New coop and integrating 3 age groups, how do I do this?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Noymira, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    This is my first year with chickens, and I've got 3 different age groups: 2 one year old hens, 5 fifteen week old pullets and 7 five week old chicks. Our coop and run are almost finished and we'll be integrating the flock in the next month. The chicks will have a separate area in the coop and separate run until they are almost as large as the others.

    My main question is about the timing of integration and how to manage it with the least amount of trauma. Since no one has been in the coop yet, I'm not sure if that will make it easier or harder to put the pullets and hens together.

    Should I put the two hens in the larger portion of the coop a week or so before bringing in the pullets? Or put the pullets in first? I'm assuming the hens will likely be at the top of the pecking order I'm guessing, so I thought putting them in first might be the way to go.

    Should I put the hens and the pullets in at the same time (but obviously segregated to start)? Would this cause fewer problems since neither group has time to get used to the coop as "theirs"? I didn't know if this would be too stressful for all parties.

    As soon as the pullets and hens are together without incident I'll bring the chicks out, and keep them separate until they are larger. Our coop is 10'x10' and our run is split into two parts: a covered 9'x10' area and an open 12'x19' area with a door between the two.

    Am I over thinking this too much? Some pictures of our coop and run in progress are on my BYC page if you want to see the space.
     
  2. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you can, divide the bird with fence so they can meet without fighting and get to know each other. Be aware they will fight at some point because there has to be a pecking order and someone must be boss, so accept it. This occurs with all animals, even chickens from the same brood. You may also want to add a extra roost or two so they can be apart at night till the fully integrate and a rooster will help maintain order.
     
  3. drgnflyz

    drgnflyz Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2011
    Idaho
    I have 4 chicks, 2 pullets and 2 hens and have been reading everything I can on the subject of integration. Here are the reoccuring bits of advice from others- mind you, I have not actually had personal experience, just started the integration process myself!

    Chickens are very territorial. Having a NEW house none of your flock has used is to your advantage! Introduce them to this housing all together, even if that means providing a separate place w/in coop for the smaller ones to 'hide' from the bigger ones. I just took my two hens out of their coop tonight and am housing them in a large dog kennel for a couple of nights while the chicks and pullets get used to the coop ( just a small 3'x3'x5')- I have added a cardboard box 2'x1'x 2.5' tall into the coop. I cut out the top of the box and added the heat light, and cut small doors big enough for the chicks and pullets (they can also access a nest box which the hens cannot get to from this box.) The box is tall enough that the hens cannot see down inside of it (and the heat lamp is down inside of the box anyhow.)

    The pullets and chicks will spend the next 2 nights alone, then I will re introduce the hens. Because I have messed up the inside of 'their' coop, (and because they will have spent 2 nights in the dog kennel) the coop is no longer 'their territory'. Theoretically, this will ease the transition. (Holding the hens out of the coop till AFTER dark is also supposed to help.

    I have the pullets and chicks in a tractor during the day while the big girls free range and am making a few extra 'hiding spots' for the little ones to use while free ranging should the hens get testy. My silkie hen is already fine with all of the younger ones, the only hold out is the cuckoo marans. I am hoping once she sees the silkie in the tractor w the young ones a few times, that free ranging will go pretty smooth:rolleyes:.

    I have read several times that a water hose or soaker gun is a GREAT tool for negative reinforcement if a hen is bullying younger ones. I have also read that pushing a hen down to the ground from the shoulders, or gently pulling the neck feathers simulates what a rooster does when he does not like what a hen is doing.

    Would love to hear how your integration progresses!
     
  4. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    I don't know if this will help as each situation is different. I had two coops and was trying to integrate my younger birds and my older birds into one coop. I also put a second pop door in the coop as one of the older hens would block the doorway and not let the pullets in. She couldn't guard both doorways. I did leave both pop doors open and let them choose the coop they wanted to roost in and finally I closed the pop door to the coop I wanted to use for my younger birds so they had to all roost together in one coop. They did. Now I have two more larger coops. All of the coops but the one in the bottom picture (my brooder coop) have two pop doors. In the two larger coops I have a gate inside the coops to divide them so I can use them as duplexes or as a single by just opening the gates.
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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  5. kaprica9

    kaprica9 Out Of The Brooder

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    When we went to move all our chickens into the main coop, we really did just stick them all in there at once. 3 year old hens, 7 3-months old pullets, 10 7-week old keets and 6 4-week old pullets all live happily together now. Of course the big girls tried to kick everyone around a bit, and everyone had fun picking on anything smaller then themselves, but after the first week or so everyone gets along just fine.

    I think the most important part is having enough space so everyone can get out of everyone else's way. They range on a 3 acre paddock and have a coop that would technically fit far more then we have so there's lots of room.
     
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    IMO the hens and older pullets could go in together. It's to your advantage (and theirs) that the pullets outnumber the adult birds. There will be pecking, but at least there won't be territorial issues. I'd have two feeders available, set apart.
    The younger chicks need to wait a while, so I'd find a way to divide the run w/chicken wire for several weeks...
     
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Nov 18, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    I agree and I agree with putting out 2 feeders. That was one of the issues I had when integrating my pullets with my hens as the hens wouldn't let the pullets near the feed so I put another feeder up.
     
  8. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2011
    NJ
    Hi Noymira,

    I recently integrated three age groups. Started out with the typical two groups of mature birds and new chicks. Half way through, I took in 4 new younger bantam chicks. I consider the integration complete and successful, but not without its trial and tribulation. I chronicled the experience. I don’t know how to link it from here, but you should be able to find it in my postings, if you like.
     
  9. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG] hello from Ohio!

    I think the pullets will be best as the first birds in the coop. The older hens will adapt more easily than the pullets, so they will move in and take over the best of everything. The pullets will make space for the hens, no doubt! LOL!:[​IMG]
     
  10. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Thank you all for the responses, definitely gives me some more think about. I'm probably over thinking this, but I don't want to cause any undue stress for my birds. I think next weekend will be the earliest we will have things done, so by then the pullets will be 16-17 weeks. I was thinking it might be an advantage that the hens are outnumbered by all the younger ones, hopefully they'll be too busy trying to settle in to bully the others too much. Plus there is still vegitation in the run now, so that should add a welcome distraction.

    I think I may put the hens and pullets in at the same time; but put them in separate (but connected) runs for the 1st day so they can see and get used to each other, then put them up in the coop together right before dark that night. Then I'll create a separate area for the chicks in the coop, and let them have the smaller of the two runs, until they are big enough to join the others.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011

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