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New birds with old ones

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mikee1948, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. Mikee1948

    Mikee1948 Chirping

    May 19, 2011
    I put two astrolorp pullets, about 3 mos. old, in with my four 10 mo. old hens. They took to pecking the new ones unmercifully until I sprayed them down with a hose. Now they are occupying opposite sides of the run, eyeballing each other. How long will this go on? Isolating them is not possible.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012

  2. goldnchocolate

    goldnchocolate Songster

    May 9, 2008
    It's possible the older ones may kill the smaller chicks....sad but true. Could you fence off a small area within the coop that will allow both groups to be near each other but give them time to get used to each other without anyone getting hurt.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    With the ages of your chickens there are possibly two things going on. One is basic integration. An established flock might defend its territory against new chickens. A lot of times this does not happen, but this is where it helps to house the birds side by side for a few days so they recognize each other.

    But what you are almost certainly seeing is pecking order stuff. A mature chicken always outranks an immature chicken until the immature chicken matures enough to stand up for itself and find its place in the pecking order. I’ve had 4 month olds able to do this, but it is pretty rare. Usually by the time they are 5 or 6 months old, they can manage, but a few take longer. They don’t all mature at the same rate.

    Broody hens will wean chicks as young as 4 weeks old. These chicks are integrated into the flock, but they are at the bottom of the pecking order. If they invade the personal space of a mature chicken, they get pecked. You’ll see them staying as far away from the others as they can manage. As long as blood is not drawn, I don't worry about a little pecking. That is just the way chicken society works.

    This is where space is important when integrating new chickens. They need room to get away if they are pecked and they need room to avoid the older ones to start with. Set up different feeding and watering stations to reduce areas of conflict. Create as much space as you can. Give them extra perches or places to hide behind or under if you don’t have a lot of extra space you can give them. Don’t leave them locked up in the coop together when they are awake, at least for a while. They will normally work out a system if they have room to work with.

    I integrate 2 month old brooder raised chicks with my mature flock regularly and don’t have serious problems but I have a lot of space. It sounds like your space is tighter, so that makes it harder. You can do it, but the risks are higher.

    Sometimes these integrations go so smoothly you wonder what all the worry was about and sometimes they are pretty rough. Good luck!
  4. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I've integrated 6 week old pullets and they were fine. I gave them a mini roost on the ground, but at 8 weeks I would go out at night and put them on the big roost with the other birds. They did tend to stay in a corner most of the time, but luckily they bonded with my rooster and he protected them, so as long as they were with him, the other hens would not bother them.
  5. Mikee1948

    Mikee1948 Chirping

    May 19, 2011
    I tried sneaking them into the coop last night, after all had settled down. Nary a peep, that is until this morning when I discovered the new hens hiding in the nest boxes, and the older hens clicking like mad, because well, they had to do their thing. So I chased the new ones out, and they were promptly assaulted, like running the gauntlet! Tonight I cordoned off a section of the run, gave them their own food and water, and shelter. What's funny about this is, the new birds do not have clipped beaks like my other hens. So, as soon as they get big enough, I figure payback will ensue.
  6. RayKat2008

    RayKat2008 In the Brooder

    Mar 24, 2012
    North Carolina
    We've had the same issue. We actually cornered off a portion of our run using the side from an old dog crate. We put an old dog house, a feeder and waterer in there so if our little ones get bullied too much they have a place to run for safety. They're 16 weeks old now and have pushed their way into the hen house.
  7. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    I've never had a problem integrating new groups of chickens. I have 21 total, of 4 different groups. When I start putting them outside after a month, I keep them in a pen with wire sides (my best is actually an xl wire dog crate, and I put small branches across the inside of it for them to roost on), so the older chickens can see, smell, and interact with the younger ones but they can't get at them and hurt them. I do that for at LEAST two weeks, usually longer. Then I put the younger ones in the coop at night after the older ones have gone to roost, and they never fight. There may be some mild dominance/pecking order bickering, but I have NEVER had any fighting. They all get along great and they are free range together as one group. :)

  8. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Songster

    May 17, 2011
    Schuyler Lake NY
    All of these posts are very helpful to me...thank you for all the advice.

    I am just about ready to integrate my babies (they are 6WO) into my existing flock. I have been keeping them outside in a separate pen during the day, but a cold front just came through so they are back in their dog crate in the garage with the heat lamp. The girls and one roo from the existing flock come out to see them often, so I am thinking they are getting to know each other, but I am still fearful of putting them together.

    You are giving me hope that this will work out.
  9. goldnchocolate

    goldnchocolate Songster

    May 9, 2008
    Yep....payback can be a b!t¢h [​IMG] !!!!!! I had 12 chicks (supposed to be pullets but one ended up a cockerel). Anyway, this particular batch of chicks were picked on by a little Golden Campine hen when they started hanging out with the bigger birds. When that cockerel got old enough he never let her forget just how bad she had treated them but he was wonderful with all the other hens. He eventually became the daddy to lots of my other chicks and was a wonderful boy. He passed away a few weeks ago [​IMG]

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