My process to integrate new flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Attila the Hen, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Attila the Hen

    Attila the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 6, 2010
    Blue Ridge GA
    I am not an experienced chicken keeper but wanted to post my process because I haven't seen anything exactly like what I have done. Mostly, I have taken a lot of time in each phase of the process.

    I have an flock of 5 Buff Orpingtons who are about 2 years old. I purchased 4 chicks to add to the flock.

    I started off leaving the little girls in their own nursery on the other side of the house from the main flock. This was the quarentine stage to check for disseases. I tried putting them in the coop for a couple of hours but a snake ate one of the chicks. I returned them to their coop covered in bird netting that seemed to foil the snakes. They came in at night. to the bathroon. This went on for about 8-10 weeks.

    Then I would take them out to then ewly reinforced coop and stay with them to let them get excersize each day and have exposure to the older girls. Again, it was no 1 week affair. I did this for about 3 weeks. They continued to come in at night.

    Finally I decided I couldn't keep bringing them indoors. I followed the advise of someone here and put the orange netting for building sites up and partitioned off part of the coop. This worked well but no one was getting along still.

    Things started speeding up after this. I let the little girls free range with the older girls all day. The area is large enough for them to get away from the big girls and there is lots of cover and safe places. Over a week or so the flocks seem to get into closer proximity to each other but still some chasing the little girls around.

    After sleeping in the coop, last night was the first night I put them in the sleeping box with the big girls. I waited until dark and put them in.I left one of the large front doors open which forced the big girls to one side of the small box which is about 4'X4' I went out first thing this morning to moderate. Things went well.

    Tonight is night 2. I am working towards the time when the young ones will go in through the electronic pop door and I can close up the front doors on the sleeping box. This will add a whole new level of protection. It has all taken far more time than I anticipated, but have decided I will go by their comfort levels and not someone elses opinion that everyone should get along and be happy in a week or two.

    I write this because I want to remember it if I am ever planning on getting more chicks. It's been a lot of work and maybe I am too proctective but they are worth it. I don't want any animal of mine to feel fear if I can avoid it.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Do you have pictures of your sleeping box? I've never heard of such a thing!

    I have read a lot of threads from people having issues with integration but I really haven't experienced them for myself. Maybe I add new chicks too often! My old girls have "been there, done that" so many times they barely pay attention to the new chicks, and what I've found is that it is only the youngest bird(s) in the flock who show any interest in the new arrivals. I hatched 9 chicks four weeks ago and moved them outside when they were only 2 1/2 weeks old, since the weather was mild. I stayed with them to supervise the first time out, but only one hen paid any attention to them at all. The new guys were able to run under the older girls, through their legs, and eat out of the feeder without eliciting any response from the adults at all. The youngest hen, who is a scant 6 months old though, is fascinated by them and follows them around, bossing them around.

    Perhaps the issues you experienced are because your older hens are two years old and hadn't had to accept newbies prior to this? [​IMG]
     
  3. Attila the Hen

    Attila the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 6, 2010
    Blue Ridge GA
    The most likely thing is that I am over protective having read some horror stories from others here. Of course I might not be considered protective by letting them free range. Life is dangerous for all of us. I might not come home tomorrow but at least I am out living.
    I will try to remember to post a picture tomorrow. The whole thing was done piecemeal as I discovered what I needed at that time. Very rough really but workable.
    The outside is a lean to with hard wire on all three sides. Inside the coop is a box we built for sleeping that can be locked up and has an electric door. It has the perches and the laying boxes. The top raises for ventilation in the summer. In the winter I put tarps up around the sides so snow doesn't drift in. It will be then be the only dry fairly warm place to stay.
     

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