. If your new coop is in familiar territory to them, close to the old coops, then you don't need to keep them locked up. But you may need to guide them to the new coop if the old ones are still present.

Now, as to integration, the younger birds are more vulnerable, especially since they are outnumbered. So I would put them in the new coop first and let them get established, then add the others one or two at a time, only adding more when everyone is getting along. If you can keep the birds close but separate during this time things will probably go more smoothly. Best of luck!
 

Ridgerunner

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One note - I've read that you're supposed to lock them in a new coop for several days to get them used to it.
The typical goal is to train them where to sleep at night. There are different ways to do this. Sometimes you can lock them in the coop section only for a while, that might work. Or it might not. I've tried that and sometimes they still want to sleep in the run. It's not that you are suppose to or that you have to, it's just one way that might work.

My brooder is in the coop and sometimes I integrate straight from that. But that's not where you are so I won't go into that. Sometimes I move my chicks to a grow-out, which also has a separate run where they can be seen by the adults. If I lock them in the grow-out coop only for a week or more they often still want to sleep in the run when I let them in the run. So every night I'm down there as it is getting dark to lock them in that grow-out coop. My groups are typically in the 20 chick range. One time I had them go in on their own the next night after locking them in, occasionally I have to do that as long as three weeks before the last of them put themselves to bed in there. Each group is different. Usually it takes about a week before they all catch on but some can be frustrating.

Once they get used to sleeping in their coop, I let the range inside my electric netting with the adults and other juveniles, with each group sleeping in separate coops. That's about where you are now but with a twist that you will be moving all of yours into a new coop.

When I'm ready to move the juveniles into the main coop, I wait until it is too dark for the adults to see them and lock them in the main coop. I just toss them on the coop floor and let them work out where they will sleep. At that age they will not sleep on the main roosts with the adults. They figure it out. I also lock their old coop so they cannot go back to it. Sometimes they transition to the new coop really easily, sometimes they go back to their old coop area and try to sleep near there. After dark they are pretty easy to catch so I lock them into the main coop every ight until they get the message. With them it usually doesn't take that long.

I'm always down there at first light to open the pop door until I'm confident they will not kill each other. That's usually only one or two mornings. Usually it goes really smoothly.

One option I see for you would be to wait until after dark and lock them all in that new coop. Hopefully it will be too dark in there for them to see to hurt each other. You may have to do that a few nights, once may be enough. Sometimes it can be that easy. With 12 chickens in a 10' x 12' coop I think that has a reasonable chance to work. That would be my first try.

You can try training one group to sleep in the new coop and let them range together during the day. Then train the other group once the first puts itself to bed in there. If you try the this approach I can come up with a rationale for training the older group first and I can come up with a rationale for training the younger group first. Either approach should work.

Worried that under stress, the big ones might get violent with the smaller ones.
Stress has nothing to do with it. If a less mature chicken invades the personal space of a more mature chicken they have a fair chance of getting pecked or worse. It doesn't always happen but it's not unusual. The younger ones typically learn very fast to avoid the older ones. If they are shoehorned together like they are in many backyard flocks that can be dangerous if they can't get away and stay away. With your number of chickens and the amount of space you have in the coop and in the netting I don't expect you to have many, if any, problems. Anything can happen but I think you are in a pretty good place. Good luck!
 

3KillerBs

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We're almost done building them a new, 10'x12' coop, and now I'm wondering how to introduce the two groups to it.

When I moved the flock from their 3 separate coops in a common run into Neuchickenstein I did it at night after full dark. I had enough roost space that I set each group onto a different roost area so that the Ladies (full adult hens), the Splits (POL pullets), and the Ideal Dozen (not chicks anymore, but not approaching POL), were not bunched up together but maintained their original groups.

I made a point of sitting in the coop at nightfall for the first few days to ensure that everyone got roosted (not interfering, just sitting in a chair reading on my phone), and saw no issues since they'd been used to each other's presence even if they hadn't been in the same coop.
 

46Trav

Hatching
Oct 23, 2021
3
6
9
Northern Catskills, NY
Hi All,

Wanted to say thank you again for all of your advice and give an update.

Last night was their first night in the new coop and no problems. I shut each of their old coop doors before dusk and turned the light on in the new one. There was a bit of complaining and consternation, but all but one of them made it into the new coop on their own, and the straggler I easily put in with the rest.

And as evidenced by the droppings, looks like they all slept pretty close together, even though there is loads of extra room in the coop. (Preparation for next year's inevitable chicken math....) This morning, nothing unusual in their behavior.

What a relief!
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,657
27,302
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Hi All,

Wanted to say thank you again for all of your advice and give an update.

Last night was their first night in the new coop and no problems. I shut each of their old coop doors before dusk and turned the light on in the new one. There was a bit of complaining and consternation, but all but one of them made it into the new coop on their own, and the straggler I easily put in with the rest.

And as evidenced by the droppings, looks like they all slept pretty close together, even though there is loads of extra room in the coop. (Preparation for next year's inevitable chicken math....) This morning, nothing unusual in their behavior.

What a relief!

👍
 

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